• Mature • [Burning Mountains] Alive

The seven Duchies of Central Rynmere and their respective baronies, cities, towns, villages, and landmarks each overseen by a Duke of one of the seven noble families and ultimately controlled by the King of Rynmere.

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Kes'Trel
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:02 pm

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20th Ashan 717
It wasn’t a bad view. Snow-capped mountains against an iron sky. The jade of winter pines, dusted with white like something from a story book. Kestrel lent against the edge of the cave mouth, wrapped up a heavy woollen blanket that she held up to her ears. Her boots were two sizes too big, so they were stuff with socks; which she didn’t mind given the freezing chill in the air and the consistent snow, so high up.
The fort was busy, humming with activity. Most people never saw the crenelated stone walls that curved around the base of their dominion. Not from behind the walls anyway; not if they weren’t part of the faction. From the base of the mountain they were almost impossible to spot, unless you knew exactly what you were searching for. There was a flurry of activity as the gates were hauled open and a party trotted in. Two men with a third slung over the middle horse. Kestral had learnt not to be too curious at an early age, and so she sank back from the mouth and back into the shadows. She heard Voren moving on his bed and crossed the floor. It was covered in ancient tapestries, torn from noble houses and merchant wagons. The brilliant colours faded beneath the heavy footfall of boots.
In the centre of the room, the tapestry’s had been cut away where they boarded the firepit. She knelt, feeding split logs into the burning embers and fanning them towards the mouth.
“Vesper,” he rolled onto his side and she stood. The woman knew her master’s summons and returned to his bed, silent. She reminded herself that this was better than the previous room’s she’d occupied.
Before he was spent, they were interrupted. Pounding on the heavy wooden door made the man growl with frustration. His fingers squeezed against her hip, nails making half-moons in the flesh till they drew blood. He staggered to his feet and pulled his breaches up. Lurching towards the door, he pulled it open and it screamed against the stone ceiling.
“What?!” Voren demanded. He was a bear of a man, covered in thick bushy hair.
Her master was notoriously bad-tempered and Kestral remained between the sheets, and waited. She traced the line of the brands on her arm. A line of marks starting at her shoulder and working their way down the pale flesh. The most recent, on her forearm. The brand had scarred in four distinct lines.
She couldn’t hear the mumbling on the other side of the door but sat up, sheets pulled to her chest as Voren stalked towards her.
“We’ve got a prisoner,” he threw her dress towards her.
Kestrel wasted no time in pushing her hands through the dark grey shift and then pulling the woollen dress over the top. The over-dress was sleeveless so the grey showed through. She pushed the sleeves up her arms and returned her feet to her boots. What did this have to do with her?
“I want you to look after it,” Voren jerked his thumb towards the door. “Keep him alive.”
She stumbled in her haste to descend through the warren, weaving through the faction’s members and into the belly of the mountain, pulling her kit over her shoulder. It was cold and dark, so she snatched a torch as she ran, feet padding down the steps.
Another great door blocked her descent until she knocked. A thin, wiry woman looked her over and arched a brow.
“Voren sent me,” Kestral lowered her gaze to the woman’s collarbone. “He wants his prisoner alive.”
The woman shrugged and gestured for Kestral to enter with a mocking sweep of her hand.
“Fat chance of that.”
Kestral led with the torch. There were no windows in the circular room, but the domed ceiling rose out of reach and finally opened to the sky in a gap, too small for a grown person to climb through. So there was a drift of cold fresh air. She recognised the room, in the summer it was used to store dry goods and wine to keep it cold. There was a tangled mess of man on the stone floor and she set her torch on the bracket. The guard at the door shrugged again.
“What do you need?”
“Firewood,” Kestral scanned the empty room, “blankets. Bread and water.”
The woman seemed to consider the requests before she turned and passed them onto a young, gangling looking boy who was missing a hand. Waiting for the items to be bought, Kestral circled man, padding over the circular stones. Dark hair matted with blood. Clothes that looked like they’d frozen to his body. She knelt and unfastened his boots with deft fingers and eased them away from his feet, flinching at the smell. Tall and lean, the torch flickered on her pale hair as she bent.
The boy returned and she gestured for him to set the fire. Watching his movements before setting the kindling to light. The room was quick to heat and the boy helped her to drag the man towards the warmth. She covered him in the blankets, tucking them around his feet and then she retreated back across the room to the door and waited. The boy stayed with her and she learnt that his name was Kit. He kept a long black jacket folded over the stump of his wrist and sat close beside her. Kestral was aware she should sent him running to pick up more duties and so asked him to collect some broth. He obeyed, but returned with a cuffed ear and Voren on his heels.
Her Master threw the door open and it rattled against the stone, chipping a piece off that dropped and bounced around. He discarded her bag in her lap before making his own circle of the prisoner. Kicking the man to see if he was still alive, before turning to leave again. He bent, caught her face with his fist and peered into her pale blue eyes, “alive,” he hissed.
She wanted to reply that they hadn’t given her much to work with, but remained silent.
Last edited by Kes'Trel on Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Malcolm
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:52 pm

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He had awoken part way up the mountain, along the goat track that led to a place good men were rumoured to die, in agony. He remembered calling out and feeling dizzy, not due to the blinding pain in his head, but the panic that overcame the body when it didn't have enough oxygen to feed vital organs.
His distress was met with mocking laughter, the same he had heard somewhere else, in what felt like another life. “All the same,” the thin one said. “Takes them a while to adjust to the air up here.”
“But when they do,” Vilhelm murmured, and lifted the warden’s head, squeezing a handful of black hair between his fingers to look at the man. “He looks like a fighter.”
Viyan kicked his horse to ride closer. “How can you tell?”
“You ever seen a man survive a hit like that?”
“Ballsy little fucker, ain't he?”
“Of a different stock this one.”
“Aye?”
Vilhelm shoved Malcolm’s head from his grasp and continued on. “You ever heard of a group of rebels pay five thousand for a man who wasn't king?”
“He a king?”
“No you idiot, I'm saying he must posses something a king might want.”
“Perfect teeth?”
Vilhelm sighed.

The low cracking of an open fire whispered to Malcolm, but it was a boot to his back that saw him open his eyes, or at least one of them. Hands no longer tethered, he lifted one to touch his left eye, fused shut and swollen. He didn’t dare touch the burn, fearing the worst. The warden made a frightened sound and tried to kick at the dog that had his leg, only to realise in the blinking light, that it was the violent shivering and an old memory that had him fooled.
Stiff with the cold, he used the last of his energy to wrestle with his shirt, a small wooden button sent flying as he prised the fabric apart, and got it part way down his arms before collapsing against the floor again. His body was dotted with ugly bruises that didn't look nearly as gruesome as the twisted scar that wound about his left side and curved in a hooked shape above his belly. Other scars and markings remained hidden by his soaked trousers, the Qe'dreki emblem he had taken from Elyna, and the old mark of a freed slave.
Malcolm bit his tongue trying to speak, the cold rattling his very core. In fact his feet were so cold, even buried in the blanket, that he was tempted to press them into the fire pit, if only to feel warm for a moment before his inevitable death. His lips were dry and cracked, his thirst bigger than the pain. Malcolm’s waist had shrunk against bones to reveal most of his ribs and every stringy muscle as it rolled beneath the thin sheath of flesh that had kept him alive up until now. The tips of his fingers and toes were discoloured, but not alarmingly so, and looked as it he had cut his hands on rocks or branches.
The man stared into the flames and couldn't help but feel that it was too little, too late.
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Kes'Trel
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:30 pm

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Men. Why did they always try and shed their clothes at the smallest notice. The young woman tsked in quiet disdain and crossed the stonework in a pair of long, loping strides. She pulled her hair back from her face and bent, tugging at the shirt he was so keen to remove. Her hands were brief, impersonal but certain as the fabric was pulled away. The dirty fabric dropped aside, she reached for the final blanket and pulled it around his shoulders. “Stay,” she ordered. Tone sharp and unforgiving.
The woman stood and returned to the collection of goods she’d left with the boy, Vin. Glancing back over her shoulder, as though daring him to disobey her order. She was a slave, yet his position in the world was worse. It was uncertain. He was a prisoner. She returned with a half-mug of water and set it down beside the firepit.
“Drink,” her voice was heavily accented and so she gestured. Some of the prisoners had found her difficult to understand. This was never a pleasant task after all. Coaxing life into the dying only to hand them over to Death itself.
Her eyes dropped over the wasted flesh and lingered on the scars. It seemed as though Death had come to this one a few times already. Yet not claimed him. Not yet. Alive. She nodded to herself. Voren had said alive, and alive she would make him…or as close as he could get.
She beckoned Vin towards her and pointed out the tall-mans feet to the boy, before making a rubbing motion. Moving her two palms flat against each other. It was then she collected a bruised and bloodied hand, turning it over. It wasn’t bleeding anymore. She knelt, pulling the hand into her lap and dragging a bowl and sponge closer. Without much care or thought of the man’s reaction, she squeezed the antiseptic water over the wounds before scrubbing them clean with the sponge.
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Malcolm
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:57 pm

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The water antiseptic stung, the pain akin to having one’s arms dragged through a tentacles of jellyfish. However, it was not the man who screamed, but the boy. Surface wounds were the fastest to be transferred, but the bone rattling cold, and deeper flesh wounds took longer. Unfortunately for Malcolm, the slave boy had only just got a taste of the Immortalborn's abilities before pulling away.
On his good hand, his only hand, the boy's fingers had turned a deathly grey colour, and his limbs were scratched and bruised. The skin around his left eye had darkened, and the puffy flesh of his brow looked a little swollen. He sat there staring at his hands with disbelief.
“Afflicted!” The boy hissed in the language of his people, and snaked backwards against the wall. “Cursed!” Any attempt to console him after that made impossible in the vicinity of Malcolm.
The knight coughed, and squeezed the blanket about himself, wrapped up tight. As the warmth returned to his fingers and toes, he felt some relief, but was unable to keep himself from shivering, quite sure his body was in shock. The fire slowly started to warm his chest and soft belly, now that he was free of the saturated shirt. He couldn't take the water, could scarcely prop himself up, but stared at the cup, if only to enjoy the certainty that water was nearby.
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Kes'Trel
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:57 pm

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Kes watched, flinching back away from the man as Vin let out his shout. The water toppled onto the stone and spilled away as she dashed across the room. She wrapped her hand in her dress and gestured for Vin to give her his limb. The boy whimpered and curled up against the wall with a shake of his head. She stared at the cuts and bruises before turning and making her way back. What had happened? Was the man diseased? If he was cursed then why did they want him alive? Surely he was better dead!
The slave risked a glance at the closed door and crouched at the tall-mans feet. She watched him. The laboured breath as he stared at the water without moving.
“Drink,” she ordered again edged closer. She waited to see if he would make an attempt before reaching across him and pulling the mug closer. Her blue-gaze intent as she glared at him. The boy had not deserved pain. Her accusing gaze dropped over his limbs and sure enough, the scratches and marks seemed to be less. Wounds did not jump from man to boy. Her scowl deepened. Perhaps he was truly cursed. Glad of the distance between them she reached across for the hard bread-roll before setting it beside the mug of water.
Eventually she reached forward and collected the vessel. Cautious she lifted it to the man’s lips and tilted it till a few drops ran from the brim. She wouldn’t let him drink too much too fast. Instead, let a few drops fall once more before pausing. Careful to keep her skin away from his.
“Alive,” she told him, stern.
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Malcolm
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:19 pm

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As soon as the water touched his lips, Malcolm seemed to find the strength to at least lift his head and accept more water with a few hungry gulps. It burned all the way down his throat and made his belly squeeze tight. Features contorted with pain, the man lay back and held his gut. It wasn't a cry, but laughter that followed, an outward display of his complete disbelief at the situation he had found himself in. But where was he?
Sore, but slowly defrosting by the fire, he did his best not to move, conserving what little energy he had left. “I got-go-g-ottt to g-gett out, ou, outt of h-h-hhere,” he told the woman, who so far had only pressured him to drink and stay alive. “Ca-can y-you,” his teeth chattered, making it more and more difficult to talk. “G-gettt mee a b-b-blladde?”
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Kes'Trel
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:27 pm

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Her scowl only served to deepen as she listened to the words, forced through frozen lips. It was easy to determine his meaning and she waited for him to finish before giving a simple shake of her head. “No.” She left his side, only to return with fresh water and this time, forcing the cup into the trembling fingers. “Drink,” Kes’trel ordered and retreated back and out of his range Another glance at the crying boy was a chilling reminder of what happened when you got too close to the prisoner.
“Prisoner,” she pointed to him. As if he didn’t know. There was desperation in his face and she thought she saw fear. There was little point wondering where he had come from or where he was going. It was nothing to do with her. Her job was to ensure that he was, at the end, alive. She collected the bread and split it in two, waving the crust in front of his features the woman lifted a brow. He would eat, or she would force him to swallow the meagre meal.
There was no way to get him a knife. She had no access to weapons or a bladed implement except when she ate at Veron’s side. The woman rested back on her haunches and let out a slow sigh. Finally she stood and approach Vin, she pulled the boy to his feet and gestured the half-naked man, shivering on the stone. Vin looked up at her with tear-streaked cheeks.
“If you are not useful,” she told him in Xanthean, “you are dead. Bring clothes.” She ordered. Vin swayed as he stood before lurching for the door and stumbling through. Kes waited at the door for his return and snatched the woollen shirt from him, and the pair of breaches. They were probably going to be too short, but there was a clean pair of socks in the pockets. She dropped the breaches beside the long man and bent, merciless in her determination to pull the socks onto his frozen feet before wrapping them in the blankets once more. She held up the shirt, waving it before the fire to warm it before offering it to him.
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Malcolm
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:59 pm

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Malcolm drank the water, but to hear that the slave, at least he assumed she was, would not help him with a weapon, was depressing news indeed. He cast the cup aside, disappointed with himself for drinking, and the bread went into the fire, burning faster than the logs. If they were not going to help him, he would make their task of keeping him alive all the more difficult, certain it was death that awaited him anyway.
“You'll a-at least te-tell mee w-where I aam?” He hoped the slave would give him that. If he had a location, he could start building a plan, not that his last attempt at escape had gone very well, but it was no reason to give up.
Despite the man's best intentions to disobey, he found it increasingly harder to remain so cold, and snatched the heated shirt from the slave, dressing quickly. The sudden movement made his vision blur, and his arms feel weak, but he put it down to the pain and lack or air in the small room. Malcolm forced himself to sit up, gritting his teeth as a new pain made itself known in his right side. He took off his trousers beneath the blanket, and took his time putting on the new pair. As short as they were, instant relief from the cold that still gripped him, made the exchange worthwhile.
Malcolm had noticed the boy’s fear of him, but not what had founded it. His will to survive had triggered his ability without him knowing, and now it appeared both slaves tended towards watching their step around him. Now whenever the woman tried to get close, he would only raise and arm to drive her back, threatening to inflict more damage. And why not? If they weren't going to help him, perhaps he should help himself.
He sat, quietly plotting his escape, hunched over the fire like a wolf guarding his dinner.
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Kes'Trel
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:15 am

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The man was not helping and she could understand his questions. Her lip pulled back in frustration as he threw the bread away. This, followed by the absurd movement of his arms to wave her off. He moved like a child, trying to determine his space and for a brief period of time she granted it. Her patience soon wore thin however and she summoned the boy closer. Vin shook his head, refusing to approach and so she shouted at him without moving. He vanished beyond the door and she stood. With Vin out of the room, the woman started to fold up the sleave of her shirt till the pale skin of her forearm came into view, branded as it was with four lines; VII.
“This,” she pointed at her arm and if he refused to look, nudged him with the toe of her boot. Satisfied she at least had his gaze, if not his understanding, the woman pointed to the brand once more, before tapping her foot to the floor. “Here.” And now he had his answers, whether he was able to understand them or not.
Her pale gaze dropped over his face and she scowled. There was a nasty burn on his cheek. She retreated to gather the spilt bowl of antiseptic and the sponge, returning to place them beside him. Then she waited to see if he made any motion to clean the wound. Fortunately, Vin returned with two mugs of steaming liquid. He set one down at the edge of the room and approached with reluctant steps, to within three strides of Malcolm and set the second down. With a sigh, Kes collected it and studied the thin broth. A few chopped vegetables steamed in their own juices, along with some thin strips of chicken. She waited till the liquid had cooled before taking a slow sip. Then she approached the man once more. She knelt, eager to remain out of his reach. She set the broth down beside him, the scent quick to drift around the room.
“Drink,” she ordered him again, “drink or burn.”
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Malcolm
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[Burning Mountains] Alive

Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:53 am

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His heart sunk at the sight of the woman's brand. Faction VII. It explained why the air was so thin up here, and sharp in his lungs. There would be no escaping this place, not on foot at least, he would need a pair of boots before that, and layers to keep out the cold. Again Malcolm closed his eyes and appeared to sit in a meditative state, unmoving, relaxed.
When the boy returned with the soup and the slave girl put it down within range, Malcolm opened one eye to look at it, the other still too swollen to see through. He made a disgruntled sound and nudged the cup away, not wanting to waste this like he had done with the bread, not if either of them would care to drink it. Keeping himself from eating was perhaps the most difficult challenge the man had been faced with in some time. Malcolm loved food, and though he had the willpower to starve himself to death if need be, his stomach didn't agree with his decision, and rumbled like small stones shaken by an earthquake.
The shaking had eased, and as he grew more accustomed to the air, his heart continued to work harder, drumming away in his chest. The speed, he felt, was caused by the anticipation of the unknown. He didn't know why members of Faction VII had sought him out, but he couldn't imagine any of their reasons were honourable.
Malcolm looked up all of the sudden. It had been a long time since he had used his powers of persuasion, but the ability was powerful when used right.
“Boy,” he summoned the child. “Come.”
Vin looked at his fellow slave and crouched down beside the wall, shaking his head.
Come child, I won't hurt you.” Malcolm’s eyes glowed a faint shade of gold in the firelight as he spoke.
Vin got to his feet and moved towards the man, eyes fixed ahead of him and dazed over as if in a dream. He stopped beside Malcolm, staring at him, but looking through him.
Give me your hand.
Vin raised his only hand and placed it in Malcolm’s. The Mortalborn closed his eyes and filled his lungs slowly as his abilities were once again activated. The transition took seconds, but this time, Malcolm took instead of giving. When he opened his eyes, Vin had two hands, and Malcolm only one.
Go to your master, but go in secret. Let him there is an Immortal in camp. Tell him I will grant him one wish, but only him, and only if he can keep a secret.
Vin nodded, stalked out of the room, and went in search of his master.
Malcolm balled his hand into a fist and held it against his chest, leaned forward, and squeezed his eyes shut, fighting the intense, white hot pain he felt there. He sucked in a breath through gritted teeth, and looked down at the flames as sweat peeled away from his brow to fall into the fire with a hiss. It was time to take control of this situation.
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