• Solo • [Westguard] The Knight Of The Hills (Graded)

With the escalation of hostilities between Etzos and Rhakros, a series of small walled towns is being established as a network of early warnings and defenses against Rhakros' reprisals. Only the very bravest and most formidable of characters should risk themselves on the Witches' Wilds frontier.

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Kasoria
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Posts: 1638
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 1075
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[Westguard] The Knight Of The Hills (Graded)

34th Trial, Saun, 718a
Outskirts of Westguard
11th Bell



"And thrust!"

CRACK

"Yah!"

"And guard!"

CRACK

"Yah!

"And low!"

"YAH!"

He didn't know exactly where the boy's head was at that moment - or those three, in particular - but from the look on his face, he was guessing it was not slaying scale-wyrms and in distant lands from atop a white charger. He wondered for a tick if he was old enough to envision the point of a ripe maiden awaiting rescue, then quickly dismissed the thought. He had enough on his plate that day.

It was their hill, so they'd decided. The boy because of the memory, painful and turgid as they could be, and the man because it was quiet, and they could see anyone approaching long before they got close enough to do them harm. So it was a mixture of practicality and nostalgia, and yet...

Kasoria had to admit, he liked the view. Not just of what he saw, Westguard sprawling before them as if they were hawks hovering above it. Not just the woods and neat fields and churned up roads and the vast civilized smear of Etzos on the horizon. Looking beyond himself, and the boy. Seeing the two of them, in his mind's eye.

Saving this moment. This time. This trill and bit and bell.

You won't get it again. So enjoy it all that you can.

This moment, for example, he was enjoying watching Martyn swing low with his wooden sword, aiming to slice through his shin-

CRACK

-only for the shield in his left hand to lower quickly, blade hammering useless against it. But the boy was learning, and had been ever since they'd arrived a couple of bells ago. Before Kasoria could retaliate with his own sword, his son surged forwards-

"Yaaaar...!"

Atta boy.

-and slammed his shield into Kasoria's torso, driving him back like a miniature battering ram. He could have thrown him to one side. He could have slashed out in a dozen different ways. Even dropped both sword and shield and demolished the boy with his hands, and mayhap that might even teach a lesson. But that lesson wasn't the curriculum for today. Their first trial. Today was about the basics, and building confidence, and so Kasoria-

-grunted and backpedaled a few steps, letting his balance shift and wobble. He was rewarded with a feral look of delight in the boy, that fierce pride born only from victory in combat. Kasoria smirked back at him and readied himself for... for...

"... well? What're you waiting for, boy!" The lad paused, smile faltering. His feet were lead. His weapons were on guard but he seemed... frozen. "Oh, for the love of-"

Fine. Take it up a notch.

Kasoria charged right back at him, leading with the unfamiliar shield. Thank Fates and Fornications, he'd never had to practice often with those bloody things. The Blackguard were trained with them, of course. Riot duty, civilian militia, noble protection, all three and many more required a man to have a nice, broad, thick barrier between him and danger. But he'd never taken to them. He preferred to face his enemy without any impediment to his vision. Fill his hands with blades, or leave one free so his gift for barehanded brawling could be given vent.

But that wasn't the Army Way, which was where his son wanted to go. So he made do.

Martyn's face whitened the moment before Kasoria crashed into him. Knocking him back a half-dozen paces, only this time it was very real and without an ounce of pantomime. But unlike before, when the struck fighter was still getting his feet back under him, his attacker-

"Gotta take advantage, boy!"

-did just that, sliding in at the boy's sword side, his more exposed side. The sword thrust clumsily at him and he batted it away with his shield, following it up a moment later with a quick, precise rap of a wooden gladius against Martyn's thigh. The boy cried out and hopped back and back until-

"Ooof!"

He collapsed into the dry grass, dropping his new sword and shield. purchased just for him, that very morning. Kasoria held a matching set, only a little larger... and it was only a little. Thank Fuck his son had inherited some size from his mother's family. He was already almost the height of his father, and soon he'd reach that age where he'd sprout like moss on a wet rock. But now he was on his back and grunting and hissing and Kasoria rolled his eyes as he approached.

"Don't wait for him to get his balance back. Or get his shield back up. Or even worse, attack you! You knock him back, and then right away-"

With a roar the boy flung himself at Kasoria's legs. Skinny but strong arms wrapped themselves around him, snapping his legs together and with another roar the boy heaved-

"... oh, darn."

Until he realized his father wasn't moving. Until he opened his eyes, closed in his exertions, and found an unimpressed face with a neatly-trimmed beard staring satirically down at him.

"First of all, don't give up yer weapons. Second of all-"

TUNK

"Ow!"

Another little rap, this time across the forehead. Barely a tenth of what Kasoria could do with real steel in his hands, but enough to make the boy yelp and fall back, clutching and rubbing his skull as if his head was splitting open.

"Make sure y'know you can drag a man down, before you place yerself at his feet. A'right. Up yeh get and grab your arms-"

Even pained and sulking the boy managed to ask, "How am I supposed to grab them when-"

"'Arms' is another word for 'weapons', lad."

"Oh."

"Aye. Now, c'mon. Still plenty of time before lunch."
Last edited by Kasoria on Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1005

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, and cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Prefers a trimmed beard and mustache

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
User avatar
Kasoria
Approved Character
Posts: 1638
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 1075
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Wealth Tier: Tier 5

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Re: [Westguard] The Knight Of The Hills

Image
He'd arrived the night before, when the boy was asleep.

Jessye had learned from past mistakes, and not told Martyn when his father would be coming. Otherwise he'd be staying up and sneaking about all night, just so he would "happen" to be going to the privy, or getting a glass of water, or telling her with a straight face that he couldn't sleep.

More than once since last season, she'd shaken her head and smiled, in that way all mother's do when despair and pride warred in them over their child. So young, yet such an accomplished liar; so much a little man yearning to be grown, yet so enamored with his father.

His father. He knew that's what Kasoria was now. The last time he'd made the visit, was when Martyn learned the truth. She'd seen the two of them off that morning, and when they returned her son was... changed. She'd frozen, when first she saw him in the doorway. She'd seen that look before. On the faces of men confronted with something terrible and unexpected, so much so that it left them holow and bereft of words. Anger seized her. That bastard, that bastard had done this to her boy, with only a handful of words.

Then Kasoria had come in behind him, and the smile Martyn gave his father blew all of her worries away.

"He knows," Kasoria told her later that day, when they'd been cooking dinner and the boy had been elsewhere. "Not all of it. Not even close. But he knows."

Jessye stopped her sewing and flexed worn, tired fingers. She didn't need to work, really. Not with the money Kasoria brought them every cycle. But it would have stood out, a young girl with no husband, no family, no skills or business of her own, always flush with cash and goods. People would have talked and eventually, questions would have been asked. Could she have fended them off? Probably. Would attention have been drawn?

Yes. It would have. And Kasoria had been very clear on that, arcs and arcs ago, when first she and her swaddled babe had come to town.

"Stay low, stay lawful, stay quiet. Raise our son, I'll bring money."

He had, too. Every cycle, without fair. Sometimes hundreds, now it was thousands, but never nothing at all. Sometimes he'd been limping or wincing when he lifted his arms, healing wounds hidden under his clothes giving him trouble. Martyn would notice, of course, in the diligent way all children noticed things. But Kasoria always had a story, a deception, something to ward him off.

"Not anymore," Jessye said with a smile, tempted to pull the cork from that wine bottle on the top shelf. "No more old lies... bunch of new ones, instead."

Screw it. She was having that wine.

She'd almost got the cork all the way out when she heard the handle turn. The door opened with a clank and yet Kasoria entered with a pop-

-as the cork came out in her teeth, and she was staring at him, wide-eyed and unexpected, with the thing lodged in her mouth.

"... celebrating something?"

"Ptoof!" The spat the cork into her hand and tossed it to one side. Two rude clay cups replaced it. "Aye. One more working day over."

Kasoria chuckled lowly as she walked to the table, no more greetings or talking necessary. They had a steady, solid routine, the two of them. Even when he'd been a regular of hers, love had never been spoken, or expected. It was a business arrangement. But when she'd been full with his child, growing bigger and bigger, he'd been there. He knew there were potions and even magicks to relieve her of that condition... yet it was not a "condition" to Jess. It was a life. Nurtured by her body and her spirit and no bastard herb or crone with a thin metal stick was taking it from her.

Kasoria had doubted her wisdom. Then he'd seen his son for the first time, and for arcs after, woke some nights in a cold sweat, wondering where he'd be if she'd agreed with him.

Without a son, of course, he'd always say to himself, and never admit more than that.

"Caravan came in late?"

"Storms on the road from the Big Rock," he said, swinging his travel bag into an empty chair and sitting down with the heavy whump of a man glad to be off his feet. "Kept us back most of the day."

"Ain't been to your cousin yet?"

He didn't pause as if to conjure a lie, or evade, but Jessye knew that something had happened. The man grimaced and shook his head, swilling the red water around in his cup before sipping it. "Had a falling out with his wife, last day I was here. Better if I don't stay under their roof, y'know? Find a tavern fer a few days."

Jessye paused before answering. She studied the man, well-worn from his travels and yet still taut and toned so tightly. Age had given him lines on the face and some semblance of grey in his hair, but it hadn't slowed him down. He was still the killer she'd met, years ago. The one who could quell a brewing brawl by simply standing up at a bar. Who got brave and foolish men to back down from a fight by telling them his name.

He was a being of violence. So any issues he had, any problems and interference-

"This was about Tony, I take it?"

Snake eyes slid to her for a moment. Enough to unnerve anyone else. But Jessye? Kasoria gave her a half-smile as she looked coolly back at him, pulling back hard on her drink. Wasted endeavor, trying to intimidate that one.

"Aye."

"Hmm. Wasn't too happy to hear that myself. But..."

"It solved the problem."

Not a question; a statement. Because if it hadn't, he would have heard about it, and Jessye had no doubt that the crippled blacksmith would have had another, this time fatal "accident". Last time, the man's demands for justice after Martyn broke into his smithy had led to a mysterious fall that left him with one leg broken at the knee. He'd had to hire on extra help, just to keep in business. Oh, and he'd decided not to go to the garrison commander about... what was the boy's name again? Truth be told, he didn't even remember.

I wonder if Kasoria told him those lines. Probably just the broad strokes.

"Fuck him. Man's a cunt, anyway."

That came from her, not him. Kasoria blinked a few times in surprise, then remembered he was talking to the mother of the child said cunt wanted to take away. Have the soldiers come around and drag him to some "reform school", which was a polite way of saying "workhouse". He couldn't imagine she'd have let that happen; she would have died rather than let Martyn take one step in there. But she'd been clear, too. No killing. No bodies.

He'd kept his word. A crippled man could still work, and keep his mouth shut.

"Glad you agree. And before I forget..."

Jessye was confused for a moment, but it didn't last. She snorted as her guest laid a purse on the table, so fat it looked like a pig's bladder. The produce of how many murders? How many beatings and terrors, orphans and widows made? She shrugged internally and slid the laden package over to her side of the table. It had been eleven arcs, and she'd grown numb to guilt, along with everything else. He wanted to help, and this is what he knew how to do.

Besides. It wasn't like he as her husband or anything.

"Wanted to come by, let you know I was in town," he said, finishing his drink and getting to his feet. She kept hers, wordlessly refilling both cups. "None for me. Gotta get back-"

"There's a spare bed right there," she said, pointing at the threadbare object flush against the wall, decorated with only a pillow and a thin sheet. "Martyn's friends use it, yer welcome to do the same."

There was no answer from the father of her child. She looked up and he seemed to be fighting with himself. His certainty, the bullheaded confidence he strode through life with, acted with, worked with. The force of will that made him so terrifying. Now there was confusion muddling those waters. Deep down and way back, he was a little stuffy, was Kasoria of South Etzos. His fingers fidgeted for a moment before he found his voice.

"I... I don't want people talking."

"Don't be a twat, Kas."

She smiled to herself as she heard a little click sound of a jaw dropping open.

"Yer a friend of the family, staying a few days. Think people don't already know yer face? That's what I tell them. Now get to bed, it's late, and we both got places to be tomorrow."

She left him down there, alone in the front room, lit by candles and with a full glass of wine. For a moment, a trill, a heartbeat of foolishness, he pondered going after her. Then the frown returned to his face and he scratched his jaw. His face had seen scissors and a razor for the first time in two seasons, and he felt a little naked without that extra armor of beggarly hair swaddling his face. But it took years off, he had to admit.

Floorboards creaked above him. From one side of the cottage... and then another. Kasoria smirked softly as he picked up his bag, heading to bed.

Someone's still up. Sneaky little sod.
► Show Spoiler
word count: 1704

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, and cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Prefers a trimmed beard and mustache

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
User avatar
Kasoria
Approved Character
Posts: 1638
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 1075
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Plot Notes
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Re: [Westguard] The Knight Of The Hills

That morning, he'd nearly made a grown man shit himself.Completely by accident, of course.

"Can I help... you?"

Even a child could have heard the difference between the words that came before the pause, and the one that came after. The former was a man's tone, full of gruff brusqueness. Determined not to be distracted from his work even as he turned to face a new customer, practically roaring over the din of the ironmongery around him. But the last one... it was almost that of a boy. All masculinity seemed to be sheared away, as if someone had reached down and ripped the soul from the speaker and taken his balls with it.

Ah. So he does remember me.

"Um, hello, Mister Tony."

The blacksmith didn't respond to Martyn. He was too busy staring at the little man that had walked in with him. Short and slight, with mild clothes and a demeanor to match. His other customers didn't get out of his way; he got out of theirs, which told a man everything about another's attitude. Or at least hat that man wanted you to think.

Tony knew better. Already the ravaged flesh under the brace covering his leg started to twitch and burn and scream under the metal frame. Because it remembered, memories made flesh sure as events did in the mind.

"H... Hello, Martyn."

"Good day to you, blacksmith," the little man said, taking his hat off and bowing with all respect, the murderous wee cunt. Tony bit back those words as the man looked around his forge. "Staying busy, I see. That's good. I asked Jessye's boy where we'd need to go for weapons, and of course, we came here. Don't know why I bothered, really."

He laughed. So did Tony. Eventually.

"Um, yes... ah... s-so, what were you looking for?"

"Sword and shield. Two of each, wooden, for training. I'm guessing you sell such to the garrison, or vice versa?"

Now, Tony was hardly a man to overcome horror and trauma with strength of will alone, but he was still a businessman. That meant he had to kick himself out of bed some days to make coin, and others that meant he was like a bloodhound when it came to getting it. Now he smelled profit in the offing, and like a soothsayer finding just the right words to convince a man of his mysticism, Kasoria was speaking his language. He cleared his throat and gestured over to his son, Graves. The stocky adolescent waddled over to the racks at the back of the smithy.

"Aye, aye, right on that'n. Come on and-and I'll show you."

He led the way and Kasoria felt Martyn tug at his sleeve. He leaned down and the boy said, "He's acting funny."

"Probably just his leg. Giving him trouble."

"Usually he just swears when that happens."

"And how would you know?"

"Um... well-"

"Here we go." Saved by the smithy, as it were, Martyn didn't have to answer that. Tony had led them over to shelves of swords and axes and clubs and shields and spears and, well, one gets the general idea. One entire wall had been converted into an armory, for want of a better word. Suits of armor were elsewhere, but here was where that which they defended against was up for display. And on the bottom shelf, appropriately enough, was the wooden gear. "Any kind of sword in particular, s-sir?"

Kasoria grimaced as he perused the selection. He had his preference, of course. Most men who swung steel did. The gladius was a perfect soldier's weapon, after all. Designed for use in close formation, stabbing out from behind a shield wall, slashing out from under it, no wild swinging or dueling for the man holding it. Of course, Kasoria's appreciation for the versatile shortsword came from a different place. One constructed of narrow alleys and bitter rooms and street battles, where you didn't want some four-foot-long monster getting caught in the walls or the ceiling. Bastards and longswords towered over a selection of them, but he gripped two shorter swords instead.

"These two, fer now." There was a pantomime groan to his side, and he responded with an eye roll equally as theatrical. "Ignore him. He wants to be a knight right off the bat."

He smiled. So did Tony. Eventually.

"Heh... um... shields?"

Ah, now, that was a tougher question. Kasoria pursed his lips and worked them side to side as he strode down the line of handheld barriers. The towers... no, far too tall. He didn't want the boy weighed down too badly. Besides, the army rarely used them, as far as he knew. At least not that often. A buckler, perhaps? No, same problem, different direction. The army hardly ever used them, little point to the tiny round plates. But the heater shields...

He hefted one up, sliding his left arm into the strap and gripping the handle on the reverse side. He beckoned over his son and Martyn did the same to another, smaller example. He moved his arm up and down and... he quite liked the feeling. There was three feet by two feet of solid wood in his way, and yet he could move it around quite easily. He planted his feet and held it up, gladius cocked back in his other hand. Yes... this could work.

Martyn tittered at the sight of him. Cocky wee sod.

"How does it feel, smarty pants?"

"Feels good! Lighter than I thought."

"Aye, well, the real ones have metal in them." He turned back to Tony and gestured to the four items. "How much?"

"Um... w-well, they're hardly crafted, and ah, ah, they're smaller so... we'll say..."

"Twenty-five?"

"Y-Yes?"

Kasoria's jaw twitched. This was annoying him, and he let the feeling flash over his face for an instant, hoping Tony would get the message. This craven, stuttering terror was becoming obvious, and Martyn was not a moron. The smith needed to hold it the fuck together. He opened his purse and let the money flow out into the smithy's shaking palm, bit by bit. By the time the full sum was in his palm, it wasn't trembling.

And Kasoria could have sworn he smelled piss.

"We'll take our leave, sir. Thank you so much for your help."

He shook Tony's hand.Tony gripped back and squeezed. This time there was no pause. Kasoria could see the resignation in the man's eyes, how he'd given up even being afraid. The damage was quite literally done, and history made. No point acting fearful and quaking whenever he saw Kasoria around. Martyn seemed oblivious to all of it, already slashing and thrusting at the empty air with his new weapons.

"All right, you!" Kasoria said airily, shepherding the boy towards the door, his own wooden arms in hand. "On our way we go."

"To start training?"

"To start training."

"Hooray!"

Father and son left with a laugh and a flash of sunlight from outside the darkened business. Tony watched them leave and felt his fear leave with them; ebb away from him like water through a hole. Until the memories crashed into him again, this time bodily, and he sagged against the forge behind him. Coins slipping and sliding out of his hand, tumbling onto the stone fall, tinkling sound mocking him like laughter.

"Dad? Dad are you all-"

"Get back to fucking work!"

Graves did as he was told and left his father to stare at the ground, fight back tears, and come to terms all over again with what had been done to him.
► Show Spoiler
Continued here
Image
word count: 1332

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, and cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Prefers a trimmed beard and mustache

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
User avatar
Bolt
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:33 pm
Race: Human
Renown: 0
Character Sheet
Point Bank Thread
Wealth Tier: Tier 1

Contribution

Re: [Westguard] The Knight Of The Hills


I was struggling to keep up with what was happening between posts - probably because I didn't read Part 1. It went from training a kid to what I think was the past, then to a shopping trip? In any case, I enjoyed the innocence of the boy and his misunderstanding of the word “arms.” I think the gist of the thread is that Kasoria agreed to train the boy so I hope that goes well (and doesn’t end up with him becoming a killer like Kasoria!).

Rewards:
XP: 10
Loot:
-25gn for Heater Shield (Wooden, Small) x2 and Gladius (Wood) x2
Injuries: N/A
Renown: 0

Knowledge:

Deception: Making Up a Story to Explain the Unease of a Victim
Intimidation: Weaponizing a Look of Annoyance
Stealth: Creaking Floorboards Give You Away
Shield (Heater): Shield Bash
Teaching: Starting Small and Simple
Teaching: Building a New Pupil’s Confidence

Non-Skill Knowledge:
NPC Jessye: One of Few Who can Backtalk Kasoria
NPC Martyn: Soldier-In-Training
NPC Tony: Still Adequately Terrified of Kasoria

Stamp Code:

Code: Select all

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word count: 195
Formerly Hikaru
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