• Solo • [North Woods] Guest II (Graded)

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[North Woods] Guest II (Graded)

Cylus 14th Arc 721


For several moments there was nothing but deep silence echoing through the loggers' camp. Silence that grew louder with the continued sound of crackling flames and the occasional puff of wind. The bearded man who called himself Barry sat frozen despite the fire, no part of him twitching or moving. Eyes wide, fists clenched, mouth pulled into a snarl. Both the jerky and the biscuit were on the ground, forgotten.

Then he began to tremble, expression shifting. Eyes turning fierce, befitting of his beard. He rose with haste, drawing a hatchet from behind his back. “I’ll kill you!”

Rokas merely shrugged. “You can try--”

Before he could finish his line, Barry leapt straight through the campfire, weapon raised and ready. Not caring about the sudden flaring of the flames, or the smoldering of his clothes. Before they could be set ablaze he was on the other side, bringing the hatchet down as soon as his feet touched the ground, aiming to split Rokas’s head as if it were a piece of firewood. Rokas didn’t move, simply looking Barry straight in the eye without even the slightest flinch.

But earth did intervene, exploding into action with an angry rumble. A nearby rock lurched forward, smashing into the head of the incoming hatchet, swatting it out of its intended path, missing Rokas completely. The shift in momentum yanked Barry off balance, legs dancing to regain stable footing. He returned to an aggressive posture, confusion budding on his face. The earth ground stones deep beneath the surface; it'd aimed for his hand.

“—but how do you hope to accomplish such—”

Barry attempted another strike, lunging forward in a reckless charge. Weapon raised above his head, mouth screaming a terrible war cry, leaving himself wide open for a counter attack. One did come, of course. Earth again, intercepting the airborne human with a sudden pillar of rock, a pseudopod that caught the whole of Barry’s body and flung it backward, then shrunk back into the earth’s crust.

The young bandit flopped hard onto the ground, air forced out of his lungs. He wheezed and coughed as he rolled onto his stomach, pushing himself to his knees. His hand searched blindly for his handaxe, then he stood back up clutching his chest, unsteady and thoroughly discombobulated. Pain etched deep lines on his face.

“—a thing? Your family outnumbered me, and they all perished. You are but one.”

“So are you!” Barry said, circling Rokas from a small distance, hoping to get into his blind spot. Rokas let him, unconcerned. It wouldn’t make a difference. Something whizzed through the air, spinning and sharp. Wind bristled. Earth rippled.

A metallic clang resounded, a small ax thudding into the soft forest soil to Rokas’s side. Earth withdrew part of itself back into the underground, creaking like boulders on the verge of shattering. Going from mildly irritated to absolutely livid. Rokas soothed it into a more tranquil state before it could lash out in retaliation, calmed its fury and refilled its patience. So next time Barry tried anything the element wouldn't outright crush him into fine paste and end this prematurely.

“Incorrect," Rokas spoke, "I am never alone. There’s five of us against one of you. I’ll extend to you the courtesy I showed your family. Give up. Leave. You’re young. Go live out the rest of your life.” His rational mind protested, insisted he really ought to kill this man. I never said I wouldn’t, did I?

Barry assessed the situation for a couple moments, aware of the ease with which he'd been repelled. Some of the hardness in his gaze evaporating, the lines of anger etched into his face smoothing over. Doubt gnawed behind his pupils, as did fear of inevitable failure. Despair at the futility of his efforts. His shoulders slumped, eyes drifted to his feet. But then he straightened himself, fury flaring back up, and the fierce man from before returned. He clenched his fists and grit his teeth.

“What kind of pathetic person would I be if I left my family unavenged? If I just ran with my tail between my legs?” he snarled, taking a small step sideways.

Rokas shrugged. “Don’t they say ‘live to fight another day’? What good does dying here and now accomplish? You’re just forfeiting your future,” he said, as if he didn’t plan on eliminating Barry regardless. “Play the hero all you like. Spout whatever righteous nonsense comes to mind, but it doesn’t improve your chances against me. You will die and I will live. That’s just facts. Forget your family, turn back and walk away. Forget about revenge. They’re dead, you’re not.”

“Would you? Could you just walk away from the man who murdered your entire family? Would you be able to live with yourself, knowing you could have avenged them? That the man responsible was right there and you were too much a coward to try and get revenge? You say there’s five of you, but I outnumber you still! The spirits of my family are with me, and they cry out for justice!”

There resounded a deep, shoulder-heaving sigh. “First off, no they’re not. They’re dead. Second, you’ll drag me before a court of law, will you? You, a highwayman? Go right ahead! How many unfortunate travelers and peddlers did your family rob, huh? I too was accosted by you lot. I defended myself and rid Etzos of a bunch of lowlife scum in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a bounty on your heads. Worst case, they rule I used excessive force in self defense, but no matter how you slice it, the deaths of your family were justified.” A brief pause to catch his breath. “Third, if by ‘justice’ you mean killing me, that’s one, homicide, and two, beyond your abilities.”

Barry spat, a thick globule of saliva splattering across the soil. “Whatever! Call it what you want; justice, homicide, revenge—”


“—I won’t stand here and let you get away with it.” He took another small step sideways, circling around Rokas’s position. He let him. “When faced with the man who erased your whole family, would you let him? Would you walk away because you might not win? Would you leave them unavenged, their spirits restless and unable to find peace?”

Rokas pictured whirling sands from several decades ago, a storm formed without warning, striking despite clear skies and empty horizons. Raging, ravaging. Suddenly upon them. “Yes,” he said, looking at the man on the other side of the campfire, “I would.”

“Then you’re even lower scum than you claim we are. You’re gutter trash. Worse than that! The lowest of the low. You’re a maggot feasting on an infected wound! You’re a cuckoo that eats the other eggs! Your soul is so repugnant Famula'd burn it instantly, if she weren't worried it'd corrode her lantern beyond repair! That’s the kind of filth you are!”

Barry kicked fire’s bed of burning twigs and cinders to pieces, flinging the fragments at Rokas, who covered his face with his arms out of reflex. Charred wood rained down on him, fire babbling an apology as it crept onto his cloak and licked his skin. It didn’t hurt half as bad as he’d expected. As he sprang to his feet, Barry rushed in with a knife at the ready. Too close for Rokas to get out of the way, too fast for him to block. Even earth responded a little too late, held back by Rokas's coaxing.

But it could still deflect the blade.

The knife plunged into his thigh rather than his kidney, steel biting down hard and deep, hitting bone. Rokas winced, grunting as blood blossomed on the layer of sand on his skin, then on the fabric of his trousers. Barry pulled the weapon back to take another stab at it, but Rokas’s fingers clamped around his wrist, keeping the knife from slipping out of his flesh. Barry reached for his belt again, for another hilt sticking out a scabbard. Rokas seized that one too, a vice grip around the forearm.

They wrestled for a few moments, pitting their raw power against each other. Barry; youthful and fierce, driven by rage and grief and a lust for blood. Rokas; older and wounded and slightly off balance, but larger and heavier, bringing with him vast quantities of experience. A stalemate, neither side giving in, neither side able to overwhelm the other. Until Barry stomped against the knife in Rokas’s thigh and the leg buckled under his weight.

He lost his grip on Barry’s arms, and the younger man didn’t waste the chance. Hammered Rokas’s jaw with a crushing hook, then bashing his shoulder into his stomach. Both of them toppled, slamming into the ground in a tangle. The earth that caught Rokas turned soft and springy, but Barry landed hard on unforgiving stone.

Rokas was already back on his feet before his opponent had recovered, still scrambling on hands and knees. He smashed a boot into Barry’s ribs, the force nearly lifting him off the ground. The younger man coughed and wheezed and groaned, flopping on his back. Rokas stomped down hard, foot meeting bone. Something cracked underneath, Barry roared and struggled and fought. And Rokas pressed down hard on the man’s chest again and again, until all the fight drained from him.

“So here we are,” Rokas sneered. “How utterly unexpected. Your family remains unavenged, but don’t worry you’ll join them soon. No use struggling—” He increased the pressure momentarily, and switched back quick, returning most of his weight to his uninjured leg. “—and don’t bother begging for mercy either. You had your chance and you wasted it. Just like they did.”

Barry coughed, then scowled in defiance. “I wouldn’t even consider begging scum like yourself. I’ll not degrade myself. Yes, I failed, but at least I’ll die with honor rather than continue living without!”

“Ironic coming from a highwayman. Save your breath, you’ll need it.”

The earth softened underneath Barry’s body, Rokas’s weight pushing him down into it as if it were putty. Deeper and deeper, slow but steady. The brigand’s breath turned to quick panting, heartbeat skyrocketing, limbs flailing. Screaming and cursing. Wishing death and suffering and disaster upon his tormentor. All in vain. Earth captured him, shackled his limbs in chains of rock and stone, and dragged him down into its bowels. Barry's voice grew muffled, smothered by soil and sand and clay, until it could no longer be heard. Finally, peace and quiet settled back into the loggers' camp.

And Rokas sighed and stretched, limped to the cabins and back, then sat down near the fire and treated his wounded leg while he returned to waiting.

I do hope he arrives within the next couple days... My patience wears thin and frays at the edges. I'm running out of ways to kill time too.

Maybe I should try my hand at woodcarving..?

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Re: [North Woods] Guest II


-Defiance - Guardian: Responds to incoming attacks
-Defiance - Dancing: Dragging someone underground
-Endurance: Taking a knife to the thigh
-Strength: Breaking ribs
-Strength: Pinning someone to the floor
-Strength: Pitting your strength against someone else's

Loot: -
Lost: -
Wealth: -
Injuries: A knife wound on Rokas' thigh that is so deep that it reaches the bone. While Rokas' Expert Field Craft skill will prevent the worst, it will still require proper medical treatment.

Medium Overstepping: Rokas overstepped Defiance and will suffer from severe exhaustion for the next seven trials.

At 80 XP, Rokas is barely an Expert. Burying a man alone would already be pretty challenging and take a lot of energy. In addition to that, Rokas caused a rock to smash Barry in the head though, and then there was a pillar of rock, for example. All this happened in a high-stress situation while Rokas has Novice Meditation and Novice Discipline. His relative lack of Meditation and Discipline should make it hard for Rokas to handle that situation.

Renown: -
Magic XP: Yes, for Defiance.
Skill Review: See below.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: I suspected that something like that would happen when I read the previous thread. It’s understandable that Barry wanted to kill Rokas. You described his fury very well in my opinion.

The fight was very well written and exciting to read, and the use of Defiance only added to it. Rokas has quite a unique and personal relationship with the elements in my opinion.

You created an intimidating PC!

It’s a shame that Barry didn’t listen to him, give up and choose to live!

As I already pretty much mentioned above, you overplayed Rokas’ Discipline as well as Meditation skill. At Novice Discipline and Meditation, he should have a much harder time with his Defiance. He was also rather nonchalant when he confronted Barry and fought him. Some of it is probably just personality, but keep in mind that even someone like Rokas can panic!

Furthermore, you overplayed Rokas' Medicine skill. According to his CS, he has 0 Medicine.

Barry's knife went in so deep that it hit the bone, but when it comes to treating the wound, you only wrote that Rokas "treated his wounded leg". I would have appreciated a bit more detail. Having Expert Field Craft is helpful when it comes to treating injuries and preventing infections, but in the case of such a deep wound, some skill in Medicine or Surgery would still be a good idea. Rokas has 0 Medicine.

You also forgot to add "Medicine" and "Field Craft" to the list of skills used in the review request. Both might have applied when it comes to treating the knife wound.

That being said, enjoy your rewards and let me know if you have any questions!
word count: 468





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