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 Redemption

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Kai

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Posts : 54
Join date : 2009-11-12
Age : 32
Location : In the foothills above Dyna Village

Character sheet
Level: 2
XP to Next Level:
2200/2250  (2200/2250)
Hit Points:
38/38  (38/38)

PostSubject: Redemption   Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:14 am


I have held three names in my lifetime.

The first was given to me at birth, and I held it for most of my young life. My first name meant little to me then, however, and means less to me now. Thus, I will not bother sharing it with you.

The second was stolen from me long ago, along with my innocence and the purpose I once held in life. My second name meant “purity of spirit.” It was given to me on the day I dedicated my life to saving the lives of others.

The third, I carry as a reminder of all that I lost, and all I will destroy lest I forget. A broken name, as steeped in bloodshed and death as my second was in healing and in life. The name marking the dawn of the new purpose I now hold in death.


Vengeance.


* * *

Kaitlyn was in the alcove dedicated to those who had passed on, methodically lighting each votive, when the screaming began. The many windows were arranged in a semicircle so that, by day, the sun would always illuminate the shrine, but as night fell, the candles were dutifully lit so that the memorialized were never without their Lord’s light. Now, however, instead of bestowing Pelor’s blessing upon the fallen, the open windows carried an unexpected medley of suffering and death. The other healers, acolytes, and priests froze, unable to interpret what they were hearing, as the disconcerting sound rose from the outskirts of the surrounding village. All stopped where they were and gazed to the outer world, their thoughts heavy and muddled as if in a fog.

Who would want to attack such a peaceful and generous town? Kaitlyn wondered, her mind chasing itself in circles as she tried unsuccessfully to process the tableau outside and spur her body into motion.

After a moment, the various healers and priests threw off their trance, one by one, and looked about, bewildered. A number of them were used to grisly scenes of torture and violence, having experienced much of both in their travels in the service of their Lord, but most were ill-suited to a situation such as this; even those experienced priests usually came upon the battles after they had been won or lost. Finally, a precocious little healer’s acolyte snatched up a lantern and raced down the passage to the master cleric, Ayden’s quarters, the light bobbing wildly ahead of her. She returned a moment later, following behind a slender man with long, bleached hair and skin like parchment paper. Every eye turned toward the wizened man as he jerked to a halt, throwing his head up like a startled horse as the ruckus reached him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he took the situation in hand and quickly began calling out orders in a tremulous voice laced with steel.

“All right now, I don’t know what’s happened, but we’re sure to have incoming wounded in a few minutes. Healers, gather your things, then I want the four adepts to take each corner; the rest of you will disperse yourselves evenly around those three walls there,” he said, pointing. “Keep out of each other’s way, and stay to your own section. Triage only until all of the worst injuries are taken care of. Once the wounded are stable, have the priests move them outside, if they can walk, or to the middle of the room, if they can’t. If they’ve passed on, have them moved to the back wall away from the rest of the healers and the injured.

"You little ones,” he continued, turning now to the acolytes, “I want bedrolls set up in rows through the center of the Hall around the Lord’s Flame, but leave walkways at least three men wide down the middle and from corner to corner. When that’s done, I want two of you to a healer. Help them gather whatever else they need, then stay with them and help with the injured.

"Priests, to the doors,” he said, refocusing his attention once more as the healers and acolytes moved away. “I want you to intercept the wounded as they come in, and distribute them evenly among the healers. Try to divide them up according to specialty, but don’t bog any one of the clerics down. Once you’ve carried them in, check to see if any who’ve been treated need to be carried to the bedrolls or the back wall before you go back to the doors. We’ll bestow our Lord’s blessings on the dead only after the living have been cared for. Understood?”

His answer was an explosion of movement as the mass dispersed to all corners of the great room. In a moment’s time, the Healing Hall was afire with activity. A small army of acolytes threw open the doors to various storage niches, returning with arms full of various bandages, dressings, bedrolls and clean linens. Lanterns blazed high along the windowed walls, and the Eternal Flame, ever burning in its great, raised dais at the center of the room, leapt to a roaring light as two of the priests piled it high with kindling. Those with a spark of magery cast floating orbs of light over each healer and throughout the expanse not fully lit by the torches and the Flame, while the screaming grew ever nearer to the temple doors.

Kaitlyn had carried most of her medical supplies over to her corner and was going back for the rest when Ayden pulled her aside, laying a gentle hand upon her arm. Though his frame appeared frail and his skin was thin to the point of translucence, the strength of his light grip exposed the underlying steel. This man had weathered no few battles, both during and after their progression, and he refused to let a simple thing like old age hinder him overmuch. His pale blue eyes bored into the young woman’s as he lowered his head as if to be heard over the noise.

:Kaity, I want you to try to keep everyone calm, if you can, seeing as you have a talent for it,: he said, speaking privately directly into her mind. :I wasn’t entirely truthful earlier. I have a fairly good idea what’s going on out there, and if I’m right, the townsfolk will be anywhere from agitated to hysterical by the time they reach us.: Under Ayden’s speech, she could vaguely sense an alarming undercurrent of despair, but in a flash, it was gone and she could sense nothing more from him.

Her eyes grew wide in apprehension, and in her alarm she protested aloud. “Sir, I’ve never–”

:I know it’s nothing trained or terribly powerful,: he interrupted, raising a calming hand, :but we may be able to fix that, once this is over. At the moment, you have a way of soothing the sick and injured when no one else can. I know you’ve never tried to use it on this scale, but every little bit is going to help. All I ask is that you try.:

The young woman swallowed hard and nodded once, deciding that this was neither the time nor the place to question her mentor further. :Aye, elder,: she replied instead, drawing herself erect. :I’ll do everything I can.:

“Good girl,” he said quietly, a relieved look darting across his creased features. He patted her arm fondly, and then they were both moving off as the first of the injured staggered or were carried into the shining temple.

Kaitlyn noted that Tani and Lauryn, her two assistants, had retrieved the last of her supplies, and so she set to work on her first patient, plunging headlong into a mess of blood and broken bones. She instructed Lauryn and Tani to draw and heat clean water from the many spouts set into each of the walls as she administered a powdered herb meant to ease pain. Remembering what her master had said, she tried to focus all her attention on projecting an aura of serene tranquility about herself. Soon the broken man before her dropped into a light stupor, though she suspected this to be the work of the powdered herbs. This accomplished, she stabilized the man’s broken arm while the girls set about cleaning her patient’s many lacerations. She finished with his arm and moved on to quickly stitching his major wounds as more injured poured through the doors in various stages of mobility.

The priests piled more logs on the Flame, and soon light streamed from every window, a beacon for the townsfolk to follow, visible even to those who were half-dead of injury or fatigue. Unfortunately, this also made the temple a fine target. As the healers, priests, and acolytes worked feverishly into the night, they took little notice of the dark-cloaked, hooded figures emerging from the passage to the temple’s lower levels. Indeed, few even realized the temple had a lower level. Only one truly took note as the procession glided past, his eyes anxiously following them as they drew weapons and wordlessly split into smaller groups to flank each doorway. As the silent warriors looked on into the night, the master healer lifted his gaze to meet the shadowed eyes of their leader, and a knowing look passed between the two men. After a moment, the cleric nodded once and lowered his head in resignation, praying for the Sun Lord to show them all mercy this dark night.
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Kai

avatar

Posts : 54
Join date : 2009-11-12
Age : 32
Location : In the foothills above Dyna Village

Character sheet
Level: 2
XP to Next Level:
2200/2250  (2200/2250)
Hit Points:
38/38  (38/38)

PostSubject: Re: Redemption   Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:43 am

The outer wall had been breached a mere hour ago, and the outermost ring of houses followed shortly after. Fire held court among the gutted ruins that now comprised the outer perimeter of the once-prosperous town. The flickering firelight threw grotesque shapes upon those few walls that remained upright, twisting the shadows into a grisly mockery of life. A few of these specters were not mere illusions, however, though they used the conveniently provided cover to their benefit. Vague forms flitted from building to building, following in the destruction of those who had gone before them. They met no resistance in this wasteland; the inhabitants and guards stationed this far from the city’s core had perished long ago.

Further in, the line of defense still held, if barely. City guardsmen slashed and hacked wildly at dark, indistinct shapes that lurked just out of sight, and occasionally darted in to snatch an unfortunate guard who’d reacted too slowly. These hapless individuals were never found, though their screams echoed on for several minutes, most ending in a strangled gurgle.

“Gods take you, I said keep your damn guard up!” Lieutenant Grey shouted in frustration after the latest such disappearance.

“We’re trying, sir, but we can’t take much more of this,” his second in command replied, wiping his dripping brow with a forearm. Lank, dark hair fell into eyes of brilliant green, and he shoved it behind his ear in annoyance.

The lieutenant growled, pausing a moment to take stock of what remained of his company. All around him, men panted with exhaustion, many favoring injured sides and arms, even as they held their weapons at the ready. Sweat dripped from their faces, and the lieutenant could sense their morale draining away with their strength as this impossible battle wore on. Finally, he turned back to his sergeant.

“Have all the villagers been evacuated behind us?”

“Aye, sir. Our section is secure, and I just sent a runner back to the command post for a report. I expect to hear back from him any–”

“Sergeant Briallyn! Lieutenant Grey!” a young man called out, limping quickly toward the two men and snapping off a lopsided salute.

“Now, lieutenant,” the sergeant finished belatedly with a tired grin. “I expect to hear back from him now.” His smile disappeared as one of the shadowed enemies darted for the injured scout. The two officers managed to beat the monster back, but not before the creature had scored the young man a long, shallow gouge across the ribs.

“Report, guardsman,” the lieutenant ordered after handing him a waterskin and making sure his injuries weren’t an immediate threat.

“The companies east and west of us report…all civilians and non-essentials have…evacuated within the inner wall,” the young man gasped, struggling to remain standing. “I’m also to…pass along orders…from the captain. She wants us to…follow and set up…a perimeter inside the…southern wall. Captain says there’re … too many casualties…and we’re spread too thin to…keep holding a line out here,” he finished, swaying on his feet.

“Well done guardsman," the lieutenant said, patting the man’s shoulder. "Now, you get up the hill to the Temple and–”

The men spun suddenly as a small group of creatures rushed them. They caught sight of deathly pale skin and sunken eyes set into the morbid mockery of a human face before the things were on them, slashing wildly with impossibly long teeth and claws. The unarmed scout turned to take cover, but his injured leg gave out, and he fell heavily to the ground. Sensing his weakness, a petite, feminine creature turned and lunged, latching on to the guardsman’s foot. The scout cried out as the monster started to drag him backward into the shadows, and the officers redoubled their efforts. The lieutenant grabbed the guard’s arms as his second thrust at the hissing thing that had a hold on him. The female shrieked, turning her hostage loose and striking out at the sergeant, her claws tearing cruelly through muscle and tendon. But his blow landed true, and the female screamed in agony as his blade pierced her heart and her lifeblood gushed onto the cobbles at her feet.

The rest of the monsters cried out in response as their comrade fell to the ground, turning as one and rushing the group of guards. The company flew to their officers’ aid, but the lieutenant’s grip slipped as one of the beasts slammed into him, screeching and clawing at his shoulders. As the mob surrounded the unprotected guard and carried him away, a lone figure stayed, crouched over what remained of the female. It let out a wrenching, too-human wail and raised its gaze to meet Sergeant Briallyn’s eye. It glared coldly at him as the man raised a hand to his ruined shoulder, seeming to memorize his face in the moment before the company rushed it, driving the thing back after its companions. The lieutenant cursed as they disappeared, then fell silent as the young scout’s screams died away on the still night air. The men looked on in silence for a few moments, mourning the man’s passing while thanking the gods above that they hadn’t shared his fate.

“I think now’s a good time for that retreat,” the lieutenant finally ordered, breaking the solemn spell. “Sergeant, get a sling on that arm and assist in our relocation, and then I want you to head for the Temple once we’re secure. The rest of you, make for the Inner Gate, double time. We’ll be setting up in the south barracks. Now move!”

As the guards hurried to assist their injured and carry out the lieutenant’s orders, they failed to notice the lone pair of malicious eyes that still gazed intently after them.
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