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Bastards & Broadswords Origen's D&D 5E campaign.

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Old 11-10-2013, 12:10 PM
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Default Rooker Wolven 1, Prologue: "There is no shame..."

Fingertips like steel sank deep into the brachial plexus. The blocking arm, suddenly drained of strength, folded under the hard shin, which slammed home on the clavicle in a descending angle. There was a slight, grunted exhalation in response and a fractional dilation of pupils, as well as a momentary stiffening of joints. A quick pivot and slide, the collision of calves, and there was a moment of freedom, of drifting.

Elbow chopped into sternum, adding a painful accelerative assistance to gravity, and the body crashed to earth, back, head and ankles striking hard. Breath was forced out in a pained gasp, an almost unseemly inflection of emotion added to the involuntary exhalation.

There was a beat, then the acolyte rose with only slightly stiff grace and bowed, fists joined in front of his face. Rooker dipped back an acknowledging bow and then turned to the next acolyte in line, holding his place in the circle.

"There is no shame, Rooker..."

A gray figure stood by, stern granite carved into a bland impassivity, regarding all that transpired.

As the defeated acolyte rolled out of the circle, the next one charged in, chancing an aggressive entry, a jumping lateral snap-punch. Rooker barely concealed his disdain for the gambit, as he pivoted on his left and drove his right leg out like a suddenly-appearing tree trunk. Foot hit chest and, without planted feet for grounding, his attacker did an almost full back-flip, crashing down face-first.

"There is no shame..."

Even as the acolyte hit the ground, two more darted forth, one of them leaping to grapple Rooker. Without turning, Rooker threw three elbow strikes backwards in rapid succession. A turning kick, more push than strike, stumbled the would-be-grappler into the path of his compatriot. Rooker jumped, pivoted, and drove his heel backwards, smashing his opponent in the face, driving his head into the other attacker's face. They both dropped, insensate. The rest of the acolytes moved, fanning out, hands coming up, stances shifting, faces writ with anger. Rooker's lip twitched fractionally, the closest he would come to a sneer, as he prepared for the onslaught.

"Enough."

The gray man's words, despite no special inflection or raised volume, cut through the room and froze them all in place. After a pause, each of them stood up straight, elbows out, fists meeting over their hearts.

"There is no shame..."

"To the courtyard. Third form until meditation period. Half speed."

As one, the acolytes gave a nodding bow of assent and ran to the corridor and out to the courtyard.

Rooker remained.

"So. Do you intend to cripple all of your classmates, Rooker? Have you had some glimpse of the Grand Design and have ascertained that rendering your colleagues toothless will in some way hasten the coming of the Better World?"

Rooker bowed his head. The gray man continued.

"The twelfth pose meditation has not had the desired effect."

Not a question, a statement of fact.

"No sir. None that I or any of the masters have been able to detect."

The gray man looked at Rooker. There was, perhaps, something like compassion on his studied, composed, expressionless features.

"Well then. It seems that we must discuss your posting then."

Rooker stared straight ahead.

"There is no shame, Rooker. No shame in striving and failing."

"Sir."

"Yes, Rooker?"

"If it please you sir, I have a task. A diplomatic pouch to deliver."

"Very well, Rooker. Very well. Execute your duty. When you return, we will decide the future of your service. The Order will benefit from your participation, no matter in what capacity. Not everyone walks the Way."

Rooker turned and left, heading to his quarters.
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"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." -- Abraham Lincoln

Last edited by Chimaera; 11-10-2013 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 11-16-2013, 05:12 PM
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Origen Origen is offline
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Before he left, there was a conversation he needed to have. While none of the other acolytes would miss him, nor he them, there was one voice he needed to hear.

Her earned title was Ki Ro Yee, a slight bastardization of the Elven for She Who Flies with the Lightness of Sunlight and Wings of Steel. Most simply called her the Iron Butterfly.

Wolven rang a small bronze bell with a rounded wooden stick and waited a respectful moment before entering Yee's meditation and training chamber. The floors were covered with woven tatami mats. She knelt to one side, eyes closed. Her knee-length black hair was tied into a simple braid that hung down across her back.

On a low wooden table rested a bottle of wine, and two glasses. Wolven had never seen the Iron Butterly drink. He felt the intended lesson, like a subtle brush stroke at the end of a letter in an unspoken word, was to remind her students that theirs was an order of the world. No unnecessary ascetism, no mortification of the flesh was required of their discipline. Damnation was, in fact, assumed. There was no avoiding it. And it was to be embraced as part of death.

He slipped his hands into the sleeves of his robe, and knelt on the floor. As a practical matter, one always emptied one's bladder in the latrine before visiting the Iron Butterfly. He'd once knelt for a day and a night in silent meditation before she chose to begin the lesson. When she kicked him in sparring, he'd had to excuse himself. Her laughter followed him down the hall.

This time, he didn't have long to wait. Her heard the quiet rustling of silk as she rose. He stood, and touched one finger to his forehead as she did the same. All concepts begin in the mind.

She snapped a front kick at chin level, followed by a jab and a cross. A simple form, designed to deal with 3 opponents of similar size in low-standing water. His mind eased. This was no obscure, difficult kata. She wanted to talk.

"It would do little good," she began, throwing a flurry of short punches, which he followed with perfect timing, "to try and convince you not to walk another path. We do not discourage ambition, and it is known that you will never be a letter carrier or a mere instructor of calligraphy, or languages, or one who is content to copy the words of another from scroll to bound codex."

She reached forward to grab the gi of an imaginary opponent, and pivoted her hips to hurl him into another opponent approaching her from behind.

"There are fates worse than damnation, Acolyte. I believe, among us, you may see this most clearly of all. You will need all of the tools at your disposal. In a pouch by the door you will find a scrap of vellum with three names on it. Visit them in the order I have written them. The first should be sooner rather than later. The second should be soon, because he will leave the city within the year. Time is not quite so important for the third. If you live, visit him when you are ready."

They finished the form. Wolven turned to the Iron Butterfly and bowed. She grasped one fist in an open hand, returned the bow.

"Those of the Second Way are rare," she said. "Those who achieve the Third Way are rarer still, and those who survive the process sane and whole are often the stuff of legends."

She said no more. Wolven left the room knowing he would probably never see her again along this turn of the wheel.
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:11 AM
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Rooker went to his cell. He went through his few possessions and quickly packed. He dressed in his travelling clothes and buckled on his coat and hood. He hefted his (admittedly light) pack, strapped on his courier satchel, and threw on a mantle. He strapped a quiver in place and then took his steel-shod staff in hand. He double-checked the placement of his tools as he went to the quartermaster's office, where he picked up the packet of letters and papers to deliver, placed them in a leather sleeve, which was bound and the knot sealed and marked with wax. This went into his courier bag and that was it: efficiency had brought him, precipitously and abruptly, to what should have been some sort of occasion. He was leaving. He would deliver the package and then...

Then he would find a way. He was not going to man a safehouse. He would not move to some remote village and ply a trade and take a wife and have children, lying in wait for the needs and demands of those who would actually make a difference in the world. He would find the Way.
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Last edited by Chimaera; 11-18-2013 at 10:14 AM.
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