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The Inquisitives Rhakir's PBEM game.

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  #11  
Old 02-19-2012, 10:35 AM
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The ugly half-orc’s body fell into the water, face down, unmoving. Steam rose off the burned flesh, and blood seeped from the wounds in his side where June managed to make contact. Already, small fish began nibbling at the floating corpse.

June began to turn back to the living threats when a tendril of smoke drew her eyes to her feet. While she’d certainly been to funerals and such, her protected life had sheltered her from violent death.

The burned body of the female thief lay there, charred, bloodied, a look of torment frozen onto the rigor of her dead face. The visual pain of her demise screaming at June in accusation. Choking on bile, she stumbled back...away from the ugly sight. Battle, and enemies forgotten as her face paled in shock.

The white-haired man glanced up at the sudden movement near the barrels, his face covered in blisters like his arms and hands. Without hesitating, he rolled into a crouch and began to run, back toward the way he came. Tatters of burnt clothing drifted in his wake, and a few shocked gasps from passers-by could be heard. Then all was quiet.

Mardu dropped Eye Patch to the ground and scanned the area for other threats. Seeing none, he turned his attention on June.

“Oh, Junie,” he said softly as he moved to take her in his arms...

“You’re bleeding so much.” June’s voice stuttered beneath the shivering setting in. “We need to get you to a healer.”

Mardu hadn’t even realised how he must have looked. “I’ll be okay. Everything’s okay, Junie. You’re safe now.” He wasn’t sure how much of that was said for her sake or for his own.

“It’s not ok. You’re hurt!” and then to her chagrin (later, when she wasn’t in shock) she began to cry. She fumbled at the bright sash around her waist. “I know a little...banda... Don’t die, Mardu!”

“I’m not gonna die, Junie,” he reassured her. “It’ll take a lot more than that to do me in. C’mon, let’s get you out of the middle of the street.” He realised that he’d just smeared blood all over her new clothing, but they did need to find somewhere to bandage his wounds, so cleaning her up would have to wait.

He moved her along haltingly, as she was still unsure of her footing. Eventually, they made it a few blocks into the town and turned down a side street that wasn’t occupied. He kept his arm and hand over his wounds, but blood was starting to soak his trousers and he did feel a bit light-headed already.

When he was certain there were no bystanders to cause a fuss, the half-orc leaned against a stone wall and let June wrap her sash around his mid-section.

“Thank you,” he grunted just as she tightened the knot holding the makeshift bandage in place. She’d done a thorough job making sure the wound was actually closed up before applying the dressing. The puncture in his side was covered as well, so he would be okay for the time being. But they both knew he’d need to be seen to by a professional. And soon.

“I’m going to get a healer.” The need for action, almost any action to keep the shock and panic away, made June act perhaps more rashly than a calmer head would deem wise. “You stay here and rest. I’ll be right back.”

“No, Junie!” Mardu’s hand reached for her, but caught only the brush of cotton as she slipped out of the side street.
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:36 AM
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Default Not her finest moment

Once back in open air, she paused, still trembling in reaction. A quick look around to memorize this place so she could return surely and then she clutched her amulet and closed her eyes. No temple in sight from this vantage. Host take it, she didn’t have time to be lost! “Please.” She muttered to herself, willing the dragonmark at her hip to come to life. “Where is the nearest temple?”

When she opened her eyes, she didn’t notice the staring of the early morning bread seller who was passing.
It didn’t even occur to her, in her worry for Mardu, to note her appearance. Blood-soaked dress, greasy fresh soot on her arm from the man she’d struck, mussed all around from Mardu’s tackle and missing her sash.

She struck off in the direction that seemed right.

To say she attracted a bit of attention would’ve been an understatement.

Passers-by stared at the golden-haired young woman, most too afraid to approach her. There were rumblings from a few about calling the magistrate to deal with her, since she was obviously attacked.

“Miss? Are you okay miss?” a large man wearing an apron asked as she passed him. He had been in the process of unloading fresh bread and rolls at the inn they were in front of. The fleshy man would have looked at home with a pint in his hand and a smile on his face, but right now, he looked concerned. It was not a good look for someone with that many chins.

“I need a healer!” June managed to stammer. “The temple. Where’s the nearest temple?”

“By the Flame, girl,” the baker gasped when he saw the front of her finally. “I’ll get you to the church. They’ll take care of you. Who did this? Are you in danger?” The thought seemed to change something in his demeanour, and he glanced around like a mouse caught in the open waiting for a cat to pounce.

When it was apparent that the golden-haired girl wasn’t able to tell him and nothing had pounced, the baker sat June in the back of his wagon and quickly climbed onto the front bench. With a soft word to the dray horse - despite being scared out of his wits, he was still very gentle with his faithful horse - he steered them down the main street and turned towards the center of Urthhold.

June was still in a state of shock; even more so possibly because she was no longer moving on her own two legs. By the time the wagon came to a stop, she had wrapped her arms around her knees and was rocking back and forth. The smell of fresh bread and honey glaze from the baker’s undelivered goods did not mix well with the stench of burnt flesh and blood that still filled June’s senses. She was pale, and looked like she was about to be sick.

“...So I brought her here straight away.” The driver’s voice sounded as if it was approaching the cart, which made no sense to June, who had not noticed he’d gone into the stone building to get some help.

“I’ll take care of her,” said a strong sounding woman’s voice. A pair of hands reached into the cart and very carefully extracted June, hefting her against a breastplate of armour. When June started to protest, verbally and physically, the woman’s voice spoke softly in her ear. “It’s okay, child. I have you. I’ll take care of you.”

“Oh thank you, Donya! You’re a saint!” the baker proclaimed, much happier that the blood-soaked girl was now in somebody else’s care. “I shall be sure to tell the Bishop what a kind soul you are!”

Donya ignored the flattery and promises.

“If anyone is looking for her, come tell me. I’ll look after her,” she told the baker as she carried June into the cool shadows. The baker promised to do so as he drove off. The last thing June remembered hearing was heavy booted footsteps on the stone passage floor. Then everything went dark as the stress and shock of the morning’s event finally caught up to her.

***

“MARDU!” June shouted as she sat bolt upright in bed. She instantly regretted doing so, as both the shout and the movement caused a wave of pain and nausea to roll through her. She bent over doubled, waiting for the unease to pass.

Slowly, her surroundings started to filter through her awareness.

The first thing she noticed was that she wasn’t in her own bed. This one was much less comfortable, and the covers and blankets were far too old and tatty to be hers. The next thing she noticed was the room itself; again, not hers. The walls were all stone held together with mortar. There was a certain sense of artistry in the way all the edges lined up, despite the lack of a single straight edge anywhere in sight. The only window to the room had heavy shutters that were closed; only a thin bit of light managed to slip in through the seams and edges to offer some ambient illumination. And the only door to the room was a massive affair of heavy dark wood reinforced with iron bands. She had a sneaking suspicion that the door was locked from the outside...

She also noticed that she wasn’t wearing the new outfit that Mardu had bought her, when was that? This morning? Someone had removed the bloody garments, cleaned her up, and dressed her in a simple cotton gown. It smelled of cedar, and the seams were fairly worn; definitely a second-hand bit of clothing.
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  #13  
Old 02-19-2012, 10:36 AM
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Default

The thought of her clothes brought her back to Mardu again. Where was he? Was he okay? Her heart ached not having any answers.

Of course, June realised, she didn’t even know where she was at the moment...

Her stomach growled. Not much of a ‘tell’ as to how long she’d been here, though. She hadn’t eaten at all during her escape. She padded over and tried the door. It didn’t yield to her attempts to open it.

This did NOT look good. Who had taken her in, only to lock her up? (Perception, +10 to recognize the architecture where there are no lines that match up, is it the Host?) She moved to the small window and worked to open the shutters. Again, no luck. She couldn’t tell if it was because they were barred, or she was just not strong enough.

“Dragon take it!” She muttered. “I feel like the kidnapped heroine of a stupid novel. I liked the other parts better” She leaned her forehead against the shutters feeling woozy again. “Except the fight. They don’t show it like it really is in the novels. Oh Mardu, I pray you are ok.” With a sigh she padded over and tried a more humble approach, knocking on the heavy door.

“Hello? Is anyone out there?”

“Just a moment, please,” said a familiar female voice on the other side. There was a bit of muttering while the handle of the door was manipulated. Then a muffled curse. “Um. Sorry, but could you stand back from the door a few paces?”

“Ok”, June stepped back a few paces.

The unexpectedly loud thud of something slamming into the door, probably a boot since it sounded low to the the ground, made June jump. The door moved a bit from the impact, then was pushed open the rest of the way by a woman putting her shoulder to it. The woman then reached down to pick up a tray off the ground.

“Sorry about that. The damp always makes these door swell. It’s a right pain to get them open sometimes,” the woman said with a grin. “I’m Donya. I brought you some food. Are you hungry?” She was tall, almost six feet, with shoulder length dark hair pulled back into a plait at her neck. She wore a breastplate of armour over her other clothes, a dark blue pair of trousers, and high boots made for riding. A large flaming arrowhead was etched artistically into the front of the armour; the symbol of the Church of the Silver Flame.

“How long have I been here?” June could barely contain her worry for politeness sake. “I have a friend who was injured. I was getting help for him.”

“Well, it’s almost sunset now, so I’d say about ten hours or so,” Donya replied soberly. “Who is your friend? Is he staying nearby? I can go with you to see to him.” The woman stepped closer to June and examined her closely.

“It looks like you’re feeling better, at least. But I’d like to make sure before you collapse again. Why don’t you have a seat and I’ll check you over. Then we can go see to your friend.” Donya rolled up her sleeves and drew an arrowhead pendant out from under her breastplate; it was an ornate affair of filigree etchings on beautifully crafted silver. She murmured a prayer to the Silver Flame, a quiet request for peace and clarity of thought.

“I’m ok. Really.” June looked at the pendant nervously. She knew the Silver Flame was a church of good, but rather law abiding beliefs. Not the kind to happily aid runaways, necessarily. “10 hours, he’s likely looking for me. If he hasn’t collapsed yet. Please, I’m really worried. I last saw him kind of down by the dock. We were attacked and he was very injured...”

Her words trailed off as she realized something else. 10 hours...10 hours for the members of her house to try to find her, trace her steps to Urthold. If she went out on the street openly, she could be caught. If she didn’t, Mardu could suffer. If she hid here until after nightfall, she could make it to the docks again and perhaps hide on a ship that was outbound. If she did that, she’d never know if he lived or died. Could she bear that? Was she that kind of person? But (the thought came unbidden) he was just a servant.

She looked up into the concerned frown on Donya’s face (who had been watching the range of emotions coursing across June’s) and what came out was her true heart. “Please, I have to find him right away.”

“Of course,” Donya said as she went to a chest at the end of the bed. “Your clothing is being washed, but I have some in here that should fit you, Lady d’Tharashk.” She dropped the name so casually that June almost missed it.

June’s heart sank. Great. Fake it. Donya couldn’t know yet. “Thank you.” She replied graciously.

Donya produced a simple tunic and pair of trousers that were not too dissimilar to what June had worn earlier. It wasn’t nearly as nice, but it would do for now. The outfit was rounded out with a pair of comfortable sandals and a large shawl.

“I’ll fetch my kit and we can be off. Do you know where it was you last saw him? We’ll have to start there, of course,” Donya told her as she turned so June could change.

“A little ways from the docks, just a few blocks.” Her mind had been so fuzzy from shock, the exact location was unclear. But they hadn’t gone far, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find him. “He stands out. We should be able to find him.”

June changed quickly and then...time to face the great outside, and possible discovery. “I’m ready.”
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  #14  
Old 02-19-2012, 10:39 AM
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Default What happened to Mardu?

Donya led June out of the Church of the Silver Flame and onto the main road. The city looked so much different than June recalled. Perhaps it was just that she’d only seen the outskirts near the docks and hadn’t gotten a really good look at things. Urthhold was a much larger city than she first imagined, with many large structures dominating the centre of town. Many of the buildings were several stories high with bridges stretching across the busy streets to connect to other buildings. The whole thing seemd confusing and disorganised, like some mad hive of insects. But as she looked about, she began to see the underlying patterns in things, the way the streets wound through and around, the way the people moved with a certain pace and rhythm. It wasn’t quite prophetic, but June could begin to understadn and appreciate the patterns of life that spread out around her.

The priestess led June to the docks, which actually stretched for a good half mile down the riverside. Since it was growing late, the darkness of twilight and the crowded streets did nothing to helo their search. They traveled north, upriver, as that’s where June remembered they had come in from, but it was a while before June saw anything that looked remotely familiar to her.

They found an area blocked off by makeshift barricades. A large burned area marked the stones on the street next to the dock, and there was blood nearby, not yet cleaned or washed away. This is where they were attacked. Twice, even. She’d left Mardu down an alley not too far from here. He couldn’t have gotten far...

The area was once again quiet, although it had likely been busy for the day.

“This is where we were attacked.” She murmered to Donya. Quiet now, to not draw attention as evening settled over the dock.

Gathering her bearings, (perception, +10) she moved off in the direction that seemed the way that Mardu had taken her. After a few steps away from the docks, the search became easier as she began to notice the intermittent drops of red that had likely dripped out from the blood pooling in his trousers. Her worry began to grow as the bloody trail went from intermittent drops, to smudged footprints. A sure indication of the amount of precious liquid he’d lost.

Donya, noting the growing concern on her young charges face, kept quiet, so as not to distract. However, she did draw her weapon as darkness descended. This was the dock, after all.

Finally, the little side street. With hope and fear June dodged into it. “Mardu?”

No Mardu. She closed her eyes in disappointment. He’d likely gone looking for her. Or perhaps for help for himself and his awful wounds.

“This is where he was?” Donya asked quietly. June didn’t respond with words. She doubted she could trust her voice right now, with the worry so thick it tightened her throat. Instead she nodded.

A deep breath and then, time to use her dragonmark. This time for something other than anothers personal interest or her own petty searches for the kitchen or a lost bit of jewelry.

Summoning the dragon was becoming a little easier every day. The mark burned a little on her hip as she called upon it’s gift. Finding. She put her all into that summoning. “Find Mardu.”

The pulling was strong, leading the two women through the darkened maze of streets back towards the docks, oddly. A thin half orc with a pock marked face moved to block their path at one point. His words would have been kind if his manner hadn’t shown the threat he posed.

“Lookie here. Two pretty ladies out so late at night. Let me help you lovelys.”

“I think you’ll be the one needing help if you don’t move along.”

A glance at Donya’s armor and the warning heft of her weapon and he decided to wait for easier prey, disappearing into the night.

Donya glanced at June, to see if the close call had frightened her young charge, but June’s face was filled with the concentration of following her mark. “I bet you didn’t even see that.” Donya whispered. “What? Huh?” June replied without looking. Donya sighed. This whole thing was so odd.
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:40 AM
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Default June's Escape

The path seemed confusing. It lead back to the docks, busy with late night loading of the morning’s outbound ships, but then past them. Her heart started beating harder in worry. Where on earth had he gone, so injured?

She almost missed it, it was tucked away so neatly between the hovels and shanty’s that ringed the docks for blocks. A simple wooden doorway nearly hidden behind a tangle of green growth that had been left to grow wild. The symbol of the gatekeepers seeming almost grown into the grain of the wood. She may not have noticed it at all, if it hadn’t been slightly ajar and a familiar voice sounding from inside.

“I don’t know where she is.”

“MARDU!” In relief and exuberant joy she pushed the doorway the rest of the way open and ran inside.

The dimly lit room seemed dwarfed by the huge half orc as he stood quickly at the sound of her voice. Blood covered the front of his trousers, but his bare torso showed no wounds. The druid must have done his work well. Not even a scar marred the expanse where the sword had bitten so deeply.

“I was so afraid you were dead!” She threw herself into his arms in relief. His body was stiff, and with gentle hands he pushed her from him.

“My Lady, are you ok?” Her heart froze at the formal voice and she turned to face the speaker. On the opposite side of the small room (the only place possible with Mardu filling the rest of it) stood 2 men, orc and half orc in full House Tharashk livery. Trackers. The druid had obviously chosen to make himself scarce. The one who had spoken stepped forward and took her arm.

“You are safe now. You need to come with us. He will be dealt with.”

A quick glance at Mardu’s closed face and her heart quailed. Back to a life of monied imprisonment. Her face set in despair. At least she could keep him from being punished.

“I ran away. He didn’t do anything but keep me safe.”

The tracker shrugged. “It hardly matters. You will be returning with us, now.”

At that moment, Donya, who had taken a moment to find the greenery covered opening came striding in, irritation in her step and her voice.

“It’s not safe! You shouldn’t run off into strange houses like that!”

The impetus of her frustrated entry took her right into the tracker, her armored form knocking him off balance a step and prompting him to let go of June’s arm.

“Go.” Mardu whispered fiercely and pushed her towards the doorway. The other tracker moved to intercept her but Mardu’s form easily blocked the small entry. “The Merchant Flame is waiting. Captain Sorgrab.”

A quick look up into his blue eyes and a whispered, “I’ll not forget you, Mardu.” and she was off, running. The voices of the tangle inside echoing behind her.

“Get out of my way, damned woman!” “How dare you speak to a holy woman that way!” “She’s run. Quick!” “Mardu, get out of the way or you’ll be slopping daelkyr in the slave pits.” “JUNE, stop!”

The voices faded behind the beating of her panicked heart as she ran. Back to the docks and the activity there. If anyone meant to assault her, her fast pace took her past them before she even noticed.

Finally back to the docks she ran to the first group of people she came across. “Where is the Merchant Flame?” Her panting question raised eyebrows, but the men and women working here had seen much stranger things by the dark water.

“Eh love, 3rd birth down.” spoke a grizzled orcish woman with hands the size of an ogres as she tossed a large crate to another, equally grizzled human man.

“Thank you so much!” And she was off again.

Her panic grew as she approached the third birth. The Merchant Flame was covered in religious symbology. Obviously Thranish and, also, obviously preparing to cast off.

“Wait! Wait!” She shouted, the sounds of pursuit finally making a stir behind her.

The bustle on the deck as they began to pull the boarding plank aboard paused. “Do you have a fare?”

“Captain Sograb knows! Mardu Tharashk...” her voice faded as her breath gave out from her panicked run.

“The captain, huh?” A brief consultation as the clamor behind her grew and then the plank slid back most of the way to the dock.

June glanced back. They were so close! One more breath and then a leap for the plank. A quick scramble on board and then she doubled over, gasping for air as the sound of the plank being pulled aboard rasped behind her.

Shouts from the shore drew her attention finally and she risked a glance over the side. “I assume you are the lady Mr. Tharashk procured passage for?” A deep voice spoke behind her, but her attention was all on the shore as the ship began to move.

The two shouting men had drawn a considerable crowd for so late at night. Members of the watch shouting questions at them while they were shouting for the ship to stop. Towering over them all was Mardu. Quietly watching the ship pull away from the shore.

Her eyes met his and held them until his form was swallowed up in the darkness. Finally she turned and smiled with false charm at the captain.

“Yes. My name is...June.”

His touch woke her with a start, tears pooling in her eyes. “Are you alright?” His expression was concerned and she nodded, without speaking (indeed, she doubted she could trust her voice right then) and climbed from the taxi.
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