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Old October 24, 2018, 10:55 AM   #1
Faust Kitrye'veresi
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[Arium Highlands] The Demon of Arium (Moss)

Spring, Era XXV

It had been several seasons since the Governor of Arium had been to the small town of Correlia. On the previous occasion, Rhystlin Farsteel and her company of mercenaries had accompanied him on his hunt for the bandits that had been pillaging his border and retreating into the jurisdiction of Vesta to avoid apprehension. The dark elf and his companions had followed multiple leads, but to his dismay, their efforts had ultimately been fruitless. Winter had arrived shortly afterwards, and with the roads having been blanketed with heavy precipitation, their search had ended prematurely. Banditry tended to decline in frequency during the colder months in Arium, mostly because trade tended to slow due to the inclement weather, and thus, the culprits had lived to raid again.

Faust Kitrye’veresi was counting on it.

Perched at the exact same table in the same tavern where he had rendezvoused with Rhystlin, the dark elf sat alone. A mug of untouched ale lingered between his gloved hands, adding to the illusion of his mundane patronship. He wore a nondescript black cloak around his slender shoulders, its hood undrawn. The colors of Arium were nowhere on his person either, which was a rarity these brightenings considering his station. His unremarkable outer garments, however, had been deliberately selected, for anything more would have forecasted his presence to every bandit in the region and alerted them to their impending doom.

He had not come to bargain or to deter. No, he had ventured alone to the eastern border for the sole purpose of finding and eliminating the threats to his province. It mattered little to him if the culprits did flee to Vesta when and if he revealed himself – he would hunt every last one of them down. He could have ordered Arium’s provincial army, the West Wardens, to assist him, but he knew that their resources were limited already and that they had more important matters of safety to address. Although the Xet had been subdued, the Wardens had been beset with the critical task of protecting and securing the western edges of the province for fear that the insects would return and march upon Nexus Prime.

He was veritably alone, but if truth be told, that was how he preferred to hunt. The pair of fine long swords that hung from his belt and beneath his cloak thirsted for freedom, and it would have been inconsiderate of him not to oblige them. Like a graceful panther uncoiling from its nap to feed, the dark elf unraveled a hand from the mug in front of him and lifted it in the air to summon a nearby maid. His callused digits, hidden beneath a black glove, curled inward to wave her over to him. “Excuse me, good lady, if I could purchase a second of your time,” he inquired, his melodious voice bearing the all too familiar singsong quality of his tree-hugging cousins. His other hand had already disappeared into his coin pouch during the interim, deftly fishing out several golden crowns which he smoothly inserted into her palm upon her approach.

I’m looking for a caravan to Sacrum,” he explained, “preferably one with some hired muscle. I’ve some important business to attend to, and I’d rather reach the holy city in one piece, especially with all of the rumors of bandits roaming about. Unless my concerns are misplaced?” He studied her curiously, wondering what sort of useful information he might be able to extract from her.
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Old November 16, 2018, 03:32 PM   #2
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Nessie was a hard worker. A short and stocky woman in her thirties with a head of blonde hair that was interspersed with grey strands, she was a widowed mother of four. She was up each morning before any of Telath's triple suns had bothered to rise above the horizon. Her children - all boys, three of whom had yet reach their fifth ordination - and their hungry stomachs ensured she was up in the wee candlemarks, running errands and getting the house in order while the eldest took care of his brothers.

Then it was a case of working long brightenings at the local tavern and doing everything she could to earn the occasional tip here and there to cover the most essential of life's expenses.

So yes, she was a hard worker.

What Nessie was not, however, was wealthy. So when a patron started flashing golden crowns - a coin she had never before laid eyes upon, let alone possessed - the waitress' balance immediately began to falter, and she had to cling to the back of an empty chair with her free hand. Knees wobbled slightly, but she had caught herself, and within a few moments, her wide eyes were regaining focus.

"Th-thank you, milord," she managed, hurriedly slipping the coins into her plain dress as if she feared it might be some kind of trick.

There was nothing to suggest she knew she was talking to the Baron of Vortex, but not everybody had golden crowns to give to strangers.

The waitress looked down at Faust and visibly took a few moments to catch her breath. She didn't appear fazed that she was talking to a dark elf. As a border town, Corellia saw all manner of races passing through, and the waitress wasn't going to complain about who her tips came from.

Green eyes steadied, and after a pause, she opened her mouth to speak.

"Yes, milord, there are caravans," she nodded eagerly. "Some come from Aslangrad, others from Vortex. Some go ta Sacrum; others come back from there."

She fell silent as she looked around the bustling room, clearly in thought, before returning her gaze to the Vysstichi.

"This place is always full ta the brim when caravans are in town," she added, "and ya 'eard right, milord. Bandits cause plenty of trouble. Ya'll be 'ard pressed ta find a caravan without guards, I'd wager."

Another pause followed, as Nessie's hand felt the coins that were resting within the folds of her clothes. Then she leaned forward, dipping her head almost conspiratorially.

"There are a couple o' caravans in town right now, but if I were ya, I'd be talkin' ta Cyrus," she said with a nod towards a crowded table of hard looking men. "Fella in the middle, always seems to 'ave a bit o' muscle around 'im."

If Faust was to look, he'd see a small bald human sitting in a booth, with an armed man on either side. They were engrossed in some kind of conversation, and none paid the Vysstichi any attention.

"So," she finally added as an afterthought, "do ya want ta order anythin'?"
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Old November 17, 2018, 12:26 PM   #3
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When the woman’s eyes alit at the sight of the golden crowns, he instantly knew that he had her in his pockets. Money was a currency that everyone accepted. It transcended racial barriers, and more importantly, it was a reliable means of purchasing valuable information - sometimes even friendship. What’s more, he knew that the next time he made his way through Correlia, he would be able to rely on the woman not only for optimal service, but also for outside assistance if he ever needed it. It never hurt to network.

He released the coins into her palm without a second thought and waited for the woman to reorient herself. “It’s fine,” he said, although he was thoroughly amused by her reaction.

The information that she provided was exactly what he had been searching for. When he had last toured the region, the road from Correlia to Sacrum had been the primary scene of numerous ambushes. He had been unsuccessful during his previous attempt to apprehend any of the culprits, but the weather had also been a contributing factor to his failure. Not to mention, now that he was not operating under the colors of Arium with a host of soldiers behind him, he suspected that word would be less likely to travel to his preys’ ears prematurely.

That one over there?” he whispered, following the woman’s gaze to a bald-headed man sitting in a booth, a pair of guards accompanying him. Out of the corner of his eye he studied the trio, sizing them up and pondering whether it would be worth his time to seek their company. As much as he did not need their manpower for what he intended to do, traveling in a caravan would certainly increase his odds of coming across the highwaymen.

He waited for the barmaid to confirm that he was identifying the correct people before he finally nodded. “A bowl of stew would be lovely,” he said, even though he was not hungry, “or whatever you have that’s already ready.

Once the woman departed to tend to his order, he pushed back from the table and rose to his feet. His crimson eyes swam towards the man named Cyrus, and his feet followed, covering the distance in between them in a matter of several graceful strides. “Excuse me,” he said, “I’m seeking passage to Sacrum. I was told that you’re the man to speak to. I have coin to pay, but I was hoping to leave as soon as possible.
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Old December 2, 2018, 03:11 PM   #4
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Whether Nessie knew it or not, she most likely had unwittingly become a willing informant for Faust, should he need it in the future. Of course, her effectiveness as such would depend on how much knowledge she actually had. Being a waitress meant she might occasionally be party to the occasional secret that was revealed through a drunken haze, but whether that information was reliable would be up to Faust to determine.

"Yes, milord, that's 'im," she confirmed, nodding eagerly as the Vysstichi spied the three men at the booth.

Another nod came as the blonde received the patron's order, and she noted it down before making her way back towards the kitchen.

The three men at the booth were locked in conversation when Faust approached. The nearest one, a burly Nairu with black braids and a goatee that adorned a hard face, was the first to notice their new visitor, and he tapped the arm of the bald man in the middle. Much of his form was blocked by the table, but Faust could see that the man wore studded armour, and the hilt of the dagger that rested against one hip was being lightly traced by his free hand as dark brown eyes studied the newcomer.

The other side of the booth was dominated by a well-built half-orc who looked like he could only just fit into the seat. When he turned to look at Faust, the orange firelight from the nearby hearth reflected against his two canine teeth - one sharp and proud, the other broken from some previous mishap - that poked from his lower mouth. He visibly set his jaw, his strong grip tightening around the tankard of ale that he held as he openly looked Faust up and down.

In contrast, Cyrus appeared amiable enough. A bald cether, whose diminutive size was only accentuated by the big muscle sitting either side of him, he leaned forward at Faust's introduction, hands gently splayed upon the table.

"I am indeed the man to speak to," he offered with a gentle, self-assured chuckle. "The name is Cyrus, and the caravan leaves when it's ready, and not before."

His sympathetic tone almost apologetic as he spread his hands as if to suggest such things were beyond his control. Another chuckle came, though, when he appeared to have a new thought.

"Why the rush, friend? I've never met a Vysstichi who wanted to go to Sacrum. Going to join the priesthood, are we?"

Cyrus snickered at his own joke, but he was the only one. His muscle simply stared the newcomer down. The humour was either lost on them, or they simply weren't in the mood for joviality.
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Old December 3, 2018, 05:01 PM   #5
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The brief glance that he spared to Cyrus’ hired muscle was all that the dark elf required to appraise the Nauru and the half-orc. The former was wise to thumb his dagger, although drawing it would have been the biggest mistake (and the last) of his life. Still, Faust respected vigilance, and he could not fault the dark-skinned human for doing what he was being paid to do.

The sight of the half-orc, however, nearly turned the Vysstichi Lord away from the table and back to the drawing board. In addition to being hideous to gaze upon, the man had orcish origins. That was sufficient reason to loathe him. There were not a lot orcs that came across the dark elf’s path and lived. Other than Ogrim, Hazbones, and Rushnak, Faust could not remember the last time that he had even allowed such vile creatures to grace his presence.

The bastard had been smart to remain seated, though the dark elf secretly wished that the half-orc would give him a reason to shatter his other canine.

I doubt my lifestyle would befit the priesthood,” Faust honestly answered, though he spared the Cether a slight smile to humor him. The sight of the tiny Halfling in the company of his two monstrous bodyguards was certainly amusing. It reminded him of another Cether that he had met in Imperia many, many years ago, but that particular fellow had had far more hair and could have killed a full-grown giant with the mere flick of his wrists.

And I understand that the caravan’s departure time does not revolve around my schedule.” A little humility could go a long way, he knew, and thus, he conceded the Cether’s point.

Still, I would very much like to be on it when it leaves,” he said. “I’ve a few family members who relocated to Sacrum after the Fog, and I was hoping to find them there.” It was a bold-faced lie, but it was a story that he had heard enough times to regurgitate without a blink.

I’ve some coin to pay,” he added, “if that will buy my passage.
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Old December 16, 2018, 04:34 PM   #6
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Cyrus chuckled loudly when Faust mentioned the priesthood, though the cether gave the distinct impression that he would have laughed no matter what the Vysstichi's response. Perhaps that was because he genuinely thought himself witty, or maybe he simply enjoyed the reassurance of his own laughter amidst the silence of his two companions who appeared reticent to allow the corners of their mouths to turn upwards.

Whatever the reason, chuckle he did, his palms finding one another as short fingers interlocked. Warm blue eyes exhibited his mirth as Faust acknowledged that dictating the timing of the caravan was beyond him.

When Faust began to speak of family and the Fog, Cyrus waved his hand as if he were trying to fend off a fly, albeit in slow motion. He shook his head gently, though his eyes never hardened.

"I don't need to know your reasons, friend," he added, his smile unmoving. "In fact, I find that the less I know, the better I sleep."

And then Faust mentioned money, causing the caravan leader to perk up even more.

"Ah," his grin grew, eyes widening as his hands separated so that he could point a finger at the new arrival genially, "a man who speaks my language!"

Both hands shifted to hold onto the edge of the table as the cether leaned forward further, head, shoulders, and now fingers the only parts of him visible over the wooden surface. Throughout the interaction, his guards remained stoic, cautious eyes never leaving Faust, their hands having not shifted since the dark elf's arrival.

Pray tell, friend," Cyrus added, one eyebrow raising as his inflection did the same, "is it good coin?"
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Old December 19, 2018, 03:10 PM   #7
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He decided that he liked the Cether. Of course, he was mindful of the fact that he could trust the tiny man only as far as he could throw him, but something about Cyrus reminded the dark elf of some of his fonder brightenings in Imperia. The Cether would have fit in quite nicely, that is, if he was not from that dangerous city already. He certainly exhibited the same mannerisms that the dark elf had observed in many of the dock masters that he had encountered over the eras.

He returned the diminutive fellow’s smile with a small one of his own, not even for a moment trusting what he saw. There was no doubt on his mind that Cyrus would probably inquire about him the moment that he left the tavern, or at the very least, send his goons to follow him and garner as much information as possible before the caravan departed, if there was a caravan leaving Correlia at all.

None of that mattered to the dark elf.

Noticing the glint in the hungry Cether’s eyes, Faust reached for the coin purse that hung from his belt and set it onto the table, the heavy jingling of golden crowns within likely to rivet the Cether’s attention. “Half now, the other half when we arrive,” the dark elf said, pausing only to glance at the two henchmen nearby before returning his attention to Cyrus.

Assuming we arrive,” he baited, “if the stories about bandits harassing the roadway are to be believed.” He feigned a frown and studied the small man again, wondering if he knew anything about the alleged highwaymen.

Naturally, nothing would have pleased him more than to encounter the bandits along the way, but perhaps Cyrus knew something about them that could prove useful later on.
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Old January 9, 2019, 05:48 PM   #8
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Cyrus' eyebrow remained raised and unflinching, blue eyes still exhibiting a curious warmth despite being in the midst of a negotiation. When the bag of coin was placed on the table, the cloth doing little to muffle the solid clatter of coins coming together, and the cether's amiable grin became ever so slightly wider.

A quick, sideways glance was sent to the Nairu, who used his free hand to pick up the purse while his other never left the hilt of his dagger, even as he felt the weight of the payment and sent Cyrus a nod. The payment was then taken from the table and out of sight. The half-orc, meanwhile, didn't seem particularly impressed by the gesture, as his gaze had yet to leave the Vysstichi who stood at their table.

"Bandits?" the caravan leader echoed, as if feigning ignorance for a brief moment. "Ah yes...those. A right pain in the backside, I must say, and not good for business."

The man's bald head shook sadly, but the display of emotion didn't last long, with his gentle - but hollow - smile returned.

"But that's why I have these fine gentlemen with me," Cyrus beamed, indicating those on his flanks, before leaning forward, fingers still interlocked. "And coin like yours can be spent on other fighting men to scare them off. The cowards prefer easy pickings, you see."

There was a brief pause.

"Fear not, Vysstichi priest!" he spoke louder and with an air of confidence amidst a light chuckle. "We'll make sure you get to Sacrum safely and in time for vespers!"

Apparently the idea of a dark elf going to Sacrum still provided the bald fellow with some sense of mirth.

He was interrupted, then, by the Nairu, who cleared his throat and nodded past Faust. If the Vysstichi was to turn around, he would see Nessie by his table and setting a steaming hot bowl of stew upon its surface.

"Looks like your meal has arrived," Cyrus added. "We'll be here for rosyun at dawn, and then we'll leave for Sacrum. The caravan waits for no-one, so don't be late."

Apparently the meeting was over...unless, of course, Faust decided otherwise.
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Old January 12, 2019, 09:56 PM   #9
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The Cether’s confidence might have been encouraging to an ordinary traveler, but it elicited the opposite effect on the incognito dark elf. Clearly, Cyrus was no stranger to the roadways of Arium, including the many dangers that plagued unwary caravans or enticing cargo trains. As was evident from the two companions that surrounded him in the booth, the tiny man was also well-prepared.

Did that mean that a chance encounter with the bandits was unlikely?

I’m glad to know that I’m in good hands,” the dark elf said, flashing an insincere half-smile despite genuinely enjoying the Cether’s company. That Cyrus did not believe himself to be an easy target for bandits was self-evident; whether his perception would be different from reality, however, Faust supposed would soon be determined. He could only hope that the Cether was wrong.

He finally nodded when Cyrus reassured him that they would arrive safely in Sacrum, a second or two before the Nairu motioned towards the table that Faust had been seated at earlier. It appeared that his meal was ready.

Very well then,” the Vysstichi said. “I will see you gentlemen at dawn.” He offered a parting smile before returning to his table to enjoy the rest of his brightening. As there was no telling what sort of food would be provided on the journey, the dark elf took his time and enjoyed his meal.

* * * * *

Having not doubted for a single second that the Cether would prove true on his promise to leave with or without their entire party, the dark elf was at the meeting place as scheduled. Wrapped in a nondescript black cloak that mostly concealed his armaments, he waited for Cyrus and his companions to arrive. Sacrum awaited them.
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Old January 21, 2019, 06:42 PM   #10
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Cyrus nodded in understanding at Faust's departure. Food was a necessity, and nobody wanted empty stomachs on the road. It made sense to take advantage of what passed for comfort in Corellia before the early start the next brightening.

Cyrus and his guards left the tavern half a candlemark or so later, presumably to tend to the horses and perform any other preparations for the journey to Sacrum. They each sent cursory glances in Faust's direction as they left, though only Cyrus managed a smile. Even so, the Baron of Vortex didn't see them again that darkening, so if they followed him as he suspected, they did so without drawing any attention to themselves.

For what it was worth, the stew was hot, filling, and delicious. And right up until he retired for the darkening, Faust had Nessie politely shadowing him, ensuring he was happy with his meal, and happily bringing to the table anything else he wished to eat or drink.

She really was a hard worker.

[hr][/hr]

"Fret not, fellow travellers, for our priest has arrived!" called out the familiar voice in the dim morning light with a chuckle. "Fresh from lauds, no doubt!"

Apparently the darkening had done nothing to temper Cyrus' belief that he was a comedian, and he roared with laughter at his own jest...as much of a roar as a cether could manage, anyway. He was on top of the first of three wagons in the cold morning air, though despite standing, he was no taller than the driver who sat next to him with reigns in hand.

Each of the covered wagons, had a driver, and a pair of horses to pull it.

The Nairu rode a chestnut steed - a Plainsbred, from what Faust could tell - with a heater shield on one arm, and a spear in his free hand. When he saw the new arrival, he offered a polite but expressionless nod. Other lightly armed men, three humans wearing leather armour, sat atop similar horses.

Mercifully, no beast had to bear the burden of the half-orc, for he sat beside the driver of the second wagon, watching Faust but saying nothing.

Cyrus clapped his hands together as he looked to Faust.

"You're just in time," he said with a smile, before indicating the trailing wagon. "You'll find comfort in there - your last soft seat before your vow of poverty."

Despite the jests, the cether didn't appear to exhibit any malice. If anything, he probably just enjoyed the sound of his own voice. Certainly, nobody in his employ appeared to mind.
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Old January 23, 2019, 12:26 PM   #11
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The dark elf could not remember the last time that someone had openly laughed at him, although he had no difficulty recalling the most recent instance when he had killed someone – an entire mansion’s worth of occupants, actually – for mocking him. Unlike the butchery that he had committed against the Maeve in Daltina, though, this occasion was different. Despite his inability to trust Cyrus, he liked the man. Perhaps the Cether was not as humorous as he truly believed himself to be, but the world, Faust knew, needed people like the opportunistic man.

I couldn’t start the day any other way,” the dark elf lightly lied, his eyes traveling from the comedic Cether to the three wagons that comprised his caravan. It was not as large as Faust had predicted it would be, but he was grateful for that. A smaller party would undoubtedly be more enticing a target than a larger one.

He could only hope that the hefty half-orc was not enough to deter any would-be bandits from trying to rob them.

It looks cozy enough,” Faust commented to Cyrus as he regarded the wagon on which he would be traveling. Gods, if his rear was not raw by the end of their journey to Sacrum, it would be nothing short of a miracle.

He followed Cyrus’ instruction towards the last wagon and then climbed into it, nodding to the Nairu along the way but paying the half-Orc little more than a glance. He hated orcs, and nothing would have pleased him more than to backhand the brute across its ugly face. Still, he suspected that if and when the bandits tried to attack them, the creature would not be entirely useless.

Once he was situated and seated, the dark elf simply balanced his forearms across his thighs and waited for the ride to begin.
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Old February 6, 2019, 03:53 AM   #12
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The wagon was indeed cosy. It was, of course, nothing like the standards that a man of Faust's wealth could afford, but their purpose was to transport goods and the occasional passenger between cities. Luxury wasn't even a consideration.

Any upholstery that might have once adorned the seats was gone, replaced with affixed wooden storage chests that doubled as a rather uncomfortable place to rest. There was enough space for a solitary backside - the rest of the wagon was cluttered with various boxes and packages that were filled with who knew what, and they had clearly been shifted around to make room for the Vysstichi 'priest'.

That said, the wagons were sufficient in carrying out their purpose, and they appeared - to the dark elf's untrained engineering eye, at least - to be sturdy and well looked after. If the caravan was going to stop, Cyrus didn't seem to be letting it be because of a loose wheel.

As for the cether himself, he could be heard as he yelled at other members of the caravan. His voice carried well for one with such small lungs, and the jovial tone he'd shared with Faust had apparently departed the moment their generously paying guest had found his seat. The barked orders were somewhat muffled by the walls of the wagon, but their commanding nature was clear.

Diminutive or otherwise, the man clearly knew how to keep his men in check.

After enough calls were made and instructions issued, the wagon lurched forwards, and the boxes that surrounded Faust rattled with their contents, but they held in place, and the Baron of Vortex was flung rather gracelessly into the back of his seat.

And so the caravan was officially on its way, a collection of wheeled and mounted shadows making their bumpy way along the road towards Sacrum, and all but one of their number hoped it would be an uneventful journey. If that ended being the case, the Vysstichi would simply have to find a way to pass the time.
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Old February 6, 2019, 01:23 PM   #13
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Even though it had been many years since the dark elf had traveled in such a ragtag fashion, there had been a time in his life when caravans had been his only mode of transportation. Indeed, as the Cether’s company pulled away from Correlia, the Vysstichi Lord was reminded of his earliest brightenings on the surface when he’d had nothing and no one. The very first place that he had traveled to had been the dangerous city of Imperia, where he had hoped to blend into the criminal elements to avoid his treacherous aunt in Har’oloth.

Gods, that had been such a long time ago.

He rested his head against the back of the wagon as it rolled along, his feet spread widely apart to stabilize himself atop his makeshift seat. The ensuing minutes were nothing short of uncomfortable, and the hours to come promised to be agonizing, but they were a necessary sacrifice for the greater sake of the province. A lot of money had been spent rebuilding the roadways of Arium – they needed to remain clear to facilitate trade and travel.

As one of the boxes jostled around nearby, the dark elf braved a peek inside more out of curiosity than anything else. Cyrus clearly made a living as a transporter, but Faust wondered what sort of wares the tiny Cether was in the business of delivering.

Whatever his findings, he occasionally peered out the flap of the wagon, mostly to gauge his surroundings as well as orient himself with the proximities of his traveling companions. As his was the last wagon in the train of three, he understood the precariousness of his position.

It was also the most entertaining thing that he could do to pass the time as they slowly made their way towards Sacrum.

Would the bandits reveal themselves? He did not know, but three wagons was not such a difficult target for highwaymen to ambush. And if it was? Well, that simply meant that those deterred raiders were simply not worth his time.
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Old February 13, 2019, 09:08 PM   #14
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Indeed, if Faust had grown accustomed to the comforts of wealth, the awkward and cramped seating arrangements might have come as something of a shock, though the Baron of Vortex didn't appear to be overly phased. If anything, he was still exercising his authority by examining the contents of a box that was very clearly not being delivered to him. For what it was worth, his curious look revealed a pair of bottles of Jaedaxienne Red resting on a small pile of fleece to keep it from breaking. Perhaps that box should be kept at ground level, lest it fall and the Vysstichi was forced to explain the presence of wine stains throughout the carriage...!

The window flap did, at first, conceal very little. Despite being half a candlemark into their journey, the view outside was still mostly a collection of shadows and outlines, with the horizon and the treeline of the occasional copse not easily distinguishable from the dark sky that seemed to cower behind it. One of the human soldiers rode alongside the carriage and near the window, but he didn't appear to notice the dark elf - lacking Faust's ability to pierce the darkness, the human was likely having to rely on the sounds of the caravan and his slowly adjusting eyes as he was essentially riding blind.

Which was probably a fortuitously merciful circumstance, in a way, because he never saw the arrow coming. But it certainly came, from somewhere in the darkness, and it struck the human through his chest, piercing through his leather vest, the arrowhead attempting to claw out of his back. The soldier made no sound as he fell from his saddle, his lifeless body letting go of the shield, which itself clattered noisily beneath the hooves of the horse he once rode, causing the beast to squeal in panic.

And then? Bedlam.

"Ambush!"

Yelling...whinnying...arrowheads biting into the wood of Faust's carriage with solid thunks...a horse galloping past, its huge lungs expelling loud breaths of air as it went...

Cyrus' voice could be heard as he yelled orders, and the drivers cracked their reigns, causing the carriages to pick up speed and bump harder along the road, and Faust was thrown off balance within the carriage, half falling off his seat and away from the window, just as an arrow pierced the flap and hit the inside of the carriage.

The Baron of Vortex was seemingly fortunate to be alive, and he'd yet to even lay an eye on his attacker.
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Old February 14, 2019, 12:43 PM   #15
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The presence of the Jaedaxienne Red in the crates dispelled the likelihood that Cyrus was smuggling illegal goods to Sacrum or that he was in cahoots with the bandits. Still, it never hurt to be cautious, especially where resourceful Cethers were concerned. Content that the bald-headed Halfling was operating a legitimate caravan, the dark elf gingerly closed the crate, careful to securely affix the lid so that no mishaps occurred when the wagon rolled over a pothole or a rock in the road. The non-priest in him even considered stealing a swig of the fine wine, but he was disciplined enough to leave the expensive beverage alone.

Darkness descended soon enough and with it came the promise of the unknown. From inside the wagon, the Governor of Arium periodically peeked out the flap, scanning the shadows for any signs of activity. None came forth, and thus, boredom started to settle in him as he wondered if the caravan would reach Sacrum without any incidents at all. To some extent, he supposed, that would be good because it would mean that the highwaymen had possibly moved to other regions to harass their travelers; on the other hand, if that was not the case, then it meant that he had wasted his time.

He was about to close the flap when the flutter of an arrow reached his keen elven ears a second before it plunged through the chest of a nearby rider, slaying him instantly. On instinct, he scooted back and away from the flap, and not a moment too soon as a sheet of arrows continued to pelt the wagon that he was riding in. There was no time to do anything except cover his head, face and chest with his hands and arms as he felt the vehicle lunge forward with a sudden burst of speed, the horse undoubtedly spurred on by its desperate jockey.

The unruly jerk of the wagon sent him reeling forward from his makeshift seat, his momentum throwing him unceremoniously to the ground, where an angry curse slipped off his lips. He could hear Cyrus screaming orders to the others, the gist of which could probably have been simply summarized as “run!” And run they did, the pounding of hooves echoing through the night air as the horses lunged onward in an effort to escape from the still-unseen bandits.

He was at an impasse.

His sole purpose for accompanying Cyrus and his men had been to locate the bandits – they had found him instead. If Cyrus and his caravan managed to escape, then Faust could easily lose the highwaymen forever. On the contrary, if Cyrus and his men were not so fortunate, then they would soon be swarmed by what was likely a large company of skilled bandits. The former scenario was unacceptable. And the latter? Their lives did not mean much to him, but he had no interest in seeing them slaughtered unnecessarily either.

Arium and its people, after all, were his to protect.

A mist of purple sorceric essence gradually gathered around him inside the wagon, the Teleportative energy completely enveloping him before stealing him out of sight. Within a second, the dark elf winked out of the wagon, the Teleportation spell relocating him in the shadows far on the opposite side from which the archers and fired their arrows. His plan? To deliberately fall behind the fleeing caravan and wait for the bandits to show themselves and pursue Cyrus and his men. They would never know that he was behind them until it was too late.

And if they did not emerge from their ambush sites, he would simply follow the direction from which their arrows had come to begin his own pursuit.

Night had fallen. It was time to hunt.
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