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 The Remnants

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Poppy Bill

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PostSubject: The Remnants   Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:26 am

The thief leapt across the low rooftops silently, unobserved by the few civilians below. The night was young, and frigidly cold. The first snows of winter weren't far off, the thief knew. The crisp air didn't slow the thief, however. She had been entrusted with this. But, inexplicably, the young thief was nervous.

"Meet with client." the young, red haired lady whispered. "Get task."

She leapt, clearing the edge of the roof and landing on the next with a small roll.

"Exchange payment."

The thief walked to the edge of the roof, and hopped over the side, catching the ledge. She slowly dropped from handhold to handhold, until she landed with a soft thud on the alleyway's ground.

"Complete task." she finished. The auburn haired thief glanced around. This had been the appointed meeting spot, had it not? She continued to glance around. No sign of her client could be seen.

In the distance, the thief heard the familiar tolling of the belltower. Nine o' clock. The appointed time.

A small pop could be heard from the ally.

"You're early." a voice said in a barely audible whisper.

The thief spun around. There was the man she had been told to meet. He stood near the end of the ally, keeping his face obscured by the night's shadows. From what she could tell, he was a rather tall and broad shouldered man, but most of his other features were hidden under a heavy winter cloak.

"Scarlet Frost." the man said, his voice slightly louder, although still hushed. "Not who I was expecting."

"And just who were you expecting?" Scarlet asked, pulling her own cloak a little tighter around her as the wind picked up.

"Jack of Spades, or the Queen of Hearts, perhaps. Does your guildmaster believe that I am not worth his time?"

"He is a busy man." Scarlet replied.

The man gave a small 'hmph' as he reached into the folds of his cloak, producing a rather large coinpurse.

"He needs to make time for his clients." the man said. "Especially ones that are paying so much for such a simple job."

Scarlet nearly scoffed at the remark. If the task is so simple, why aren't you doing it yourself? she thought. Scarlet wisely kept silent, though. The amount of money that had been promised for this job was too much to pass up in Jack's eyes.

The man held out the coinpurse. "Half now, half upon completion, as we agreed." Scarlet nodded, stepping forward and gingerly taking the heavy purse from the man.

"The task?" Scarlet asked.

"On an island just off of the coast of Lore, there is a ruined castle known as Blackwood. As far as I know, it's uninhabited. Within the ruins of said castle, there is a journal located somewhere inside. I want you to recover the journal, and bring it back to me." The man reached once more into the folds of his cloak and produced an odd amulet. "This device is known as a dweomer. Once you have the journal, use this, and you will return here, to the alley, where I will meet with you once again, and give you your final payment."

Scarlet took the amulet, placing it in her pocket. "This seems a little too simple." She remarked. "Why hire the Thieves' Guild at all for this?"

"You question why I don't do this myself." the man chuckled, reading her thoughts like a book. "I have other business to attend to. Besides, even if the castle is uninhabited, it could indeed be booby trapped. No, this is no job for a warrior like myself."

The man stepped into the full darkness of the alley. "Relay my task to Jack." he said. There was a small pop, and suddenly, Scarlet was alone.

The cold made the thief shiver. She tightened her cloak, and quietly left the alley. Try as she might, she couldn't shake the feeling of anxiousness that suddenly filled her.
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PostSubject: Re: The Remnants   Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:15 pm

Ohhhhh the Remnants! At last! :D

Good intro, got me interested already Billeh! Glad to see you using Scarlet! She didn't get any time in my story yet xD (whoops) so glad to see her in something. I'll make sure I uh, get right on that though xP

Anyhoo, can't wait for more!
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Poppy Bill

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PostSubject: Chapter 1: Catching Up   Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:07 pm

The wind howled through the mountains, carrying the snows of winter with it. The passes of the mountains were slowly filling with snow, but the man pressed on, undaunted. His face was chilled and his feet burned from the ice. The small snowflakes easily blew into the hood of his winter cloak, landing on his fiery red beard. Keeping his head low to block the wind, the warrior pushed through the slowly mounting storm.

"Not much farther." he told himself, his breath steaming the air. The man lifted his head briefly, looking further down the path. Sure enough, just up ahead, the pass would open, and the warrior would once again be standing in the kingdom of Swordhaven.

He smiled. The warrior had ventured to Lore's frozen northlands, the land of Frostheim, after hearing rumors of chaos energy stirring there. After many months, the situation had been resolved, and now, the warrior was returning home.

As the warrior neared the end of the pass, his smile quickly vanished. There, in the snow, were footprints. From the look of it, they were only a few hours old. Someone had been here...and recently too.

"Could be a traveler..." he muttered to himself, slipping his hand to his sheathed sword. It could be a traveler, but his gut told him different.

His suspicions were confirmed when three men suddenly dropped in front of him from the overhanging cliff above. The three men each wore black leather armor with some kind of spike insignia on it. The warrior recognized the mark as the symbol of the Sabre Teeth bandits, an outlaw group from Frostheim. What they were doing so far from their home, the warrior could easily guess.

"Hold up." the lead bandit said. "Didn't anyone tell you? This is a toll road now. You wanna pass, you pay the fine. Refuse..." the bandit let the threat hang in the air.

The warrior said nothing. He glanced at each of the bandits, sizing them up. Two had swords strapped to their belts, and the other had a bow casually slung across his shoulder. The bowmen would likely be the biggest threat. If he were disabled...

The bandit leader snapped his fingers. "Hey!" he growled, growing impatient. "Did you hear me? I said, pay up!"

Bill grasped his faithful crimson sword, Mandurugo, and unsheathed it. In an instant, he plunged the vampire blade into the snow and swung upward, flinging a large ball of snow and ice at the bandit bowman. The snowball hit the bowmen square in the face, landing with a loud fwap!

"Get him!" the leader howled, drawing his blade and rushing at Bill.

The bandit leader rose his blade high and swung, his blade clanging against Mandurugo. Bill pushed the bandit, then spun his body around, leading with Mandurugo. Bill slashed out, slicing the bandit against his chest, easily cutting through his leather armor. Blood spurted from the wound, dyeing the snow beneath the bandit a deep crimson.

"God's Blood!" the other bandit cried in shock. He tried to draw his blade, but Bill was faster, rushing up to the outlaw, and stabbing him through the chest. The bandit gurgled something as he slid off the blade and into the snow.

"You'll pay for that!" the bowman shouted, wiping the last bits of snow and ice off his face and readying an arrow. The bowman took aim, and fired, his arrow whistling through the freezing air.

Unable to dodge the arrow in time, Bill reacted on instinct, throwing his heavy winter cloak in front of him. The arrow hit with a soft thump, embedding itself into the cloak. The warrior dropped his cloak and reached down, grabbing a small knife from his boot. He reacted quickly, throwing the knife before the bowmen had time to nock another arrow.

The knife flew through the air and hit it's mark, on the bandit's thigh. The bowman yelped in pain and fell to the ground, cursing. Those knife lessons with Azk years ago had really paid off.

Bill casually pulled the arrow from his cloak and dropped it into the snow, continuing through the pass and into the edge of Swordhaven.
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ookaminami

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PostSubject: Re: The Remnants   Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:33 pm

Note to all bandits: Never mess with Bill.
^_^
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Poppy Bill

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PostSubject: Chapter 2: Blackwood   Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:00 pm

The island of Blackwood was a dark place, even after Blackwood Keep had been built further inland. Legends persisted of strange creatures and noises in the night that frightened away potential settlers, even to the point of the castle being abandoned after the mysterious and grizzly murder of it's count. Of course, Scarlet dismissed most of the stories of the "haunted" island as legend and heresay. The island had been largely uninhabited, except for a few years ago, when a radical group known as the Knights of the Onyx Skull settled into the ruins of Blackwood Keep. The group sought world annihilation, and nearly succeeded, had it not been for the timely intervention of the Twilight Knights.

"We've arrived." The ferryman said, landing his small boat on the shore.

Scarlet stood up and stetched, looking at the island before her. The dark sky loomed above the island, only heightening the feeling of lonliness and mystery. Scarlet tossed the ferryman a small pouch of coins.

"Wait for my return." Scarlet instructed.

"Uh..." the ferryman said, nervously glancing around the shore. "How long will you be?"

"As long as it takes me to find what I'm after."

The ferryman muttered something under his breath, then slowly nodded. As much as the tales frightened him, he wasn't about to leave a young lady stranded on the dark island.

Scarlet hopped off the boat and began her trek inland. From what her guildmaster, Jack of Spades, had told her, Blackwood Keep was an easy to spot ruin, being near the center of the island. As Scarlet entered the woods surrounding the keep, the abnormal silence of the island began to bother her. No birds could be heard chirping. No howling of wild dogs or even the rushing of the wind. It was as if the world had vanished, replaced with a silent, hollow reality.

It wasn't long before Scarlet stumbled upon the remnant of an old dirt road. The road had long been overgrown with weeds and plantlife, but the wagon tracks that had been left were unmistakeable. As Scarlet walked down the road, she began to hum a song she had learned as a child to break the unnatural silence.

After humming a few lines, Scarlet gave up. The eerie silence was crushing, and even the sound from Scarlet's humming sounded hollow. She decided (grudgingly) to continue the journey in silence. She walked for what seemed like an hour before she spotted the ruins off in the distance.

As she drew closer, Scarlet got a better look at the crumbling structure. Blackwood keep was literally falling in on itself, with large sections of roof missing, partially revealing the insides of the forgotten structure. As Scarlet approached the door, she took note of it's decayed state.

"Termites and rot, probably." Scarlet thought to herself, gingerly pushing the rotting door open. She jumped back in surprise when the door suddenly fell off it's hinges, landing with a loud crash on the dirty stone floor.

"God's blood!" she muttered, catching her breath. If she wasn't careful, the castle was likely to collapse around her. Scarlet took a moment to muster her strength and courage, and stepped through the rotten archway, and into the collapsed foyer. The thief took a moment to examine the room, imagining how it must have looked back when it was still inhabited. The ceiling had collapsed in this room, allowing the sun to shine through. Nature had begun to encroach and retake the aging structure, with mosses and vines hanging on the ceiling, to small flowers and trees growing over the floor.

Scarlet stood there for a moment, admiring the stillness and beauty of the scene, then tore herself away, remembering why she had come here in the first place.

Finding a journal would have been a nearly impossible task in this old keep, as many of the books and records had likely rotted or deteriorated away.

*****

"A journal? In Blackwood?" Jack had asked, his yellow eyes scanning the gold in the purse Scarlet handed him.

"Yes, but I do not know what journal he seeks." Scarlet said, crossing her arms over her chest. "He never said. It's a fool's errand to go after it."

Jack chuckled. "He seeks the ravings of a madman, of course." the masked thief said. "Have you not heard of Anselm the Mad?"

Scarlet cocked an eyebrow. "The master of the Onyx Skull?" she asked.

"Precisely." Jack replied. "A mortal who rose to immortality and held the fate of the world in his hands, if only for a short time. Yes, to some, his journal would be a valuable commodity."

"I wasn't aware he kept a journal..." Scarlet said. "What kind of journal?"

"The usual kind." Jack said, leaning back in his seat. "Something to record every little, psychotic detail about his life...perhaps even how he rose to power?"

So that was the prize, Scarlet thought. "Wait, how do you know this?" she asked.

"I...don't. Not really, at least." Jack admitted, pausing. "It's just something I happened to...learn. From a friend of ours."

Scarlet grinned. "Arata."

*****

Scarlet smiled, remembering the exchange between her and her guildmaster. From what she had learned from Jack, the journal she was looking for was likely in a hidden chamber "under the castle". The thief began to poke around the remnants of the castle, searching for anything that might lead her into the Blackwood depths. After some examination, she finally found what she was looking for: a trap door located in a broom closet. Scarlet grabbed hold of the old door and heaved, pulling the door off it's broken hinges. Dropping the wooden frame, she descended into the darkness below.

The caves of Blackwood were fairly dark, but Scarlet, whose eyes had adjusted to darkness long ago, could see well enough. Scarlet picked her way across the dark passage, using her hands to feel and guide when she could not see. She didn't have to walk long before coming to a smooth stone wall with a gargoyle bust on it. As she approached, the gargoyle's eyes lit up.

"What is the master's greatest desire?" it asked.

"Lillandra." Scarlet replied, remembering the story the Twilight Knights had told her.

The bust's eyes faded, and began to sink into the wall. The stone wall shimmered, as if a veil of water had replaced the hard stone surface. The thief stepped through, feeling the stone wall displace around her, and gently pushing her into a small, bare chamber. Anselm's chambers.

Anselm's chamber was practically empty, with only a study table and six bizarre braziers. Ignoring them, Scarlet moved to the table, where a bound leather journal sat.

"Bingo." she whispered, flipping the book open. Many of the entries were just psychotic ravings or musings, nothing even remotely useful in aquiring power. Scarlet skimmed the remaining entries, flipping to the remaining blank pages.

"Why would anyone want this?" Scarlet thought, casually flipping over the remaining blank pages. "Maybe some bard wants to write a song or someth-" Scarlet stopped as she flipped to the last few pages. The last pages were written in a language she had never seen before.

Faal Al los boziik, bruniik. Rok rahgol...rok kah...morokei. Rok los aan munax dovah, ahrk ahzid ahst jul.

Scarlet shut the book, pondering the strange language. The rest of the journal entries had all been written in this unknown language. But...why?

"What were you trying to do, Anselm?" Scarlet mused, examining the book. "And why were you trying to keep it buried?"
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PostSubject: Re: The Remnants   Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:46 pm

Woot! Great chapter Billeh! I wonder what that man could possibly want with Anselm's journal :o
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