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Divine Malady

'It came from the sky, that dead fallen dragon, and from its flesh a plague did rise. It changed us all, that dead fallen dragon, as its body fed a million flies. Now we're strong, but before we didn't have to be. Now night comes and it's time to stand or flee. This, our Divine Malady.' ~ Unknown survivor's poem......

Tags: dark fantasy, mutants, post apocalyptic, survival, swords and flintlock

Character Approval: Yes

Player Level: Intermediate

New Players: Open

Creator: enkerzed

Created: 12-25-2014, 05:23 PM


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Thread: Divine Malady

  1. Characters in this post:
    Thalia looked back on the dusty trail along the grassy knoll as the sun began to set. Seeing dark figures stalking behind on the horizon, she said to her Fallen companion, "We got followers. I think it's the same pack that attacked us when we left home. I told you we should have pursued them."

    Damon looked back as well, taking care that his horns didn't get in Thalia's way as his red eyes scanned the distance. "I still stand by what I said."

    "Yeah, yeah, they have as much right to exist as us and blah fucking blah. I just happen to value my life more than theirs."

    "On that, I must agree. Here they come."

    Damon pulled his sword from its sheathe as Thalia unslung her musket and took aim. The pack of Fallen stopped in their tracks some hundred paces away and made threat displays, wary of the markswoman's gun.

    "I don't think they want to fight us," Damon said.

    "And I don't think they have a choice, look how skinny they are," Thalia replied. "We should kill the bastards now or else they'll just wait for one of us to go to sleep."

    "Attack now and they will retaliate."

    "Tch, have it your way."

    And so they all stood on the grassy knoll, facing off whilst waiting for the other to make the first move.

  2. Characters in this post:
    Lilathy stood on a nearby hill, dirty from the long trek, but ever-aware of her surroundings. She patted her mount and companion, Soatch, to stop and she dismounted, glimpsing something up ahead that she wasn't willing to walk into blindly. Soatch, a winged lizard of a Fallen, waited patiently in the trough of the knoll. Lilathy only revealed as much of herself above the crest of the hill as she needed to before she saw the stand-off up ahead on the trail and notched an arrow, unsure if the Fallen were going to attack. She'd wait to see if the Fallen were going to attack, for she whole-heartedly believed that not every Fallen is evil, and not every non-Fallen is good. As her companion was living proof of that.

  3. Characters in this post:
    The crack and explosion of a repeater echoed loudly followed by multiple explosions. However the source of these shots remained hidden within the grassy knoll as the fallen was struck with the .45-70 rounds striking their targets in the torso and head. From the brief pause in each shot it was clear it was a repeater and from the boom a rather powerful one. That type of ammo was a pricey sort but good enough to bring down all types of fallen.

    Whatever happened the shooter had long since relocated the battle coming back into the grassy area disappearing to a new area. If the two where the intended targets it was clear that they wouldn't be standing at the moment. Meanwhile the unknown shooter was getting into a position behind the fallen hiding behind a tree, their hands slipping new rounds into the rifle from their shoulder bag.

  4. Characters in this post:
    "Shit!" Thalia shouted as she instinctively ducked and looked around, hearing the gunshots. "Where did that come from?"

    Damon went into a half crouch at the same time, searching for the source of the rapid fire barrage, but seeing no one in the direction it came from.

    "I don't know," he said. "But those shots were not meant for us. Watch out now, the Fallen are charging."

    Thalia returned her eyes to the sights of her musket and lined them up with the closest Fallen, a scaled hound with fangs too large for its jaws and a single horn sprouting from the side of its head.


    With a pull of the trigger, the beast fell dead and as quick as her deft hands allowed, Thalia loaded a second shot then fired again, killing another before the rest closed in.

    "I'm sorry, it had to be this way," Damon murmured as he held his weapon up in a combat stance, preparing to attack. "But mistaking us for prey was your own shortcoming, now DIE SWIFTLY!"

    With a roar, he swung his sword in a broad arc, bisecting the first Fallen to get near, then layed about into the rest of the pack.

    Two managed to slip past, targeting Thalia who stood waiting after having fixed a bayonet to the end of her gun.

    Twirling it like a quarterstaff, she smacked one of the Fallen away with the butt of her weapon and speared the other, then did the same for the first which was lying stunned on the ground, now dead in its sleep.

    Yanking her weapon out of its corpse, Thalia looked up to see Damon hacking away at the rest of the Fallen, even as they attempted to stay out of reach.

    Thalia was about to move in to support, but an unseen third attacker had managed to get behind her and jumped with jaws wide open, its snarl giving it away. It was all Thalia could do to bring her musket up in between its fangs and keep them from closing on her.

    "Fuck you!" she shouted as she struggled, trying to shake it off, but it held on with supreme stubbornness, threatening to bite through the barrel of the gun.

  5. Characters in this post:
    Lilathy flinched at the sound of the gun fire. She had never heard such a sound before and it unnerved her a little. She looked behind her at Soatch, to see how he was handling the new sounds, but it looked like it startled him more than her. Rushing to his side, Lilathy threw herself over his head to get him to focus on her and calm him. It didn't take long for him to regain his nerve and lower himself into the long grass of the knoll, diminishing his profile. Sprinting back up onto the top of the knoll, Lilathy re-notched her arrow and spied a target--a Fallen was attacking a woman. They weren't too far for her to shoot accurately, but she didn't know how she was going to move. However, Lilathy couldn't just stand there and watch someone be eaten, so released her arrow at the Fallen attacking the woman, aiming to shoot the Fallen through the maw, if not between its eyes. If nothing else, the arrow would buy the woman some time to put some distance in between her attacker and herself and that was good enough for Lilathy.

  6. Characters in this post:
    The stranger had slung his rifle on his back, the elongated rifle was a must for the wearer due to their size and the amount of power it possessed to bring down large fallen. However strayed across their chest was another weapon, a large revolver that sheer size indicated it was just as strong if not stronger then the rifle. Even in the hands of someone like him it was a sight. At his hips where two smaller revolvers that looked to be a smaller variant of the one strapped to his chest holster, not as strong but they look like they've seen some wear over the years.

    As he stepped out from behind the tree his hand had tugged the large revolver from his chest taking aim as he walked forward. His brown duster which did well to hide his body followed behind, the tattered edges kicking up dirt. With a squeeze of the trigger the sound and boom the revolver made as it struck a fallen was almost ear shattering, but the impact was worse. It hit the monster in the me ck but from the way it's head exploded leaving a stump you'd think it was a direct shot. That was what that .500 rounds did to bodies.

    Quickly his Head snapped to the right as his revolver followed emptying another massive round into a fallen that was dashing towards him, the fallen chest getting struck as it flipped in mid air a large hole exiting out its back.

    His cowboy esque hat matching his outfit managed to conceal his being for now, so whether he was mutated or not was to be revealed but hopefully he was on their side. However he fully noticed the arrow meaning there another person in the area, his eyes trying to pinpoint the path the arrow followed as dashed to a nearby rock.

  7. Characters in this post:
    Thalia reeled back in surprise as the Fallen dropped dead from her gun with an arrow through its head. She saw the archer standing on a distant hill and wondered briefly how anyone could shoot so accurately with a bow from that far away.

    Hearing the sound of more gunfire, Thalia turned towards it and saw the anonymous shooter, standing out in the open with a ridiculously oversized handcannon, more akin to a blunderbuss than a pistol.

    "So there you are," she muttered as she returned her focus to the few remaining Fallen, fighting and dying to Damon's blade.

    Leaping bayonet first into the fray, Thalia joined the horned man's side and together, they cut and stabbed the pack of Fallen down to less than half its original size.

    Having seen the deaths of all their kin, the beasts lost their heart for fighting and broke into a full retreat. Damon pursued them a short distance until his mind reasserted itself and he said, "That's enough."

    Thalia heaved a heavy sigh as she unattached the bayonet from her musket and loaded a shot, pretending to not hear what Damon had said. Aiming at the backs of the Fallen, she fired.

    In a rare moment of genuine anger towards Thalia, Damon whirled upon her and said, "I said enough! The fight's over."

    "It ain't over until they're all dead, cowhead," Thalia replied. "You know they'll be coming back."

    Damon shook his head with clear disapproval as he sheathed his sword. "Very well, but you do this without my help."

    Thalia shrugged as she removed the bayonet from her musket and placed it back in its sheath. "Fine then, I'll go see what these folks think. Might have some more sense than you."

    By the time they finished talking, the Fallen had disappeared over the horizon. Thalia loaded her musket just to be sure then waved her hand in greeting to the strangers. "Hail friends, thank you both for the timely help. Are you on your way to the Dragon's Bones too?"

  8. Characters in this post:
    Lilathy returned the notched arrow into her quiver and sighed, knowing what was coming wasn't going to be easy or swift, just hoping that they would be gentle. Lilathy disappeared behind the knoll, taking Soatch's reins, telling him what she was about to do. He resisted a little, but heeded to Lilathy's lead. They would fly as soon as trouble presented itself when Soatch made his appearance. On the off chance that they would be welcome, they would stay, but only because Lilathy didn't know the way to the Dragon's Bones. She shuddered at the thought of what became of her veteran, and her heart sank further when she thought of the moment she'd have to break it to her village that they lost another person to the Fallen. With a deep breath and a tight grip on both her cape and the reins, Lilathy led Soatch over the hill and towards the group, expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.

  9. Characters in this post:
    The stranger slipped the long rifle off his back opening the lever as he started loading the bullets into the barrel, cocking the rifle signaling it was loaded. He was quiet as the stranger spoke slipping the rifle onto his back once more slipping out his large hand cannon slapping open the front end as he loaded three large rounds before snapping it shut cocking it backwards only to slip it back into it's chest holster. His head was tilted downwards keeping his face hidden till his head leaned back tipping his hat to them, introductions where to be brief he had other business to attend to.

    His voice made a small sigh that sounded more like a growl from his gravel like voice, his purple irises shining slightly from the reflected surface. But his head tilted to the new comer, his ass planted firmly on the rock as his lifted his fingers to his mouth letting out a whistle as his mount began to trot out of the forest.

    The Dracolisk creature was once a horse but when the Fall happened it had shifted as Voltur had, becoming a unholy bastard of scales, horns, and muscle. The creature looked to be like a horse and dragon had a baby, looking more dragon then horse it held a sphere of intimidation from it's neigh that sounded more like a roar to it's fork tongue that flicked out it's mouth. Taking it's rightful place beside it's master it's head shook letting out a loud breath as it's master hand took it's reigns un-moving from his rock.

    "I'm after those Fallen." He stated beginning to stand up preparing to mount his Dracolisk.

    Brief. He needed to be brief he didn't have time for pleasantries currently, it was rare he wasn't flat out shot at now that they saw the extint of his transformation, his scaled hand gripping the reigns tightly.

  10. Characters in this post:
    "Oh great, another cowhead," Thalia said when she noticed the stranger's horns and scaled skin upon closer inspection. "Well at least we're both after the same thing. I'm Thalia, that's Damon and we're coming along. Those little bastards have been dogging us for days now."

    Damon's interest was piqued when he heard Thalia mentioning 'another cowhead' and came to meet this Voltur character.

    "You... you are like me," he said with stark surprise, but then shook his head as he remembered what was being discussed. "No, we don't have to follow them anymore, Thalia. Let this man take care of them as we continue on our journey."

    "What, you would abandon a fellow traveller and refuse to assist in his plight?" Thalia asked with mock indignation. "Just him against them and us on our merry way, is that what you're saying? I'm shocked."

    Damon narrowed his eyes. "I can see what you're doing."

    Thalia slung her musket over her shoulder as she looked at the horizon. "You don't have to help, but those biters must die. If it's not us, then it'll be someone else they'll attack, I'm not changing my mind about it."

    "And what of the girl? What does she have to say about this?"

    "Clearly, she's the scaleback's ward, so she'll follow where he leads." Speaking out loud, it wasn't difficult to overhear Thalia and Damon's conversation, and being aware of this, Thalia turned towards the archer as she said, "Am I right?"

  11. Characters in this post:
    "Not at all. I am a pilgrim making my way to the Dragon's Bones when my guide and I were separated. I am terribly lost now, but am hoping to resume the pilgrimage, if none of you object to my bringing my companion, Soatch, here along with me." She offered a sheepish smile, her whole body tense and ready to hop onto Soatch's back at a moments notice. She was, however, surprised that they didn't outright shoot at her the moment they saw Soatch, which was a good start, but she didn't let her guard down. Light knows what happened the last time she let her guard down... the tightness of the scar on her stomach tugged at her mind at the mere thought. She did her best to shove it in some dark corner of her mind--at least she survived.

    "I do not wish to partake in the hunting of the Fallen, though. That is not a sport I fancy." She spoke with a definite tone; she didn't want them to try and sway her opinion. Her decision was final.

  12. Characters in this post:
    "Less people to get in the way."

    That's all the rider had to say once the woman spoke his burning gaze turning upon the two earlier. He did not care if they followed him, if the woman was looking to kill he didn't care so long as her bullets where not at his directions. He took the hat off revealing the fullness of his transformations, from the top of his head down even to his gloved hands and booted feet he was fallen. His semi-long horns just able to be hid (rather uncomfortably) under a hat. Few people looked like him let alone kept their mind, some would say he pulled the genetic lottery being able still keep his general dashing human features, without the scales a normal person could say he was handsome. However with the cons benefits insured wither it was his protective scales, his strength, or even aging it promised him one thing: A long life.

    "Fallen messed with a friend of mines livestock, they have a hive near here. For the sake of a nearby town I've been paid to deal with it." He stated pulling his reigns. "Not too far- I'll split the reward for who comes that's bout it." He grunted shrugging.

  13. Characters in this post:
    "Nearby town?" Damon said to Thalia. "That's got to be Kessels. It seems our path has been laid out for us then."

    Looking at the girl, Thalia immediately knew that Damon meant for them to split apart. It was baffling how someone so demonic in appearance could be so sentimental over a few savage beasts, but if Thalia had to make do without him, then she would do so. Voltur seemed formidable enough anyway, so it was not as though Thalia's chances of survival had diminished.

    "If that's the way you want it," she replied. "That's fine by me. I'll meet you at Kessels when I'm done. Just make sure you don't run into any trouble along the way. I don't want to hear about you dying because of this pipsqueak here, got it?"

    Damon couldn't help but smile at Thalia's usual lack of tact. "Understood," he said to her and then to the archer, "Don't take it to heart, she's always like that. Now, I don't believe I caught your name."

    Yeah, he'll be all right, Thalia thought as she went to Voltur's side. "Shall we go then?"

  14. Characters in this post:
    Lilathy stayed silent, watching intently as the situation unfolded before her, looking for specific words and subtle bodily cues that would tell her when was the moment to flee, but it never came. She never made any attempt to defend herself against the woman, Thalia's insult, just watched and waited until both Thalia and Voltur left. At least I won't have to watch so many people when I have my back turned, Lilathy almost visibly relaxed at the thought. Almost. Though she was down two potential backstabbers, that didn't mean that Lilathy was out of the woods yet. She knew all too well that even one opponent is more than enough to prove a challenge to even the most skilled of combatants.

    "Oh, my name? I am Lilathy Truhart, and this is Soatch. And you are?" She didn't let her guard down, but didn't keep as tense, seeing how there was only one potential direction of attack. She didn't rule out anyone as being hostile until they proved otherwise. Trust was a bit hard to come by these days and Lilathy didn't have too much to spare just yet. She pat Soatch's neck respectively as he cocked his head towards Damon, hearing his name mentioned in conversation. She felt the reassuring weight of her quiver on her left hip and the bow conveniently hidden behind her fur cloak.

  15. Characters in this post:
    "I am Damon," the horned man replied as he placed a hand over his scaly chest in greeting. "At least, that's what Thalia calls me. I don't know my true name."

    He watched as the old musketeer departed alongside Voltur, walking into the fire lit horizon without looking back for a single moment.

    The sun was setting on that day too, Damon thought as he remembered the time he and Thalia had first met.

    Loud voices, angry threats, a terrible misunderstanding and then a single gunshot. No one had died, but they all ran anyway and there she was, a silhouette against the dying sunlight like a hero of myth.

    "It's better than 'demon' at any rate," Damon mused as he turned to Lilathy. "I know it's only a single letter difference, but it means a lot to me. Ah, but you need not be concerned about that. I do apologize if I ramble. We are well met, Lilathy Truhart... and you, Soatch. You are like me as well, aren't you?"

    Damon raised his hand to pet the Fallen steed, its form vaguely similar to the hounds that had been attacking earlier. "May I?"

  16. Characters in this post:
    Lilathy relaxed a bit when Damon started rambling and put her bow away. She patted Soatch's neck, letting him know it was okay and took a deep breath. Lilathy waited politely until Damon was finished talking before speaking, nodding at appropriate times to let him know she was listening.

    "I don't mind you rambling. It lets me know that you're closer to human than most other Fallen." Lilathy turned to Soatch, who edged closer, nuzzling the bag at her hip.

    She smiled and, with a small giggle, pulled out a fair sized bone with meat still on it--it didn't look to be too old of a piece either, "Hungry, hmm?" She turned to Damon, offering the bone out to him in a casual manner, "Want to give it to him? He's friendly, but doesn't remember that his teeth are a lot bigger than they used to be. We figure he used to be a family pet, which explains his loyal and friendly nature."

  17. Characters in this post:
    "Yes, thank you," Damon replied, gladly accepting the bone and holding it out towards the animal's teeth after rubbing its scaled flank.

    Soatch responded with a lick on Damon's hand before taking the bone in between its jaws, crunching it into splinters with relish.

    For a moment, Damon only stood and watched as the animal ate, still looking at him with its soulful eyes.

    "You are most welcome," Damon said with a suppressed smile, an involuntary action borne of self consciousness. "I suppose we should be on our way then. Barring anymore attacks, it's a straightforward route to Kessels from here."

    Facing the opposite direction of the sun, Damon climbed the broad slope of a sprawling hill and upon reaching its crest, he took one final look at the carnage behind, imagining himself among the dead pack of creatures.

    "Closer to human than most other Fallen, yes," he said softly and then in an inaudible whisper. "But why?"

  18. Characters in this post:
    Lilathy watched Soatch's behavior towards Damon closely. It'd been a long time since he saw another Fallen, and she didn't know if Soatch had interacted with a friendly Fallen before and was slightly worried that he would attack out of habit. She smiled and felt her heart rate slow down from its panicked rate when Soatch took the bone with almost a wag of his tail and was glad to have brought her new guide a friend of his own kind. She buttoned the satchel closed and strapped her bow onto her backpack, running her hands through her hair to resettle the misplaced strands the action caused.

    "Is Kessels a large town, or is it just a popular place for the pilgrims to rest?" Lilathy asked, more so curious that fearful of crowded towns. She knew the dangers of highly populated areas and didn't particularly like the sounds of war.

    "Why, you ask? Why do we turn when we die and why only when we're dead? Why do some Fallen keep their minds and some don't?" Lilathy paused to collect her thoughts, "We all serve a purpose. Those who keep their minds after they turn--they're not done yet. They get a second chance, regardless of what form they take."

    Lilathy patted the side of Soatch's neck and pet him, staring seemingly through him, "I just hope I get the same chance." She sounded very distant, her eyes half closed and unfocused. She seemed to be looking through fogged glass or reliving a memory. The wind picked up her hair and threw it as it willed, but she didn't seem to notice anything past Soatch's scaled side.

  19. Characters in this post:
    Voltur rode quietly for the most part, his mount doing most of the tracking but that wasn't needed. A keen eye could pick the certain foot prints of Fallen, someone like him. But the mount was specially atuned to pick up certain scents so all Voltur had to do was life a bit of blood to it's nose and they where off. His eyes drifted to the Musketeer wondering how someone like that could make it so long and not get a sword in the back. Finally he broke the silence.

    "You'll provide support, I'll do the initial assault. Follow and stick close till then." He ordered briefly.

  20. Characters in this post:
    The way Lilathy seemed to be staring into anywhere but the here and now made Damon wonder how the Malady affected those who were not Fallen. For Lilathy, it seemed her fear was losing herself upon her day of turning, but for Damon, it had already happened or so he thought.

    "Is it really a second chance when you forget the person you were before?" Damon asked pointedly. "Sometimes I wonder... let's go, we've lingered here long enough."

    Turning his back on the lifeless Fallen, he descended the other side of the hill and skirted around a cluster of trees.

    "To answer your earlier question," he said as he stepped onto the beginning of a long ridge line. "Kessels is a small town with large fields for grazing sheep. Many pilgrims have passed through over the years, even a few like me, so the people there will be cautious but reasonable when they see us approach. We should able to see it over the next ridge."

  21. Characters in this post:
    "It doesn't matter who you were. It's who you are and what you do with yourself now that matters." Lilathy shook her head and sighed, dropping Soatch's lead and followed Damon. She knew Soatch would follow her, so she wasn't concerned over holding his reins. She kept her eyes and ears about her while they walked, knowing that there could be more Fallen at any time and didn't want to face her fear so soon.

    "So, as a Fallen, I guess that makes this annual thing very important, huh?" She wondered aloud more than asking Damon the question. It was clear she was distracted, surprised at the impressive lushness of the environment she found herself in--the long grass, tall trees, the singing birds. It made her wonder what life had been like before the Malady, and if it could ever return to such.

  22. Characters in this post:
    "Mm, indeed," Damon said as he stood at the end of the ridge and took a deep breath, inhaling the cool pine scented air. "Whatever we might think about the past or present, it is the future that we go to discuss at the Dragon's Bones. Like this valley before us, it is too vast a thing to navigate alone, but together, we may just prevail."

    As he descended the ridge, Damon saw that the sun was now well beneath the horizon, though all but the brightest of stars had yet to reveal themselves in the dimness.

    Picking a clearing among the trees, Damon walked to its centre and said, "Let's rest here until Orion shows himself in the night sky. I have some questions of my own now that we have the time. First and foremost, have you anything to eat?"


    Thalia followed in silence for the most part, seeing no need to raise conversation and she was glad that Voltur seemed to think the same. All too often, she had to tolerate other travelers' inability to keep their thoughts to themselves. How little appreciation they had for peace and quiet.

    That peace was immediately shattered when the Fallen man deigned to give Thalia orders. "Oh, I'll stick close all right," she said. "Stick you right up the arse if you think I need tactical advice on killing scalebacks. Do you think I'm new at this?"

    Despite her words however, Thalia had to admit that she alone would have covered less ground than Voltur and his mount in double the time taken so far. The pair never had to stop for a single moment to follow the tracks of the Fallen.

    "Tell you what though, you're not wrong. All that kit you're carrying, you better strike first and hard."

    Looking up at the darkening sky, Thalia began to feel some apprehension about the end of the hunt. The Fallen would have the advantage at night. Were it just her and Damon, Thalia would have postponed the pursuit until daylight, but Voltur showed no signs of slowing down so she wouldn't either.

    "How much farther, do you think?" Thalia asked, peering into the thickening darkness.

  23. Characters in this post:
    Lilathy followed Damon, not really paying attention to her footing for she knew even if she did and made her movements inaudible, Soatch would make her efforts in vain. So she kept her keen ears out, scanning her surroundings for movement in the diminishing sunlight. Once her eyes adjusted, she knew she could see figures and movement, but she would mostly depend on Soatch with his sense of smell and ability to see in the dark that would keep them safe--always had. They stopped in the clearing and Soatch circled himself a little nest against a tall pine tree and curled to sleep. Lilathy watched him and smiled.

    "To eat? I have some venison jerky, fruitcake, and some wild berries. What would you like?" Lilathy asked as she dug into her backpack and laid the items she listed off on a piece of cloth on the grass in between them. Lilathy forced on a welcoming smile, but her body begged her to sleep. She had been wandering since first light and she was weary from her travels. She pulled out her water-skin, drank the last of her water, ate some berries and jerky, before heading over to Soatch. She pulled out a smaller bone than before, but similar in every way and fed it to Soatch.

    "Unless you share Soatch's taste for raw meat; in which case, here." She pulled out another dripping bone and laid it on a new cloth beside the other food items. Upon her way back to Soatch, Lilathy almost slipped into him from fatigue. He was already done his food, barely chewing, and was mostly curled up but waiting for her. Seemed they knew each other very well. Lilathy dropped her pack on the other side of the tree that Soatch was leaning against and snuggled herself into a comfortable position in the soft of Soatch's belly. He curled his tail around her and rested his head against his giant clawed paws and went for a nap. Lilathy knew she wasn't far off behind him, so tried to keep herself awake with other methods. She didn't want to be rude, but there's only so much you can force your body to do before it takes over.

    "As per your other questions?" She hoped she sounded more awake than she felt. The day had been long and she was definitely feeling it.

  24. Characters in this post:
    Damon held up his hand, palm forwards, and shook his head as he replied, "Thank you for offering, but my concern was more for your own sake. You seem rather fatigued."

    As he watched Lilathy almost collapse into the animal's flank, Damon realized how much of an understatement his words truly were. The girl was nearly dead on her feet and to have so few provisions for her journey, it was a wonder she had survived at all in the wilderness for a whole day.

    Not a hardy traveler by far, Damon judged, but then again, every pilgrim was once a novice. He thought back to the earliest days he could recall, huffing and puffing along in Thalia's wake as no more than a beast of burden. His vocabulary consisted of little more than grunts then, but he had come a far way since.

    Even before those days, Damon could remember in hazy half-forgotten sensations of the time when he was as a newborn; alone, confused and lost in the vastness of the world. How long he had survived in such a state, he could never say. Perhaps Lilathy did not share that problem, but she must have felt the same fear of uncertainty upon losing her guide.

    Just how long had she been travelling on her own? One of the many questions Damon wanted to ask, but seeing her exhaustion, he decided to spare her the interview and only ask the most pertinent questions: "Just two, who was your guide and what happened to him?"

    (you get to come up with the character's background, Ferayn. be as sparse or detailed as you want, it doesn't even have to be a 'him'. i'll be making a profile depending on what you write)

  25. Characters in this post:
    Lilathy giggled and heaved a sad, resigned sigh. She rested her head against Soacth's back and thought of how to word her cowardly act, staring up at the dark velvet sky that had yet to reveal all of its sparkling wonders.

    "My guide was the village butcher, Thoril Thistlewalker. He was a veteran pilgrim by at least 15 years. Big, burly, strong, and wise, but even with all his experience, we still couldn't stand a chance when we were outnumbered and outflanked four to one." Lilathy grimaced, "Even with Soatch, we weren't going to win so he ordered me to flee. I stayed for another minute, killing a few, but it was no use--there was more in the bushes. I have no idea where they kept coming from, how many were actually there, or why there was such a concentration out in the middle of nowhere, but my words are true."

    Soatch whined and nudged Lilathy, noticing how upset she was. She ran a hand over his scaled forehead and scratched behind his horns. He enjoyed her affection and she visibly relaxed a little at this and closed her eyes slowly, keeping them closed. Perhaps she was fighting back tears? Of which, anger or sorrow? With Lilathy's face being expressionless, her eyes closed, and her body limp against her companion, it was near impossible to read Lilathy's emotions.

    "I did as I was told. I nearly emptied my quiver on the ones who followed Soatch and I, but they gave up after enough of them fell." She paused and took a deep, steadying breath and opened her eyes before continuing, "I went back, you know? To see if Thoril survived and was wounded, or if..." She cleared her throat and swallowed many times, gagging at one point, "It was all I could do just to walk through the carnage. I collected as many usable arrows as I could while I was there, but I couldn't bring myself to dig through the corpses to see if Thoril was among them. I was sick from the stench of blood and rot and Soatch was uneasy, so we left and tried to make our own way to the Dragon. That was three days ago. Not to sound like a whiner, but it was a long three days."

    Lilathy gave a sheepish smile. Dark circles under Lilathy's eyes became more noticeable and her fatigue more profound. Every scrape and scratch suddenly felt more intense as Lilathy imagined her three-day struggle against the wilderness as an epic battle against some giant beast. She thought she knew what the pilgrimage entailed, but that was a grand underestimation. She smiled at the thought of how her appearance must be at this point; a petite, young, woman covered in dirt, scrapes and scratches, accompanied by her 'dogan' wandering around aimlessly. It was obvious that she wasn't expecting the past few days to turn out as they did.

    She glanced at the food that she had laid out and wiggled a bit--probably measuring how tired she felt and if she had enough energy to pack it up and resettle again. She settled on not--the food wouldn't go bad overnight, but she didn't want to attract the wrong kind of attention either. But what really cemented the decision was the fact that she had lost the battle against her heavy eyelids and was fast asleep, nestled into Soatch's warm, soft flank. It didn't look like she'd wake any time this night either.

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    Thoril Thistlewalker. The name was familiar to Damon. He might have even seen the man it belonged to several times before in past gatherings, but never spoke with him. In fact, Damon often made an effort to avoid speaking at all if he could help it, so there were very few pilgrims he knew personally other than Thalia. Just about all of them fell into Lilathy's description of Thoril, he could have been anyone of them.

    Damon stayed silent as Lilathy told her story, holding back questions as they formed in his mind. Where did they come from? How long had they been travelling before the attack? Was this the girl's first pilgrimage? Why use a bow over a gun? Damon hoped to ask them all when Lilathy was done talking, but by the time she finished, sleep had overcome her and she could no longer fight it.

    "Ah, there's Orion," Damon said as he looked up at the starry night sky and then at Lilathy, who lay nestled against the side of her Fallen companion. "Though I don't suppose we'll need his help tonight... Well Soatch, looks like it's just you and me now. Let's keep watch for our intrepid friend here, shall we?"

    Damon did not wait for a reply as he wrapped up the food and stowed it away in Lilathy's backpack, knowing that Soatch did not need to be told what he likely already knew. There was no doubt in Damon's mind that Lilathy's survival in the wilderness could be largely attributed to the loyal animal's vigilance.

    Still, it was inconvenient and unwise to sleep out in the open. "I should have picked a better spot," Damon mumbled as he unsheathed his sword and laid it across his lap, ready for the hungry mouths he could already hear prowling the night.

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    Lilathy's piercing blue eyes snapped open as she woke with a start three hours after she fell asleep. She grabbed her bow and quiver and jumped over Soatch's winged foreleg just as his hear perked up and he began to growl. The whole movement was swift and graceful, despite being exhausted, and only transpired for a mere second or two.

    "They're near." Lilathy said, blinking the blurriness that sleep came with out of her eyes. She buckled her quiver to her right leg and grabbed four arrows, scanning the perimeter for movement. She didn't yawn or even shiver from the change from warm flank to chilly air--she was quite focused.

    Movement around the clearing caught her eye and she notched an arrow. She tracked it, then another rustling caught her attention.Soatch was up and ready to fight, head low and back high, trying to hide Lilathy somewhat, and growling loudly to attract attention so that he'd be attacked first.

    "I count five. There may be more hiding or less as they keep converging, but I'm confident that there are only five." Lilathy whispered to Damon.

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    "That's still two more than us," Damon replied as he slowly stood up, having wearily anticipated the encroaching hunters for some time. "Best not to underestimate them. Still, there's no need to remain quiet anymore since they already know where we are."

    As the sound of stealthy footfalls grew closer and louder, barely concealing the snapping of twigs and crunching of grass, Damon drew a deep breath and let out an intimidating roar. It echoed around the valley and the noises stopped instantly.

    Certain that the Fallen would be able to see him in the dark, Damon began swinging his sword about wildly and continued bellowing as he walked towards where he thought the hunters might be. Sure enough, one of them bolted away from behind a tree and others soon followed, showing only their backsides.

    Sighing with relief at avoiding a confrontation, Damon sheathed his sword then returned to the fledgling pilgrim and her animal companion. "We shouldn't linger here. I know some Fallen would've taken my shouting as a challenge more than a threat."

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    Soatch flinched at Damon's roar, but Lilathy just about jumped out of her skin when the roar came from behind her. She stood there, dumbfounded as Damon marched forward, swinging his blade around like a maniac, with a stupefied look upon her face. His words broke her trance and she nodded at his warning.

    "Right, I'll pack up the foo--" She cut herself off and turned to him with a confused look on her face after finding the food and cloth that it sat upon, gone. "Did you?..."

    Lilathy took a moment to let her dream-dazed mind put two and two together, "How long was I asleep?"

    Her face was red with sudden embarrassment and hung her head a bit lower. Falling asleep on her new guide without even allowing him a half-decent conversation. She felt ashamed and a twang of guilt among the embarrassment. Soatch nudged her leg and whined.

    "Heh. Yeah, let's go." She spied her backpack and swung it over her shoulder and mounted Soatch, figuring they'd need a Fallen's speed to outrun another Fallen. It wasn't that she wasn't fast herself, but there was no way her sleep-slowed mind would be capable of navigating dense forest while simultaneously following her new guide, keeping track of which Fallen was Soatch, and outrunning hostile Fallen who were looking for a challenge.

  30. Characters in this post:
    As he picked his way through the trees, Damon looked back to check whether Lilathy was still following and decided he had nothing to fear on that account when he saw her riding on Soatch. Despite having known them for less than half a day, Damon found it reassuring to see that they were still safe under his watch.

    He wondered if Thalia ever felt the same way whilst acting as guide and protector to Damon, before their first pilgrimage together. Now they were equals, but up until Lilathy's arrival, Damon never had the experience of leading others before.

    Navigating the darkness with great effort to avoid Fallen on the hunt, Damon found that he was less concerned with his own safety and more for his charges. This was not unusual as he had always been considerate of Thalia's well-being over his own, but where she was a hardened survivor, Lilathy was clearly inexperienced and therefore at greater risk of coming to harm.

    I must not let that happen, Damon thought resolutely as he kept his senses alert for every sound, smell and movement that potentially held danger.

    After some time travelling through the densely wooded valley, Damon spotted a cave in a rocky hillside and made a beeline for it. "Wait out here," he said to Lilathy as he cautiously approached the entrance. "I promise I won't be long."

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