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Aug 29, 11 at 8:55pm ^Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
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If anyone has questions about the characters, I may make a list of who controlled who, since we had to split control of everyone else's characters between us as well.
Now, with that in mind, enjoy the story and give C&C, if you please. It's tasty.
(P.S. We recommend that original RP to NOBODY, so please do not go searching for its buried, ancient location. >_>)
(P.P.S. And to those who participated in the original RP, it's fair to mention that there will be some characters who've been edited completely out of the story. In addition, thanks to there only being two people writing now instead of five, some characters may be a bit different to their original incarnations. If any of you have a problem with this, please PM me and we'll discuss it over.)
November 29th EDIT: deleted all the old story posts to rearrange them into smaller parts, hence why there are now comments reviewing nothing.
Legacy of the Ancients
This is the story of Gaia.
Eight hundred years ago, a war wrought the planet, a war so large in scope and scale it became known as the first Great War. This war is legend for being the first signs of unity among the scattered nations of the planet.
But while good triumphed at the end of that long war, the evil behind it was not destroyed, only defeated. This evil slumbered – and now, it has returned.
And Gaia is not ready.
Gaia has two weapons – a band of determined, perhaps foolish, travellers, and a broken prophecy.
The Legacy of the Ancients.
Chapter One: Without Life, The War Shall Come
Chapter Two: And Three Will Gather At The Breach
Chapter Three: Moving Through The Shroud Of Death
Chapter Four: Fifth and Sixth, By Chance Shall Meet
Chapter Five: Seven Turn Back In Snow's Bright Star
Chapter Six: And Carry On, Throughout Despair
Chapter Seven: A Stubborn Rogue Shall Make It Nine
Chapter Eight: As Evil Waits Within Its Lair
Chapter Nine: With Ten They Sail To Newer Shores
Chapter Ten: And Nine Spill Blood Upon The Rocks
Chapter Eleven: In Sadness At The Marble Throne
Chapter Twelve: The Wounded Woman's Heart Is Locked
Chapter Thirteen: With Sky-City Moored And Burned
Chapter Fourteen: They Walk Into The Forest's Grasp
Chapter Fifteen: They Will Fight On As Night Descends
Chapter Sixteen: Pushing On Past Magic's Vale
From atop the outer wall of a sprawling city, a woman stood and looked out over the land beyond.
What troubles you, daughter? Her father’s voice spoke inside her head, invisible tendrils of magic connecting them together.
“It’s starting,” she murmured, looking down at her hands.
Does it matter? There is nothing you can do. No reason you should care.
“That is what worries me,” she responded, voice soft. “That there is nothing I can do.”
You should know better than to try and interfere. His voice was stern now, reprimanding. She laughed softly.
“Oh, I know better,” she agreed, a slight smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “That doesn’t mean they do.”
"Don't be afraid of the dark and cold..."
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Aug 30, 11 at 8:01am ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
That was a really great start; it introduces the characters and villians well and it sets up enough cliffhangers to keep the audience interested.
There are only a couple of minor critques I can make, but I might as well mention them here.
quoteI don't know why, but something seems off about this sentence. Maybe I'm wrong, but it just seems a little strange to me.
2) In the last scene of the chapter, Lucia suddenly just goes from 'the women' to Lucia seemingly with no transition or anyone else naming her, which just seems a little jarring to me.
Other than that, great stuff. Can't wait to see what you do with the rest.
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Oct 10, 11 at 7:45pm ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
Are you deliberately using a smaller font size to drive readers away?
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Oct 10, 11 at 8:46pm ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
quote DC SniperEr...no? You may not have noticed, but this isn't the only story in the lounge with a smaller font size. I didn't think it was that big a deal.
"Don't be afraid of the dark and cold..."
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Oct 10, 11 at 8:48pm ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
quote SventheCrusaderI am aware of that, and I'll say it to them too. You do want people to read it, right?
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Oct 10, 11 at 8:56pm ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
quote DC SniperNo offense, but you really do seem to be the only person who even cares. Frankly, until I see anyone else complaining about it, I'll do things my way.
"Don't be afraid of the dark and cold..."
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Oct 10, 11 at 8:58pm ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
quote SventheCrusaderCares? I was trying to make your story more readable by having it in a standard font. I don't care as I was probably the only one to actually want to read your story and give feedback- based on the other threads on the front page.
Oh, I am curious. Why the hell does making the font smaller matter to you? You've 1 reply by someone back a few months ago but 90-some views.
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Oct 11, 11 at 8:26am ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
Ummm...I'm pretty sure it's the standard Neoseeker font so it's not like it's unreadable, but whatever.
This was a pretty good chapter; the battle with bloodkreigel was filled with a lot of tension, and the conflict between Marvin and Corvan this chapter was pretty cool.
As for improvments, this paragraph bothers me.
quoteDid Corvan bat away the tail to allow himself to lunge at the head? Maybe it's the wording or maybe I'm overthinking things, but it still bothers me for some reason.
Also part of me would like a camping scene or something in future to get to know the party a little better, but that's just a personal perference mine.
Other than, great job and I look forward to the next part
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Oct 11, 11 at 3:39pm ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
So gee this was swell! Not very often I find something in this forum that actively encourages me to keep reading and I doubt I've ever read a chapter so big here without it being out of sheer force (which is to say, I enjoyed it!)
I've only done Chapter 1 so far but I'm sure I'll get around to more. I really like straight fantasy so I'm probably a little bias, but I really like the character designs; they almost seem RPGish, and I can't tell if that was intended but if it originated as an RP it's not surprising to find collected, distinguished characters coming together. The only problem I had character wise is I found Saila's behaviour slightly erratic or unexplainable. I didn't immediately get (and still don't) her inclination to help defend a town when she's simply a nomad. Maybe I overlooked that though, just got the feeling she needed a little more initial development.
Context seems good, I like the setting and lore, am definitely interested in seeing where it goes!
OH and one problem is I found the fight scene where they were all involved a little unclear and I couldn't quite picture it, probably just me!
No grammar complaints (shock horror) so yep thumbs up (Y)
RIP Sniggit, Zhou Tai Rocks & Vergil Ties
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Oct 11, 11 at 3:45pm ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
quote Anima SwordYou seem to have missed the 'Edited 15 hours, 15 minutes ago' bit. It was Size 1 or something similar.
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Oct 12, 11 at 1:14am ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
Ryte mor plz
The only feedback I have is semantics, and also that I want you to write more than a post every ~20 days.
'Cause I wanna read it. So you now have a one-post-a-week assignment due on Fridays.
Also holy shit this is better than the original.
1992 - 2010
Stay classy bbz
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Nov 29, 11 at 11:59pm ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
Chapter One: Without Life, the War Shall Come
Saïla woke with a gasp of shock from an entirely unwanted dream – nightmare, really. She sat, head bowed, hands in her lap, her grey-brown hair falling down around her face, obscuring most of her vision. It was always the same dream, always when she’d been in one place too long. She knew she would have to leave, but she was tired of it. Tired of running. But Selis, the small town she was currently staying in, wasn’t home. Just like every other town in Aldysia wasn’t home. Nowhere was home. She had nowhere to go; she was drifting like a shooting star. She travelled because she wanted to find somewhere to stop, somewhere that had enough gravity to pull her in and not let her escape. She’d been all over Aldysia, she’d been all over Grandas, pretty much all that was left to her was to cross the wide ocean to Buroc. She’d keep travelling, maybe even that far, until she found her resting place. That was all she knew.
Slowly, she slid out of bed and walked over to the window, the floor cold on her bare feet. It was still night, not even a glimmer of sunlight threatening the horizon. The stars of Gaia, so familiar to her, twinkled in the far-off night sky. When she’d been young, she’d dreamt of walking in cities built in the sky, reaching up to touch the stars, but now the only things she dreamt of were unwelcome.
But there were still cities in the sky. It had been better, she knew, before she had known they existed.
She knew that part of her had died six years ago, when her home had, when her way of life had. It didn’t hurt any more, not outside of her dreams. If only she could stop dreaming.
She left the window with a sigh, falling back on the bed and spreading her arms out, thinking of sleep. Maybe if she never stopped moving she would stop dreaming, too. But if she moved for long enough, maybe she wouldn’t need to dream to see the faces that haunted her unconscious mind. Good faces and bad faces.
Maybe, after a while, it wouldn’t matter any more.
The next morning, Saïla packed up her things and left the Inn. She had food for a fortnight at best, after which she would need to start taking on odd jobs again in another village like this one. She did jobs that the locals couldn’t or wouldn’t do, like hunting monsters in the area. Dangerous jobs. She wasn’t the world’s best archer, but she was still a pretty decent shot with a bow, so it wasn’t a bad life. Drifting, helping, earning, drifting some more. But that didn’t mean it was a good life, either.
She had to move on, though. She just couldn’t stay in Selis any more.
Outside the inn, a starkly tall figure stood on watch, sharp eyes picking out anything out of the ordinary. Corvan Vargant was a soldier of Snowcap, one of the two largest cities on the continent, and to say he fit with the rest of the town of Selis would be a rather egregious lie. He was a werewolf, the racial midway between wolves and men, and as such not only stood out among the largely-human and occasionally-elven populace, but towered over almost all of them as well. Fortunately for him, he wasn’t there to be subtle.
There had been unusual sightings in Selis at first. The military received several reports from the townsfolk of a shady figure prowling around the village outskirts at night, on several different instances. They had brushed those reports off, naturally, as prowlers at night were hardly a cause for the military to move for an investigation. Then, the reports of grave robbings started coming in, at least one after every night. Most grave robbers aimed for whatever was in the grave with the corpse, the likes of valuable jewellery and heirlooms. These reports, however, always told the exact same thing – the entire corpse disappearing as though it had never been there. This time, the military’s attention was entirely raised. No normal grave robber would have need of full corpses, particularly in such numbers.
Only necromancers would ever require them.
With their concerns now very much raised, those in charge of the army ordered their reconnaissance division to investigate. That was where Corvan featured. Though his search for whoever was behind whatever was happening had so far been fruitless, he had absolutely no intent on reporting empty-handed, particularly with the very potential threat of a necromancer in the boundaries of a town like Selis, at least two weeks away from any real aid from Snowcap. So help him, he would find out just what was going on.
As Corvan watched the passers-by near the inn, his eyes instantly picked out one of the patrons exiting the building. It was a woman, with silver-streaked brown hair. Instantly, he was on alert. It was not because of the look of her, but because of the way she carried herself. Subdued, seemingly avoiding the crowds entirely, distant to the point of iciness. Something about her was different. Very, very different.
Now taking care not to have her see him, Corvan waited until she was some distance ahead of him. Then, he followed her.
“Leavin’, miss? That’s a shame,” the guard on the gate remarked. “I think there’s a caravan due to stop here tomorrow. Sure you don’t want to wait another day?” Saïla shook her head irritably.
“No. I don’t want to go with a caravan. I travel alone,” she responded. “I can take care of myself.” The guard still looked concerned, but relented.
“Iff’n you’re sure, miss,” he told her. “You take care now.” Saïla grunted irritably, walking past him and muttering to herself. Corvan stood back for a moment, waiting from a distance, making sure she was out of earshot. Once he was certain there was no chance of Saïla detecting him, he continued forward.
“Good day,” Corvan greeted the guard at the gate, inclining his head once. “Tell me, did that woman mention where she was going? And did you notice anything strange about her?” The bored guard raised an eyebrow, although he noticeably straightened in the presence of the much taller werewolf.
“Jus’ said she was leaving,” he replied. “She’s an alright sort. Been here week or so. Cleared out a few of the nasties in the area.” He tapped the butt of his spear on the ground as he thought. “Dun’t really speak much, though. Kinda cold.” Corvan frowned slightly.
“Yes, I could tell that much,” he responded, thinking. So she had been helping them? He supposed that was as good an opening as any for a necromancer, getting into the good graces of the townsfolk. Still, it wasn’t known of necromancers to help at all in the first place, for whatever the reason.
“…Hm. I see.” Straightening himself, Corvan made to leave. “You have my thanks, good guard. Be well.” He started off again, trailing in the direction Saïla had gone.
“Not a problem, sir,” the guard responded, relaxing once he was out of sight. Something about werewolves seemed to make everyone else feel emasculated. Maybe their height. Or their rows of sharp teeth. Or how heavily-built they were. Either way, they were more than enough to frighten a guy.
Corvan trailed Saïla for a while further, at least fifteen minutes by his estimate. He made completely certain to keep out of sight and remain silent; he didn’t want his cover blown at this stage. As it stood, Saïla was the only lead in his investigation. He had no intent of breaking that now… and furthermore, he frankly dreaded the idea of being put on the receiving end of any spellcaster, let alone a necromancer. Werewolves had many strengths, but fireproof fur was not one of them.
Saïla walked, and for almost all of the journey something told her she was being watched. She could feel it, like eyes sent prickles down the back of her neck. At first, she had shaken it off as paranoia, but it was becoming hard to ignore. Pursing her lips, she reached for her bow, sliding an arrow from the sheath. If it was bandits, they were going to get a very painful surprise in some very unpleasant places. Like their eye sockets. Seeing Saïla reach for her bow was enough to make Corvan double his already steadfast caution. He immediately ducked into the nearby trees; they were thin, thinner than the forest near Selis by many times, but they were something. But with trees came fallen branches, and in his sudden duck for cover, Corvan stepped on one with a very telling crack. He swore, instantly flattening himself against the nearest tree, out of sight and range of bow. Saïla narrowed her eyes, notching the arrow to her bow and aiming in the approximate direction of the noise.
“You’re clever, bandit, I’ll give you that,” she muttered. “But you won’t be able to out-think me.” Behind the tree, Corvan made certain not to move an inch or make even the slightest sound as he made a fist with his right hand, pressing a release in the palm of the glove he was wearing. Four steel claws slid from sheaths under the plate on the back, sliding fully into place and locking. Corvan very much wanted to avoid fighting Saïla, particularly if she was his target, but he certainly would if forced.
“Show yourself!” Saïla demanded. “I will give you one chance to let us talk this through.” Her eyes scanned the area. The trees were thin, but still enough to hide an ambush. It was a show of confidence... bravado, really. Any of her old friends would have been disappointed in her.
In cover, Corvan thought. Considering his situation – being a melee fighter trapped behind a tree by an archer – he was incredibly inclined to take his chances at come out to talk the situation down. However, there was still the pressing question of whether she was the necromancer he was looking for. Stepping out and explaining himself would most definitely count as blowing his cover, potentially directly to his target’s face. Balancing, however, Corvan realised that both had effectively the same outcome: his corpse in a ditch. Slowly, cautiously, he stepped out of cover, ungloved hand raised in a gesture of peace.
“Hold your fire,” he offered to Saïla, levelly, eyeing her bow and arrow. “I will not attack you.”
“...A werewolf,” Saïla observed, her surprise showing through in her voice. “And in Snowstar uniform?” She lowered her bow, although she did not remove the arrow from the string. “Forgive me. I suspected you were a bandit.” Her tone was not apologetic, simply explanatory. Curt and cold. “Tell me why you were following me.”
“You were in Selis, correct?” Corvan asked her, seemingly rhetorically. “If so, you must have heard, by now, of the grave robberies that have been taking place in the town. I was sent by my superiors to investigate.”
“Grave robbing?” Saïla repeated. “I... had heard rumours, but I assumed they were being glorified.” A look of disgust passed over her face. “You thought me a necromancer?”
“Forgive me, but in a town like Selis, someone stands out when they seem to intentionally avoid every other person there,” Corvan responded levelly. “You were hardly unsuspicious, being as distant as you were.” Saïla made a noise of amusement.
“You will not eradicate the taint if you arrest every antisocial person you encounter,” she replied drily. “I suppose I should expect little better of a puppy.” Corvan made an unimpressed noise, as if to say he’d been called worse, so do better.
“Either way,” he continued, not pressing the subject of Saïla’s attitude. “It appears you are not the one I’m looking for, so I have no further reason to be here. Good day, and travel safely.” He turned. Saïla just laughed.
“Good luck being hunted down by necromancers, little dog,” she returned, replacing the arrow in her quiver and turning away. “You’re foolish. Your whole kingdom is foolish, to send a single soldier, one not trained in defending against the arts of magic, to take out a threat that could be so grave.” Corvan made a noise.
“I was sent to investigate, not fight. If I were to find evidence to the existence of this necromancer, I would send for reinforcements, not confront the culprit myself,” he retorted, not looking back. “Contrary to what you might think, I am not stupid and if I have a death wish, I’m not aware of it.” A frown tugged on Saïla’s face, and she turned back to face him.
“If there is truly a necromancer here, and you found them, do you really think they would stick around for long enough for your reinforcements to arrive?” she returned. “It is at the very least a fortnight to your capital from here... a week to the fringe of the mountains. They would be long gone. I know I would be, if I knew I had been discovered – and you are not the most subtle of investigators, puppy.” Corvan looked back at her.
“Grant that that seems to be the case for werewolves in general,” he responded drily. “As for what you say, as much of a point as you do make, the military has been increasingly busy recently. Times have been…strange, lately, as you might have noticed. This is not the first sighting we’ve had.” Saïla sighed wearily.
“I travel too much, werewolf, to notice unrest,” she responded. “Everywhere is new to me, each new place I visit as foreign as the last.” She tapped her foot, unhappy. “I will help you hunt this necromancer. If there is truly one in the area, they must be brought down at all costs.” Corvan’s expression changed to one of surprise.
“Truly?” He replied. “I scarcely thought you the type. Not that I would turn away the aid, of course.” Saïla made a dismissive noise.
“I dislike company, but not as much as I dislike the idea of an undead werewolf,” she responded, in explanation. “The town is in danger. I will not stand by and let innocents be hurt if I have an opportunity to protect them.”
“Hah. Admirable, then,” Corvan granted, properly turning to her. “Very well. I accept your aid.”
“Mm. I would have stayed and conducted a search of my own regardless,” she dismissed. “You may call me Saïla.”
“Corvan. Corvan Vargant,” he offered in turn. “A pleasure. Now…where would you recommend we begin searching?”
“I’m sure,” she responded, looking amused. “You can start by telling me what you have found so far. And not here, on the open path. Let us return to the village. Where were you staying?”
“The local inn,” Corvan supplied. “The Running Fox, I believe its name is.” Saïla sighed wearily.
“The Inn. The easiest place to hide,” she muttered. “The best place to be to overhear things is the Inn. No, we need to be somewhere the necromancer is unlikely to go.” Corvan thought about it.
“The forest could work,” he offered. “I have searched it three times over the course of my stay. It may be our best option.”
“It is wide and empty,” Saïla allowed, before shaking her head with a sigh. “Selis. Why Selis? There’s nothing here.” She clicked her tongue against her teeth. “The forest, then. Lead on.” Corvan nodded, turning and heading in the direction of Selis again. This was certainly progress, at least. Saïla sighed, following him along the path. She did not have to be his friend, only his ally. Once she was certain there was no threat remaining to the town, she could be on her way once more.
She just hoped she didn’t have too many nightmares.
Life is sacrifice. Sacrifice is life.
Squire Marvin levelled his sword at the enemy in front of him.
A knight’s duty is to protect, not destroy.
“Now, have at thee, cur!” He exclaimed.
To help, not to ruin. To save, not to kill.
He charged forwards, sword raised.
A knight has to sacrifice all for little, rather than little for all.
He brought his sword up in an arc, the clang of steel scraping against steel echoing around the grounds.
A knight’s duty is to keep others alive, and then himself.
He ducked and parried, panting as the heat of the sun baked him in his armour.
Selflessness, sacrifice, courage and duty is all that separates a knight from a tyrant.
A sword clattered off his shield, deflected.
A killer… From a hero!
With a flick of his sword the enemy’s weapon went flying, and he lifted his helmet’s visor, panting with exertion. From the stalls a few metres away, a man clapped.
“Bravo, bravo!” He congratulated. “Excellent, both of you!” Marvin’s opponent picked up his sword and sheathed it as Marvin did the same, then they exchanged a respectful bow and shake of hands.
“Are you staying?” His opponent asked, voice filled with boyish enthusiasm. “You’ll be a great addition to the forces, skills like that!” Marvin pulled off his helmet, sweat-slicked black hair shining as it reflected the sunlight.
“No. I can’t,” he responded simply, shaking his head to try and clear the stuffiness. “As much as I wish to help you…” He sighed softly, leaving his sentence unfinished. A knight’s duty was to help others, but how could he do that if he was not even a knight? No, he had to continue on, do something of true valour to earn his Knighthood. One day… One day he would be a knight. “Thank you very much for your kind offer.” He bowed again in acknowledgement. “If ever I pass through again, I shall be sure to offer my services.” His opponent, a man from the local militia, nodded enthusiastically.
“I look forward to it!” He told him, shaking his hand with fervour. “Good having you with us!”
With a sigh, Marvin turned and made his way back to the Inn, pausing outside at the stables. The few horses stabled there whinnied at him, and he smiled slightly, shifting his helmet under his arm.
One day, I will own a horse, he promised himself. When I am a knight, and have earned the right to wield this sword of mine. Before he attracted questions as to what exactly he was doing eyeing up other people’s horses, he turned away from the stables and made his way up to his room at the Inn, where he systematically removed his armour. Bracers first, then leg guards, then breastplate and hip guard. Chainmail to follow, then, finally, scabbard. Dressed now only in a light black tunic and leggings, he laid his armour out neatly on the bed and turned to the chest at the end of the bed. Time to start polishing, he thought to himself, removing the cleaning kit. One could not be a knight if their armour was dented or dirty. That showed poor dedication.
One day I will be a knight!
"Don't be afraid of the dark and cold..."
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Nov 30, 11 at 12:00am ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
The next day, at first light, Marvin donned his armour, fastened his sword to his belt, and headed out of the Inn. He paused briefly to gaze reflectively at the horses, then sighed and headed out of the village.
The crisp dawn air was exactly right for walking in, the light breeze ruffling through his hair. He was carrying his helmet, not liking to wear it unless absolutely necessary. It was stifling, and obstructed his vision. He liked to train at dawn, before the sun was really up; not only was it cooler but the sharp air helped him focus. Breathing deeply in and out, Marvin set his helmet on the floor and drew his sword. A few more breathing exercises, then he settled into the basic sword forms to warm himself up. Just gentle exercises at first, so as not to overstrain his muscles, then a few of the more complex manoeuvres, and finally into leaps and bounds that took him across the whole of the little clearing he’d placed himself in. he tried to focus, become one with his sword, let it carry him in a blur of sparkling light, reflected off blade and armour in the early morning sun. Eventually he slowed to a stop, panting slightly from his efforts, and glanced around. He had been certain he’d heard something, and yet… Nothing. Shaking his head, he readied his blade once more, ready to begin anew, then paused. Yes, that time he definitely hadn’t been mistaken. Twigs were cracking, leaves rustling, and it wasn’t just the wind. Cautiously, Marvin settled into a ready stance.
“Who’s there?” He called. “Friend or foe?” There was no response, just the snapping of twigs under careless footsteps. “Declare yourself else I shall have no choice but to attack,” he warned. Still no response, but he caught the movement out of the corner of his eye and spun around just in time to parry the strike of his foe. “S-skeletons?” He stammered, caught momentarily off-guard as his bony enemy raised his sword once more, mindlessly determined to inflict harm. Marvin gritted his teeth, steeling himself. So there are those with hearts black enough to raise the dead. Very well. I shall end this now, for the light, he decided, and let all of him become part of the battle. Sparks flew from clashing weapons, a bright pattern of light as they moved. Marvin was not mindless, and he knew swordplay, so he had soon disabled the skeleton, but it simply picked up its severed hand. Marvin frowned. How to kill that which was already dead?
He surged into battle once more, aiming to sever its head. This done, he brought the heel of his heavy armoured boots down hard on the skull, crushing it to dust. The rest of the skeleton instantly collapsed, and he smiled slightly to himself. The dead had been laid to rest, and the black magic that was being practised had…
He paused, turned, at the sound of movement, to see a good deal more skeletons lurch out into his clearing. Hissing slightly through his teeth, Marvin turned to face them. They were mindless, he was not. They were stiff, he was supple. He could take them on. Put an end to it…
Then, just as Marvin brought the first of the skeletons down, a blur of white and black slammed into the next nearest to him, a crushing blow from a clawed glove smashing it against the group. Corvan swiped another’s head off with a clean blow before he glanced back to Marvin.
“An interesting situation you find yourself in, knight,” he remarked, blocking an attack from another skeleton. “Very interesting…” Marvin started in surprise, before ducking quickly to avoid having his head removed by a skeleton.
“I am not a knight, sir,” he corrected him, painfully honest. “Simply a squire who aspires to such a position.” By the trees, Saïla was stood, eyes scanning for any sign of the source. She didn’t bother trying to take on the skeletons – her arrows would not have been any good.
“The difference is the same, nominally,” Corvan returned, grabbing a skeleton attempting to attack him and slamming it into another one nearby, sidestepping a third and crushing its head with a blow from behind. One thing was certain – they had certainly found a lead this time.
“...Hey, puppy. I think they’re coming from that clearing, there,” Saïla decided, indicating the direction with the edge of her bow. “Make your way through the skeletons, I’ll try and sneak around the back.” Marvin bristled at her disrespectful tone. It would be quite one thing if she was participating in the battle, but doing nothing as she was, she had no right to say such derogatory things. Corvan caught his look through the corner of his eye.
“Pay no attention to her,” he instructed, downing another skeleton. “Just do as she suggests and focus on getting through them. We still have to find who is controlling them in the first place.” Marvin nodded once, decapitating and dusting another skeleton. They had killed five now, and those that were left did seem to be coming from the direction the woman had indicated before she disappeared. Noting this, Corvan threw another glance to Marvin over his shoulder.
“Push toward the forest,” he ordered, holding off an advance from the skeletons. “Their source does seem to be somewhere there. Try and force them back.” Marvin nodded, sweeping at the nearest skeleton in an attempt to break through to the clearing. Beside him, Corvan threw the skeleton engaging him in combat backwards, into the ranks behind it, with a swing of his glove, breaking the shoddy ranks enough to allow him an opening. Taking it, he pushed on into the horde, the severely scrambled ranks allowing him to break a narrow path through.
“In! Now!” he commanded Marvin, holding off the skeletons in the breach. Marvin darted forwards and into the clearing, sword clutched tightly in his hand.
“Oh, hello, little knight,” a dark-skinned woman greeted, examining her nails idly as three skeletons took up arms around her. “I was wondering if you’d break through. I suppose I’ll have some fun after all, taking you apart myself.”
“Surrender and you may live,” Marvin offered. The woman simply rolled her eyes and clicked her fingers. Behind him, Corvan just barely managed to fight his way through the breach in the lines, squeezing into the clearing as the skeletons sealed their ranks again, closing in The wolf threw a glance over his shoulder at the woman.
“So it was you this whole time,” he noted needlessly. “Very handy to know…these skeletons will not last you forever, you know.”
“Talk, talk, talk,” the woman dismissed, waving a hand. “All talk. No bite.” She made a gesture with one hand, murmuring a word under her breath, and fire lanced through the air and caught on Corvan’s fur. He yelped in shock, the spell having given him no time to dodge, instantly attempting to put himself out, only stopping once to bash in the head of a skeleton who stepped too close. The necromancer turned to Marvin in the interim, who threw himself out of the way of a lightning strike in time for a skeleton’s sword to find his arm. He yelped in pain – a cry that was shared by the necromancer, as an arrow lodged itself in her shoulder. The skeletons faltered as her concentration wavered.
The lapse in attention gave Corvan enough time to successfully beat out the flames caught to his fur. Irritated, he launched himself at the skeletons nearest Marvin, now mentally praising every god he could name for Saïla’s decision to help them. Marvin lopped the head from the nearest skeleton, rolled onto it to crush it, then dragged himself to his feet. He held his arm at an awkward angle, but was still grimly clutching his sword. The irritated necromancer sent a spell in the approximate direction the arrow had come from, which earned an arrow swishing past her ear in response.
Corvan – now thoroughly provoked into wordless action by their target’s attack - took complete advantage of the necromancer’s distraction, relentlessly beating back any skeleton that got too close for comfort, attempting to lighten the injured Marvin’s burden. Breaking for only a moment, he snatched the shoddy axe the most recently-downed skeleton had been carrying and spun on the spot, throwing it hard at the necromancer behind him. The necromancer made an irritated noise through her teeth, ducking the poorly-aimed axe and letting it hit the tree behind her. The undead were proving less than useful, although she’d got in a good hit on the knight. A second arrow, from another vantage point, buried itself in her leg, and in her anger she set the trees in that direction alight.
Now registering the new hazard, Corvan cut another swath through the skeletons with renewed haste, not letting up. Between him and Marvin, and thanks to the necromancer’s distraction, the numbers were rapidly becoming fewer and fewer.
“It may have occurred to you,” he called up to the skeletons’ master, downing one as he spoke. “That your advantage is quickly crumbling. Surrender, necromancer, we may yet let you live!” The necromancer responded by eloquently implying things about Corvan’s mother, accompanied with a downwards slash of her hand. Lightning sparked, but the undead were clearly failing. Corvan just managed to avoid the resultant lightning, although his fur was singed again by proximity. With an irritated sigh, he smashed another skeleton into the ground.
“Perhaps I should reiterate,” he started, throwing a glare of a glance at her over his shoulder. “Surrender or we will—“ Whatever threat he was aiming to make was cut off by a loud, magical ring cutting through the air, accompanied by a flash of light at the necromancer’s side. In the space of an instant, as if from thin air, a second figure had appeared beside her. This one was cloaked entirely in black, a drawn hood obscuring any hint of facial features. Corvan blinked in shock. Had he just…teleported? No one was supposed to be able to do that…
“Denate,” A low male voice came from under the hood. “You no longer seem to have an army.”
“They’re just skeletons,” the necromancer huffed, flinging fire at Marvin as she did so. He raised his shield, the flame dissipating on it with a hiss. “This is officially the worst gig I have ever had.”
“Either way,” he man continued, looking about. “You’ve still been injured, and you cannot fight all three of them alone. Your mission is finished.” He set his eyes on Corvan and Marvin, the former of whom was paying constant, extremely wary attention to him as he fought the remaining skeletons. “Return to the fort, Denate. I will provide a distraction.” Denate looked like she was about to protest, before another arrow caught in her robes, barely missing her skin. With a final flash of fire at Corvan, she limped in the approximate opposite direction to the source of the arrows. That one Corvan managed to dodge, and with the skeletons now in complete disarray thanks to their master’s retreat, he felt it safe to turn his attentions to the new man, not pursuing Denate for fear of an attack he might be unable to dodge.
“What of you, then?” He demanded. “No matter your skill, we still outnumber you and you have no skeletons to your command. There is little you can do here.” The man made a noise that sounded amused.
“So unknowing,” he murmured, lights flickering around his fingertips. “So very ignorant.” He raised his hand and a burst of white shot into the air, exploding in a flash of blinding light above them. Marvin used his shield to cover his eyes, hoping to protect his face from a magical assault that may have followed. His arm throbbed. An arrow, wildly inaccurate thanks to the light, thudded into the ground a few feet from the new mage. At that, a second magical ring sounded from where the man was standing. As soon as he felt it safe to move his arm away from his eyes – why had there been no proper attack? – Corvan immediately scanned the area where the new mage had stood. He nowhere to be seen, evidently having teleported away while they were distracted. Irked, Corvan threw one of the downed skeletons’ skulls at where the two mages had once been standing. It made no sense. There were two of them, here? For what purpose? And teleportation was not something the mage populace at large could do. It was never supposed to happen. It wasn’t even meant to exist. How could that man have possibly done it?
“Pah,” he muttered irritably, settling for that as his reaction. “Damned necromancers.” He turned his attentions to Marvin, looking concerned. “Are you alright? That wound is serious.”
“I will be fine, sir,” Marvin responded, although his skin was pale. “I have a basic field kit with me, I can patch myself up until I return to the town.” He seemed strained. “My thanks, sir, for saving my life.”
“It was nothing. I could not just stand by and let them kill you,” he dismissed, still looking concerned for the knight. “I’m just glad I managed it at all, in the end.” He turned his gaze to the trees where the arrows had been coming from. “Either way, it seems we both owe our lives to someone today.”
“Please. I was trying to pincushion the necromancer. Mages are simply most distracted when casting,” Saïla dismissed, walking out of the trees. Corvan made a somewhat amused noise.
“No matter the intent, it did save our lives,” he continued. “So you have my thanks regardless.” He frowned then. “But this is far more serious than it seemed. There are at least two of them, and at least one can teleport. And why would they even target Selis in the first place? None of it makes any sense.” Saïla bit her lip.
“That I cannot answer,” she responded, “but the fact that there are necromancers active in Aldysia is worrying indeed.” Her eyes seemed troubled. “As for teleportation, I... Do not rightly know. Certainly the necromancer we came for seemed unable to utilise the ability. Perhaps it is simply misdirection, a form of stealth.” In the background, Marvin was quietly patching up his arm as best he could. Corvan’s expression was both thoughtful and heavily disconcerted.
“I need to report this to my superiors in the military either way,” he murmured. “No matter the capabilities they have, there are at least two active necromancers in the region and both seem to be targeting Selis. Something needs to be done, soon, and three of us were barely equipped to deal with just one of them.”
“And now we face the problem I mentioned earlier about reinforcements,” Saïla remarked blithely. “Two of them suggests teamwork. They are unlikely to remain here now they have been outed. Aldysia is in danger.”
“Yes…that much is clear,” Corvan agreed with concern still on his face. “At the very least, they are unlikely to attack here again, so I can leave knowing that. I need to make my report either way, however. Attention needs to be raised no matter what, even if there is little we can do as it stands.” Saïla inclined her head once in acknowledgement.
“Very well. I wish you luck, puppy. I shall head to other places.” Corvan nodded once as well, making a vaguely amused noise.
“I would suggest that you come with us, but experience suggests that there wouldn’t be much point,” he remarked. “Travel safely.” Saïla snorted in amusement.
“‘Us’?” she repeated. “You’ve recruited the squire without even asking? Puppy, you don’t need friends to lead you home.”
“Ha. Perhaps I did assume too much of our alliance, yes,” he acknowledged, “But either way. Farewell, and thank you again.” Saïla just shrugged dismissively, then turned on the spot and swept away.
“She was... Not the politest, sir,” Marvin remarked tentatively. Corvan chuckled slightly, turning to him.
“Perhaps, yes,” he granted. “But she helped of her own accord. That much is enough for me.” He glanced at Marvin’s arm. “How is your arm…ah…hm. I don’t believe we introduced ourselves.”
“I am Marvin, sir, Squire of Brinzac,” Marvin told him dutifully. “I will be fine as long as I return to the town in all haste. Thank you for your concern, sir.”
“Corvan Vargant, scout of Snowcap’s reconnaissance division,” Corvan offered in turn. “An honour. As for my concern, think nothing of it.” He turned, beckoning with a hand. “Come. We should head back to town as soon as possible, particularly for your sake.” Marvin nodded, hefting his shield over his shoulder and making to lead the way.
“You fought well today,” Corvan eventually remarked on their way back. “Particularly for a squire who I presume has never been forced into a life-or-death fight like that before. I was impressed.” Marvin smiled weakly.
“Thank you, sir,” he replied. “I have been training for... a long time now. It has been more difficult than I anticipated, since I have no master to serve to truly learn the art from... to allow me to become a proper knight.”
“Then consider it doubly impressive. Few knights can teach themselves, particularly as well as you evidently have,” Corvan responded. “I have no doubt you would have achieved knighthood long ago, had you a master.” He looked thoughtful for a moment before he continued. “It might not be too late, you know. Knights often come from Snowcap, granted that they’re nearly always werewolves.” Marvin made a noise of surprise.
“Would they truly have time to teach someone such as me in Snowcap?” he asked, sounding awed. “I am... I just... I would be most grateful for the opportunity, sir Corvan!”
“You have already done most of any potential master’s job, teaching yourself to fight,” Corvan confirmed with a nod. “And no one could ever fault you for your attitude. All that remains is to prove yourself to a master, and our forces are hardly busy enough for there to be no one who would accept you.” He made a noise. “And if these necromancers are widespread, rank and title would certainly come with advantages.” Marvin laughed weakly.
“I fear my performance today would impress nobody enough to promote me, sir,” he remarked. Corvan chuckled.
“You have the basics to your name, at the very least,” he dismissed. “Almost no one can say that. It puts you at an advantage.” He made a thoughtful noise. “I could take you there, if you were so inclined to join me. Properly, of course, not as under my previous assumption. If nothing else, the travel would be safer.” Marvin considered it, then nodded.
“I would be honoured to travel with you, sir. Thank you.” Corvan nodded in turn.
“Very well. We will set off after your arm is treated and you’ve gathered whatever you may need,” he responded. “Until then, I should make my own preparations at the inn and perhaps locate a reasonably less-singed uniform jacket. I presume you know your way around town far better than I do, so I doubt you need an escort from here.” Marvin nodded.
“Until later, then, sir,” he agreed, heading for the guards’ training grounds, to ask them for aid.
The room was dark, only lit by torchlight. Currently, there were four occupying it – a woman, an unusually large elf, a knight in stark red, and a rather unpleasant-looking man doing a stock take of the supplies in the room. Whatever silence they were in was interrupted by a telltale ring and a flash of light.
In the middle of the room stood Selis’ man in black, with Denate at his side. Idly, the former pushed his hood back. He had sand-coloured hair and tan skin, and his face sported two jagged scars, one on either side.
“Salim,” he started, shooting a glance at unpleasant-man. “Supplies. Bandages, preferably, and healing potion.” Salim barely looked up at the order.
“Right,” he muttered. “A minute.”
“Somebody failed hard,” the woman in black remarked bluntly, earning herself a deadly glare from Denate.
“What news?” the elf asked, not sounding at all concerned about Denate.
“Denate’s skeletons were repelled,” The man in black responded in turn, walking past the elf and seating himself in one of the room’s chairs. “There were three of them, as our Lord believed, and either our lieutenant made sub-par skeletons…or they were unusually capable.”
“My skeletons were not sub-par!” Denate protested hotly as the other woman sniggered. “And I could totally have taken them if it wasn’t for that goddamn bitch with the bow.” She turned on her saviour then. “And she was supposed to be out of the area. You can tell Skywing his intel is bloody useless.” The second woman stopped laughing for long enough to wince.
“Yes,” The second man responded, voice level and entirely serious. “I will make certain to give him your regards when I make my report. I’m certain he will be pleased to know.” Denate cringed.
“Well, ah, maybe word it a little more tactfully,” she allowed. “Can anyone here heal?” Lucia looked suspiciously innocent, and the elf just snorted with laughter at her misery. Both the black-claoked man and the knight in red were silent, but Salim was more accommodating.
“Here,” he stated, tossing her a vial of red liquid. “Best we got right now. You're welcome.” Denate made a disparaging noise through her teeth, before limping off as imperiously as she could to a separate room.
“Bet you ten silvers she starts swearing,” the elf shot at the potion provider.
“That’s not even a bet, Nickar, that’s an inevitability,” Salim grumbled. “Time it. I give thirty seconds tops.”
“Twenty,” Nickar replied, pulling out a batter-looking pocket watch. The woman yawned pointedly. The red knight looked up at the man in black at that, giving him a questioning look.
“Tell me something, Vergil,” he started, setting his sword aside. “Why did you let them go?”
“Hm?” The man, Vergil, questions, noting the time on Nickar’s watch over his shoulder. “Perhaps you should…elaborate.”
“You were there, when Denate’s skeletons failed. You said there were three of them, so why are they still alive? You would have been in our Lord’s favour for the whole war.”
“Killing them, Mardigan, was not the reason we were there,” Vergil retorted. “We were to confirm that our Lord is targeting the correct people. Until he gives us further word, they will remain alive.” He listened carefully to the noise in the background. “24 seconds. Nickar wins.”
“Damn right I do,” Nickar gloated, shooting Salim an evil look of victory. “Bitch is far too fucking predictable.”
“Unlike you, obviously,” the second woman shot in, voice dry and scathing. Back into muttering, Salim tossed Nickar the owed money.
“Too predictable. Bloody understatement,” he grumbled, returning to his stock take of supplies. Vergil stood then, now Mardigan was seemingly accepting of his answer, having gone back to sword-sharpening.
“At any rate,” he began, placing a finger against seemingly empty air, drawing it downward. With a ringing noise, what could only be described as a magical doorway appeared in the air in front of him. “I need to deliver this information to our Lord.” He looked over at the second woman. “Lucia, I’m placing you in charge until my return. Hopefully, I will not be long.”
“What? Don’t leave the bitch in charge!” Nickar protested, all his glee at winning the bet evaporating.
“You just can’t accept how much you suck,” Lucia dismissed, a medallion of fire forming in her hand. “Hey, Salim, catch.” She threw it. Sighing, he moved to the side, causing the fire to collide with the wall instead of him. Irritably, he put out a partially-alight lock of hair.
“That only works so many times, Lucia,” he shot at her over his shoulder, sounding unimpressed. Behind them, Vergil’s otherwise-impassive eyes seemed to betray some sort of amusement.
“I see you will keep yourselves busy, at least,” he remarked, walking through the portal. It closed behind him.
“Always worth a shot, to keep you on your toes,” she returned cheerfully, apparently not too bothered by her failure. That might have been because a weasel made of the same fiery substance was about to start crawling up Salim’s trouser leg.
"Don't be afraid of the dark and cold..."
|posts in thread|
Nov 30, 11 at 12:14am ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
Chapter Two: And Three Will Gather At The Breach
Corvan and Marvin followed the path to Snowcap for very nearly a week straight. Happily, the trek had been a peaceful one in spite of both the length and the attack on Selis, although the two never faltered in their alertness for the course of the journey.
At the end of the seventh day, and after a particularly lengthy uphill climb, they stopped for the night. Makai, the tallest of the mountains surrounding Snowcap, loomed ahead of them – now less than a day away.
“We should be able to reach the guard post by midday tomorrow, at most. Then, all that remains is the matter of climbing the trail up,” The werewolf remarked to his companion as they stopped.
“It will be nice to have a bed to sleep in, if they are so kind as to let us stop there,” Marvin remarked wistfully. “Shall I gather some firewood, sir?” Corvan nodded.
“I’ll come with you,” he offered. “It would be safer that way, whatever chance there is of us being attacked now. So far, these necromancers have a propensity for hiding in the woods.” Marvin smiled slightly, before nodding dutifully, one hand on his sword.
“We will not let them get away this time, if so,” he decided grimly. Corvan inclined his head in the same grim agreement as the two started into the nearby strip of woods.
“Yes, I find myself agreeing,” he responded. “Hopefully, there will be quite fewer skeletons next time, whenever that may be. Preferably none.” Marvin nodded, eyes scouting the general area for likely ambush sites as he gathered deadwood for the fire. It was chilly that evening. Anyone out in that weather was either desperate or very, very dedicated, in Marvin’s opinion.
The two went about the business of gathering dead, fallen branches for their fire in a somewhat wary silence. In spite of it, however, they managed their job without any hassle beyond that of actually gathering the wood. Only when they were heading out of the trees, however, did Corvan suddenly pause, eyes suddenly more alert.
“…hm,” he murmured almost noiselessly, listening closely to the air.
“Is there something there?” Marvin asked, drawing his sword even before he received confirmation, just in case.
“…I can’t tell. I believed I heard something, but…” He sniffed, evidently smelling the air. Almost immediately, he frowned. “…that smell is most certainly not the woods.”
“Show yourself, cur, and fight like a man!” Marvin called, who had been trained in the code of knightly honour but apparently not common sense.
“Quiet!” Corvan hissed, low enough that only Marvin could hear him. “No noise. Whoever is here, we do not want to alert them to where we are. Our best option is to back out of the forest before they find us. I would not like to be caught on the end of an ambush here.” Marvin bit his lip, suitably chastened, and nodded. He took a step back, in what was probably quiet for a man in full armour. Corvan did the same, sharp eyes scanning the forest for movement. So far, there was nothing.
“We’re not far from where we entered, here,” he murmured to Marvin, still backing away. “Do not turn away for a moment. I doubt they have any qualms against attacking a target whose back is turned.” Marvin nodded, shifting to a defensive stance, shield up protectively.
Slow and cautious, the two eventually backed to the edge of the forest, stepping back onto the trail to Mt. Makai. Unsettlingly, the attack hadn’t come yet. Frowning, Corvan sniffed the air again. The scent, that most certainly humanoid scent, still hung in the air, though now it was…further away? Before he could think any more on that, he heard rushing footsteps coming from their flank, and he spun on the spot, just managing to see the source of the sound before it struck, but too late to do anything himself.
A blur of red launched itself at Marvin, a short sword illuminated by the moonlight. With a cry of anger, Marvin raised his shield to meet the attack. The weapon hit the shield hard enough to set the bones in his arm ringing, and he shook his head to clear it.
“Boo,” another man in red remarked from behind Corvan, swinging with a weapon most akin to a scythe. Cursing violently under his breath, Corvan pivoted on the spot again, swinging the unsheated claws of his glove up to meet the weapon’s shaft just before it could reach him. Gritting his teeth, he pushed back against it with his full strength, trying to throw his asSaïlant off.
“So it was you,” he growled as he shoved back. “You have already made one mistake, whoever you are: you should have killed us before we could prepare.” Behind him, the man in red produced one of the many daggers on his belt and lunged at Marvin from the flank, pinning his shield arm with the sword. Marvin kicked out at his asSaïlant, hitting his wrist with the full force of an armoured foot and sending his knife skidding across the ground. Corvan’s attacker just chuckled.
“Don’t need stealth to school you, little doggy,” he sneered, twisting through the air with surprising agility for someone of his build and bringing his second blade down to meet his claw glove. With the way Corvan was positioned in defense, his arm took the majority of the force, forcing him to fight back a wince at the sheer strength behind it. He had a heavier build than Marvin, but the elf attacking him – at least, Corvan presumed the man was an elf from his ears – had to have been as large as two normal elves together. Growling, Corvan broke the lock between their weapons and lunged for the smaller blade with his other hand, gloved one raised to strike downward.
“Oi, Nickar,” The red-clad man attacking Marvin shot at his partner, drawing a second knife as he spoke, now looking a tad more irritated by the rattling attack he’d just taken the force of. “Bet you ten silvers I get through knight-boy first.” He plunged the new dagger into Marvin’s shield from overhead. Marvin dropped to a kneeling position and kicked at his ankles, teeth gritted with effort.
“Nah, I may as well just take the money from you,” Nickar mocked, pressing the attack. He was very much a frontal assault man, it seemed. Unyielding, although barely managing to keep up with Nickar’s assault, Corvan continued his defense, ducking under a slash from the scythe and coming back up with a rising slash from his glove. Behind him, the other man in red dodged Marvin’s kick with a short jump, grabbing hold of the dagger in Marvin’s shield again as he landed. Putting his entire weight behind it, he pivoted sharply to the side, trying to throw Marvin off-balance. Instead, Marvin let go of the shield, letting the guard slide free of his hand and wrist. Without any force holding it back, his opponent staggered to the side, and Marvin quickly pressed the attack. Nickar, looking frustrated, continued to try and get the upper hand on Corvan, never managing much more than nicking his skin.
While the red-cloaked man produced a third dagger – clearly, he was one to stock up – to aid in his defense against Marvin’s new assault, Corvan continued on holding his own ground. At one swing of Nickar’s smaller blade, he managed to catch it with his glove, partially pinning it. Pressing his advantage, he immediately threw a heavy punch at Nickar with his free hand. Nickar swore colourfully, twisting to the side and avoiding the punch by mere inches. Disgruntled, he brought his foot up and tried to connect with Corvan’s kneecaps. Responding swiftly, Corvan turned just enough to cause Nickar’s kick to connect with nothing but air. Disconnecting his claws from the small blade, he brought his gloved hand up through the air and struck down at Nickar’s momentarily outstretched leg.
“Oh, go fuck a horse, puppy dog,” Nickar suggested with a growl, weapons flashing out.
“What do you want with us?” Marvin demanded of Salim as he twisted out of the path of another knife.
“We want you dead,” The thief replied needlessly, lashing out unsuccessfully at Marvin with his short sword. “Orders from the top. Nothing personal, really, can’t speak for Nickar.” Looking irked, he jabbed again with his dagger, again to no avail. “But you’re being a bit rude about it, you know, making it so bloody hard on us. We’d really appreciate it if you let up a bit, maybe let us say we at least got a hit in. We’re not big on being skinned alive.”
“...And your mother was a cheap hooker!” Nickar finished hissing at Corvan as Marvin brought his arm up to meet the knife, the point clattering off his armour with a shower of sparks.
“Orders from who? We have harmed no-one,” he protested mildly, before trying to catch Salim’s stomach with his sword. He dodged it with a swift step backwards. Evidently, he made up for whatever he lacked in offensive strength with speed.
“Our boss. A guy who wants you dead,” Salim replied, very deliberately vague. “Guess he started seeing you as a threat after you scared Denate off.” Corvan made a noise of surprise as he blocked another strike from Nickar’s scythe. Denate. He knew that name.
“The necromancer in Selis?” He demanded, not looking back to punctuate it. “You work for them?” Not breaking his attention from Nickar, he leveled another punch at him, this time angling for his stomach.
“Give the dog a bone,” Nickar grunted, not wasting any more breath on explanations that he could be wasting on vulgar insults and trying to scythe off Corvan’s head.
“Perhaps you should have learned from her mistakes and left us alone,” Marvin suggested, managing to score a wound on Salim’s leg. The thief recoiled in pain, taking a step back.
“We thought you’d be an easier catch if you were alone,” he retorted, hissing slightly in pain. “Looks like the boss was right, taking you as a threat.”
“There was a man in black in Selis,” Corvan continued, now starting to press his own assault on Nickar. “One who was able to teleport. Is he the one you take orders from, assassin?” Salim actually laughed at that.
“You only wish, mutt,” he shot back. “You only wish.” He took his dagger by the blade and threw it hard at Marvin. Nickar chuckled with laughter, bringing up his weapon and making to lunge at Corvan. Instead, he was met with backwards force, and swiftly tugged over onto his back with a yelp of surprise, followed by words no polite company should ever have to hear. Or any company, in fact.
Salim, in the meantime, found the knife he’d thrown knocked away by the crack of a dark shape he couldn’t quite identify in the dark.
“What the flying f--” He tried, only to be interrupted with being yanked suddenly and violently forward, causing him to fall flat on his face with a dull thud. Corvan, now at least mildly taken aback, looked at the downed Nickar more closely…and was even more thoroughly surprised by what had evidently dragged his opponent down.
Ivy that looked like it had specifically crawled off the trees beside them for the task, no less. Nickar swore and struggled, but couldn’t break the stems. A particularly vicious kick destroyed some of it, but not enough to free himself.
It can’t be... Marvin thought, eyes widening.
“Well, hey there,” a female voice remarked, a woman walking out of the edge of the trees to lean against the nearest trunk. “Looks like I bagged me a matching pair of douchebags.”
“Let me up and go die in a fire, you cheating whore,” Nickar snarled at her. While Salim cursed violently to himself, trying to reach a knife with an arm that wouldn’t free itself, Corvan snapped his attention to where he knew the voice had come, now reasonably certain Nickar wouldn’t be moving again very soon.
“Your help is appreciated,” he began carefully. “But might I ask who you are and how you found us?”
“I will let you surrender, if you so wish,” Marvin informed Salim piously, decidedly not looking at the girl.
“Sam Maverick, atcha service,” the girl remarked with a mock bow. “I wasn’t looking for you guys. I’m touring the forests in the area.” She flicked a thumb in the direction of the writhing ivy that Nickar was cussing out. “Tree mage. It’s a niche field.” Corvan relaxed somewhat.
“Yes, I can’t recall an instance I have seen magic like this before,” he responded, easing his defensive stance now the only clear threats were pinned to the ground. “Remarkably handy, though.” As they spoke, Salim attempted to respond to Marvin’s offer, but his reply was muffled by the dirt his face was planted in. Given his annoyance, it was likely for the better.
“I shall take your reply as a yes,” Marvin decided, despite knowing full well that Salim had probably just insulted at least one member of his immediate family.
“I’ll tell you what niche you can shove your field into, bi-mmph!” Nickar started, before the ivy started to creep into his mouth.
“And I have no idea if this is the poisonous kind of ivy!” Sam added, sounding pleased by the fact.
“I never asked it.” Salim evidently continued cursing to himself through the dirt at that, having little else to do since he had no knives to reach.
“At any rate,” Corvan continued. “You have our thanks, Ms. Maverick, whatever your motivations were for being here. Now, we should likely decide--” A distinct ringing sounded from the edge of the woods, illuminating the treeline for a brief moment. Corvan instantly went back on the defensive, inwardly knowing exactly what it meant.
Sure enough, the same black-cloaked man approached them from the trees, wordlessly eyeing the two on the ground.
“Ah, yes…I suspected they had taken too long,” he remarked, taking note of their state. His eyes went to Sam in a sideways glance. “Hm…you were not with them in Selis. Most interesting.”
“I have different levels of viney violation based on whether you’re an arrogant, evil asshole, a reluctant follower or a poor, pressganged fool, if you feel you’d like to clarify pre-bitchification,” Sam informed him helpfully.
“You should leave your dark master,” Marvin advised him. “You will bring great evil to the land, and I cannot allow that to stand.” The man made a noise of vague amusement.
“I see my lieutenants have been in a conversational mood,” he responded, shaking his head slightly. “For their sake, I hope they refrained from telling you anything particularly important.” He raised a hand, and Corvan immediately went on full defensive, ready to dodge out of the way if he had to. However, the attack he was expecting never came, at least not toward him. Instead, two blades of light appeared in the air and severed the vines holding down Nickar and Salim.
“…AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON!” The latter finished as his head popped out of the dirt. He blinked, looking up at Vergil, apparently surprised to have been freed so soon. “Oh, erm…Vergil.”
“I do not currently own a horse. I shall assume from your factual inaccuracies that you still wish to capitulate,” Marvin told him, voice still steady and fairly peaceful.
“Ok, a level one beatdown is coming your way,” Sam informed Vergil icily, making a few quick movements with her hands. The nearby trees groaned and creaked in response. Vergil just gave her an even look in response.
“A tree mage. That would explain the state of my lieutenants,” he remarked, sounding quietly intrigued. “Do you hope to stop me with the trees alone? Such an assumption of power would be rather mistaken, I’m afraid.”
“I got a big werewolf and knight-boy on my side,” she reasoned, sounding fairly confident. Nickar was still spitting out leaves as he got to his feet. Corvan, still looking incredibly wary, nodded once in agreement.
“There are three of us and one of you, once again,” he asserted. “You can’t hope to defeat all of us on your own.” Vergil laughed slightly.
“Have you forgotten my lieutenants, soldier?” He questioned. “Or do you not count them on the basis of their failure here?” As they spoke, Salim staggered up as well, face coated in dirt and littered with grasses.
“Feels like I dislocated my everything and I think a beetle crawled into my nose,” he grumbled. “Couldn’t you have been a bit faster about it, Vergil?” His commander simply shot him an unimpressed look.
“I think tree-bitch is in need of a good pruning,” Nickar added, although his left arm was bent the wrong way and he was covered in dirt.
“Is that all you can come up with?” Sam asked, looking disappointed. Vergil walked toward the two lieutenants at that.
“He has never been known for his originality,” he remarked, almost conversationally. “Now, if you have finished talking, I will be taking the two of them with me.”
“Coward! Stand and fight!” Marvin demanded, pointing his sword at him. “You would not run if you were as powerful as you claim to be, if you truly wished us dead!”
“Oh boy,” Sam muttered. Vergil, on the other hand, didn’t seem fazed at all.
“And you, knight,” he began as he walked past Corvan, who seemed torn between staying on the defensive and chancing an attack. “Would attack me if you were confident in your own ability to defeat me.” Marvin wavered, clearly shaken, before shaking his head.
“I will not attack a man who has shown us no hostile intentions,” he disagreed.
“Are we going to kill them now or what?” Nickar complained, looking tetchy for some reason. The look Vergil gave him was cold.
“If either of you were capable of doing it, they would already be dead,” he countered, stopping beside the two. “This was supposed to be your mission, Nickar. I am here only to bring you back.” He opened a portal, gesturing to it. “In. Your failure tonight will be dealt with when we return.”
“Uh, Vergil? They are right here,” Nickar pointed out. “Semantics don’t mean shit. Just incinerate them already.” Vergil gave him a mildly incredulous look over his shoulder.
“You say that as though you believe it would be worth the energy it would require to kill them,” he retorted, sounding unimpressed. “They were incapable of prevailing in single combat with even one of you and won only due to outside help. We have far more pressing issues to address.” With that said, he collared both Nickar and Salim and pulled them toward the portal.
“Gee, thanks,” Sam muttered.
“Boss-dude’s going to be pissed with you,” Nickar informed him bluntly.
“Then perhaps he should have taken more care in wording his instructions,” Vergil replied, unfazed, as he sent the two through the door. Before entering himself, he gave one last backwards glance to the three behind him. “A word of advice: cease whatever notion you may have of stopping us. The third time we meet, you will not be as lucky as you have been.” Turning back, he walked through the portal himself, and it closed behind him.
“We cannot let necromancers just walk free!” Marvin protested at thin air. Sam sighed wearily.
“Evil types, huh?” she remarked to the world at large. Corvan sighed as well, relaxing and retracting his claws now the threat at least appeared to be gone.
“To say the least,” he agreed. “And they seem to be far more in number and organisation than we originally considered, considering their leadership. After Selis, I loathe to consider the capabilities of a full group of them.”
“We will be ready. We cannot let them win!” Marvin exhorted. Sam chuckled, then turned around and walked over to the trees, putting a hand against a trunk. White light glowed around her skin. Corvan gave her an intrigued look, seemingly curious as to what she was doing.
“Out of interest,” he began, watching. “Would you consider joining us on our way to Snowcap? The journey would certainly be safer for all of us. Of course, this is only if you have nothing more pressing to attend to.”
“Depends,” she returned with a slight grin. “Got any interesting trees in Snowcap?”
“Sparse clusters of them, yes, but none on the way up Mt. Makai,” Corvan returned. “And I imagine how interesting they are depends on how often you see pine.” Sam pouted.
“Pine,” she lamented. “Stubborn as oaks and not bald half the year to counter their arrogance. God, I’d rather argue with an elm than a pine. Jerks.” Marvin sighed softly. Corvan noted it, but didn’t comment. He could save bringing up Marvin’s turn for the more morose for when they were done, perhaps. Instead, he gave Sam an incredulous look.
“You…speak to them?” He questioned, sounding as though he had no idea how to approach such a topic. “And they have…personalities?” Sam offered him a shrug.
“Tree mage,” she said, by way of explanation. “You gotta know which trees’ll do what, working this kind of magic.”
“Well, then…fair enough, I suppose,” Corvan allowed, even though it was all total news to him. “At any rate. Do you think you can tolerate the pine long enough to reach Snowcap? You never know – you might have a stroke of luck and find a spruce on the way.” Sam chuckled at that.
“I dunno,” she replied, shooting a glance at Marvin. “Is this a unanimous party vote to have me?” Marvin looked startled.
“...I have no quarrel with you, after you saved our lives,” he replied solemnly.
“Then the issue is settled,” Corvan decided with a short nod, mentally making a definite mental note to bring up Marvin’s about-turn in attitude when he had a moment. If nothing else, it did concern him. “You are more than welcome to come along.”
“Well, I guess you might need me to save your sorry asses again in future,” she agreed, nodding. “Consider me along for the ride for the time being.”
“As I said – welcome,” Corvan responded, smiling slightly. “If nothing else, an extra hand will give whoever are enemies are something to think on before attacking us again.” He glanced at the deserted collection of firewood he and Marvin had been carrying. “Now, I believe we were setting up camp…”
"Don't be afraid of the dark and cold..."
|posts in thread|
Nov 30, 11 at 12:15am ^re: Legacy of the Ancients [M] [Action/Adventure] [Novel] [C&C Very Welcome]
The relatively quiet atmosphere of the fort was interrupted by the sound, and then the flash, of the portal appearing in the middle of the room. From it, Vergil stepped out, pulling Nickar and Salmin along.
“…get why you didn’t just let us kill them,” The latter could be heard grumbling. “They were right there!”
“My orders had nothing to do with killing them,” Vergil responded, likely for at least the fourth time. He sounded distinctly annoyed. “Yours, on the contrary, had everything to do with it. You both had the chance and failed. No doubt you would have done so again had you made a second attempt.”
“But that’s just arguing semantics!” Nickar protested.
“Wait, did I just hear Nickar say ‘semantics’?” Lucia cut in. “Well done, Nickar! You’ve learned about the third syllable! Have a gold star.”
“Burn in hell, bitch,” Nickar replied miserably. Vergil let the two go as they stepped into the fort, still looking irked. He had clearly heard the same line of conversation several times since he left to retrieve them.
“No matter the argument,” he cut in. “Your failure to accomplish your mission will be dealt with in turn. I am putting you both on supply duty until I decide on the proper course of action.”
“Go die in a ditch, you pansy coward,” Nickar growled, clearly only barely managing to restrain himself from further expletives. Lucia chuckled.
“It’s funny because you got your asses handed to you,” she decided. Mardigan turned from his place at the other side of the room, where he had been testing his meticulously-sharpened sword.
“Nickar, I believe you were the one who asserted that you were going to ‘slaughter them in half the time it took Denate to retreat,’” He recalled, looking thoroughly unimpressed by his companion’s display. “And yet the two of you were the ones who failed to kill…how many, Vergil?”
“Two,” Their commander supplied wearily, seating himself near Lucia with a hard-done-by look on his face.
“Two! Two of them!” Mardigan repeated, an expression of amusement crossing his face now. “And you think you are in any place to be calling someone a ‘pansy’? Ha!” He thought about it. “Not that I disagree that they should have been dead long ago, of course. It just seems the wrong mutt was sent for the job.”
“Three! Three of them!” Nickar spat. “We were just starting to gain the upper hand when that treebitch waltzed onto the picture like she was involved or something.” Lucia, a paragon of maturity, started to mock Nickar with a derogatory song.
“Oh look. What a shame. You appear to have been hurt,” Denate remarked, appearing from the next room. “Perhaps you should have someone look at that before it rots your arm. It would be such a shame for it to suffer the same fate as your brain.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Nickar snapped.
“Enough!” Vergil cut in, irritation reaching its peak. “Nickar, Salim, I ordered you to leave for supply duty. I suggest you do so before I decide not to recommend against a stricter punishment in my report. Our generals can be very creative, I believe you well know.” Salim was gone almost immediately, self-preservation most definitely taking the helm.
“He might be rearranging your innards if he knows you’re being like Skywing with your word-mincing,” Nickar grumbled, but left pretty swiftly afterwards anyway. Lucia glanced at Vergil, rolled her eyes and shrugged, a universal ‘what you gonna do?’ gesture. Vergil sighed wearily, resting his head against his right hand.
“To be entirely off-the-record,” he began, quiet enough that only Lucia could hear. “I fail to see why our Lord ever thought it prudent to hire such bastions of idiocy.” Lucia chuckled at that. Denate, who hadn’t quite heard his words, simply raised an eyebrow. With another hard-done-by sigh, Vergil stood.
“I believe I have a report to make,” he decided, rubbing the side of his head. “I trust the fort will not be burnt down when I return, Lucia?”
“I try not to make promises I’m not certain I’ll keep,” Lucia replied affably, examining her nails. Denate huffed, irritated, and stalked out of the room. Vergil gave his lieutenant a look somewhere between weary and amused.
“If that is the case,” he started. “At least make sure I will no longer have to deal with Nickar when I come back.” He left the room, intending to at least have a moment outside to quell his rapidly-expanding headache slightly.
“I couldn’t help but notice that two of your minions seem a little worse for wear,” a cool voice remarked almost as soon as he got outside, sounding amused more than anything. It belonged to a man with sandy hair, who seemed to be gracefully nearing the end of middle-aged. His smile, though apparently benign, was laced with a faintly feral undertone. Vergil looked somewhat shocked. Of all the things he imagined might happen that night – and even among all the things that had happened that night – a visit from Tobias Skywing was not high on his list of estimations.
“Lord Skywing,” he greeted with full respect, collecting himself quickly. “I had not expected you to be here, sir. Forgive me.” He glanced back at the fort. “At any rate, yes, you noticed correctly. My lieutenants have failed in what they were assigned.”
“Unsurprising,” the tanned man responded, before chuckling softly. “It amuses me that they thought they could succeed.” He paused, thoughtful. “Or was it Skyver’s orders?”
“A combination, I believe,” Vergil supplied. “Lord Skyver was the one who gave the order in the first place, yes, but Nickar’s bravado seemingly had the better of whatever logic he has left in his head. Salim, on the other hand…he was bored, as I recall.” Tobias sighed softly, a long-suffering noise.
“I am well used to both sorts,” he murmured. “Perhaps I should have a little talk with them. Do go fetch them for me.” Vergil nodded once.
“Sir,” he replied in confirmation, turning to do so.
He found the two in a separate room further into the castle as they went about their supply duty.
“Nickar, Salim,” he addressed them. “Come with me. I have been sent to retrieve you.”
“By who?” Nickar replied, looking openly dubious. Vergil gave him a level look.
“Lord Skywing.” Nickar visible baulked.
“F[color=black]u[/i]ck that. Not going near the guy,” he disagreed, shaking his head emphatically. “He’s worse than bloody Skyver!”
“Whatever he has planned for you, I am certain you will find it preferable to being dismembered for hours on end,” Vergil countered. Salim snorted in disbelief.
“And just how is being tortured for hours on end any different?” The thief shot back. Vergil gave him a level look.
“You would still be alive,” he returned, not looking moved. “And no matter what you may say, I doubt you are bettering things for yourselves by making him wait.”
“Look, Verg,” Nickar started, tone slow as though talking to a child. “The. Man. Is. A. Sociopath. I am not going anywhere near that sadistic bastard if I have a say in it. It’s practically murder!”
“Now, now,” Tobias chastised, walking in from the doorway. Clearly he’d had about as much expectation of their cooperation as Vergil had been receiving. “Language, young elf. Although you’ll be pleased to know, I’m sure, that since my parents were married your argument is entirely invalid.” He smiled. Nobody could have called it anything less than pleasant. “Surely I can’t be quite so frightening?” Nickar made a strangled noise. Silently, Vergil stepped aside for Tobias.
“The lieutenants in question,” he offered, somewhat needlessly. Salim looked nearly paralysed with fear at Tobias’ presence, and how suddenly he had arrived for himself.
“L-Lord…” He managed.
“Hello, sergeant,” he greeted pleasantly. “Salim, isn’t it? Perhaps you can offer me some reasons why your little campaign failed.” Nickar seemed too frightened to speak.
“W-w-w…” Was all Salim got out. Vergil gave him a look that seemed to tell him ‘for your own good, say something.’ “W-we were ambushed. S-some tree mage came out of n-nowhere and helped them.”
“Ambushed,” Tobias repeated, sounding more amused by the second. “All that reconnaissance you no doubt set up for your own ambush, and in return you were ambushed yourself. That, to me, smacks of incompetence.” He glanced at Nickar. “You. Tell me. Why could you not take one werewolf out in single combat before the tree mage got there?” Nickar stuttered, eventually hanging his head.
“He was too strong,” he managed, voice quiet. Tobias just laughed.
“No, Nickar, you are overconfident, arrogant and proud,” he responded. “Next time, you will learn what strategy means.” He made a dismissive movement with one hand, and Nickar screamed out, apparently in agony. While Salim stared at the sight in absolute horror, Vergil was entirely silent, not seeming at all fazed. He knew this, at the very least, had been coming no matter what they said.
“Please,” Tobias muttered derisively. “It’s almost as though you’ve never seen another creature in pain before.” Salim shook his head, the horror not leaving his face.
“P-please,” he pleaded, desperate. “Please! B-be merciful, L-Lord Skywing! Th-they were st-stronger than we…”
“So tell me,” Tobias suggested, another gesture making Nickar gasp in a thankful breath, the screaming stopping, “how much mercy were you planning to show to your targets, had you managed to overcome them?”
“Lord Skyver ordered us to kill them!” Salim tried in protest. “Why would we have shown them mercy if we were there to kill them in the first place?!” Tobias sighed.
“Mercy is not always about sparing lives,” he responded. “It is about what you do up until you kill them that is relevant. Answer me truly. If you had disabled the knight, would you have simply killed him, right then?” Salim opened his mouth to speak…but closed it, not certain if what he was about to say would have helped him.
“I wouldn’t have tortured him, if that’s what you’re asking,” he eventually managed. “B…but…”
“Mercy,” Tobias informed him, “is something you must appreciate the value of before you can understand where to give it.” He snapped his fingers. The same as Nickar, Salim screamed in pain, doubling over. Again, Vergil’s face was utterly impassive as he watched. “Understand when to give it,” Tobias advised, Nickar moving to the opposite wall as fast as he could go – which, admittedly, wasn’t all that fast at the time. “Understand where it is deserved. Understand what sort of person it makes you when you give it.” He turned away, and the pain ceased. “Your arm appears to be broken,” he remarked to Nickar. “I shall send down a healer, since Skyver has clearly neglected to include one in camp. At least, I hope that is the reason for their absence.” He pursed his lips, looking mostly unhappy, although another, entirely less noble feeling was lurking behind his eyes.
“Of course,” Vergil cut in at last, breaking his own silence. The edge to his voice seemed bitter toward what Tobias had pointed out. “It is no secret how little regard the General has for the lives of others.” He glanced at Salim, who had collapsed to the floor, and then to Nickar. “I assume you are finished here, sir?”
“Unless they would like to give me cause to continue,” Tobias agreed. Nickar looked like he was about to be sick. “I see not.” He smiled faintly. “I would speak with you a little more privately, Vergil. Walk with me.” Vergil nodded, giving one last look at his lieutenants over his shoulder.
“…I will not report you,” he informed them quietly. “I believe you have learned enough, tonight.” Leaving them, he walked after Tobias.
“Better than Skyver,” Tobias remarked absently as they walked. It wasn’t a question, just a comment. “I suppose my good friend Lucia fled the scene as soon as word of my arrival spread?” Vergil’s expression was subdued, or at least more so than usual.
“I would imagine so,” he responded. “You do seem to inspire far more fear in others than even Lord Skyver, sir. Particularly in her.” Tobias simply made an amused noise.
“She is simply far more sensible than most. Knows more of what I can do.” He frowned slightly. “And I must say I still find it hard to believe she is indeed supporting the cause fully.”
“Mm,” Vergil acknowledged with a nod, quiet. “Admittedly, I have…doubts, myself. She does not seem particularly keen on participating in our missions, lately, and has certainly made no secret of her disdain for our leadership. Lord Skyver, in particular. Never in his presence, of course; I strongly doubt she has a desire to be mauled.”
“Well, disliking Skyver in a leadership role simply indicates common sense,” Tobias dismissed. “I personally think the man has less skill in leadership than he does in being calm and friendly.” The corner of his mouth quirked up into a smile, then quickly returned to a neutral expression. “Do let me know if she becomes particularly... troublesome. I’ve become quite used to dealing with her ilk.” Vergil’s expression looked faintly troubled.
“Hopefully, it will not come to that,” he responded, tone unreadable. “Reluctant as she may be at times, Lucia certainly brings me far less grief than the other lieutenants our Lord saw fit to bless me with. I would loathe to be without some voice of reason.” Tobias made an amused noise.
“Yes, I’m sure you’d quite hate being forced among an atmosphere of hatred and anger, wouldn’t you?” he replied, his tone faintly needling. “Give her my regards, nevertheless.” He snapped his fingers, a white portal opening in the air behind him, and he turned and stepped through it. It closed behind him. Vergil watched him go with a neutral expression, before continuing down the hall to the main room again.
"Don't be afraid of the dark and cold..."
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