You have been taken by the Mists

Author Topic: Roland Fearshald: A Child Scorned  (Read 1224 times)

Aldarris

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Roland Fearshald: A Child Scorned
« on: July 22, 2006, 05:55:27 PM »
There's a shadow just behind me
Shrouding every step I take
Making every promise empty
Warping everything around me...

                                       (-Tool)

~Prologue~
Life is never how you intend it to be.  It never turns out how you want it to.  The child you were born as will change through the experiences life throws at you.  You'll not be the same man ten years from now that you were ten years before.  The line drawn between good and evil men is very thin, and a few will even find themselves playing at both sides, whether they are concious of it or not.  That was me ten years ago, alright; playing at both sides.  To be honest, I'd like to say I didn't care-but the truth of it is I didn't know what I wanted.  And upon entering Barovia through that blasted mist, I couldn't even remember who I was.  Eventually it all came back to me as I pieced together dreams and nightmares I had had of my previous life.  But all of that is behind me now, and since coming here I've been striving to make my way...and I'll continue to make my way forward.  Not even death, nor hell itself will stop me...because the man I was died the night I came here to this accursed land...

A few years from now...

The night was dark and thick with clouds.  The moon full, ococasionally peaking out, it's glow dowsing everything in the Barovian  countryside with it's dim flourescent light.  The time of night was unsettling to say the least.  Howls of wolves, and perhaps other things even more sinister carried on through the air constantly.  Fear was as evident in the night as the cold air itself.

Trees whos bark was twisted and mangled; their branches akimbo extending every which way lined the narrow dirt road on either side.  Their leaves rustled in the wind, swaying back and forth rhythmically, their movements producing wicked dancing shadows.  One might wonder if there was something watching, waiting within those trees...

The road itself headed westward, and appeared to be deserted.  Weeds grew along the path, jutting up from inbetween small stones.  The grass on either side of the path was long and the weight of the stalks caused them to arch over the edge of the road.

As the night continued to darken, in the distance the faint silouhette of flame hinted through.  The flame looked small from far off, dancing side to side.  Then there was sound...the slight jiingle of loose metal.  The faint  creaking of metal hinges and joints.  Next, the sound of footsteps, thick heavy boots with a steel toe hidden within.  The sounds drew closer, and the harmony of each became more clear as a figure appeared.  The statuesque figure strood along the beaten road, hooded and shrouded from head to toe by a large cloak.  The fabric had been pulled around a bit at the right shoulder, three large spikes portruding from within.  That along with the sound hinted that the man wore plated armor underneath his garb.  He carried the torch in his left hand while his right arm rested against the hilt of a heavy blade, sheathed in an elaborate scabbard that lay half concealed.  Despite his arms being in the position they were, he walked forward with near-perfect balance, though his hunched posture left something to be desired. Years upon years of training produced the wirey, rock solid muscle that lay covered by his armor and cloak.

The hooded figure strode along the road, the arched grass on the sides yielding back for him to pass.  As he made his way along, he came across a gap in the treeline.  The hooded outlander cautiously left the beaten path, glancing about him as he walked.  Suddenly there was a faint whisper behind his ear.  He whipped around to face behind him, finding nothing.  His shadow created by the torchlight against the treeline was the only thing facing back at him.  He exhaled deeply, realizing his nerves were on edge and his heart was pounding in his chest.  He began taking deep calm breaths and turned once more, walking through the gap in the trees just off the beaten path.

The cloaked form pushed back branches and kept the torch low so as not to catch anything on fire.  Making his way through, he came at last to a clearing.  Storm clouds had filled the sky by the time he reached the clearing, and a few rain droplets fell on his cloak, dribbling down soon after.  He made his way to the center of the clearing and held the torch out to glance around.  The trees lay fifty feet away along both sides.  He glanced up, snorting in disgust as the rain began tumbling down, drenching him.  Thunder boomed from somewhere far away.

The figure in black lowered his dying torch and found the item he had been searching for in the exact place he was told it would be.  Kneeling down he held the torch closer to examine it.  His stolen amulet glimmered up back at him, rain droplets beading along the chain, all the way down to the Mystran symbol which lay crusted in dried blood; years old.   The amulet lay propped perfectly against the base of what once was a headstone.  The top portion had been cleaved off, and lay next to it.  The words "Loving Mother" were etched upon the limestone.  The silent man's heart  slowed in it's beating, what was left of his heart sinking.  He placed a palm to his forehead, clinching his eyes shut and his teeth tight together.  The rain continued to beat upon him from above as he fought of the wave of emotion overtaking him.  He hated this...always so calm and collected, yet it was all a lie.  He gritted his teeth further, the viens along his neck beginning to buldge.

"Why her...? He thought to himself.  His eyes clinched as images of that horrible night began to creep into his thoughts, tugging at his very soul.  The clashing of swords, the screams...the fire.  That kind face looking down on him.  The shower of blood that followed. 

The man fell backward into the mud as he felt a pain like a sword run through his chest.  He groaned, grabbing at his cloak, grabbing at the choker around his neck and ripping it off.  In a fit of rage he began to stand, tossing the cloak into the mud next to him.

The man stood up straight, his previous posture disappearing as the cloak lay crumpled, wet and muddy at his feet.  His full plate was painted blood red and trimmed in black.  The armor fit him perfectly, and the plates were not very thick providing more mobility.  He raised his head to the sky, the rain soaking his shoulder length silverish hair to the root, his bangs falling over his eyes.

Roland Fearshald took the blood-stained mystran symbol in both hands and slowly clasped it around his neck.  As he did so, the barrage of rain took it's toll and began to wash away the silver dye covering his hair.  As it did so, patches of fiery red emerged and they continued to grow larger until his entire head of hair matched his armor.  The symbol was clutched tightly in his left hand, which shook in rage as he raised it to his lips and kissed it.  His heart began beating faster once more, his body beginning to shake.  The troubled sellsword looked off to the side, as if the pain of his thoughts were too great.  Tears mixed with the pouring rain sliding down his cheeks.

Suddenly he drew the large blade from his side in one trained, blurring motion.  He turned and raised it to the side, yelling in a fit of rage towards the treeline he emerged from as he did so.  His voice choked at first, but then boomed into the night, drowning out any howls that could be heard otherwise.

"FATHEEER!!!"
« Last Edit: April 17, 2008, 10:15:11 AM by Aldarris »
Figures, Soren's too busy to do something positive.  He thinks putting a smiling face in every message is positivity.

Heretic is a terrible player, always has been.  No wonder PoTM numbers are dwindling *sigh*

Aldarris

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The battle begins...
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2008, 10:17:55 AM »
As if by call, a voice boomed out behind him.

"Been a'while, son.  Did you miss me...?"

Roland turned to face the man, resheathing his blade as he did so.  The man was cloaked in complete blackness, the scarf he wore shrouding the lower half of his face.  His padded armor was black as the night itself, and behind him rested a pair of bastard swords cross-sheathed.  Roland gritted his teeth as the figure moved closer.

"I am not your son" Roland seethed.  He took a stance as The man walked casually forward, and upon doing so the figure laughed.

"Sure you are, -son-.  Your hair is fiery like mine...no doubt ye've got a demon in ye..." As the figure spoke, he raised his arm and removed his helmet, shaking out his red hair.

"Now...Let us see if you've learned anything, kiddo."  Andrias said as he drew both his blades from their home, giving them a vicious twist around each wrist.  He suddenly charged violently towards Roland, his boots picking up mud from the force.  Within a moment he was upon the sellsword and Roland roared as he unsheathed his blade, blocking Andrias' initial strike as their swords collided emitting sparks.  Roland was pushed back through the mud from the force of the blow, and barely managed to slide his fingers within the holster on his shield, deflecting the second onslaught as Andrias' blade clanged against it.  Roland pushed up with momentum as he unbalanced Andrias with his shield, but suddenly flew back as he was kicked in the chest.

"Hah! The sword came out of the sheath this time!"  Roland heard the taunt from his foe as he was thrown to the ground.  He tried his best to calm himself, to still the thoughts of his last encounter with Andrias as a child.  They were distracting to say the least.  Roland twisted his hips, flipping himself up into a ready position as Andrias charged again...
« Last Edit: January 07, 2009, 08:38:55 PM by Aldarris »
Figures, Soren's too busy to do something positive.  He thinks putting a smiling face in every message is positivity.

Heretic is a terrible player, always has been.  No wonder PoTM numbers are dwindling *sigh*

Aldarris

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The "Silver" Swordsman
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2009, 10:53:42 PM »
It was a quiet night in house Ashaley, and Rosalinde had just finished putting the child to sleep.  She enjoyed spending the last few hours of the night with her husband.  The night was peaceful and calm, and she listened to the crickets chirping gleefully outside as she made her way to the training grounds.  Her husband could always be found there, hoaning his skills with the blade.  He moved with a grace few had to call their own.  Darting back and forth, turning defensive maneuvers into vicious strikes as his sword sang through the air.  Each blow almost unable to be seen by the average eye.  His silver hair matched the color of his blade and flowed freely as he moved. She admired his movements from the loft above as he finished his mantra, wiping his face with his sleeve.

"Come inside dear.  I've just put Jr. to bed" She said playfully.

"Did he give ye' any problems while ah was gone?".  He climbed up the ladder to his wife and grinned as she hugged him.

"Not as much trouble as I'm going to give -you-, mister!" She grinned as she pulled back from him.

"Tha' little bastard pisses me off.  Sometimes I dun' think he's even my son" Roland said as he shook his head.

"You're too hard on him, dear.  Come, let's go to bed" She gingerly grasped his collar, then yanked it suddenly

They made love passionately that night.

« Last Edit: January 07, 2009, 06:55:27 PM by Aldarris »
Figures, Soren's too busy to do something positive.  He thinks putting a smiling face in every message is positivity.

Heretic is a terrible player, always has been.  No wonder PoTM numbers are dwindling *sigh*

Aldarris

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Enter Andrias...
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2009, 06:58:48 PM »
In the morning, Roland Veneroth got up and stretched as per his morning ritual.  Once finished, he dumped a bucket of water over his head to freshen up.  He let his wife sleep in as she usually did; it was still very early in the morning.  The swordsman walked the halls of the castle, politely nodding his head to those guards he passed.  They respectfully nodded in turn.

He reached his son's door and rapped his fingers against it before opening it quickly.  "Time to get up son!"

Young Roland rolled over and pulled the sheets up over his head only briefly before they were yanked from his grasp.

"No sleeping in, squirt.  It's time to make ye better with tha' blade 'o yers"  Just the other day had been young Roland's birthday, and he was given his first blade at the young age of 12.

Father and son walked outside to the training grounds as they always did each morning.  Roland told his son stories of his days as a Cleaven while they practiced each stance, every strike with precision using the air around them as foes.  Young Roland was an adept learner, taking after his father who was hard on the young swordsman.  The guards of the castle watched as sword collided with young sword.

Roland deflected a blow from his son, tightening at the wrist and whipping his arm causing his blade to tremor in a trained technique.  As the blades touched once more, the young boy's was flung from his grip as he fell on his ass with a grunt.  He sighed in frustration, as Roland said "Get up ye Sod! Learn to block this attack and yer sword will never leave your grasp! Don't ye want ta be better...?"

Roland continued instructing his son for hours on end.  Techniques and stances.  Methods of harnassing Ki.  Of course at 12 Roland could only perform so much.  But he was an adept learner.  Even besting some of the guards in bouts at his young age.

Day became night.  And there was a visitor at the gate.  Suddenly the guard in the left tower screamed in agony, falling face first over the balcony to the cobblestone below.  Roland rushed over to help the man, witnessing the jagged gash in the mans torso.  His chainmail had been ripped open, and both that and the soft flesh underneath had been cut cleanly at an angle.  The guard in the right tower landed a tenfeet away, meeting a similair fate.  Roland grimaced in realization.  Only one man had perfected such a technique.  To be able to cut through an opponent using nothing but the air between.  Only one man had developed his Ki so perfectly.

Suddenly the gate burst open, the lock severed completely in half as the wooden doors slammed against the cement wall.  Roland Veneroth stood to face his long lost adversary.  The man he had fled to Anphillia to escape from all those years ago.  The man who was supposed to be dead.

Andrias grinned and shook back his fiery red hair, striding forward in his usual casual demeanor.  Rosalinde rushed out and held her son tightly as he neared them.

"Where's the boy!?" He shouted as a swarm of guards entered the courtyard and charged the red haired swordsman...


(To be continued)
« Last Edit: January 11, 2009, 11:34:47 PM by Aldarris »
Figures, Soren's too busy to do something positive.  He thinks putting a smiling face in every message is positivity.

Heretic is a terrible player, always has been.  No wonder PoTM numbers are dwindling *sigh*

Aldarris

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A child scorned
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2009, 01:11:07 AM »
Andrias waited patiently as they closed in on him.  His fingers flexed over top of his sword handle, poised and ready.  And then the soldiers were upon him, twelve in all.  Two swung their halberds as Andrias went airborne, his lithe body twisting away from each weapon's reach.  He landed as the third soldier closed in, armed with a longsword.  Andrias deflected it perfectly with his gauntlet.   The swordsman drew his blade suddenly as the other soldiers surrounded him, deflecting blows from the previous foes, throwing them off balance.  His form was perfect, his execution flawless as he toyed with the swarm of guards for a moment, ducking and weaving his body.  He twisted on his toes, coiling his body up in a near-ball shape.  In the meantime the guards drove in upon him at once.  There was a sudden flash of steel, and the sound of a metallic whirlwind.  Each guard's cry was cut immediately short.  As Andrias landed on his feet, he sheathed the blade, slamming it home as the guards toppled over one by one.

Andrias grinned as the dust settled.  He reveled in taking lives, in the shear amount of power he thought it took.  He didn't need remorse.  Each man tried their best, some couldn't -cut- it.  He didn't pause to think of each dead man's family and friends.  Selfish.  Now Andrias strode towards the Veneroth family, his eyes cold behind his hood.

"There's the boy...come here, lad and join your father."

"Stay away from him, you m-monster!" Rosalinde screamed at him.

"Andrias...That is -my- son"  And for a moment his attention moved to Veneroth who had drawn his blade.

"Ah, it has been a long time coming, my friend.  Fiery red hair.  That boy has some of my devilish charms." Andrias quirked.

"I thought you were dead back on tha' island.  Back on Anphillia.  Apparently I didn't drive my blade deep enough..." Roland readied himself, inching his feet to the side sliding into a readied stance.

"Married life keeping you occupied, Veneroth?  I'm sure with the Mrs. there you have -plenty- to enjoy.  It will feel good to take that all away from you...and you, lass.  I may have another romp with you.  One last bit of pleasure before I drive my sword through your spine"

"You leave them out of this, Andrias!"

With that, Andrias planted his feet and raised his sword behind him.  "KHaa-AH!!" Driving his sword around in an arc, spinning it wickedly around his wrist at the same time.  Each part of his body moved in deadly unison.  As the blade outstretched, a vicious *TWING* began to slice through the air, emminating from the blade's tip.  As Andrias moved, the sound increased until within a second Andrias built up the shockwave, following through with sheer force and sending it towards Roland.

Veneroth turned his back, twisting around as he used his entire body, thrusting his blade outward.  His blade met the wave and *TWA-AANG*, he wrestled with the air a moment, then hammered his shield against his blade, using his Ki to deflect the attack.  Andrias closed the gap between him and Veneroth, raising his sword high and driving the tip downwards.  Veneroth's shield raised to block the attack, the tip colliding with the shield and driving Roland into the dirt as mud flew and his shield shook from the blow.  From behind the shield came Roland's blade, inching itself past Andrias's neck as he sidestepped.  Veneroth twisted his hips, spinning on his armor plate as he kicked his foot out, tripping Andrias, then flattened himself as a blade whizzed past his ear.  Veneroth rolled aside and flipped himself up*

Andrias got up slowly, laughing deviously as he brushed mud from his frame.  "Come now, Roland...I thought you to be better than this! Where has my nemesis gone...!!?" Andrias outstretched his arms quickly, looking around as if for something not there.  Then slid his hand behind his back, drawing second blade; a long glowing red bastard sword...

"See this, Veneroth?" Andrias grinded his previous sword against his new relic.   "This is what kept me alive.  I woke within a pile of bodies after that last battle, dreaming of the day I would settle the score.  It burns with my hatred for you...since I took your woman for my own, but I never thought she'd bare a son..."

"Andrias, that is -MY- Son!"  Roland charged his adversary, bringing up his shield.  Sword met shield.  Sword met sword and Veneroth grit his teeth as he drove Andrias back through the mud.

"That's it, Veneroth.  Give me a -fight!-"


(To be continued)



Figures, Soren's too busy to do something positive.  He thinks putting a smiling face in every message is positivity.

Heretic is a terrible player, always has been.  No wonder PoTM numbers are dwindling *sigh*

Aldarris

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Re: Roland Fearshald: A Child Scorned
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2009, 09:39:15 PM »
Roland backstepped as the blades grinded on one another, shifting his welight.  He spiraled upward, blocking two of Andrias's blade strikes with his shield, spiraling about in mid-air as he slammed his blade against leather, tearing it assunder.  Blood flew from the new wound as Andrias was driven back.  Roland pushed the assault as he landed, catching his foe with the side of his blade sending Andrias careening back into a brick wall.  Andrias cackled gleefully.

"You're getting sloppy, Andrias..."

Suddenly Andrias charged with blinding speed.  He stutter stepped, spun, then slammed both his blades in a wide arc as he pinned Veneroth between them.  "Sloppy?  Sloppy??  The only thing sloppy was your whore after I took her!"

Roland grunted as he was pinned, his shield against his side, his sword's tip inches from his neck.  It was amazing how strong Andrias became, how he pushed through such injury.  But Andrias possessed demonic blood, and it was evident as he snarled, pushing Roland's arms further against his body.  Blood trickled down the swordmaster's neck as his blade greeted the skin.  He shifted his weight, growling as he pushed both blades away from himself, ducking as both blades *CLANGED* against each other just above his head.  He landed on the ground, his blade singing as he drew Ki through the sword, his strike aimed for Andrias's chest.  Andrias took the blow as he was run through.  He grabbed the edge of Roland's blade and pulled himself closer to the fallen swordsman as he grinned deviously.  Blood trickled down his mouth.

"My turn, Veneroth!"  Andrias then twisted as he raised his blade and drove his blade down unto the prone swordsman.  Veneroth tried to roll aside, but the blade caught his ribcage, driving through the armor as if it were sheet-metal.  He felt the blade vibrate as it drove through him, feeling the Ki flow along with his blood as it stained the grass.  Andrias drove the blade deeper, and Roland screamed as he was pinned down.  He mustered his energy, one last chance as he began to pry the blade from Andrias's chest.  A dull *CLANG* resonated as his blade was tossed aside.

"Look at you now, Roland...Pathetic" Andrias sneered down at his fallen opponent, intending to not only best him, but break him.

"You know what this blade does, Roland?" He began to walk casually towards the wife and child as he spoke, and as Roland weakly protested.  "It draws life energy from it's victims.  What better way to harness Ki."

Without warning, Andrias was suddenly slammed to the dirt as divine energy rained down from above.  He shook his head, reclaiming his barrings before he got up.  Knocked forward again as he heard Rosalinde chant, her hands raised high.  He staggered, blood dribbling down his mouth and chest as he swayed, walking towards the wife and boy. 

Suddenly the boy strode forward, reaching for his blade.  His mother crying out "No, Roland!"  She grabbed his arm, pulling him back against her as Andrias steadied himself.  He grinned and laughed as he grabbed the woman by the hair, pulling her back and running her through with his blade.  The red glow surrounded her for a moment, then seeped into the blade's edge as blood splattered, spraying the young boy.  Her last breath was drawn as her unseeing eyes rested on young Roland, who's tears had begun to well up. 

"Mother!"  As Rosalinde's corpse was flung aside, young Roland reached for his weapon only to be run through in turn.  The glowing sword drove deep into the boy's chest and he screamed as he felt it's effects.  He grit his teeth as his eyes met Andrias's wicked visage, cackling madly.  Veneroth crying out in the background. His mother slain. There was nothing to be done.  No hope as young Roland felt his breath quickening, then slowing.

The young swordsman vowed in perhaps his last few moments to give anything, anything for another chance against this monster.  His hatred seethed as he grit his teeth. And as he did so, the courtyard began to fill with a thick cloud of mist.  Roland's world faded to black as the grey mist enveloped him...the last thing he heard was the hideous laugh of Andrias...

(To be continued)
« Last Edit: February 14, 2009, 03:39:44 PM by Aldarris »
Figures, Soren's too busy to do something positive.  He thinks putting a smiling face in every message is positivity.

Heretic is a terrible player, always has been.  No wonder PoTM numbers are dwindling *sigh*

Aldarris

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Fearshald
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2009, 04:42:07 PM »
The boy awoke in a clearing in a sweat, sitting up and taking in a quick breath.  His mind raced and his stomach ached.  He glanced around quickly.  He groaned as he felt his chest, feeling where his leather had been cut, and the scar beneath.  His next thought was of his mother, and he glanced around to find her discarded body.  He crawled over to where she lay.  She was beautiful, even in death.  Her brown hair and dress was caked with her own blood.  A sign from this new world of what he left behind. He took a quick glance, his father nowhere to be found.  Young Roland began to cry as he knelt over her.  He was alone...the last of the Veneroth clan.  He grit his teeth as he remembered the battle, and how his father failed to protect his family.  He then glanced around again, wondering where he was...and how he was still alive.

Gathering himself finally, the young swordsman carefully removed her Mystran symbol from around her neck, and pulled it over his own.  The sound of drums slowly filled the air, and Roland glanced around.  Through the thin layer of fog, Roland could make out shapes in the distance.  He followed the sound, and found a small camp of Vistani.  With their help, Roland buried his mother.  A carved headstone was placed over her grave.  Again, Roland cried...the emotion, and the story he told touchied the Vistani.  Roland stayed with them for a few days.

"Did a man pass by here, recently? A man with red hair...the man who killed my mother" Roland asked one of the Vistani after the burial.

"No.  But shouldn't you be more concerned with where you are, Giorgio?"

The answer shocked Roland.  Could Andrias still be around? The thought sent a shiver through his spine.  But secretly he yearned for the chance to avenge his mother's death  "So where am I?" He asked the Vistani man.

"You were brought here by the mists, Giorgio.  The old world you knew before is gone.  The town of Vallaki is nearby.  Once we get you strong enough, you may go...but do not seek out this man just yet, boy."

Roland spent the next month hunting mink throughout the outskirts for profit, and to buy himself a cloak warm enough to shun the cold.  He stayed in the camp, or in the church when night cloaked the land.  When he was ready to leave, the same Vistani man pulled Roland aside.  "Be careful on your journey, Giorgio.  Keep your wits about you.  And use a new name to keep yourself safe"

Roland nodded some and smiled as he shook the man's hand.  As the morning sun carressed the land, The young swordsman made his way toward the town of Vallaki. Trudging his way through the slums, he asked for directions constantly, eventually reaching the market district.  The armory was his first stop, and there he bought himself a decent set of armor, discarding his old leathers, and a vial of silver dye.  The merchant grinned as the transaction took place.

"Think you're in over your head with those, boy.  Can't fight if you're weighed down"

"I need to learn, so I'll take my chances."

With the armor slung over his shoulder, and the vial of dye tucked into his belt the young man left the shop.  He walked back the way he came.  Night was approaching, and in the slums Roland was forced to dodge the occasional bucket of sludge tossed from the windows above.  The newly equipped swordsman reached the church in the outskirts and made his way inside.  Some of the outlanders Roland had met in the outskirts traveled to the crypts often, where the dead never rest.  Roland would do the same, and test himself, determined to grow stronger.  Andrias never left his mind.  He buckled the straps of the chainmail over his body, struggling a bit to move under it's weight.  He would make due.  Roland uncorked the vial of silver dye, carefully administering it's contents to his fiery red hair and combing it in, taking a deep breath.  "Silver" he said to himself, calming his nerves as he remembered his father's old nickname.  He breathed in once more...then entered the catacombs.  It wasn't long before Roland emerged, scratch marks lining his arms and face, winded and bleeding in defeat.  The priest looked the young man over with concern as he approached.

"A little young to be battling the undead, aren't we?"

"I have no other choice" The young man said.

"Well your efforts are welcomed non-the-less."  The priest chanted a prayer, his hands waving before Roland as healing magic restored his wounds.

"What is your name, lad?" Father Zachea asked the young swordsman.

There was a long pause as the boy appeared to be thinking.

"Fearshald..."
« Last Edit: February 14, 2009, 04:53:40 PM by Aldarris »
Figures, Soren's too busy to do something positive.  He thinks putting a smiling face in every message is positivity.

Heretic is a terrible player, always has been.  No wonder PoTM numbers are dwindling *sigh*