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Author Topic: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches  (Read 1719 times)

MidnightSyndicate

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Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« on: April 06, 2015, 12:25:31 PM »
Avelyn's fingers brush over the the leather bound journal that he carries to all his adventures. The leather creaked as he turned it open, letting the pages flutter as he took in the scent of parchment. He flipped to a more recent entry, and read it quietly to himself, as he sat waiting, watching, letting his charge practice her craft in the all but abandoned tannery in Vallaki.

Port au Lucine, a city under siege by its own people. Iíve returned to the city with my charge at my side. During the day, it looks like a beautiful testament to art and high culture, nestled on the shore of rich endless plains. At night, it sinks back into the mire formed by its own decadence. The criminal element has organized into all out insurrection, claiming half the city as their own as they go on a looting and raping rampage. The guards fall back to the richer parts of the city. That is Port au Lucine in its entirety.

A city that once sat on the edge of tomorrow, a beacon of virtue and innovative thinking, now finds itself tumbling back into the chaos of yesterdayís wounds. Iím told the war did this to the city, but I somehow doubt it. Sure, a war can be bad for a city. But a bad peace can be worse. Iíve walked the length of the Coastway in Faerun when I served the church. Iíve seen the damage negligence and corruption can do. Thereís a cancer here, though Iím not sure where yet.

I have my suspicions. The ruling class is always the first likely culprit. But when politics and bureaucracy are involved, it usually means there is a power struggle somewhere. Itís possible that someone in the ruling class is paying and organizing the criminal cartels to do the damage theyíve wrought. At first glance they just seemed like unruly mobs, enraged peasants, and caliban with no prospects of a future. But then we ran into some enforcers. They were well armed, well trained, knew the city intimately as they attacked from alleys and ran down well mapped escape routes. You donít get that good at bushwhacking without an experienced mind to teach you howÖ.

Then thereís the likelihood that the powers-to-be decided they had an overpopulation problem. Maybe they organized the thugs, or maybe they were already a threat and decided to use them as an opportunity. The only thing I know for certain, the guard isnít lacking in strength and number, so someone is ordering them to pull out and leave the killers to do the butcherís work.

Then there's always the chance of outside influence. An enemy of the city inciting chaos and riots. It's a cunning strategy. Why waste lives and resources when you can turn your enemies on themselves? The outside influence doesn't explain the absence of the rule of law though. There are too many parts that don't fit into this picture, and there are more that are missing. It'll be on my mind until I figured it out, Helm knows I cannot abide a mystery. It feels like home. Rae and I will do well here.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 04:55:53 PM by MidnightSyndicate »

MidnightSyndicate

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Re: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2015, 09:10:53 AM »
     The walls began to crumble. The high towers of defense, the impregnable bulwarks once raised high, the cold unyielding stone... all reduced to rubble. The constructs Avelyn and his charge had put up for so long to keep others at a distance gave way to the touch of pale flesh glowing beside a fire. Lips hungrily chased each other, and their arms greedily clung to one another. The troubles of the world had departed, leaving them to their solace for a moment, in the dark, beside the waning embers of their fire. "Appropriate," he thought to himself. His body was more concerned with keeping the shivering and soaked elf close, the warm heat radiating from him being stolen by the frigid jabs of the rivulets of water soaking through his clothes from her skin. His arms painted black with calligraphy enveloped her like dark wings. As he drank her kiss like a pauper drunk on wine and misery, his mind screamed with words he couldn't say after a night of revelations. "How can she stand it, sitting there like a waning fire, waiting for her light to go out?"

     He didn't have time for more words. His fingers combed through damp hair to clutch her head close to his chest, waiting as time forgot them for a brief moment. The cold unyielding calm that ruled over his mind was broken by the distant sound of Fyzgig's voice in the back of his mind. You won. He heard those words before. They were the words of a child, someone ignorant of the cost and quickly dwindling worth of a victory.


Avelyn didn't call it victory. He called it a beginning.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 08:35:47 AM by MidnightSyndicate »

MidnightSyndicate

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Re: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2015, 09:14:57 AM »
The day had waned, the sun was sinking into the ocean. Avelyn's body burned with the exertion of his regimen, recovering from practicing his form and the quick killing strikes he had been developing for his carefully precise combat style. Worn and exhausted, with Rae at work on her latest designs and batches of equipment at her workbench, he sank to the ground. Too tired to do more than crack open his journal and recant the morning as serpentine veins twitched numbingly over the thick mounds and channels of knotted sinew they snaked over, he began to immerse himself, adding to the entry before the memory turned bitter or hazy.

Fools, like me

   We found ourselves in Port-Au-Lucine, a company of four; including Jack, Yasz, my charge, and myself. A cloak of night was draped over the city's sky. Only a few lights were left to shine through the mantle while we waited for day in all its burning fury to chase the criminal element back into its hole.

   Elven eyes were turned skyward to wait for dawn. They were also cast downward to watch the reflections on the harbor. They turned around, dizzied by spires, the structures of man; monuments of iron and stone rising to make them feel small and put them in their place.

   My eyes were elsewhere... I had been watching Rae that day. I watched her shift between her moods; polite, smiling, solemn, cold. Something ate at her, as things often did. I knew I would never get to hear a word of it. For someone that valued trust so much, she always came up short on the giving half, unless of course it was one of her kin asking. It at least narrowed my suspicions. It had to involve her impeccable kin. Always plotting and scheming, driving and wedging a chisel into things that are just fine and beautiful the way they are, for the sake of their traditions and bigoted perceptions.

   I knew she had a falling out with Ae'ver, but little else. Too bad, I was starting to warm up to the gopher. I know her kind sees her attachment to me as shameful, though they wonít say it when they think I'm in earshot. I confronted a few of them, the cowards. F*ck them, the fools with their hand-me-down point of view and valiant counter-point bullsh*t excuses. They're so eager to sit there and deny all of their faults while tugging at strings and whispering to one another to try and manipulate Raeís destiny. I'm not too ashamed or righteous to admit my faults, and at least I let her OWN the decisions she makes, no less than I own my mistakes. But then, they love their whispers. Smiling and nodding pleasantly face to face, then quickly whispering and urging each other to try and draw my charge down another path.

   The bitter betrayals of her kind, and her own constant secrets made it hard to be around her, especially that day. Looking at her helped... she wasn't hiding who and what she was that night. She was plain to see, a new gown that clung to her slender shoulders; I'm sure it had its own tale I'd never know the full truth of; bright eyes sparkling, and pretty face tilted away from me to leave only a glimpse of those adorable ears; a face men have drawn steel for. It was easy to see the hurt through her guard. It would have been easier still to wait until it came crumbling down, until she was vulnerable and exposed, to be there for her at her weakest... but I didn't want to be that man. It wasn't just my oaths, I didn't want to be another Corax, another Fyzgig, or any other shameless coward that made a battle of something that wasn't mine to surrender, and fell upon her to only give her borrowed strength when she was at her weakest.

   I couldn't help the bitter laugh that came out when I thought of the river of blood that would flow for the sake of that face, the war of fools that would be fought, the constant vigil I'd have to keep against the shadows her own friends smiled from, all because my ears weren't pointy enough to satisfy them. She heard my laugh, sour and harsh as it was, and looked to me. She was curious, likely wondering what was happening in my mind and I couldn't hide my mirthless smile. I told her, "You're going to be so angry with me."

   Her voice was exhausted, mentally and physically when she spoke back, the closest thing to a conversation we had all day, "I currently do not possess the capacity for anger."
I remembered my promises at that moment, and I decided not to wait for her to be at her weakest to lift her up again. I guess I'm still off guard against that face. I shook my head, I was still too willing to take that leap, and I hated myself for it.

   I told her, "Not today, Serra. Centuries from now. We're dying a drop at a time, and when we're done bleeding, ever and always bleeding into the chasm, and that last drop of mortality seeps from us, when the veins run dry and these lives no longer offer us anything to bind us to these fragile bodies... I'll have to conquer Arvandor just to visit you upon its shores, and on that day you will be so angry that I do, because woe be to the elven souls who tell me I may not enter to see you."

   Jack, Yasz, and Rae... all those elven eyes turned toward me, and my blasphemy. They were equally stunned. Jack was the first to speak, "Avelyn the poet" he said with a growing grin. Yasz kept quiet, hard to say if she was insulted. Rae though... Rae melted, and for a moment, a familiar smile shone across that face, mirroring the dawn. It reminded me of better, sweeter days, before her kind tried to dictate who would get to court her. The mixed bittersweet conflict inside me wasn't enough to jade my mind. I could see the correlation between the dwindling smiles and the time she spent among her own kind.

   I could feel my face darken, but they thought it was bashfulness. I wanted to change the subject before they saw the anger for what it was, so I told Jack, "Every swordsman is a poet." One last look at Rae before the sun piqued told me that I'd be writing many haiku's at the edge of my sword... all because of the many fools that would be rendered helpless by that face. Fools, like me.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 10:48:39 AM by MidnightSyndicate »

MidnightSyndicate

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Re: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 05:10:02 PM »
Calloused hands moved with a shake where once was a deftness stolen by the thief known as time. A sad replacement that could never measure up to what was lost. They unearthed a leather-bound journal from the depths of a pack, the cover worn from sinking beneath the chaffing contents that had risen above it in the hierarchy of use. Cracked open to the familiar scent of age and parchment, the pages spilled over themselves to the welcome and once familiar glare of daylight like an old man crawling out of bed to greet the morning. Finding a blank page, its owner began to scratch an entry into the forgotten treasure that once brought him a sense of peace.


Everyone I know is dead. Or gone. Missing. I met an elf that seems to increasingly gravitate to my presence. Each encounter seems to last longer. She listens to my stories when my mind begins to tumble out again. I don't know if I still have all the pieces. I think she does it to be polite, out of pity, perhaps. I feel old. I cannot think anymore. Something is wrong with me. Rae's curse? Maybe.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 05:15:12 PM by MidnightSyndicate »

MidnightSyndicate

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Re: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 06:34:06 PM »
Feverishly scrawling, hands splotched with ink, fingers pushing and smearing the marks to shade and give lines context. Avelyn worked urgently. He must capture it while the memory was fresh, he must not forget. Around the image he had added to his notes he began to scrawl the events that had unfolded, straining his eyes against the haze where the dark of the night met the light from the lone candle that lent an ear to his ravings. Everything else outside that small sphere of radiance fell away into non-existence.



 I was walking, traveling south of Vallaki on the road that was to take us east through the woods with a man whose name has already been stolen from my memory. He was a sturdy man, in heavy armor, wished to understand the sciences. For a fair bargain, I offered to guide him to Midway, and tutor him. It is what Rinn would have wanted. Remember Rinn. Reinhart Rinn. He was a good man, you must not forget, not again.

  Scenes of carnage are not unusual in the early hours of the day, often left abandoned and discarded by the artists that had made them a tragic canvas for the dye inside of their skin. This was different though, it was a paradox. Four carcasses. One bear, meat gone to waste, fur stripped from its flanks. Poachers, or hunters. One in the same, but nothing new.

 The deer are what caught my eye. One seemed normal at first, but was dead and cold as a stone. Exsanguinated, likely the work of a vampire. I've survived enough of their short lived reigns of terror to be familiar with the work by now. But beside it, everything else was wrong. Another deer, ripped apart in feral form, a show of strength and brutality, as well as waste. It showed few signs of feast or hunger. The third carcass was the most confusing. A quick kill, chunks chewed off. Vampires need blood, not meat. Why was that there, so close?

 The proximity of these kills to one another raises unnerving theories, of those I believe one of two is most plausible. Either this creature is newly woken, and it did not know at first how to curb its hunger, so it killed with a ravenous urge, and found that the meat did not quench, but the rivulets of blood running from it did. Then it learned to drink, and drained the exsanguinated deer dry. But this theory is flawed. The deer would not have lingered so close together at the sight of the carnage, and I cannot imagine that it killed them at the same time with varying measures of force. Could the kills have spanned several days? I should have checked them better.

 The second theory, there were two beasts of different breeds. One that feeds on blood, and the other on flesh. The prospect of such an alliance makes me uneasy. This would indicate a cunning intelligence driving this violence. Creatures of these nature are usually territorial, and manageable because they do not work together. Who do I warn, who do I tell when there are no more Iron Wolves about? I should not have gone away for so long.



Another strange event took place along the humble journey. As I walked the road that paralleled the southern shores of Lake Zarovich, I noticed the waters had receded. The lake had sunk several feet, and in the process revealed a path that snaked to a sunken ruin in the shallows of the shores. Normally little more than a the hand of a drowning man breaking the surface in a large and misty vista, now accessible. A year ago it had not been so. I know not how long this way has been revealed, but I felt compelled to enter and know what had lain just out of reach for so long. The architecture had all of what I would expect from Barovian craftsmanship. Ancient, detailed, and artfully done. A skill they do not seem to practice or replicate anymore. The turf around it seemed sturdy, tended to, not waterlogged, and the path was reinforced with stone borders to keep flooding at bay. I could not tell if the grounds were recently tended, or this island turned peninsula surfaced shortly after my departure from Barovia.

 Some of the growth was old, the door was eaten away by the waves, nothing barred my entry. Within I found a journal recounting of a tragic and unfortunate fate for one who had formed a coven with a vampire. There she was imprisoned and entombed, I imagine until her dying day. Legends say vampires cannot cross running water. Is it possible she was turned and imprisoned there, and now the receding water that opened a path has allowed her to escape? Were the ravenous killings in the woods the product of her first feast? Was she something else, and now freed by the creature that had glamoured her in the journal? Either possibility could link to the recent finding in the forest. I know something is afoot, but I do not yet posses the answers. Helm knows I cannot abide a mystery.

« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 06:44:14 PM by MidnightSyndicate »

MidnightSyndicate

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Re: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2021, 11:17:14 PM »
Sitting in a corner of the recently refurbished inn, Avelyn broods in a foul mood, irritably wrapping an arm in bandages using one hand and clenching teeth. The current blank page of his journal lays dotted with a few specs of treasonous droplets of blood that had escaped him, heralding danger before his pen could do its work.


Danya. That is what the locals call the latest vampire running amok in Barovia. Now I have a name, and a face to put to the creature. I am still uncertain if she is related to the ruins, or to the killings in the woods. I would find that infinitely discouraging, to learn that the build up of that secret, of that history, slumbering for so long, would just lead to... this creature. What I do know is she is a blunt instrument, the ogre of her kind, with the voice of a banshee and a strength that is unusual even among the undead. Where the ones before her were subtle, cunning, and even commanded at least a small amount of charm, she suffers a deficit of these traits that are instead filled with brutish strength and at least a modicum of magic. While others tried to lure their prey away with their words, then their glamour, she will pursue them even into crowds and groups. How she has survived this long without turning a corner into a mob, I have no idea. How I constantly seem to run afoul of these abominations is even more a mystery, it is as if I attract them; but I can safely say at this point the vampire hins were more interesting to pursue than this creature.

I feel almost cheated, all my investigations and curiosity deflated, and the grand answer to the puzzles I have sought to solve thus far leads to one simple answer. An equally simple brute. Someone else can be the hero this time, I have no ambition to pursue this case any more. When this case began, it sharpened my mind, keened my senses. The mystery helped me become a portion of the man I once was. I fear without it to focus me I will begin to regress, and my condition will worsen. Helm help me.

MidnightSyndicate

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Re: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2021, 07:57:22 AM »
How do I find myself in these situations so often? For a moment, a brief moment, I thought we had found Danya's coffin. We were in the ruined fort west of Vallaki, trudging through the dark in search of anything that might bring us wealth enough to go a few more days in the comfort of a tavern before being forced to resort to treading the depths of the mists for another scavenge. There, in the dark, in a chamber that should have been empty, we found something. Candles and a shrine of a make I could not recognize gave luminescence to that place, there in the dark, dividing the light from the shadow like an unholy sanctum. Walled off behind fortified structures was a coffin of stone set in place like a false idol.

As a man that does not believe in coincidence, my mind raced to the assumption of whose it could be. I had with me only a small companionship, half of which were newly misted, but I had Ero at my back, and that seemed as if it would be enough should my suspicions have proven true. With what little preparation we could make, I blasted the retaining barriers to rubble using the harnessed power of the sciences. We forced the lid open, and we found only vacancy. It was night. Whatever called that cold stone home was likely out and about, and when it returned it would easily recognize the damage inflicted upon the sanctuary it had kept secret by way of some unholy coven. If it returned in waning hours of night, it would not have time enough to move its coffin, this much I knew. We had until the next dusk.

We fought to the nearest exit, past the dead that had made themselves at home in that place, and stole away like thieves in the night. Wary of the owner's return, we skulked through the dark the whole way to Vallaki. As Ero went to gather strong allies, I prepared the tools I would need. A stake carved from ash, bottles that contained fire which could sunder stone, and the Gearling device I that hoped to never need. Over the years I have been approached by several that wanted to learn the ways of the Weaponmaster, and each I had turned away, for they always failed to recognize the first lesson. No matter how skilled of a swordsman you may be, you can no more master metal than man can master the gods. No amount of training or will can ever make that steel strike true for you, it must have the mind needed to drive it home. Your mind, is always your first weapon, and everything else a sidearm. Today, my weapon of choice was the destructive power of science.

Ero, a powerful woodland priest by the name of Atticus, Mina, Inno one of the newly misted, and myself made the return before the sun could sink behind the horizon. Time would be short. If the creature was resting, it will have made preparations for our return. An uneasy sense filled the back of my mind that I dared not share with the company. Fear could undo stronger men and women. There was at least familiarity to it all. The closer I came to death and peril, the sharper my instincts became, and the more the man I was began to surface. At every stop and junction I set my eyes to keep the vigil. At every spare moment I found myself instinctively checking my weapons and supplies. I felt... at home, there in the darkest of places, I found pieces of myself I had lost. What does it say of me that I have to delve into the heart of the night to find myself?

We descended through the most direct route, entering by way of a tower where the most phantoms would congregate in a black mass. With steel blessed, we cut through them, rendering them to little more than the wind they appeared as. We made our way to the chamber to find the coffin unmoved. As we sprung our assault, we were confounded to find it empty still. The chamber door slammed shut, and the ambush began. Never before had I seen such a mass of vampires, moving as a legion to drown us. They filled the chamber, running across the ground, and crawling through the doorway onto the walls and ceiling to reach us, to drown us beneath cold lifeless bodies...

When the butchery was done, we barred the door. We had wounded bleeding out, and precious little time. As my comrades saw to each other's wounds, I set the charges I had brought with me around the coffin, stacking them in places that should test its integrity most. Pacing back, I drew and prepared the pistol. I knew not if we would survive the day, only that I was determined to cause as much havoc for that box's owner as I could before I died.

"That's sodding enough." With a crack, the bullet hit home, and the blast blew stone apart.

Our sabotage must have been known to them, because that sound heralded the next wave of combat. The door smashed, and this time their kin entered in full armor, swords gleaming with a wicked glee. Behind them a mage spun death upon us. I clutched the brooch at my chest; warded, I entered the fray again. My fear drowned beneath a calm, an acceptance. I felt that perhaps, death would finally free me from the land of mists. How arrogant, now that I look back upon myself, to assume Helm would find me worthy of such rescue.

Worse than before, we were broken and battered. I had gorged myself on the tonics I brew, and still we were bloodied, but alive. A vampire witch, not Danya, fled as the last soldier fell and I shouted to the others before I gave pursuit. "I'm going to buy you time, Ero get out."

What a valiant excuse to shake hands with the reaper, the coward that I was, fearing life and the burden I carry more than the pain of swords. The vampire was swift, my arsenal of deadly devices was faster. Wands, bullets, bottled death. Despite it all, it kept running, singed, broken, charred. I almost admired its tenacity, but when I closed, my blade, most reliable of my tools bit into its leg, hacking halfway through its knee. When it was stumbling I was upon it like a wolf on meat. I had forgotten how long the halls of that wretched place were, and when a tower door burst open with the rest of its kin, staring at me standing over their massacred kind, I had realized my own folly. A look over my shoulder reminded me just how far I was from allies and hope. All I could do was utter a single dark laugh, resigned to my fate. This was it, and my mind swelled with the mantras and sermons I had once held so dear.

"Though I walk through the final moments of my twilight, I continue on with my head held high and no fear in my heart. I will stand in judgment of those who travel on, and find my place in the hall of olden dreams beside He of the Eyes that Never Sleep. Helm wills it."

Never before had I fought with the fury I found there. With a grace that I thought dulled with age, I moved beneath the arc of a sword. Mine relieved of him of his leg, my shield flattened his nose against his skull, my boot kicked the door shut behind him, trapping him with something more terrifying than himself, trapping him with me. He tried to climb up on one leg, my sword burst from the back of his head, pinning it to the door. When it battered open again, they had filled the stairwell, but the doorway was mine. That small portal, through which they had to march one by one, was where I made my stand, and one by one, they were hewn to meaty chunks. They took their toll, every few volunteers that pushed themselves to the front of the lines would eventually have fortune enough for a sword to find purchase on my body.

My collarbone shattered beneath a savage chop, a hole sloshing blood from my side, a tear in rendered muscle across my leg that made it hard to stand, all while a second witch of theirs flung magic from behind their ranks. She watched, her magic seeming powerless to stop me, as I made murals of her kind all along the walls, writing death poems at the edge of my sword. She fled up the stairs as the ranks dwindled. I didn't have the strength to finish this. Finally, I felt alive. I smiled a demon's grin, all bloody teeth, and awaited the end.

I was surprised when Atticus appeared at my side, burning brand in the shape of a blade held tight in his hand. "We will finish this" he declared. I admired his candor, and with his help, found strength enough to finish what I had begun. The last foes fell like wheat beneath the scythe. We had only a moment to look upon the works of our hands, him perhaps with some measure of horror at the realization of what man could become, before we heard the marching of armored boots above. We piled a few bodies against the door, and fled down the hall towards our companions, chased by the sound of battered wood and the darkness filling with scraping armor on cobbles and walls. Together we escaped, together we fled into the night, and together we were doggedly pursued by more than just the dead. 


The entry remains half finished, the well of ink depleted, with Ave's face buried in his folded arms on the desk in exhausted slumber. An open bottle sharing the communal space with him reeks of the scent of Tsuika, and a pistol lays cocked across his lap in healthy display of paranoia. (//part 2 coming soon)

« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 04:29:08 PM by MidnightSyndicate »

MidnightSyndicate

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Re: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2021, 08:23:38 PM »
The land of mists has an unusual sense of irony. Avelyn found himself in his time by the fires with the persistent company of Ero sharing sagas and epic poems he had heard over the course of his life. One was of a creature called Ornlu, the wolf mother. He had explained to her that the story served as a tale of genesis for all wolves.

Ornlu was an immense creature if insatiable hunger, and hate. For generations it had stalked a dark land, its very howls a challenge to the night that drove men indoors. Any unfortunate enough to be caught by Ornlu were killed and summarily devoured. Ornlu however was a cursed creature, that only manifested when the moon was bright. All other times it was maiden, abused and used by the vary mankind she would learn to detest. Her hate was what gave her form.

One night, Ornlu was caught in a hunter's trap as the moon had begun to wane, and remained there for days unable to escape, slowly withering and dying. It was only by the grace of a hunter that she was found, and eventually nursed back to health. Ornlu was surprised by the hunter's kindness, and eventually came to love him. This, unfortunately, worked against the machinations of the devil that had cursed her. For him, Ornlu was a tool to insight the very terror upon which he thrived. He needed his hound back, and hatched a devious plan with which to accomplish his goal.

It is said that the devil had entreated a spirit of wind or sky, that under false pretense he had convinced the being to provide a bright lunar night outside its cycle, knowing that Ornlu would be with her lover. There in her marital bed the nature of the beast emerged, and there she had ripped the throat of the hunter in her panic. Watching in horror as her lover died, she was mortified and haunted by her actions. She fled into the woodlands, howling in sorrow. Unbeknown to the devil at the time, she bore the hunter's children, who would inherit their fathers skill at the hunt, and be born into the world as the first wolves.

The legend states that at night the midnight psalm of the wolf, is the mournful lament all wolves sing in memory of their fallen father, taught to them by Ornlu. It is her song, carrying the sound of her sorrow and broken heart to the after life, ever and eternally begging his forgiveness.

Avelyn remembered the legend as a cautionary tale, warning against trying to change the nature of a beast. It came to him now, in lieu of recent events, as he penned the remainder of his journal entry.


The road in the night would prove to be just as perilous as the tunnels below. Atticus and Mina were fleet of foot, and long ahead of us, clearing the way I had hoped. Ero was carrying Inno on her back. Maimed, or dead, I could not say. We had managed to hit the western road leading to Valliki, staggering with our wounds and burden. We slowed, thinking that the greatest peril was behind us, and tried to find our stride. It wasn't until the trees began to part and fall over that we realized just how difficult the night would become.

To call the creature a wolf would be to criminally undermine the magnitude of it. That beast was a colossus. In its towering it peered over the boughs of the pines as it bowled them over with its passage. Its maw could have easily filled with the body of more than one man. Never before had I seen one of its kind, but it brought with its midnight psalm the wolven storm that would fill the outskirts like a plague. When the trees began to teeter around us, we found a renewed vigor that was kindly provided by fear, and our sense of self preservation. We could hear its snapping jaws clapping behind us, and feel its hot breath at our backs as we ran.


Even lumbering through the trees it was not losing pace, and would soon be on us. So I did what I knew best, I wheeled myself about, and stared the oncoming doom down as I told Ero to flee. My shield proved invaluable at wedging its jaws so that it couldn't engulf me, and afforded me chances to tear into its maw. Doing so introduced me to the hot stench of death and decay. It howled and brought its children down upon me. I kept my step, weaving under the titan to have them trail me single file, where I could split their skulls like timber one at a time, and take prods at the great beast's underbelly. It pivoted and wheeled, snapping its jaws sidelong to snatch me up, fangs digging into my sides. I felt my ribs giving way, my body failing, but not before I could cry out in my agony and run my sword through its eye, threading a path to its brain. We crumbled to the ground as Ero returned wearing the skin of a bear smacking aside the remaining dire wolves and worgs that had come to make a feast of me.

Climbing from its remains I found a most curious thing amidst my anguish. A belt adorned its neck like a collar. I had seen its kind before, but this one was more powerful than any I have ever seen brokered by the vardo or other merchants. Hearing howls still, I stole away with my trophy, and followed Ero on our retreat, Inno strapped to her back like a swaddled child.

By the time we met up with our companions and reached the church, and filtered inside, we had no idea what would come of the pursuit. We thought with sanctuary would come an end to the night's ordeals. It wasn't until the howling grew, and the stone walls shuddered that we realized the nightmare was not yet over. Mangled and wounded locals spilled in, telling us of a towering wolf. A second, and its flood of kin. We brought them there. They had come for us.

Weary from ripping, tearing, gnashing blows, we sallied for one last skirmish against an endless host of foes. They were right, another behemoth, at least as large as the last, was plowing its jaws through the ranks of outsiders and adventurers that were too arrogant to seek the shelter of walls at night. They were humbled by the horrific sounds of their bones snapping in those teeth as their bodies exploded like squeezed fruit, the juices of carnage bringing the host of wolves to a slaver and frenzy. Me and mine held our line, focusing on fighting as a wall, beating aside the many that crashed against us.

It was hard to see through so much blood, and harder still to track the routing adventurers that had surged into the outskirts for their pound of flesh, but somehow, eventually, the beast was forced into a route of his own and crashed through the trees to sprint north, howling at the moon and answered in turn by more we had yet to see. They gave chase and pursued. I did as well for a short way, launching the sorcerous reserve I had remaining in scrolls and wands, but could not break the creature and bring it to buckle. Mina followed, the only one fast enough to keep stride. As we picked over the wounded that could still be saved, we earned a brief respite and followed as auxiliaries.

Our leisure proved to be the better part of valor. On the road northward, fleeing and screaming warriors ran to and past us, chased by reinforcements of the wolven storm. I set my shield and turned my body to profile, blocking for Ero as the wedge that would break their charge while her long savage claws mauled them from behind me, tossing aside any who had the misfortune of not easily dislodging from her deep raking swipes. We didn't have to fight our way much further to find Mina and some of the others, fighting off the remaining horde that had gathered around the corpse of the behemoth wolf. Caught between the hammer and anvil, the remaining hounds were crushed.

Finally, the dawn began to break, and a much deserved silence fell over Barovia. I leaned heavily on my sword, body riddled with the burns of exertion. It was only in the aftermath that I tried to make sense of the events. We had found the lair of something that was not Danya. Whatever it was, it commanded not only the dead, but the other things that go bump in the night. Wandering through the ravaged outskirts, I beckoned Ero to follow me as we made our way to the graveyard. That belt was in my hand, the hard won prize, a relic with a power I have seldom seen here even amongst the most potent of warriors and mages. I had an uneasy feeling that perhaps I had slain the pet of something else, and if that proved true, the master must have truly been something to fear.

I wrapped that relic around her hips, and prayed it was not a target I was placing upon her. Helm, let it keep her safe.

« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 09:11:11 PM by MidnightSyndicate »

MidnightSyndicate

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Re: Avelyn Oldeguard, He who waits and watches
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2021, 03:11:32 PM »
At night, in the dark of a Barovian inn, the perpetual silence is interrupted by the occasional howling from outside, and a slow repetitive thud from somewhere within. While rattling walls may not be uncommon among inns that have their share ladies of the evening, this was different. Slow. Deliberate. Angry. In a light-less room stood a man bare from the waist up, tattoos marred by scars, and bandages enveloping his arm, as he stood facing the wall and drew back his arm again. His fist connected with the ruin of what was once a mirror on the wall, now no more than a gore covered abstract, a few odd shards of glass still clinging to it by blood that had congealed. The torn flesh and sinews of his fist connected with another dull thud, shards grinding against bone and tissue, the impact making sliced flesh stretch to expose more of the meat beneath. His eyes were vacant, held in thrall by the voices.

Don't hurt us Ave.

The words were meant to be a tease, chiding, innocent. They were never meant to have power over him. But he was a violent man, and felt shame that he could never make such a promise, that he could never assure anyone there existed a world in which he would not harm a woman.

His thoughts filled with a comely face, staring lifeless at a rainy sky. Hist fist hit harder.

He remembered the rain washing the blood from his blade; a hollow absolution. His fist struck faster.

He remembered that face's tears drowning in the rain, paling lips parting in a final gasp.

Damn you Ave


His fist was thundering into the wall in a growing storm of blows, arm coiled in rising veins that snaked over immense mounds of sinew pulled taut by fury. He broke the frame, he pummeled the vacant space, he cracked wall, and he felt his bones shatter, ending his tantrum with a howl. He slumped, cradling his mangled hand, the precious instrument of his art, and just sobbed pathetically in silence. Then he chortled, and laughed in the absence of reason. Then he went dead silent again and only stared.


He lifted the maimed and crippled ruin up higher to observe it, seeming alien even to himself. His stern face looked about at the damage, then at a large shard on the floor, his judging scowl returned to him. "What did you do now you asshole?"

To his surprise, the reflection replied back, "this time it wasn't me."
« Last Edit: February 13, 2021, 07:42:03 PM by MidnightSyndicate »