Author Topic: The Scarred Priest  (Read 3890 times)

Audric Lacroix

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Re: The Scarred Priest
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2018, 09:17:12 PM »

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You grizzled fool. Poor, unfortunate soul.   Here I stand, trying to be more man than machine, yet every single time I find myself lulled into a sense of peace and serenity, the trap is sprung without remorse.  Would these two truly betray us so? Betray the Kinship?  Betray /me/?  LORD, if it is right for you to do so, grant them mercy. .  because for treason, there is none. 

My allies, my very brethren called into question-  The foundation I stand upon shaken, and my heart frustrated.

/WHY!?/

Audric Lacroix

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Re: The Scarred Priest
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2018, 09:38:56 AM »
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"Do not let her control you."

What a peculiar thing to say. There is influence, of that there is no doubt, but that is a path walked both ways. I think that, in some small regard, I have shown them that people like me are not all mindless rabble rousers. I would even be as bold or naive as to say that I consider them both very much to be my friends. The pair of them, I would gladly break bread, share my last tankard, and stand shield to shield with in the end of days. Even so, no matter how strongly forged our bond of trust and cooperation may be,  my divinity and their fortuitous tolerance of it, my powers and presence is something they were warned from childhood to fear.

" I thought that I had been struck dead.I forget that about you, that you are truly terrifying. . Not just all wonderful things, eh?"

Those words will likely rattle around in my birdcage for the foreseeable future. She had asked me to escort her through the village towards the Temple, and I obliged. Such as my luck goes, the very instant I stepped outside with her, we were rushed by three abnormally strong wererats. I underestimated her, because she held her ground rather well- but I acted out of instinct and unto them I spoke the name of the LORD. He responder, with a golden light of faith, and gripped the three blind mice quite still. She froze as well, and I rushed forward to dispatch them properly with Excalibur. The look on her face is seared into my mind's eye- that sheer terror. It was a look that was once my own, when I realized that the scary stories mother's told their children in my world was very much a reality here.

I embody the Holy Spirit as best I can, and act with kindness, compassion, and mercy with wrath as the final recourse, so to be called terrifying was particularly jarring.

I have grown so very much here, but as always, there appears to be plenty left for me to learn.


Audric Lacroix

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Re: The Scarred Priest
« Reply #27 on: December 16, 2018, 04:25:45 PM »
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"This is a torch that must never go out."

My dearest Kinship, rag tag band of Brothers and Sisters.

We are two things, always- the very real, feeling, loving, hating people, and the beacons. A tool, fire to ward away darkness and cold.

I set out to provide reenforcements to the Port-Au-Lucine, and I shall do that soon, but some things must make it to paper before what's left of my bravado has expired.

One of our own acting out of sorts, a litany of broken hearts putting on brave faces, and plenty of the darker forces trying to redirect the light and hide themselves.

I keep coming back to thinking of those that have been, those that are, and those that might be

Anya I am sure, now, is dead. One is young and with another who values her little, and another fully beyond reach.

I am eager for the day that I can once again share the man, the story behind the Cross.

I tire of being terrifying.

I tire of putting on a show.

Audric Lacroix

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Re: The Scarred Priest
« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2019, 12:11:35 AM »

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"You are already worthy. "

We are far more than our blood- our physical circumstance and creation. If I am not an example of that, I cannot even fathom to understand what would be.  A man without parents, guided by the Church alone- One would think given my upbringing that I would be an abbot.  Secluded, and surrounded by my favorite books- preaching to those whom would listen.

Not that- for now I am free.  I picked up a sword, and forged my own way.

There are two paths in life in regards to our beginnings. We can blame them for the tragedies of our lives, or we can accept and overcome them.

You have done so.

I have done so.

Just because you do not posses the magic I do, does not make you less magical.


Audric Lacroix

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Re: The Scarred Priest
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2019, 03:26:38 PM »
 


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  "You do what is right because it is right. That is a rare, and
precious thing."


The right thing to do is not always easy, and when the stars align poorly it can be the most dangerous or complex thing to do. It could cost you your life.

Was this worth it? The attempt? I would like to think so. To believe so.

 If you have the ability and the knowledge to remove a great and terrible curse, and are provided the opportunity- even to one whom I will eventually cross blades with- could a man of God- a Knight of God truly decline in good faith?

Others have spoken harshly, against me for doing so. Others have shown their support, and admitted they would not have the fortitude to 'treat' an enemy. I do not judge them, no matter their view.

Fighting is not all sword and magic. It can be words- or inner turmoil, and I admit I now experience the latter.

No matter the outcome, the process itself wrenched at my heart. The prayer of Atonement, complex in method and execution, went into effect without being rebuked by the Lord.. She was genuinely contrite, and remorseful.

The ritual also attempts to remove the curse from them by, at best, force. It tries to separate beast from body- and as I have learned- is excruciating. Inadvertently, I tortured them.

I wrote a report on it, and removed it a day later because I cannot find a phrasing I thought appropriate.

The events weigh on me heavily, and I find my shoulders heavy, today.
 

Audric Lacroix

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Re: The Scarred Priest
« Reply #30 on: January 09, 2019, 09:17:26 PM »

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I have never felt such a whirlpool of emotions like this- not with such neigh uncontrollable severity. Sorrow, at the loss of a friend.  Confusion on how to address a very dire query.  Frustration-  no-  rage at facing yet another accusation based solely upon falsehood.

My integrity, my honor, my loyalty is something beyond reproach or question. I am honest to a fault, and I am sure that it will be the cause of my end- it certainly is attempting to do a number on my reputation. 

I see you.

I know you. 

I will find you. 

I am coming
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 09:22:18 PM by Audric Lacroix »

Audric Lacroix

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Re: The Scarred Priest
« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2019, 01:32:12 PM »
The black wind begins to blow.

Stand by,
Pending me finishing it, and DM approval, a temporary exit post is coming, until my return late 2019, 2020

Audric Lacroix

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Re: The Scarred Priest
« Reply #32 on: July 28, 2019, 01:27:03 PM »

Over the years there was many a phrase  used to describe the crusading chaplain Audric Lacroix and his stubborn determination to take up arms for his faith. Ruthless zealot, kind soul, bloodthirsty murderer, paladin. Opinions of the Knight varied largely based on the beholders standing on the axis of good and evil. He believed firmly in the greater good, unphased by attempts to manipulate him. Friend and foe alike knew that he was a man unafraid to act, whom held his word above his very life.
 
Dedication to living a noble life would cost him dearly.
 
It had been a normal day, as normal as a day in the Barovian winter could be. He had journeyed long down the Old Svalich Road to make his way through the mists to deal with the teeming threats that made themselves at home in the Fanes. The mists, in their ever changing malevolence, had distinctly different plans for him. He never truly crossed through, despite several years of successful navigation, the weary cleric knew it only took a single shift for him to be lost for nigh eternity.
 
Hours turned into days, days to weeks and weeks to months - with hope a distant memory and only sheer faith and stubbornness keeping him pressing on in his very own rendition of hell.
 
The mists were death incarnate, and any creature that drew breath was marked to meet it in its own domain. If not constantly on the move and ready to fight, the reapers visit would be all too soon.
 
He succumbed to fatigue once every few days, hardly stopping to rest - but even he had to pause. His body had since quit responding to direction and his mind was too exhausted to urge his limbs onward. Audric slumped into a nearby tree and there he remained.
 
He opened his eyes to a change of scenery. A familiar one, one he was sure he couldn't be in. A hallucination? A nightmare? It felt too real. It felt… comfortable. It was the Wayfarers Kinship Lodge, in Valllaki.
 
 Miserably cold, constant precipitation, and the world slumbered. Even the ever-present horrors objected to lurking  and wading through snow and ice, save for when hunger or curse drove them to the brink of desperation. It was the calm before the storm, and Audric used the time to enjoy the few vices he welcomed into his otherwise cut and dry life.  He sat in his favorite chair with the terrier Adeline in his lap, a cup of whiskey in one hand and his favorite pipe in the other.
 
Peace was something that never lasted in this realm- a lesson Audric knew through his weary tenure in the demi-plane of dread. Whatever manifestation of wickedness the dark powers selected for its next incursion would wait until there was the illusion of victory and peace before it struck
 
This night would be no different.
 
Audric stared at the dancing flame in the fireplace, watching with some tension as his breath began to chill and thicken . The comfort and warmth abandoned the room nigh instantly. Adeline whined and leapt from his lap, assuming a strategically defensive position behind the chair and baring her teeth at the door.
 
“Adeline, size of a parcel - heart of a wolf. Do me a favor and keep Loric and the others safe, would you?” He spoke soothingly with some amusement to the stalwart defender of the lodge and rose from his chair.  He always suspected trouble lurked nearby, especially during periods of extended quiet; Unsurprisingly the crusader was already geared for combat. The immaculate cuirass was given a preparatory tug, and he hefted up his iteration of the fabled Shield of Evalach. War and combat were no stranger to the priest, so the almost nonchalant confidence in which he reacted was not bravado - it was experience.
 
He left the adamantine blade, his Excalibur replica, in its sheath and slowly opened the door, stepping out into the streets of the village of Vallaki. A solid ‘click’ of the door shutting and a spin of his key ensured that the little terrier would not find her way into trouble. The cold was bitter, as it always was during the midnight hour.  Through the haze of his own breath he could see the telltale sign that Old Night was making its presence known; an ominous thick mist had formed in abundance.
 
After a few moments of keen observation, the eerie silence of the night was broken by sounds of steel clashing, followed shortly thereafter by a feminine blood curdling scream and a guttural howl of a anguish from a man.
 
Audric had recognized both fairly quickly as Andrei Reznik and Teresca Mitrea, given the abundance of time he had spent with the couple.  The trio had formed an unlikely friendship over the past few years. A holy infused Knight and two Garda from an xenophobic land were an unlikely trio, but complementary. They understood him to some degree after he had explained that his martial and divine prowess may appear godlike to them, but his challenges were just as terrifying to him as theirs were.
 
The fear he felt for their safety was more than enough to summon his zeal, the strength of the Lord or whatever malevolence impersonated him, and he sprang into action. Prayers of speed, protection, and might were spoken fluidly and practiced - holy light swirling around him in tandem and propelling him forward with a stride twice that of normal man. It took mere seconds to charge around the Kinship Lodge and the adjoining buildings.
 
Several figures emerged from the alleys as they typically did, likely expecting to encounter a peasant foolish enough to attempt to travel home from one of the many taverns beneath the dark domain of old night. Each of them looked to one another in turn, as the hopes of easy prey were dashed by the visage of the forward-rampaging priest. His trademark red tabard, bearing the roman catholic cross, billowed in the wind, and the recognition caused visible fear amongst the brigands. Hunger overrode fear, and their misplaced confidence of numbers drove them to step forward in opposition.
 
It was a choice they would not be allotted the time to regret. Excalibur, in its mundane adamantine form was impressive, but within the starmetal rested a sliver of Audric’s soul- his love, wrath, zeal and strength. The brigands convulsed and twisted, their clothing bursting into tatters to reveal their insidious true nature as aberrant were-rats. They snarled and leapt at the charging figure, hoping in vain that their combined might could stop him. Excalibur struck with divine precision- a single upward flourish with superhuman force cutting the beast asunder in an eruption of sinew, fur, and crimson rain.
 
It was effortless for him, these minor threats.
 
His sword swung downward with carried momentum, cleaving the second like warm butter.  With a final arc, he spun the sword through the remaining opponent in a macabre dance of death. The last were-rat had been completely unable to react, bewildered expression plastered to its face as each half of its body fell in an opposite direction.
 
He didn’t stop to survey the carnage, urging forward through the gore. Teresca’s howl burned in his mind like a dying star, and every squandered second could prove fatal. Audric rounded the corner and slid to a halt, readied blade sagging in his grasp. From behind his polished greathelm, cobalt blue hues widened with horror. A massacre awaited him, not unlike the one he had just left but in a far greater magnitude.
 
The dead littered the cobblestone - guardsmen clutching splintered halberds, adventurers holding shattered shields, and no culprit in sight. The scene painted through his visor was too vivid - crystal clear in a land of perpetual obscurity. He counted friends amongst the bodies, and countless more strangers with lost limbs or entrails spilled onto the stone.  Carnage of this magnitude was something he never imagined to see again in his lifetime
 
A moment of bitter shock overcame him when through the atrocity he made out the crumpled form of Teresca leaned against the Guardhouse. Her beautiful face was marred by arterial spray, normally immaculate raven locks messed, thick and gleaming with fresh blood. The image was so painfully vivid- crystal clear in a land of neigh permanent obscurity.  Judging from the shattered fragments of her armor and the splintered blade scattered on the ground, Teresca had unsurprisingly fought tooth and nail against a now departed foe. Each metal shard was a testament to how hard the Barovian fought; her final expression was one of determination, but Audric had seen enough battlefields to know that she had moved on.
 
She held his focus for some time, until the morbid silence was broken by a lone weezing voice.  A distraction - perhaps a glimmer of hope for a survivor, something to pull him out of a well of crushing misery surrounded by the very essence of death. It was Reznik’s voice, angry and bitter.
 
“Audric, you bastard.”
 
Blood flowed freely from his mouth and the great many slashes on his body, separated by mere inches from the mangled corpses of the others, eyes wild with delirium.
 
“Why?  Damn you!”
 
Audric’s eyes watered with a mixture of sadness and confusion, approaching the guard as he collapsed and released his final breath. A hand came down to rest on Reznik’s shoulder to turn his body, revealing the instrument of his demise. A large hand and a half blade had been driven through him, and to Audric’s utter dismay he recognized the hilt.  It was identical to his own.
 
Hands trembling and breath ragged, Audric retreated from Reznik and Teresca’s bodies to turn and gauge his surroundings; they had all but disappeared. A thick dome of mist had formed around the morbid guardhouse - nearly impenetrable but somehow still casting a dreary pale light on the scene.
 
“Lo as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil because the lord is with me.” Audric spoke aloud, only a  faint quake in his sword arm betraying the crusaders typical aura of indomitable fortitude.
 
A voice from behind him startled him, shattering his fragile focus.
 
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”
 
Audric turned on a heel quickly as a large figure positioned over Reznik reached down to retrieve the bloodied second Excalibur with a brutally efficient fluid motion.  The sound poisoned his ears with the squelching of metal through flesh. The figure turned, peering at Audric and falling into a silence that threatened to devour the world.
 
The figure was similar in stature and armament, bore an identical weapon, but a different tabard; He wore the black emblazoned with a white cross, tarnished by blood spray. It was a visible contrast to Audric’s red tabard of the Knights of Rhodes. There was little doubt in his mind this figure had created all of the surrounding carnage, and he had precisely what he needed to dispel the pit in his stomach: He had a target.
 
The Dark Knight sneered at him through his helm, raising the tainted blade and even whilst lacking a shield, presenting the weapon in challenge.
 
“You have lost your edge, Crusader. You have lost the will to act.”

 
His nerves calmed and all doubt vanished. There was no room for error in a fight for one’s life, no matter the odds or surroundings. He knew that the waters of his mind must be still and the picture clear.
 
“I never fail to act- I tilt when others withdraw, even against a man of the Lord disgracing the Cross by reveling in wickedness.”
 
“No one here is innocent, Crusader. Tilt if you wish, but you are too weak to do what is necessary.”
 
“The LORD will be the judge and you will be found wanting, murderer.”

“We shall see, then, who truly holds the favor of the LORD!”

 
The Black Knight spun his blade with an expert flourish, both men praying for favor and power to change the tide of the battle to come and launched forward at one another with supernatural speed.  Without a shield, the Black Knight had the advantage in speed, but it mattered little.  They collided with immeasurable force, as the more nimble of the two leapt and brought his sword downward, providing Audric only a moment to raise his blade in defense. The strength behind the Black Knights strike was enough to buckle his knees and force him to the ground.  It was a stark reminder that as strong as he was, there is always going to be an opponent that will be superior.  He slid beneath him, and shoved up in a fluid motion to recover his footing and throw the other Knight off balance - with partial success. The Black Knight stumbled as he landed, but was already aware of Audrics recovery and the following wide arcing side slash.  Even off balance, he proved faster and stronger than Audric at his most enspelled, swiping upward with the dark blade to both deflect Audrics sword and utilize the momentum to spin the blade faster than the eye could see.
 
 The darkened edge struck the crusader in the chest, shearing the tabard and letting the red fabric bearing the white cross flutter away into the night sky. Both Knights recovered their footing and lurched at each other- unleashing a cacophony of clashing swords in a daunting display of martial expertise. They exchanged blows for several minutes, each blow costing Audric footing -  but neither could land a solid hit.
 
Audric’s stamina was long since depleted, having been forced to fight defensively.  Soon even that would be beyond him. The Black Knight was indomitable, and his words rung like bells in his mind, ‘You lack the will to act.’ Combined with the threat of imminent death, thinking of the words was the trigger he needed to ignite that passionate rage buried within. It was the one emotion he always tried to restrain - but the leash was dropped and the beast emerged. He barged forward, thrusting the shield of Evalach abruptly through the Black Knight’s attempt to rebuke him.  The edge of the shield struck him at full force, impacting him beneath his helmet and snapping his head back. The Dark Excalibur clattered to the ground, and as Audric briefly hoped to establish battlefield superiority the Black Knight’s gauntlets came slamming down upon his shoulders to hold him still as their helmets collided in a vicious headbutt.
 
Exhausted and disoriented, Audric stumbled backwards and fell to a knee, aware only that the Black Knight had disengaged and put a significant amount of distance between the two.  As his vision refocused and his opponent returned to some semblance of clarity, he was struck twice in the chest by sinister looking arrows. The Black Knight had armed himself with a bow- Ravenna’s Bow, the First Kiss.
 
There was nothing left that he could do. He was outmatched in speed, resourcefulness, and strength of muscle and prayer.  The battle, one sided as it had been, was over - the arrows in either side of his chest leaving him incapable of raising blade or shield.
 
The distance closed step by step, each footfall echoing with his own heartbeat in the depths of his soul but he uplifted his helm to look at his adversary directly.
 
“Who the hell are you?” Audric managed, weakly.
 
“Your past. Your present. Your future.  I am everything that you should have been.”
 
The Black Knight lowered to a knee in front of him, and he became keenly aware that his surroundings had changed.Both the hazy dome and the  scene of slaughter at the guardhouse was gone, replaced by the battlements that facilitated his abduction by the mist.  He was ‘home,’ on the grand Citadel of Rhodes -  the Ottoman ships lurking in the waters and the evidence of their victory over the defending Knights of Rhodes abundantly clear.
 
It was all impossible, every single bit of it. Some test, some interference in his life by the devil, or some horrible dream that he could not wake from. The possibilities were bottomless, but it was difficult to tear his attention away from the screaming pain and the figure looming in front of him.
 
“I do not understand,” the Red Knight responded, as a thin tendril of crimson life trailed down the corner of his mouth.
 
“Perhaps you never will.  You have failed - every monster you spared, every act for the ‘greater good.’ Your lack of dedication towards true justice, towards vengeance. It has all brought you here, to failure. The precipice of life and death.  How many people will die because -you- lacked the drive to do what is necessary?” The figure pulled off its helm, and it was much as if Audric had peered into a mirror that reflected a wicked doppelganger.
 
“Only the right ones. Life is sacred.  Whatever trick this is - whatever evil, will not sway me,” he wheezed out, staring intensely at his 'darker self'.  “I will not be driven from the path of righteousness - I will not be convinced that death is the only answer. Not for myself - not for others. I will not be.. . I cannot be whatever -you- want me to be.”
 
“You merely lack the conviction to put the wicked to the sword. Teresca has taken eyes, taken lives, taken hands.  Reznik was no better, a loyal  member of this barbaric regime. Rhea, she is a beast - no better now and never shall be. All things -you- allowed to happen.”
 
Audric struggled to stay upright but did not falter. A faint glimmer of stubborn determination remained and he would speak through the blood rising in his throat. “I learned long ago, no matter how bleak things appear, and no matter how hard people attempt to convince you of someone's wickedness - it is very rarely black and white… Strength is worthless without the wisdom to know when to use it.”
 
“We will see, Audric Lacroix. If, and only if, you survive.  What good is wisdom to the dead?”

 
The surroundings - the very visage of the Citadel of Rhodes, and the dark mirror vanished with dissonant laughter, leaving him in a place he knew all too well. Eyes open, and bloodshot, he knew he was still deep, deep within the mists- leaned up against the very same tree with a Greater Mist Horror looming over him.
 
The reaper had come, but Audric was not ready to leave the Mortal Coil.
--------FIN
« Last Edit: July 28, 2019, 07:17:22 PM by Audric Lacroix »