Author Topic: Wolfshead - Caelan Adelphus  (Read 326 times)

Icaro

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Wolfshead - Caelan Adelphus
« on: June 05, 2019, 09:04:52 AM »
WOLFSHEAD - CAELAN ADELPHUS
Caput Gerat Lupinum


Spoiler: show

Skald, Kartakass 764BC

"Prisoner, in the wagon."
 
Artemas stepped up onto the foreboding transport, squinting as his eyes adjusted from the crisp morning sun's glare to the gloomy, featureless interior within. Several other captives sat in various forms of hunched, the only posture the chains binding their wrists to the bench would allow comfortably. Some looked his way, others simply stared at their feet with the look of the defeated. Taking up the free space nearest the door he too was then chained to the bench next to a scrawny, balding man and the iron-banded door shut with a resounding clang to cover the interior in darkness once more. The driver could be heard goading the horses with a whip-crack and steadily their pace picked up, the wagon jostling with every bump and nock on the Road to Harmony.

As his eyes became adjusted to the gloom, Artemas felt it time to take stock of his new traveling companions, his gaze catching the man next to him who responded with a toothy smile and offering his manacled hands to Artemas to shake in a gesture of friendship and solidarity.
"Roaja Senk."

"Artemas Wade." He responded and a slew of other names slowly rattled off around the wagon, some of which he recognized. All but the individual opposite him who slouched as best he could on the bench, hands resting on his lap had given their names aliases or not. He was young, just a kid really, but bore the tattooed hands of an Out Towner. A place the newly incarcerated smuggler knew all too intimately.

"And you strong and silent, you with the Guild?" Artemas nodded towards the man's hands. In response the other shifted on the bench, making an attempt to cover his hands and regarded him with narrowed eyes.

"That's the sort of question a plant'd ask. Makes you look awful suspicious in company like this or are you writin' a book 'bout your experiences?" The husky, drawling accent only confirmed the young man's origins but any response from Artemas was not forthcoming.

The reedy man next to them piped up cheerily. "Artemis Wade, Caelan. He'd have made top B and E man if he wasn't so cocky."

"Who's the top man?"

"The fella who caught him!" A short bark of laughter, causing Caelan to scowl which only seemed to prompt Roaja to press further. "Oh come now, you've got nothing to be ashamed of." Turning conspiratorially to Artemas he spoke in a stage whisper, indicating with thumb and forefinger. "He came this close to stealing five thousand ballads from one of the merchants in town, just walk right out the front door without a peep."

"What went wrong?" Artemas' lips pursed appreciatively as he re-assessed Caelan.

A harsh rebuke opposite them cut off further probing into the young man. "I relied on other people. Now you two goin' to shut up and let the rest of us enjoy the ride or are you gonna talk us all to tears? Rattle on worse than washer-wives at the well"
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 02:20:31 PM by Icaro »
Current PC's: Calean Adelphus, Jubal Moritani, Morgan Blackmore,  Luther Browne.

Icaro

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Re: Wolfshead - Caelan Adelphus
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2019, 08:54:59 PM »

Spoiler: show

The day wore on with the shadows now looming over the tiny forest trail the wagon struggled against. The mood had become somewhat jovial, lightened by the jokes and pleasant ribbing of Roaja and another man named Krystos towards one another. He was a broad, tall individual who perhaps was a little too slow for a life of crime but seemed to have an honest heart in Artemas' opinion. The increasing jostle of the wagon caused something of a rhythm to form and now and then someone would hum a tune or accompanying song to the bumps and ricketing. Even the young man opposite Artemas would hum or sing a verse or two in between his constant fidgeting and on-edge demeanor that was beginning to irritate the Harmonian smuggler.

Frowning, he couldn't hold his tongue any longer. "Will you sit on your damn hands or something? You're giving me the jitters."

Leaning to watch out the barred window of the rear door, nose pressed up against it, the muffled retort of the Skald 'Out Towner' drawled forth. "Your personal well bein's nothin' to do with me smuggler. You ain't got none for anyone else around you from what I hear."

Artemas bristled at that statement, unsure how the man would know the circumstances of his own arrest or if he was just bluffing. "Oh yeah? Heard from who because after this stretch things will be different next time."

"There won't be a next time." The others within the wagon began taking an interest in the new topic of conversation.

"Meaning?"

"Meanin' we ain't on the Road to Harmony anymore and we're bein' taken by a kill-team someplace." Stunned faces and nothing but the clatter of wheels on rough tree roots and stunted rocks filled the air as all eyes turned to Caelan.

A woman, Calisto, not all that much older than Caelan with hair that shone a cascade of gold in the dim of the wagon piped up. "A what? What in the Choir's name are you saying?"

Turning away from the rear door so he could be heard clearer, Caelan hunched over severely, his posture looking strange as he began wincing, voice a little strained as he answered. "I'm sayin' you lot ain't very observant. We ain't going to Harmonia and our guards have gone from blonde country-fellows to dark-haired son'bitches stinkin' of garlic and onions. They're a kill-team, gang of Borcan enforcers from the sounds of their Balok. One of you lot..." Caelan motioned with an upturned chin to encompass the wagon. "...went and pissed off the wrong people and it sure as hell ain't me."

"Maybe the Guild wanted you killed off?" The young woman asked.

"I ain't with the Guild." Calean indicated the myriad tattoos that could be seen more clearly on his hands and arms, an ace of spades prominent on the back of his right hand. "I pay jukrum same as anyone else to work my lonesome and I sure as fire ain't on anyone's horizon to want me dead this bad."

All eyes turned on Artemas whose own went wider as realization set in. "I tried to scalp on some tariffs I was being charged on for river traffic...but who doesn't!?"

"Depends on who you're scalping and they're going to scalp all of us!" A sallow, somewhat shrill and bookish man whose name neither Artemas nor Caelan could remember squeaked out, his shackled hands indicating their outriders.

Smiling, Caelan sat back fully, still adopting an odd posture as he now rolled his shoulders together a few times. The wagon had come to a halt a moment, causing more than a few concerned shuffles.

"Whelp, an intelligent man adapts." Caelan said far too chipper for the situation as the men on horses that were trailing them rode ahead with sharp barks in Balok. "Fella up top said somethin's on the trail ahead of us." Caelan all but muttered in translation.

Artemas frowned at the Out Towner a moment, responding to his previous statement. "Or finds an alternative."

"I already have one."

White teeth grinned in the dingy light and the sound of manacles and chains clattered to the floor. Hopping up to his feet, the young man reached an arm out through the windows and wrenched the levy bar up, cracking them enough so he could slide his wiry form out and look over the top of the wagon. The smile on the young man's face broadened and if he wasn't so sure the man was human, Artemas would have said the narrulve smiled in that man's eyes, a predator moving in on his prey. Locking violet-blue eyes, Caelan pressed his fingers to his lips and lowered his voice.

"Now don't you folks go anywhere, you hear?"

And with that same, wolfish smile he slid himself up over onto the roof of of their transport. A wolf chasing down its mark.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 02:50:36 PM by Icaro »
Current PC's: Calean Adelphus, Jubal Moritani, Morgan Blackmore,  Luther Browne.

Icaro

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Re: Wolfshead - Caelan Adelphus
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2019, 03:58:34 PM »
Spoiler: show

If Artemas held any notions that Caelan was a stone cold killer then they were sorely misplaced as he sat listening with pent worry at the discourse above. There had been a surprised startle and then loud thumping sounds on the roof of their imprisonment, interlaced with the Out Towner's exclamations of 'Ouch, ya big bastard' and 'You meatball eatin' shite' in their common Vaasi and then a strangled Balok 'I bet your mother puts sugar in the gravy'. The latter insult Artemas had to translate to the others but it was the sort of thing one would find offensive only if you were Borcan, to which the jibe clearly found its mark before more scuffles and thumps could be heard and a heavy 'whump' off the side of the wagon. Breathless moments later an upside down face, bruised with one eye swollen and lips bleeding popped over the top of the door with a set of keys jangling in Artemas' direction.

"Roaja first, I don't know how to lead a team of horses an' he steals 'em for a livin'."

Roaja positively beamed at the suggestion he was important to their flight and Artemas freed the man's shackles, grunting as the apparent horse thief clambered over him.

"Are you alright there?" Calisto inquired, brow knitted with concern as Caelan's face still hovered upside down.

"Me? Oh yeah, I used my face to break the son'bitch's hand. He's taken a nice nap over that rock he landed on." And with that he was back up and over.

After having swiftly unlocked his own manacles, Artemas tossed the keys to Calisto. "Keep at it, I need to get up there and help them fight the others off."

Climbing onto the roof, he was almost thrown off it as it lurched with a snap of reigns and a 'Hyah!' from Roaja. Calean was already armed with a dagger tucked at the small of his back and seemed to competently hold a shortbow, the sort of thing an ambusher or rider prefers in these thick woods. The man held out a rapier to Artemas which he quickly donned, feeling much less naked now.

"Take the left path there, we call it the 'Groom's Second Thoughts', that swings back to the road like a horseshoe." Calean pointed out a parallel trail that branched off to where Artemas could now see several of the other riders fending off wolves ahead, the beasts darting in and out to nip at the horses heels startling them. As the Borcans became aware of the prison wagon being teamed with fair-haired prisoners, exclamations rung out and one of their number was brought off his horse, their fellows leaving the poor man to be swarmed by the wolf pack as they gave chase, having to backtrack to be able to pursue the wagon.

As the wagon passed the lower trail the Borcans were making back along, Caelan stood high and waved to the wolves, shouting something in the Old Tongue that Artemas didn't understand, "Hvala, Dedek Wolf!", before the Harmonian had to yank his Skald cohort down onto the pannier of the carriage to avoid getting slammed off it by a low hanging bough. Caelan gave an apologetic look as the pursuit began in earnest and each man and woman did all they could to hold onto the clattering wagon as it shunted its way through the thick, Kartakan woods.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 02:50:49 PM by Icaro »
Current PC's: Calean Adelphus, Jubal Moritani, Morgan Blackmore,  Luther Browne.

Icaro

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Re: Wolfshead - Caelan Adelphus
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 08:17:25 AM »
Spoiler: show

As the woods grew thick around the trail and the wind whipped in the canopy overhead, the flight of the wagon was hampered severely and in no time their pursuers were upon them. Caelan loosed arrow after arrow at the men, Artemas noting he could have shot the horses but seemed to prefer not to. One went down with an arrow feathering his thigh, yelping and cursing as he was dragged along the road by his stirrups and off into the woods proper. Despite this his quickly dwindling broadhead arrows found little purchase against the stiff leather buff-coats the Borcans seemed to be wearing and the intractable effort of trying to aim whilst being lashed raw by the unforgiving woods made the task nigh impossible without decades of training.

The narrowness of the trail made it less arduous to fight back though as the riders were forced into single file to avoid shunting one another off into the thick brush. One had managed to launch himself on tight to the pannier rails until the Harmonian's rapier flickered to and fro and screams rang out from the would be boarder as he fell, trampled by his fellows. The second had forced himself alongside to attempt the same maneuver while Artemas was preoccupied and met Caelan's boot as it whipped around and cracked the man under the jaw, failing to dislodge him but stunning him enough for the Skald Out Towner to continue to kick and jab at him with his heel. Balok curses flowed rather easily from the young man's mouth as Artemas could only catch something regarding calling the sexual decency of the man's mother into question as his target refused to let go.

Trying hard not to grin amidst the terror Artemas turned to regard the final pursuer trailing behind, furrowing his brow as he seemed to be pointing at the wagon and with an all too late horror recognized the long, tubular form of a wheellock firearm. A crack ripped into the air and a cloud of blue smoke briefly enveloped the rider before a snap echoed past Artemas followed by a loud whoosh of air escaping Caelan behind as he tumbled onto the roof of the wagon, trying not to slide over by hooking his foot within the railings. Red blossomed along the side of his billowing white shirt and a pained but angry expression was on the young man's face.


"Are you alright? Are you still with me!?" Roaja called back with concern, trying to steady the young man and hold fast to the reigns.

A labored nod and short reply in response "Yeah I'm still here." Caelan seemed to say more to himself.

A dark look flashed across Caelan's face as he withdrew the dagger from his belt and carefully slid his way over to the bloody-faced man who had now managed to get his upper body onto the roof. With a set jaw Caelan, one arm holding his side, other the dagger, plunged the long blade into the man with an icepick grip where neck and shoulder met. As he withdrew it with a hard tug an arc of arterial spray jetted out of the man's relatively small wound and he crumpled like a child's doll over the side, Caelan looking somewhat regretful but nonetheless vindicated as the body flailed into the legs of the horse behind them, a mass of limbs and whinnying as the beast dislodged its rider.

Yelling for Roaja to stop, the thief managed to still the surging beasts to a halt and with grim purpose the two armed of the Kartakans made their way cautiously over to the flustered Borcan attempting to free his leg out from under his tired horse, great cloak covering the man's head as he thrashed impotently.


"You speak better Balok than I do, mind questioning our new friend here why he and his boys are after me?" Artemas asked.

"De ce Ól prinzi?" Calean barked to the man, crouching down to his level to pull the cloak from the man's head and slapped him on the hand with the flat of his dagger as the downed rider fumbled for his poniard, indicating Artemas with a nod of his head. He still held onto his side although it seemed only a minor wound thankfully.

Trying to maintain some semblance of composure and dignity the rider rattled off in quick succession an almost breathless retort with some unkind words for Caelan who narrowed his eyes not in any display of emotion but seemingly more to try and understand what was being said to him.


"I ain't heard Balok like that, learnt mine off of Barovians who like to gamble, some sort of rural Borcan dialect. He said he ain't here for you, said something about me being real friendly with goats too. The sort of friendly that makes you not allowed to keep goats no more. They're a snatch-squad after..." Calean asked another question as if trying to get the man to clarify something, looking somewhat confused with the response.

"...copil, a child."
« Last Edit: June 16, 2019, 01:25:46 AM by Icaro »
Current PC's: Calean Adelphus, Jubal Moritani, Morgan Blackmore,  Luther Browne.

Icaro

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Re: Wolfshead - Caelan Adelphus
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2019, 02:36:55 PM »

Spoiler: show

Artemas silently seethed at Caelan as they walked through the lesser known trails of the great woods. Krystos had mentioned he had kinfolk who camped a handful of hours travel from the Crimson Road and so without options the desperate band agreed mutually to head for it. He stewed with resentment because after interrogating the downed rider the question remained of what to do with him, to which Artemas nonchalantly suggested death. Caelan argued vehemently against the notion, that he 'ain't no murderer killin' folk that are already out of the fight no matter what part he played in wingin' me'. The others agreed sternly that they were all kinds of things but not executioners and the woods will likely take the man anyway. They did not have to kill him, nor did they have to help him get to safety regardless. He played the game and lost.

With a sickly sweet tone that oozed dudgeon, Artemas piped up to Caelan's back as the Out Towner walked ahead.


"So who did you kill?"

Half turning his head, Caelan snapped a sarcastic reply back. "Well in all the excitement I ain't think to ask his name while I was endin' the poor sod's life."

"I meant to get Confirmed. So what 'poor sod' died so you could wear the Ace, big man?"

Caelan stopped and turned slowly on his heel, his eyes now low and lidded and his lips thinned with displeasure at Artemas as one hand moved to the hilt of his dagger in a casual gesture, other hooking a thumb into his belt. Artemas' own hand moved to the hilt of his rapier as the two stared at one another.

"This where we share our tragic backstories eh? Get to know one another, maybe fall in love and elope?"

The others were still, silent as they could cut the tension with a knife as the Harmonian and Skald thief faced off against one another. Seconds seemed hours as a few minutes passed, as it looked like each prideful man would strike out against the other. Calisto's lip quivered slightly, covering her eyes from the bloodshed that would ensue until a snorting, stifled noise of mirth could be heard from both men that rolled to bursting out into rich laughter at the sight of one another trying to intimidate their fellow. Nervous laughter issued from a few of the others and as she lowered her hands, Artemas clapped Caelan on the back and moved ahead. Something she knew as a gesture of trust between men who stepped off the beaten path.

"We've got a long walk ahead of us. I'm still curious."

Giving a small grunt, Caelan told them the story of how he got his Ace...
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 04:09:20 PM by Icaro »
Current PC's: Calean Adelphus, Jubal Moritani, Morgan Blackmore,  Luther Browne.

Icaro

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Re: Wolfshead - Caelan Adelphus
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2019, 12:44:22 PM »

Spoiler: show


Skald Donjon, Kartakass 760BC

Caelan sat, a lad of fourteen summers, on the mildew-ridden bench of the cell he inhabited for the last month. The pungent smell of damp and rot and despair filled the air, a sickly miasma that would certainly kill any poor individual who had to breath its foetid, mold-infested stink for years. A sudden sound at the cell door and it opened, the guard quickly moving in with a fraught pace as he slapped a baselard into Caelan's hand and tugged the boy's shirt sleeves down to conceal it. His words fast and hurried as he grabbed Caelan's shackles to lead him outside, low in a voice meant only for his ears.

"He's being moved to the Tinker's Yard, you have to drop him in the south annex. Your uncle has arranged for the rest".

Caelan's hands shook as his bonds were undone and his heart felt like it was trying to escape from his mouth. This was no longer some fanciful dream of revenge and daring-do, this was real and a man was going to die. His mother and uncle once worked for an Out Town guild, the one that did not specialize in taking wealth but lives. She had met his father, a simple musician whose relocation to Out Town was due to tough times and enforced poverty. She gave up her former life much to the chagrin of her employers and the two lived their lives in peace and deep affection.

There was a Kartakan story that man and woman were once one being. That their songs filled the air sonorously and none ever suffered or lacked for anything. But one fateful day, an ancient wolf passed their forested land and in a moon-drunk howl of rage jealously split man and woman into two individuals and scattered them across the forests, damning each to spend an eternity trying to find its other half. The love Aeyan Adelphus and Halina Galanos had for one another was said to be as if two halves had finally found the missing other.

The siblings had made many enemies in their time and it was Caelan's father who had suffered the ire and wrath of a man who did not like being told no and stabbed in the dark for it four years previously. A man who himself had stepped on too many toes and in some sick act of irony, arranged his death at the hands of the boy he made fatherless.

Hurrying along the dingy, rough-shod stone corridors to where this mark was being led, the guard veered off without a word and left Caelan alone to move towards the sound of shuffling feet ahead. Rounding a corner several prisoners were moving alongside a face that made Caelan's blood freeze as he stopped in his tracks, a tiny bead of terror working its way in his chest. Seeing the boy, two of the hard-faced, heavily tattooed 'prisoners' accompanying the man suddenly grabbed him as the man understood all too well an attempt was being made on his life.


"GET HIM!" A bellow at Caelan.

The man who took his father away from his family struggled and kicked as Caelan closed the distance between them, baselard in hand but still hesitating as he was now within grip of the man. Time seemed to slow down to nothing as shouts filled the air and nothing existed but Caelan and the face that now leered at him in recognition, a broken-toothed smile creeping on a haggard countenance.

As if some spell had snapped, the boy gritted his teeth and plunged the knife into the man's belly, his eyes widening in pain and shock as it was thrust again and again, crimson blood washing the floors and those around the man as the pair restraining him let go to allow the dying captive to crash to the floor. A slow series of wheezes escaped him like an animal in its death throes and then nothing. Just glassy eyes staring up to the ceiling blankly.

All Caelan could remember was the act of being practically dragged through those corridors in a daze to a waiting wagon and covered up in manured hay and he was away, out of that awful place. Congratulations were heaped on him, by those who accompanied his escape but he would always remember the heartbroken look his mother gave him upon his return. A mixture of relief, anger, sadness and resignation. That burned into him more than the accusing stare of the man who now lay cold and forgotten.

« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 01:33:48 PM by Icaro »
Current PC's: Calean Adelphus, Jubal Moritani, Morgan Blackmore,  Luther Browne.