... now they must watch their abundance of luxuries fall away, making room for the tools of survival, and witness this time of relative peace wither into the same fears that harper's ballads had warned them about for generations.
 
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 Thrill of the hunt.

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Eloaene

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PostSubject: Thrill of the hunt.   Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:27 pm



The man in black who'd kidnapped Eolyn and Courisse was no longer with them, but there were others present nearby. Eolyn having awoken, her calls to Courisse brought renewed attention from their captors. At first, the guards outside their room got quiet, listening, but at the sound of a third voice, the voice of another man with them, the others went back to chatting playing cards. The guards barely glanced up when Kazage passed by them, opening the door to the girls' room with a plate of food for them to share.

The man's features were almost ratlike, with narrow chin and narrower eyes. His face carried no expression there, but apparently he didn't care to hide what was in those eyes, because even at first glance, they appeared too knowledgeable and too cunning for comfort. The Exile was garbed in his typical white robe with wide, primarily crimson belt tied at his hips to hold the garment closed. The rather less common checker-patterned neckline was left comfortably loose, revealing a bare chest and above it, his neck was encircled in black, a crimson knot tying the neck piece at his throat.

Chewing in his mouth one end of a cinnamon stick, he held it at the corner of his lips while setting the plate of food down on a small table and then going to kneel beside Courisse. Rolling the woman from where she lay curled up, somewhat turned onto her stomach, Kazage brought his hand to the girl's chin and turned her head up to face him. When she did not seem to want to move, the Exile patted Courisse's face, cupping her cheek with his palm then, hoping the gentle touch alone would be enough to rouse her. Through all of this, he continued in his silence speaking nothing to either of them.




===========================================================================================

Landing at Southern Telgar Hold, it took a little longer than expected for them to be able to equip the runners necessary to be on their way. That time was not wasted however, because Rihan did everything he could in that time to become more informed about the local area as far as known holdless group, any groups who might harbour unfriendly sentiments, etc. He hated not having more hard evidence to go on concerning their search.

But then, there was this: It was known that up river a days travel or so from Southern Telgar Hold, there used to be a large encampment of holdless who did not follow the typical habits of most other holdless groups. Though it was not known all of the specifics, at one point it had been rumoured that they were not actually holdless at all. It was also not known if any still inhabited this camp. It all seemed very intriguing and Rihan wanted to investigate the encampment at a later time, but he didn't get the feeling that a camp further north had anything to do with where Eolyn and Courisse were going. The kidnappers would never be able to reach the location before being headed off by a large advance of Telgar Guards if their destination was only a day's ride from a major holding.


In any event, when runners were prepared, Rihan led them out on the road; Jungi was with him at the head of the group because it was he would would be able to navigate their way when the road became difficult to read or in case they came across any signs of other travelers which the man would be able to pick up on. The group would have to ride long and hard, giving runners rest only when absolutely necessary. Likewise, they would rest themselves only when necessary. For now, they would ride through the night, through the day, and then they would sleep before continuing on.

They had a long journey ahead of them. It would take them three or four days at least, to reach the vicinity of old Igen Weyr.



[sorry Kate, lol don't have time for better than that. gotta jet! ill ttyl! you can maybe in your next post wiht Zahir or soemthing for the travel, post for them sitting around a campfire at night eating or something, taking their rest after a long day riding. Or maybe something happens on the road; you can come up wiht an event or something if you want. Dun care how far you wanna jump them forward. >D Dunno, anyway, ill bbl!]


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:16 am


She saw the shadow cast on the floor when the man opened the door to enter. Her eyes were not adjusted to light so she could not make out who it was till the door closed. It was not the man who had kidnapped them much to her chagrin. There were a few things she wanted to get off of her chest about taking advantage of other people’s kindness. See if she ever helped anyone on the road again… if they were ever freed from this place. The man who walked over to Courisse was not someone she recognized. He seemed to be moving her around which in the dark was enough to make Eolyn start to internally panic. What would she do if anyone hurt Courisse? What could she do? Nothing, she was chained.

Eolyn was a healer, not a fighter. She had no idea how to really defend herself. So when the man came in and began to bother her maid it took her mind a few seconds to consider what came out of her mouth. She tried to hide the fear behind her blue eyes when she spoke, “Leave her alone.” She was propped up against the wall now, her back, straight, her legs brought up to her chest. Now what was she going to do if the man came and bothered her instead?

She didn’t like any of them touching her cousin though and since she was not yet conscious it was up to Eolyn to defend her. Right? And just how was she going to do that when she was chained? Distraction would not be enough for some men but perhaps she would have made the man curious enough to stop whatever he was doing. And that would keep Courisse safe a little longer. However she feared there was very little she could do to protect her cousin. She could not even protect herself.


Everything that happened between leaving Igen Hold and Landing at Southern Telgar Hold was becoming a blur. He barely remembered how they had come to this place. His mind was focusing only on the mission before them and what he stood to lose if the mission were a failure. When he was not worrying about what the men might do to the girls, he was worrying about what he would do to the men if he became too angry. He didn’t want to kill people out of rage. He did not want that kind of blood on his hands but he supposed no one did.

The young women needed to be safe and that thought seemed to be the most often on his mind. Let the girls be safe. He was in love with the one and the other was his sister. Even though Eolyn never seemed to get along with him, he still cared for her. And what exactly could he do about Courisse even if he did find her. His father would never allow them to become anything. No matter what he said. All of the thoughts began to close in on him, so he seemed for a little while to shut down.

The days were long and strenuous on their bodies, as they stopped only twice a day and only long enough to water the runners and relieve themselves. Even the nights were not restful. They stopped for only four candlemarks at night and just to give the runners a break and everyone a chance to rest their eyes. When they passed the old Holdless Encampment and found it abandoned after the first day, it seemed to solidify in their minds that the men who kidnapped the young women were going to be closer to Igen Weyr.

Even though the mission was exhausting, Zahir found no fault in the way Rihan handled the situation and even now he was glad he had gone to the son and not the father. The other seemed a bit slow to action and in this situation, quick action had been necessary. It was the second night into the journey and they had made tremendous progress considering.

Sitting at the campfire, his eyes seemed lost in the flame. His brain was back on and he was envisioning the men who had the young women and what they might be doing to harm them. They all slept very little and so with every passing candlemark every man grew a little more on edge, a little more irritable. It seemed that no one said more than two words to one another in a day. Sitting around the fire the other men seemed to be eating and staring at the fire as well. No one seemed willing to break the silence. Not even the runners would make a sound, they slept so soundly.

Zahir buoyed himself with the thought that tomorrow would be their third day or riding. They would be able to reach their destination tomorrow and if all worked out the way they expected, they would find the girls there. And if it didn’t? Well he could not afford to let his mind be drawn that direction. Where they went from there would depend on what they found.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:34 pm


Courisse was beginning to gradually awaken, and sensing her rouse from that sleep, the Exile stood. Retrieving the plate of food, he brought it to them, placing it on the floor between the girls. When he knelt again to place the food there, he was considering how brave Eolyn was for trying to stop him from doing anything to her Maid. His response didn't come in words, but he did take pause to meet her gaze, wondering just then how she must be portraying a man like him in her own mind. Removing the cinnamon stick from the corner of his lips (almost like a cigarette), a lusty baritone then greeted her for the first time, "Don't stare at me like that. It doesn't suit you, Lady of Igen."


Through the threshold just then, came the sounds of a brief scuffle of the guards and after a moment of things falling quiet again, a second man appeared in the door frame. This man was about the same height as Kazage but had a more muscular build. He carried a confidence that was bolstered by his own need to exert power. He was the Rebel's Second in Command and had been sent with the group to ensure that their plans were carried out. Even though the Second in Command knew that Kazage had joined the Rebel's cause to serve his own motives, which he believed to be revenge on Telgar's Holders, he still did not trust the Exile. The Second was constantly waiting for them to be deceived. And rightly so, as far as Kazage was concerned.

In all honesty, Kazage didn't care if the Rebels suspected that one day they would be deceived by him. They still had no idea how or when. So as far as they knew, they were chasing ghosts on that front. Which is how Kazage preferred it. But the time for betrayal had not yet come, and according to all belief and tell tale sign, Kazage sought revenge.

The Second in Command puffed his chest out and would only address Kazage in a gruff manner which he felt most suitable for such untrustworthy villainy as the Exiles, "Why feed them now? You will be carrying out their execution tomorrow." The vile grimace on the man's face was a mask of shadowy features curling in gruesome delight as his body blocked even more light from the room.

His own features remaining rather disaffected, the Exile eyed the Rebel's Second with mutual distaste, not caring to hide it from his eyes.

By remaining without expression however, the Rebel determined that Kazage must not have the stomach to carry out the girls' sentence to death. With a demeaning guffaw then, the Second in Command added, "If the likes of you is afraid of getting a little blood on his hands, then I'll have my men do it. And then I'll make sure their bodies are hung from the highest point on Igen Weyr for all to see. So if you want your revenge on Telgar,... don't hesitate when the time comes."

Kazage always understood the Rebel's behaviour as a sign that he truly held very little power and felt the need to put on a show to cause others to believe in his influence over them. Kazage detested such weak people and continued to appear completely unimpressed by the Second in Command. What a pitiful creature the Rebel was. Not just him. All of them.

The Rebels disgusted him. Their arrogance was unfounded and the fact that they thought they had any right to wrong Telgar’s House made the Exile livid. In Kazage’s eyes, the Rebels were even more contemptible than the holdless. Thinking that they were bold and brave, they had lowered themselves into disgrace beyond any point of redemption. Anger mounted within him but, as ever, Kazage's face lacked expression, not once threatening to give away the truth of his mind.

For a moment, it seemed as if Kazage would say nothing in retort, but Kazage truly disliked being spoken down to, and therefore did not hold his tongue for long. In no way would he let the Rebel walk away thinking he ever had the upper hand by making such pitiful display.

So the man in white (Kazage) addressed him in an easy manner that he gauged would only further frustrated the Second, "Your men? Remind me again who you serve? Are you not a lowly Second in Command, simply following someone else's orders? Now, let me ask you who I serve?

"That's right. The only dog in this room is you, because I serve no other master. Also, you should have no doubt, that if I ever thought for a moment that the men outside this room served such a pitiful master as yourself, I would quickly take them from you."

Those statements brought an utterly menacing glower from the Rebel Second in Command whereas his hand even moved to clutch at the hilt of his weapon.

Seeming to pay him no heed however, Kazage went on to reassure him, "Don't worry. Tomorrow, things will go as planned." Things would certainly go as planned -but not as the Rebels planned. Kazage was going to create his own turn of events.

Turning aside from the man in the door, Kazage returned his attention to the women, his right hand dropping to rest on his own weapon with nonchalance, causing the crimson tassel at its pommel to sway.

Apparenlty, after that, the Rebel decided that now was not the time to settle their dispute, and he turned to go from the room. It could be heard, him leaving from the small building, and the guards just outside the room going back to their game of cards again.


Kazage winced. It bothered him that the Second had revealed to the girls that his 'plan' was to exact revenge against Telgar, and that he was thereby supposed to be their executioner. It couldn't be helped though, since things had already been said, so Kazage ignored it for now. He would have to tolerate the womens' unnecessary fear of him for now, and at a later time, prove to them that he was not here to murder them. In fact, quite the opposite. Kazage had effectively positioned himself as their protector for the time that they stayed here.


Courisse had since awoken and was now propped up against the wall by Eolyn. She'd regained her senses in time to hear the talk about this man in white being their executioner and the look of shock was still upon her fair face. Still trying to piece things together, she had no idea where they were at, how long they'd been there or how long since they'd gone 'missing'. She was terrified and for all her usual bluster Courisse was yet unable to speak out against any of it. Instead, the Maid turned to her Lady after the Second in Command had left, to find out if she was O.K.

Though it wasn't much use since one of their captors still stood over them, her voice was lowered to a whisper, "Eolyn! Are you alright? They haven't harmed you?" After seeing that her cousin didn't seem to be harmed, she was glancing back up at Kazage.

The Exile answered that look on her face before she even had a chance to speak, "That goes for you as well... That look of fear does not suit you who are noble. So, eat. You must both be hungry." The man in white robes returned the stick of cinnamon to his lips where he went back to chewing the end of it.

=======================================================================================



Gathered in a circle near the campfire where Zahir was able to overhear, the Captains of the Guard, Jungi and Rihan all discussed their plan of approach for the next day, assuming that they'd be arriving near enough to Igen Weyr later in the day that they'd be able to enact the final stages of their Search and Rescue. Rihan had already spoken with the other Heir Apparent about his own small team of Guards sent to head the kidnappers off from the other direction, and according to Zahir, they would be arriving to the Border at the Weyr by mid morning, crossing through the Pass there, and would be split up, busy scouting the area throughout the afternoon, before Telgar's team arrived.

Rihan led their meeting, "Hopefully by the time we meet up with the other team around dusk tomorrow, they'll have had enough time to locate the camp the women have been taken to. We'll be able to use the reconnaissance they provide in order to finalize our plan of action. As of right now, just know that I plan on sending our two Captains and Jungi in first. We will have to wait to know how many men we are going up against and the layout of the encampment before I decide on where and when the rest of us will come in at."

"If they are a mere force, then we should be able to overcome them quickly." When Rihan was about to go on, the typically quiet Toshiro did not wait to be called on to speak up.

"A force is only 'mere' when compared to one far greater. Even if their numbers are small and we are skilled in using every advantage possible, we cannot assume victory will come without cost." The Captain leaned on his swords in repose where they were tilted into his shoulder from where he sat. A devilish gleam in narrow eyes turned hellish hues by the reflection of firelight readily lent the man a look of malice. It was obvious there were certain things on his mind. Each day, the closer they'd come to their final destination, the Captain seemed to grow ever more serious. It was something that couldn't simply be passed off as tiredness either. No. There was a disturbing focus that absorbed his attention and was gradually taking over the state of his mind.

Understanding Rihan's eagerness to infiltrate the camp and rescue the women, the Captain went on for good measure, "No matter what kind of force we go up against though, no matter how eager the two of you are," referencing both Rihan and Zahir, "we cannot penetrate them too deep, too fast. Doing so would risk allowing them to double back and cut what little force we do have in two, weakening our defenses. Unless you plan on having us divided to begin with. We just have to make sure they aren't able to use that to their advantage."

It was no small mercy in Rihan's mind that the rescue party had run into no trouble thus far in their journey, but Toshiro was right. There was no promise anything would go their way being that they knew very little about their enemy at this point. Hopefully Igen's men who would be arriving ahead of them, would be able to help remedy that situation.


It was a short while later that Rihan brought their meeting to a close after discussing all that they could given that nothing could be finalized until the next day as far as a definitive plan of action. "We need to get our rest tonight. Weary bodies will not serve us this time tomorrow if we haven't replenished ourselves. I want both of my Captains and Jungi sleeping until the sun rises. The rest of us will cover night watch shifts. Zahir and I will take the first shift. The rest of you will take the second." The young Lord's eyes sent both Captains and Jungi a stern glance. So it was without any grumbling that everyone went to rest themselves.


Once everyone else had settled in for sleep, Rihan went to the next thing on his list of priorities, having arranged this time with a little more privacy to address it. Removing his sword from his belt, Rihan went to sit near his soon to be brother-in-law. "Heir Apparent Zahir. There has been a trouble in your eyes since we left from Southern Telgar. I can certainly guess at what trouble it may be but regardless, I need to be clear on it.

"Please, let my concern be to you like that of a brother, since we will be soon. We all handle our troubles in our own way. Granted our current situation however, neither of us can afford to shut down or lose control. So tell me what has been on your mind, if you would. Even if we share the same concerns and we have no way to remedy it in this very moment, then at least let it be some relief to speak of things openly for once."


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:10 pm


The silence that followed her request made her breath catch in her throat. Maybe he would be angry and take it out on Courisse. That would be horrible! So far though everything about this situation was horrible. She almost wanted to pinch herself to make certain this wasn’t some sort of garish nightmare. When he addressed her she continued to stare. Who was he to tell her how to behave? For all she knew he was behind all of this. Her eyes said as much, his opinion was valued very much the same as that of the lowest creatures known to crawl the bottom most dwellings of Pern.

The goose pimples rose on her arms at the sound of another man entering the dark room. He was less of a thinker, more of a brute. This she could tell by the way he moved and spoke. Even the other man seemed to respond negatively to the vileness of the newcomer. She shuddered. Did he say what she thought he did? Executed? She closed her eyes in a silent wish. Her brain trying to catch up to what was going to happen to them. Killed? By these men? She wouldn’t allow this to happen. What use was Courisse to them? If anything she might be able to persuade them to leave the maid alone. She understood her own value. That she understood quite well in the end. She was the piece that tied Telgar and Igen together. If she wasn’t there, the two Holds would not be peaceful.

The only matter which bothered her was why they were waiting? They could have killed her in the woods where she was kidnapped. She opened her eyes, knowing they were glistening with held back tears. And the thought struck her suddenly, they wanted Rihan to come here. They were going to kill her but they had intentions to kill him as well. Obviously he would come to find her. He would never leave it up to someone else to save her. Anyone who knew anything about Rihan would know that was what he would do.

She didn’t like the way he spoke to them but she was not really in control here was she. “Courisse. I’m unharmed.” She reassured but could not find an appetite to eat. Excitement and nerves always did this to her. Right now it was nerves. “ I think they are going to try to kill Rihan when he comes looking for us.” She said as tears started to stream down her face. Eolyn ignored the fact that Kazage was still there. “Oh Faranth! What if Zahir came with him? My only brother and he could be killed too. Courisse, what are we going to do?”


He hoped the riders from Igen had been as quick as they had been and had run into no danger on their way. He had no way of knowing. As the others discussed the plans, he felt himself growing restless and he had to settle his body and mind down again. He didn’t like that he was beginning to tire like the runners. The more they moved the less tired he felt.

Zahir, looked over to where the others were gathered, listening to what was being said, intently. As he listened to Toshiro’s counsel he felt himself agreeing with everything the man said, as if he were his own Captain. He was right, of course, rushing into things would be dangerous. And he was right to be concerned about what sort of force they might be up against. No force, big, small, un-trained, or battle experts would keep him from saving Eolyn and Courisse and he knew Rihan felt the same But these other men had families too and they had a right to be given the opportunity to return safely to them.

Rihan too had a point, they all needed rest. Even the two of them needed some rest if they were going to be any use fighting. Nodding in agreement he saw the Captains and Jungi go to rest, followed by the others. His eyes which were the same hue of blue as his sister’s watched Rihan come and sit next to him. The words of the other made him think that perhaps he should keep his mouth shut. Then this was the eve of battle in a sense. Going in with a clear head would be nice. He couldn’t help the feeling that Rihan was usually right.

Although his voice suggested hesitance, he breathed in deeply and began to answer, “As you love my sister, I will trust you to keep my confidence. No one else may know of this.” He knew Rihan could be trusted otherwise he would not be having this conversation at all. “Eolyn and I have never been close.” He said honestly. “My friends and I teased her but she was not really any fun to tease. She was much too serious. Now Courisse was fun to mess with, she knew how to take a joke.” He smiled, Rihan was probably very serious as a child too. Faranth help their future children if they lived through all of this. “Courisse and I became really good friends. So although she was brought to Igen to be Eolyn’s best friend, she became one of mine as well.”

And here was the part which no one would approve of. “I won’t say that I took advantage of our situation cause everything that has happened has been mutual. We were very close and we’ve only become more so over the Turns. Courisse and I are lovers.” It was easy to love her; it was much harder to continue to put her reputation at risk, for what pleasure they could find in each-other at the time. Everyone knew he had to marry to suit his position. “I cannot live without her.” Nor would he.

“Now you know my dark secret.” He gave a half smile and shrugged. “You’ve only known Eolyn a short time.” And he knew she was completely besotted, but she was always going to live happily ever after since she was small, she seemed completely convinced of the fact. “I’m sorry if I’m a bit skeptical.” He did not know Rihan well enough to know if there were other women before Eolyn or if there still were. Arranged marriage was a fickle thing.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:57 pm


Eolyn's hysteria intensified the panic that Courisse felt and tears welled up to her eyes. Kazage's words did little to put her attention on the food in front of them and all she could do was wonder if Eolyn was right! What if Zahir and Rihan would both be lured here and killed! The mere prospect brought tears in streams that she couldn't help to reduce. It took all of her willpower just to keep from bawling so loudly that she didn't become a nuisance to anyone. Heh. Funny that she would even worry about such a thing at a time like this. "They'll find some way to get us all out of this mess! I'm sure of it. We just have to have faith in them."

Glancing back up at the Exile Courisse shot him her most defiant expression, "They'll come to rescue us and they'll make you all regret ever laying hands on us in the first place!"

Her words were apparently loud enough to be overheard by the guards playing cards in the next room, and were enough to elicit laughter from the men. Ignoring them, Kazage was only agreeable. Two digits removed the stick of cinnamon from his mouth again regarding her with a single, curiously upraised brow. "Indeed they will come. Probably sooner than we anticipate. You shouldn't worry overmuch. My cousin would ever let himself be overcome by any man here but for myself. None of them are worthy enough. Even if he were to find himself in an undesirable situation, Rihan is a man with many allies. Even in the most unexpected places."

A bit cruelly he added, "Either way, I have no intention of fighting your beloved fiance. My only role here is that of executioner for one person in specific."

Of course, it would only be natural for the girls to assume that he meant to kill Eolyn. But that was not the case. In the customary airs of nonchalance, Kazage rolled the end of the cinnamon stick between his lips, continuing to chew it.



==========================================================================================

Well that was not what he'd expected to hear. Rihan supposed that it was not an unexpected relationship between Zahir and Courisse given their situation growing up. It would only be natural for them to be close. Rihan could understand how easy it would be for Zahir to allow them to take that relationship a step further. "I see. So therein lies your true concern."

Letting his chin fall to his chest, Rihan's eyes closed for a moment, taking time to find irony in those things which Zahir had spoken, which subsequently drew a faint smile across his lips. "Well then, leave your sister to me. You can follow your heart without hesitation and protect the one you truly love. I will always safeguard Eolyn. I will keep her safe and happy."

That smile grew a little and became full of warmth, "She has become my greatest strength. She is also my greatest weakness. Making her unhappy is not something I can afford to let happen. She must always be able to continue to smile and be cheerful so that we all can be inspired by her radiance. My Star...my vivid Sun...is not allowed to dwindle." It maddened him to consider what things might happen to Eolyn and Courisse without anyone there to protect them. So, even speaking the words which caused him to wonder how frightened and unhappy Eolyn must be right at that very moment, renewed the anger in his heart. The Heir Apparent kept his eyes closed to hide the turbulence that threatened to rise within him. He, like Zahir, only wanted to be able to take immediate action. He wanted to bring death to those who'd disturbed his peace...Eolyn's peace.

If there had been any question in Zahir's mind about his feelings toward Eolyn or any other woman, let those sentiments be his answer unless he desired to prod into Rihan's past.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:10 pm


She was not reassured. She couldn’t be reassured by her cousin no matter how much they both knew the men were going to do what they could. Eolyn made herself calm down and stop crying. What would Rihan think to see her act this way? She should be more composed. When Kazage started talking she only half listened until she heard cousin and Rihan linked together. “You? You are Rihan’s cousin?” Eolyn repositioned herself in a more comfortable posture against the wall. Relief was the first emotion she felt. If he was not going to fight Rihan, was he going to help him?

“I only hope they have the help they need to survive. “ She could not worry about her own impending death. If Rihan lived it would be worth it, she convinced herself. After all, without him she would have nothing to live for. She had imagined her life with him so completely that there was no other path for her to take. Her mind went back to the man in the room. And how could he be allies with Rihan and kill her? Eolyn ‘s eyes had adjusted well to the darkness now and she caught the strange look on the man’s face when he spoke of killing someone. She got the distinct feeling that this someone was not her. She glanced at Courisse. Maybe this man would help them?

Changing the topic to avoid revealing what she thought she brought up a topic from earlier, “You never really answered my question on the ride, Rissi.” She spoke quietly so that Kazage might be able to hear if he strained his ears but so that no one else could hear them speaking. “Are you in love with my brother?” She wanted to know. She wanted to what she could for Courisse but there might be nothing she could do. Being her father’s favored daughter right now though, she might be able to help persuade him to allow Courisse to remain at Igen. In the back of her mind, she was thinking about which direction home was.

Maybe once the men were asleep, they could plan their escape. They had to escape, after all. She would not be used to draw Rihan here and she would not allow them to kill her without a fight. Since she could not fight them off physically she would have to try to outsmart them. She wished she had her herbs. She could poison them, all of them. Yes, the innocent looking Lady was a master of poisons, something even Courisse knew nothing about.


Zahir was relieved that his soon to be brother in law, cared nothing about his situation. He didn’t think that was what as bothering him but it turned out they both suffered for the same reasons. When he mentioned that Eolyn had not known Rihan long, he had no idea how the young Lord would respond. When he did, Zahir was taken back. The man was a poet. A sappy, courtly poet. Shards! No wonder his sister was besotted. He realized exactly how unromantic he was. Poor Courisse stuck with him instead but he really could never be so wordy about these things.

“Now I understand.” He said with an amused smirk. His sister was all for courtly affections. She did a very good job at keeping men at an arm’s length. Father approved of that behavior though and honestly, it was a good thing for Eolyn to be seen as a pure and virginal sort. She was not reproachable for any of her actions. Even if he found her to take her Lady duties too seriously, he supposed it had worked well for her.

He sat silently the rest of the watch until the other men came to relieve them of their duty. He slept as soundly as he could manage, still allowing his concern for his beloved interfere with a good night’s sleep. As if he had much choice in the matter.

The next morning they set off, rested for the most part. Even the runners seemed recovered. He rode behind Rihan somewhere close to the middle of the group. It would not be long now and they could meet up with the Igen Guards. It was nearing mid-day when they came across a large tree in their way making a sort of road block. Everything seemed very, quiet. Too quiet. Zahir felt his runner, paw the ground in impatience.

“Why do you suppose…?” He was fairly certain that tree had been healthy. He was also fairly certain it would take more than a couple of men to cut it down.



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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:41 pm

Kazage

“You? You are Rihan’s cousin?”

"Glad you're paying attention." Toying with the curled strip of bark protruding from his lips, Kazage offered no more reassurances. He could only leave them to certain speculations if he was going to maintain an upper hand amoungst the Rebels.

Being as instinctive as he was, Kazage was not fooled by Eolyn's sudden disinterest in him, turning as briskly as she did to strike up renewed conversation with her Lady in Waiting. Stifling his amusement behind the stone-faced mask, Kazage turned to leave them. "Eat or don't, it's up to you. That is the only favour I can do you." The only favour indeed. Because everything else in his plans was to benefit him; he made no promises regarding the benefit of others for their sake alone.

So when he'd gone from the room, Kazage sat at the table with the other guards present to watch their game.



Courisse


Eyes following after the man Kazage, Courisse was a bit startled when Eolyn went back to her questions...asked...well, she didn't know how many hours or days it had been since she'd been asked that quesiton. The question seemed to sober her though, and in considering it, her head drooped, looking down at the plate of food.

"I love him." In all truth, Courisse didn't feel like now was the greatest time to be discussing such things, but if they were going to die tomorrow, then they may as well. "I love him...more than a cousin should love another cousin."

Feeling both disgusted with herself as well as mercifully purged of some heavy weight on her heart, Courisse didn't know what Eolyn might say in reply. If she was going to know Courisse's true feelings however, then she should know the full of it. "Zahir and I are lovers."




=======================================================================================
Rihan

“Now I understand.” He said with an amused smirk. His sister was all for courtly affections.

Understand? Perhaps. But none would understand the fullness of the intent of those words until he explained himself fully to Eolyn. He'd promised her at the Gathering that one day he would.

Rihan was exhausted by the time their first shift had come to an end. Sleeping soundly, it wasn't until sunrise that he awoke with the rest even if the tiredness continued to make his eyelids feel heavy. Being out on the road though, helped his energy, and he made it through the day without too much struggle, though he was more quiet than usual.

Perhaps it was not only the lack of sleep that plagued him, but there seemed to be a growing sense of unease about the direction they were headed. When they came to a block in the road, that seemed to answer it.

"A road block?" There was no logging in the area that he'd been made aware of, and no significant settlements, so it was strange indeed to run across such a thing here. And by the looks of things, the trees having fallen in such a way were not simply coincidence.

"Jungi! Natan! Both of you scout the area and find a way around this while we rest the runners for a few minutes." So while the two headed off to investigate the road ahead of them, Rihan allowed the others to rest. Rihan himself seemed tired still, and sat on the ground with his back to one of the giant fallen tree trunks. Normally they could have gone around the trees and gotten back on the road on the other side with a fair amount of ease, but the landscaping offered this close to the Weyr was mountainous and often times proved difficult to find passage through without having to cut through thick trees and foliage. Taking time to do such a thing now could cost them.

“Why do you suppose…?”

With a quiet sigh, Rihan seemed to be thinking as he closed his eyes. Echoing Zahir's question in his own mind, he wondered to himself, pondering a variety of answers which might suit their situation.


No more than a three or four candlemarks later, Rihan had still spoken next to nothing and might just as well have fallen to sleep by all accounts. Roused from his thoughts however, by a rustle of activity nearby, Jungi and the other guardsman appeared to view, apparently reading their minds.

The Trader was a veritable expert when it came to reading terrain, and all kinds of things in nature. "It's not what you think."

Climbing over a messy labyrinth of overlapping branches, he jumped from a meager height to the ground where he stood beside Rihan then. "By all signs, these trees have been here for longer than our plight has had to take its course. They weren't put here for us initially; though I'm sure if they were put in place by the same group we're after, they're glad they put them here. It's certainly slowed us down.

"In any case," Jungi pointed off in the distance, though not too far from them, "the smell of caves was in the air, so I thought we'd see what we could find. There is at least one system of caves nearby with large enough mouth to provide shelter to a few holdless but there are no current signs of habitation. I'm sure there are others in the area as well but.. in no direction am I able to see any immediate trace of other humans. The vegetation is thick through here and where it is not, it is very rocky. The easiest path around the road block takes us near the caves."

Watching Rihan for the OK, Jungi retrieved his runner from where he'd left it tied for the time he was gone, as soon as Rihan nodded his way.

"Lead the way." The young Lord had since risen to his feet and was readying to mount his own runner. "If the road was not blocked to stop us, who was it meant to stop?" Half wondering aloud, half wondering to the rest, Rihan was answered by the Trader.

"The trees have been down for at least.. six months from what I can tell." But that answer didn't seem to answer much at all.

Nevertheless, Jungi led their way and Natan carried up the rear. Throughout their winding venture through the off-road course, there were a few times they would be forced to dismount runners to guide them over difficult patches of terrain. Though the distance seemed short, the difficulty of it took time to navigate. It would be another nearly three hours before they'd reached the other side of the sloping road they traveled, and by that time, they still had some distance to cover before they reached the point of contact for the Igen Guard. Runners were also beginning to tire a bit again, considering the much rougher terrain they'd been made to cross in that time. Jungi patted the side of his own beast encouragingly. "We're definitely gonna be late for this date, aren't we Snowflake?"


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:40 pm

EOLYN

Eolyn should have thanked the man for the food but with her impending death before her, manners seemed to go out of the proverbial window. Instead she was focusing on her best friend and what she might be going through now. She had only wanted Courisse to tell her the truth so that she would know. Eolyn had no intention of belittling love in any form.

“I’m glad you told me the truth.” Was all she could say in response. If she attempted to say anything more than that, she would have to think about the future and she was not sure there was going to be a future for her. She could offer no words of comfort to her cousin either. For surely the man in there had every intention of killing her.

ZAHIR

Zahir knew there was nothing they could do but keep on moving. As the day waned onward, he knew they would be late to get to the meeting place. The guards would wait, obviously, until he came to join them. The sun was beginning to fall behind the horizon, when they approached the meeting place. Zahir was not one to jump to conclusions but as he saw there was no movement. He looked back at the men who followed him. He thought he heard the sound of runners. They rounded a bend and there they were, runners with the livery of his Hold. Riderless. Riderless?!!! Zahir felt the blood drain from his face. Where were the men?

Before anyone could think to stop him, he dismounted and began to search the area. Maybe they were playing a joke on him. He would not put it past them. However, he was soon proven wrong. The body of his Captain was found near the path, in the underbrush. He’d been rung through with a blade. He kept himself as composed as he could. “Check to see if any of them survived.” Was all he could think to say. Some of these men were his friends and now they were gone. Just wiped off the face of Pern as if they never existed. He was going to have to tell their families personally.

Zahir could not afford to think about the men right in that moment. They were gone, there was nothing more they could do for them. He could do his grieving later. He convinced himself that becoming over-taken by his emotions would only cause more harm than good. There were men with them who were laying down their lives to save his sister and her maid. The last thing they needed to see was a Lord Holder’s son lose his cool.

Walking over to Rihan, he said quietly, “The men who killed them were skilled. We need to think carefully about how we are going to save the girls if we are walking into a well-trained group of men. If they have this much skill and enough man-power, without my men I’m not sure we can defeat them.” In other words, he feared they were riding to their doom. All ten of his men were accounted for and all ten of them had been killed by skilled swordsmen. These were not just some brutes with swords.

“Captain Toshiro.” He signaled the man over for advice. He was not trying to be commanding. “Any ideas of where these men might have been trained and how we might best fend them off?”




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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:41 pm


It was a gruesome scene situated before them. Every man in the party was silent for a time, not just in shock of events that had transpired, but perhaps also in reverence for those who had lost their lives. None also dared speak right away, for it was understood that Zahir would feel the pain of these events the worst but it would be difficult to speak any consolation. Most likely there was none great enough that could be offered.


There was no hesitance from the Captain regardless of who gave the order. Zahir was asking the right questions, so Toshiro obliged, being one of the first to dismount his runner.

Like a hunter was able to track his prey, Toshiro quietly observed the spread of corpses, taking time to kneel beside most of them in order to evaluate the manner in which their lives had been brought to an end. A couple of the bodies he rolled, re-positioning them so that he could view the angle of their injuries more clearly. Making mental note of the direction from which they'd been attacked, the type of weapon most frequently utilized, and pick apart any pattern in their movements, etc.

There were at least three men dead amoungst them who wore no uniform of Igen. Though it appeared as though the Guard had been ambushed by a greater number of men than they themselves had, they did not lack the fighting spirit to die without taking a few of the enemy with them. These bodies too, were inspected by him, though the weapons they had once possessed had been hauled off in the hands of the living -which seemed also to be the case with the weapons and any armaments of the Igen Guard who'd been felled.

After a short while, the Captain was able to garner enough of a picture in his mind as to what had happened to rightly answer the Heir Apparent. "You may have also come to the same conclusion that it was an ambush -which means their camp is probably not far from here. My first guess is that their numbers were great enough that they could overcome Igen without issue, because there are not enough of the enemy dead to lead me to believe that your Guard had a fair chance. Likely...a small number of scouts runs a perimeter patrol and came across them, bringing back a greater force to subdue the Guardsmen."

Canting his head just so, taking a breath in thought, Toshiro seemed to be considering his options when it came to next words. "It seems as though their weapons are not the same..." That left hand dropping thoughtfully to the hilt of his own blade, the Captain's eyes seemed distant, as if his thoughts pulled him into another realm of feeling...of deeper concentration.

"The fact that they have a number of blades is curious if they are not a rightful Guard. It would take a lot of resources and effort to acquire them. But that is not what strikes me as most odd." Moving to one of the dead, tried using his hands to explain in various gesticulations, offering the exposed wounds as the physical example. "See here...the motion it took to create this kind of wound implies that the weapon used to inflict it was not only heavy, but the blade was straight. Telgar's brand of weaponry does not fit that description."

Drawing one of his own weapons, Toshiro offered it as his example. "A slightly curved blade like this works efficiently as a slashing tool. When a blade is completely straight however, it becomes less flexible, eventually meeting more resistance against the target than a curved blade. In effect, it is less effective for the slashing pattern we see here...which means that the blade requires two hands, and a good deal of additional strength must be applied to the blade in order to complete the swing of the attack.

"The closest place to get your hands on a weapon matching that description, as far as I'm aware, is out of the more South Western parts of the central region of the continent. Namely Boll, Fort and Ruatha." Within his own mind, Toshiro secretly mused that this situation was becoming more and more complex. It was becoming an even more worrisome ordeal for all of the things that could be implied by tell tale signs.

Again, with a pause in his speech, the Captain seemed to be considering all available options before he was able to finish answering Zahir's question. "That being the case, their fighting style will surely be different than what we're used to. But that doesn't mean we can't beat them.

"It doesn't seem as though the enemy dead are dressed any differently than Telgar men, so they probably aren't foreigners." Toshiro re-sheathed his sword then, his eyes sweeping over the scene once more. "They were very organized though, I'll give them that... What pattern in their attacks I can recognize however, does not suggest they're as skilled as the Guard. In fact, I highly doubt that they are." For a moment he thought that it was the fact he was able to find any pattern at all that caused him to believe they were not as skilled as a formal Guard. At least they were not masters of any sort, even if they could kill a man by surprising him. But that would not be enough to keep themselves alive in the end.

Turning to Rihan then, Toshiro encouraged them with some whit of urgency, "If they left the runners, we can suspect they'll be returning. We should find somewhere to safely organize our own strategy."

===================================================================================


Courisse was frowning down at the food that had been given to them, and wondered how long it’d been since they’d eaten. So many thoughts flitted through her head, feeling terribly conflicted and emotional about so many things right at that moment. Courisse too, was glad she could tell Eolyn the truth and not feel ashamed. It was a relief actually. That made her wonder why she and Zahir had kept their relationship a secret for so long in the first place. What had been the purpose of that? Was it the thrill of knowing that in some way, their relationship would be forbidden? Surely it would be forbidden by Lord Qisbon, regardless of Eolyn’s general acceptance of it


It had been a while since the man in white had left them, and after a bit, he’d gone from the building entirely. It was in that time that the guards playing cards decided to check on the girls’ status, bringing a light with them. The candles were set on the small table standing alone against one wall of their room. One man going to pick up their plate of food, shoved a hand full of it into his own mouth since it had yet to be touched. Likely he wouldn’t have cared either way.Upturning the plate, the rest of it, he dumped into their laps.

Then, in a completely random act, he struck Eolyn across the face with the porcelain plate, shattering it.

Courisse screamed, flinching with eyes closed, but as soon as the moment had passed, she was reaching out for Eolyn, struggling against the chained cuff that restricted her to the wall. “EOLYN!” Her voice raised in a panic and in fury, she would have gone on screaming but for the fact that after that, the man come down on her with a fist that hit her hard enough to knock her back to the wall, drawing blood to her lip where a tooth nearly bit through. Her whole head pounded painfully with the shock, instantly bringing involuntary tears to her eyes.


================================================================


Later, where the search party found a safer location to figure out their own plan of attack, they sat in the deep dark of night, the ground about them lit only by the twin moons of Pern's sky. It was on that rocky ledge, lending them some advantage of height, that Shiro sat with his back leaned against the rock's face, both of his weapons leaned into that right shoulder, that same hand resting upon them. He and Jungi had already done some scouting, out on their own, and had the opportunity to come back with as much helpful information as they were able.

Given a bit of down time between their report back and quiet consideration Rihan was giving their situation, Toshiro spoke softly. It was for each of their benefit as much as his own, though it must have seemed that he was talking to himself. "Likely, they will have broader and slower attacks, given the nature of their weapons. For us, it should be easier to move inside the arc of their attacks to strike them. Our own weapons are better suited for closer proximity and quicker movement. We'll have to use that to our advantage."

Breaking that train of thought, Rihan offered his own input, turning their focus to overall strategy, “The number of them is too great for us to approach directly all at once. Even if we were to divide their forces amoungst ourselves we could still become easily overcome, because we also would be divided. So...here is what I would like for us to do.”

Going on with the plan of approach, Rihan divided them into three groups of two and then Toshiro, who would be on his own until a designated time when he would join back up with one of the other teams. “Zahir and Jungi, you will approach from the East. Toshiro from the South. Shannon and I from the West, and Natan and Jante from the North.

“Given that Igen’s Guard were few in number when they were attacked, hopefully they will believe that either that was the only force coming for them, or they were simply scouts sent ahead of a much larger team of rescuers. We will not let their deaths be in vain...I’m betting for a while longer we can catch the enemy off guard, not expecting to be attacked either so quickly, or at all.

“The enemy camp is fairly evenly dispersed over the area they’ve built in, but slightly more concentrated in the South -where I’m positioning Shiro. Since we have little real advantage over the enemy at this point, we will have to distort their awareness of us to help even the odds. Toshiro will lead our assault by removing their perimeter patrol. Afterward, we will all position ourselves so that from each direction we can begin picking off small groups of them as quietly as possible before they’re fully alerted to our presence. Once they’re aware they’re under attack, they will see it as being from all directions and assume that they are being picked off by a larger force trying to completely surround them.” A flash of the inner turmoil he felt entered Rihan’s eyes as he was realizing what a desperate situation they were truly walking into. And it was under his orders that they went. That thought pained him, but impeccable self control did not allow him to show it outwardly otherwise. Of all of them, Rihan could not show any weakness or hesitation. He had to be decisive.

“That still doesn’t give us much time to take the upper hand, so each one of us will have to act quickly and without hesitation to take out as many of them as possible before they realize what’s happening.” Turning his head to meet Toshiro’s gaze, Rihan paused, understanding that if something went awry, it was he who would be in the most dangerous position of all. In fact, if he didn’t have so great a faith in the Captain, Rihan would have considered it a suicide mission. Again, that was something Rihan was having difficulty accepting, even trusting a great deal in his capability. “Toshiro! I’m trusting you...Show no mercy. That is your only order.” Yes. Rihan was trusting him to diminish their number significantly on his own, and then to come back alive. The stern expression that Rihan shot his Captain was telling of those things.

A moment of silence passed between the two of them before the Captain laughed. It was the same sickly amused laughter that had come from him the first time that order had been given him, and a completely sinister smile played across his lips then. “You should know you don’t have to issue me an order twice.” The smile turn into a smirk that was smug as he continued to appear not at all worried over the outcome of their upcoming battle.

Accepting that answer, Rihan breathed a shallow breath and let it be some relief to him, “Alright. When they’ve discovered they’re being attacked from all sides and assume it’s a larger force, I expect they’ll be thrown into a bit of a panic for a short time before they can muster themselves to respond appropriately. Even though we ourselves will be divided, we will force them to divide also, and that should make them a little easier to conquer.

“As soon as one group has cleared their vicinity, I want North and West teams to go to each others aid, and then South and East groups to join forces. As you are able, clear each of the buildings you come to and search for Eolyn and Courisse.”


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:53 pm


Eolyn watched as the men came into the room. She could feel the threat in the air long before anyone made a move towards them. One man began to eat some of the food they had left behind. Her body shuddered unexpectedly as the man dropped the rest of the food in their laps. The smell of food made her want to vomit. She wanted nothing to do with food. The young lady had no time to consider it much at all as the man swung the plate to her face.

Her eyes closed instinctively. The plate shattered against her face. Blood streamed down the entire side of her face. Normally Eolyn might have screamed but the force of the plate hitting her head rendered her unconscious for a few seconds. When she came back to the world, the man had started in on Courisse. The pain of her face made it hard for her to speak. Every movement of muscle in her face was agony. “Leave her be.” She got the words out in a more raspy, quiet voice than she intended. “She is only a maid.”

Probably not the best idea considering their position but she wouldn’t allow the man to hurt her cousin if she could find a way to distract him. Eolyn could not believe this was happening. It was something out of the darkest nightmare she could imagine. Her life thus far had been so much kinder to her. If she had ever been ungrateful, she regretted it now. She had taken her life for granted for so long, maybe this was the world’s way of getting back at her for living such a wonderful life.


The information Toshiro received from the scouts was helpful. There really was nothing they could do about the deaths of his guards. The only thing to do was press on. He had to wonder if every man here knew the danger well enough. He did not like the thought of more bloodshed but it seemed it would likely be unavoidable. As they discussed the plans of attack, he knew they were spreading themselves thin. There was no other way. If there were, Rihan would not be making such a plan. He glanced over to Jungi when it was announced they would be banding together. He felt comfortable with that decision. He knew he would be able to work with Jungi as the man had shown himself to be amiable. So long as he felt he could trust the man, that was what mattered. Rihan had only brought with him men he trusted with his life. Zahir was confident that he too could trust them with his own life.

With the plan set, Zahir felt anxious to get moving. While it seemed Toshiro was more than happy to kill the men that stood in their path, he wondered exactly why the man sought such bloodshed. Bloodlust was not a characteristic of any person he had known though it seemed it was one of Toshiro’s. On the bright side, the man was fighting for them and not the enemy. “The sooner we proceed the better. We do not want them to catch wind that we’re here. Surprise is indeed our ally this time.” Zahir added. “We should all move in at about the same time. Taking into consideration the position of the moons, how long will it take everyone to get in position to attack?” Once the time was agreed upon, they dispersed to gather their weapons and then move on.

Zahir walked over to Jungi, “Let’s get going.” They were going to have to move quickly and have good timing. If one group got too far of the others there would be problems. He knew that Jungi could cover ground quickly and quietly but he wasn’t sure he could keep the same pace. Making their way through the forest, they moved as ghosts. A rustle of leaves was all one would hear. Zahir’s hand reached for his weapon on reflex every so often. By the time they reached the East side of the enemy camp, Zahir looked to check the position of the moons. They had to move at the right moment. “Ready?” As he said the word he heard a scream, he would know that voice anywhere. Under his breath he whispered, “Courisse.”

Even if it weren’t already time for them to move in, Zahir was not sure he would have been able to keep himself from moving forward.

(Feel free to God-Mod Zahir if need be to move him and Jungi along, since he is an NPC)


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:38 pm


Her head was left pounding and instinctively Courisse went to rub on the back of her skull where it hit the wall. Mid-motion however, she flinched, curling into herself with another shriek as the brute struck her again.

The same man however, let himself become distracted by Eolyn who'd decidedly desired that all attention be brought upon herself.

A malicious grin oozed sick laughter as he reached for the Lady now and not the Maid. On his knees, he grabbed one of her ankles and dragged her to the floor where he had his other hand up her dress. And if she resisted, he used his own brute strength to force himself on her, throwing the layers of fabric up now so that he could view what was hidden underneath.

The more she struggled the more he relished the opportunity, and the more roughly he handled her. His hands gripped like vices, pressing bruises into her soft porcelain skin, so beautiful and flawless.

Understanding what the man had in mind, Courisse shrieked at him even more shrilly this time, in a desperate maneuver, "No! SHE is MY maid. Only protecting me by pretending to be me! Let her go! I demand it! Let her go!" Courisse tried to reach the man by kicking at him from where she was at, but the fact that she lacked the use of one arm made it somewhat difficult to do so effectively. Either way, he seemed to ignore her, but soon the second guard intervened.

"I demand you leave her alone!" Courisse screamed her protest, biting the hand that now grabbed at her. At which point she was met with a backhand. So desperate was she now, that she didn't seem to feel it, and at the top of her lungs screeched in furious protest, continuing to kick her legs out at the guard to fight him off.


=======================================================================================


I want to protect you.

Why was he thinking these things now? The Patrol had been slain without complication and the signal had been given for all groups to move in and by the time the largest of Pern's moons reached its zenith overhead, for each team to be engaging the enemy.


I want to protect you.

Looking ahead through the thickets at the cluster of camped men he was about to engage, Toshiro couldn't afford to let himself become distracted. Yet, he couldn't help imagine, what if it was Ariadne holed up inside one of those buildings in chains. That thought made his blood run even more hot, and he focused on channeling that anger into a thirst for vengeance. Yet, even with his skill and the utter lack of fear he showed in the face of his enemies, he couldn't help but feel some sense of impending doom about to fall over the team of rescuers.


Ariadne, I sense a deep darkness drawing near; a darkness that will swallow me whole. Before...I wasn't able to say the 'Goodbye' that this very instant invites.

The captain's body began to tense, preparing to move so that he could close in on the Rebels just a short distance in front of him.


In that darkness, my tomorrow is locked away, so that I cannot see the promise it holds. But here, even if this is my last stand, let me protect you. Ari, I will safeguard you by destroying them. Even if my body must decay.



========================================================================================

Jungi Grabbed at Zahir's forearm, taking it firmly. And if Zahir didn't stop there, he would jerk the man back into position. Jungi's eyes met the Heir Apparent sternly, signaling him to hold his ground. Given their current situation, Jungi wouldn't even let a Lord's Heir compromise their plans. They couldn't afford to waste any advantage lest it mean the lives of their team members or even those they'd come to save. "Let that scream be reassurance that at least she is still alive!" The trader whispered huskily, not daring to raise his voice any more than that.

"Knowing Rihan, he paired you and I because I am his sworn brother." Going on, Jungi made a point of making a few things clear to Zahir now that they were alone. Good breeding would not save a man from dying at the end of another's blade and it certainly didn't save them from grave mistakes like the one Zahir was about to make. So it seemed that Jungi didn't even hesitate to speak as plainly to the Heir of Igen as he cared to, to make him understand, "He's trusting in me to watch your back since he can't, and he has no idea if you're any more cut out for this kind of encounter than he is. But this is your family involved, so no one has any right to deny your being part of the mission."

The Trader's hard stare still hadn't released Zahir, "Understand one thing, before you decide to break ranks in order to go off on your own trying to be a hero. Rihan and Toshiro, and the other guardsmen out there...those are my family, and I will protect them, even if it means stopping you from doing something stupid, if were to put their lives in danger. I would kill you before you took another step in your Lady's direction.

"From here, you and I are a team. If you feel like we need to move, then communicate that to me and we will move together."


The largest of Pern's sister moons was almost at its zenith, which was the time their plans would begin rolling into action. Jungi was glancing skyward, watching the constantly, if not slowly moving sky. "It is almost time."



========================================================================================

Reaching to take a hand full of snow from the cold wintry ground, Captain Toshiro put it into his mouth, letting it cool his body temperature so that as he went, his breath would not be seen, and his presence would be left undetected. Like a black apparition led on a desultory path, every movement came in perfect silence.

Appearing like no more than a shadow to the dreary eyes of the night watch in his Southerly direction, one of Toshiro's hands came up to cover the mouth of his first target as he came up on the Rebel from behind. His left hand deftly stole the man's dirk from his belt and, in one swift motion, used it to draw a thin line across the man's throat. Blood poured from the guard's neck and the Rebel's hands lifted to stem its flow in a hopeless attempt while Toshiro lowered the man's body to the ground. The dying man was silent only because Toshiro had also sliced through his wind pipe, not allowing air to reach his vocal chords.

Quickly moving to the next man out on watch, the Captain covered his mouth from behind as well, but this time, dug the dirk into the man's spine, giving it a cruel twist which severed the spinal column and nervous system. Paralyzed, the Rebel's body slumped into a heap. Kneeling over his victim then, the Captain broke the man's neck, ensuring his eternal silence. Taking that crude instrument of death then from where it protruded from the Rebel's back, he straightened and moved around the next corner of the building.

No other guard was to be seen on the outside, so he went to the door of the small barracks, where certainly there would be others within. Back pressed to the wall, he was about to open it when shouts could be heard from the West. Apparently those shouts were enough to alert at least a couple of sleeping men, because shortly thereafter, the door opened from within.

Rolling the dirk in his left hand, Toshiro gave a sideways glance at the first man who came through the door. Before the man could react to his presence though, a back-handed stab gouged it through the Rebel's stomach. An agonized scream trailed off from him as he fell to the ground, clutching at the hilt of the weapon Toshiro left there, blood gushing around it. The Captain of the Guard did not move to retrieve the stolen dirk however. He would find no more use for it since he was becoming bored of such child's play. But...it would be good to keep the odds tipped in his favour by continuing to keep them blocked in the barracks as long as he could, meeting only one or two at a time.




It was said that a man could not truly excel in battle until he could wield a long sword properly with just one hand. A sword became much heavier in that way, thereby making swordplay more of a challenge. Excelling beyond that capability though, Toshiro had gone on to further specialize in dual-blades. By nature, dual-swords were crafted to be thinner and lighter, but that didn't diminish the skill it took to master them, seeing as with one miscalculated move a man could easily cut his own hand.

But Toshiro was a master of his craft, and that meant he was a master of distance and timing, so miscalculations of that sort were unlikely. Unlike in unarmed combat where mistakes might result in an opponent contacting with a fist or kick, when it came to swordplay, the same mistake could result in death. Possessing an extreme awareness of distance and timing is what made a weapons master great. Or it could be stated that that is simply what kept them alive long enough to be considered great.


Sheathed in macabre scabbards, those same twin swords waited eagerly, oh so eagerly, to heed the call of their master. A call for havoc and malice to be released upon those unlucky enough to be caught in his path! A call for cruelty unchained -the plague of all things good.

Heeding that call, coiled muscles sprung into action, releasing both blades at once, in a perilous draw that ended in the disembowelment of the next man brave enough to step foot outside the barracks door. The disgusting truth of the Guardsman's trade -that most preferred to ignore- lay now in the the form of a man resting beside spilled intestines and body fluids, choking on dying screams. Yet, another man rushed out, then another, but both were met with swift, twirling blades that halted any forward progress.


The number of Rebels seemed countless, but the number of them no longer mattered. Eventually, several Rebels came in his direction from behind, so he was forced to reposition himself. But with as many as were coming at him, Toshiro had to keep moving. If he took pause, they would surround him, and if they were allowed to put him on the defensive, he would likely be killed.

Beginning to feel the press of his enemies now, somber, lusterless orbs shifted drastically behind snow flurries just beginning to fall. None would find mercy there, because Toshiro was gradually being taken by that darkness he'd been able to sense all along. Falling into that place that provided the deepest concentration that would keep him alive, Toshiro was no longer seeing nor hearing. Soon there would be no friend nor foe. There was no thought, only instinct.

The Captain's eyes were now vacuous of emotion. What must it have been like, to face the terror of a man so uncompromisingly removed from sympathy? Such an unapologetic gaze seemed far too distant now, to reach out to. And the more enemies he faced, the deeper into that feral darkness he fell.




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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:18 pm


What had she been thinking? Her thought process caught up to what she had done. There was something to be said for thinking before doing. Eolyn watched the man come closer to her and grab her ankles. His hands were coarse and rough. Her attempts to resist being dragged were in vain. Trying to kick him, seemed to be completely pointless. All she was doing was making him hold on to her tighter. When he reached a hand up her skirt, her face paled and she began to tremble uncontrollably.

Eolyn had not exactly resigned herself to defeat at this point. She fought with him as much as she could but as before it had the opposite effect on him. Instead he seemed happier to do what he was trying to do. Forcing himself on her was going to be fun for him. She mentally cringed. Her thoughts were moving a mile a minute trying to come up with a way out of this.

Courisse tried to protect her with her shrill cries. The man was not pleased with the noise the maid was creating. “Wait your turn, little lady. We have plenty of time for you after. “ He chuckled. The other man seemed to have Courisse well in hand. Eolyn knew this was the worst thing she had ever thought to experience. The man continued to find his way past her under garments. That was one thing she was quite thankful for in this moment. They wore an obscene amount of underclothes. The man was fumbling, becoming frustrated.

Deep breaths. She lay completely still, pretending not to resist. Taking some of the fun out of his game as she seemed to resign herself to the inevitable. Eolyn would never be known as a great fighter or strategist but she was not weak either. She knew what she could and could not do given her situation. She could wait for the right moment to attack the man. When he finally seemed to find his way through all her clothes, he began to lower himself onto her. As he did so, her knee came up to meet his sensitive parts. Then moving her leg quickly, she kicked him, hard there.

Yowling in pain the man was kneeling in front of her wincing, his arms reaching down to protect that area, she took her own free arm and brought the heel of her hand, up to his nose in one fluid motion. Within seconds the man was unconscious, possibly dead, with blood coming out of his nose. She had not thought far enough ahead to think of what to do should the other man come to take care of her next. She should have paid more attention to learning self-defense but who knew something like this could or would have happened to her?


Zahir was taken back for a moment. His first thought was how dare the Trader stop him from going to save his beloved family?!! Of course that was just his initial reaction and it was soon covered by a cooler, less anxious demeanor. Instead of chewing the man’s head off, he listened to what he had to say. This whole experience had been trying for him emotionally but he was also learning how to deal with people who were from a different Hold and thought differently than himself. This was not entirely a bad thing. So he kept his sword in its scabbard and let his eyes meet those of Jungi.

Although he frowned at the thought that a scream was justification to wait, he knew barging in was probably not the best approach. Timing had to be just right. Jungi’s thoughts were not wrong and he was right to voice them. The young Holder realized he was panicked about the women. Although he had come to save them, what good would it do if they all died in the process.

He took the death threat seriously but made no answer to the man. Had he ever heard a woman scream like that before and been able to do nothing about it? Who knew what Traders faced out on the roads of Pern? Still he thought he should make it clear that he would do whatever it took to save his sister and his beloved. “I will do as you say. We will move together and I won’t rush into the fray or play the hero or put the other’s lives in danger.” He was going to do things like his father would in this instance. “There’s one thing I will not agree to. If I have the chance to get the women out of here safely, I’m going to take it. Their safety comes first.” They were his kin and he owed allegiance to them first.

Just after Jungi commented on the time, he heard shrieking cries. He took a long breath in and glanced over at Jungi with a concerned expression. He was so anxious. Every few seconds, he was tapping the hilt of his sword with his fingers. The next few minutes felt like candlemarks.

There was a rustle in the trees behind them. Sending Zahir spinning about on his heel, sword drawn. His eyes saw the outline of a man who looked familiar but he wasn’t one hundred percent sure. “Captain?” He said as he waved Jungi off from attacking the man.

“Lord Zahir.” The voice came with a sigh of relief. “We found the others dead. We were about to give up searching for the night when we heard the scream.”

“We don’t have time to talk. I can say we were late in meeting with the men and consequently we weren’t there to help them fight off their attackers. How many are with you?”

“Seven my Lord. Your father sent us as back up…”

“I want you to send three men to the Southern part of the camp. Captain Toshiro is fighting alone down there. I’d send your fastest men. We will find them once we’re all in. “ Zahir glanced at Jungi. To send anyone West or North would take too long from this position. They would be absolutely no help then.

“The rest of you follow me and Jungi. Follow Jungi’s lead as if he were myself should I fall.”

Timing in mind, he looked up at the sky then at Jungi and nodded. They needed to move now. There was not a moment to lose. “Let’s go.”

He walked quietly, followed by the four men from Igen, he found his spirit buoyed slightly. Even if his father had sent the newest of their trained forces, it still meant more in number. He approached the first man from behind, slitting his throat before he could make a sound and sliding the man down to the ground quietly. As they moved farther in, they encountered more of the enemy. It became impossible to drown out the noise of metal clashing on metal.

Though he and Jungi’s styles differed, the result was the same. Men were dying and they weren’t going to allow themselves to be one of them.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:03 am


Rolling to the side of her, the guard curled into a fetal position to protect his loins and one hand went to his nose where it was crushed and bleeding profusely, unable to see through the swelling discomfort there, and the water that naturally filled his eyes due to the pain.

The second man taken off guard by the sudden attack Eolyn managed, hesitated but then reached for her to beat her into submission. Before he could lay one hand on her however, the man in White had appeared and his sword struck through the guard's back. Withdrawing the blade then, the Exile used one foot to kick the man's body aside from the girls.

Kazage seemed completely uncaring, and spoke nothing as even if he'd wanted to, he was followed in shortly, by the Rebel's Second in Command, who interrupted.

The Second was in a rush, and the noise of combat just outside was the obvious reason why. "We cannot wait any longer. Now is the time to end this! Kill them, or I will!" The Rebel reached for the weapon at his hip, in the midst of drawing it when, unexpectedly, Kazage swung his own blade. But it was not at the girls. The Exile sliced a clean, diagonal line through the man's torso, stepping back from him as a spray of blood issued forth, spilling onto the floor before the body had even collapsed there.

Cutting the air then, Kazage cleaned it of gore, returning it to its casing. “These women are too noble for you people. That is why I will give them back to whom they belong.”

Kneeling beside the Rebel second, he deftly removed the key to the chains that bound the women, but made no move to release either one of them. “You will remain here with me, until a victor is determined in the battle outside.” Though he fell as silent after that, it might have been understood by his demeanor that he meant to continue protecting them here until someone else came for them. Of course, all his bets were on Rihan and Zahir winning out.



===================================================================================

Appreciative that the Igen Guard had arrived, relief flooded Jungi. But he didn't want to simply assume they would be victorious in the end just because they'd added another few bodies to their own fighting force. They were still outnumbered.

When all had taken their positions and Zahir gave the OK, Jungi rushed forward with him. As Zahir took the life of one man, Jungi went to challenge another. Though he waited to draw his sword, he waited until a sword swung down at him to react. In perfect time, instead of blocking the swing as may have been expected, Jungi drew his weapon, slicing through the man's hand. Instinctively, the Rebel retracted the attack, but as Jungi's arm swung wide, completing the drawing, the other hand rose to grasp the hilt, bringing it down over his adversary to cut the man's head into two.

He knew better than to linger and turned away from the body before it had a chance to fall. Constantly taking up a position that flanked Zahir, he continued to cover Zahir's back as they moved into the camp, even if Igen's Guard was now present.



====================================================================================

It must have been a terrifying thing to see a sword slice so cleanly through a man’s flesh. The hilt of one of Toshiro's thin, light blades was driven nearly to the hilt where it rested momentarily against the back of his enemy's neck, the forepart of that terrible weapon protruding from his throat. Tearing the blade from the man's body, the motion of it drew a crimson arc across the ground in a spray of blood.

Slipping through the defenses of his next victim, Toshiro's sword drove under the man’s ribs before withdrawing swiftly to redirect his next attack at another Rebel without even waiting to see if the previous man fell. Because, of course he did.

Though the Captain's movements were furious, there was no mistaking that every action was a perfectly timed step in a dance of precision that carried him directly through the midst of his enemies. Somehow, it was beautiful as he engaged with them - if it was possible that any measure of elegance could be achieved by such means?

Sinister swords worked in great concert, while outpacing every attack directed at him. The moon’s divine light flashing off the steel of those two twirling blades, it shone beatifically in contrast to the dark blood that rippled in rivulets down the length of their blood grooves.


Another set of attackers barreled toward him with weapons drawn, trying to coordinate their attacks to catch him in a trap. But The Captain of Telgar's Guard was far too clever to let such clumsy tricks catch him off guard. Using his body's natural centripetal force to throw himself into a short series of riposte strikes, Toshiro was able to evade them.

As the three of them exchanged swings of their blades, blocking and countering back and forth, Toshiro gradually pressed both enemies harder. Maintaining a barrage of attacks that set both adversaries back on their heels, he realized soon that the angle of their strikes were not for connecting a killing blow. That signaled an alert in his mind.

The two he faced now weren't trying to kill him? Then that meant they were containing him. Since their first set of swings, they'd been corralling him in the direction they wanted him to go, even as he danced on their field. The gleam of light in his eyes then was as sharp as his blade, the anger there becoming a shining reminder of his irascible nature.

There were several who'd created a perimeter around him now, and he had less space to maneuver through. Growling in protest, he must have seemed more like a caged animal. And like an animal, that great instinct took hold of him before he realized, and he was striking out in a parry of adequate power to drive their incoming weapons harmlessly aside. But being in this position is what he feared. He was surrounded and multiple blades were aligned in his direction from all sides.


If it were possible, it seemed as though every one of them struck out at him at the same time, yet the Captain of the Guard kept up an impeccable defensive shield of furious blades, only having to trade off periodically for a couple of cuts across the shoulder as he was just barely able to throw his body wide enough to avoid deeper wounds while still parrying the more critical attacks angled at him by others.

Having taken two more of the Rebels to the ground, Toshiro was then forced to angle both of his blades into a downward cross that turned another blade aside. That maneuver however, left him open to the attacks of other adversaries, and their attacks came on endlessly. His arms beginning to grow weary, Toshiro wanted to slump in exhaustion but he was too bent on his goal. Becoming oblivious to that tiredness and the pain of the few cuts he'd received, he was still able to counter any of their tactics admirably.


The enemy number near him had been whittled down to four now, and he'd been able to work his way into a more advantageous position, with the moons now behind him. Using their brilliant light to blind a man, it was as he hesitated in the breath of a second that both of Toshiro's swords came up, crossing in front of him, slicing the man's head clean off. Another body crumpled to the ground, lifeless, while its head rolled.

Spinning in a well mastered-whirl of centrifugal force, the Sword Master lunged, extending an attack that perforated through one Rebel's breast bone. Abandoning his own blade there, he narrowly escaped another man's swing at him. Being the more quick of the two, Toshiro entered into his arc of attack, casting the offending blade aside with the only sword he now held. Grasping the hilt of his own weapon with both hands, he drove it through the man's throat. With a visceral cry, Toshiro pressed the heel of his right hand against the pommel of that blade, calling on the strength of those arms to force the sword to crack through the Rebel's lower jaw. The sharp side of his sword having been turned up, that ghastly weapon eventually sliced completely through the man's skull.

One of the two remaining Rebels left before him, came up behind his comrade just met by death, plunging his sword through the man's torso. Still standing inside the dead man's arc of attack where he'd been most vulnerable, Toshiro hadn't anticipated such an extreme tactic. He'd remained for too long, to deliver that killing blow, and as the enemy sword plunged through his comrade, exiting the other side of the body, the next thing it hit was him.

The Rebel continued to barrel forward, driving after him, pressing the dead man between them, which forced Toshiro back on his heels, nearly toppling him. Too agile for that though, Toshiro caught himself on sure footing. The blade that struck through him was sharp enough that at first, he hadn't felt it, like a hot knife on butter. But it was as he was forced to catch his footing that it burned in his side. The biting blade had nicked his hip, digging its dirty tip into his side, missing his kidney by the smallest margin.

Sucking on his next breath, the Captain immediately tried to wrap his mind around the pain so that he wouldn't let his guard down. He had to continue fighting. But blood saturated the uniform he wore, making him glad it was dark enough in colour to mostly hide the stain so as not to give away how terribly injured he was. It took all the strength he had left in him to keep standing, and he wanted to reach for his abandoned blade, but figured in his current state, it would be best only having to control one weapon at a time.

Breath coming to him now in gasps stopped short by the pain, it was inevitable that such a wound would slow him down.


And it was nothing short of a miracle that at that very moment, two of Igen's Guard can through the trees, charging after the Rebel enemies.

While they fought off the last of them, Toshiro collected his second sword and sheathed them. The Captain went to lean heavily against the side of one of the buildings, but when the Guard came back to him, he assured them he was just out of breath because of how hard he'd had to physically exert himself. Pointing the Guard off then in the direction of Rihan, he yelled at them angrily to go and help protect his Lord while he remained to investigate the buildings on this side of the encampment. That was something he could do alone.

Toshiro also needed time alone to wrap his wounds and try to stem the bleeding so that they could continue to focus on the rescue at hand.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:59 pm



As the second man came over to her she went to protect her head with her free arm, waiting for the blow that never came. When she got the courage to look up, she saw the man from earlier standing above the now dead guard. That’s when the other man, the one who thought he should be in charge, walking in, demanding she and Courisse be killed. Eolyn shot a glance to Courisse, knowing that they could not defend themselves should the men decide to kill them now.

All at once it seemed their luck was changing. The man in white struck the other man down. She watched him warily. Even as he said they were to wait and see how the battle unfolded. Battle? What battle? Confusion must have shown on her face as she puzzled through it. Did he mean Rihan was here? Eolyn was having a hard time processing the noise outside. The thought of Rihan gave her more courage. She just needed to be strong a little longer. No matter how much she wanted to sleep now. The plate that had hit her, left pieces in her skin, she could feel the sharpness when she went to say something to Kazage.

“You’ll look suspicious when they come in and find us chained and you free with a sword…” She mentioned. “And if things do come to a head and we need to get out of here, would it not be easier if you went ahead and freed us. We promise not to leave till you give the go ahead.” Of course she was speaking for Courisse as well but she knew Courisse would do what had to be done to get out of here. First step, being set free.



Zahir became more and more adept as they went through the camp. The sword became part of his arm, moving fluidly with the expertise of many Turns of practice. That wasn’t to say he was unscathed. With every fight, the sword grew more heavy. His left shoulder had been sliced a little. The injuries he was sustaining were all minor. They were moving closer and closer to the middle searching buildings systematically. So far nothing but there was a large building in towards the center of camp, they could see from the vantage point now and Zahir had a feeling that’s where the girls would be, if they were still alive.

As they grew closer the Igen Guards that were sent after Toshiro met up with them. The path they were on was cleared and then they grouped together with a moment of conspiratorial smiles. Zahir noticed almost immediately the absence of Toshiro. “Where is Captain Toshiro?” Zahir asked with a raised eyebrow. “He ordered us ahead and insisted he was alright.” The one spoke up. The other came in close to Zahir and whispered, “My Lord, I believe he’s been injured badly. My father is a healer.” His voice was quite insistent despite the low volume.

He shot Jungi a glance, before saying, “Jungi, I think it might be best if you make sure Toshiro isn’t somehow stuck between the exit and men trying to leave that might have been missed. You two” He looked at the two who had left Toshiro, “will accompany him.” He knew Toshiro would not be able to command Jungi off if he was injured, the way he had the Igen Guard. “We’ll be meeting up with the rest of them shortly anyway. ” As they were growing closer to the center of the camp.

Before long they were on their way to the center again. Zahir’s men were in step, they met up with a couple of small groups of men. He heard fighting on the opposite side of the building. The others would have made pretty good time too. He didn’t have time to think about how heavy his arm felt. With each blow he felt his muscles cringe. Adrenaline was the only thing keeping the young Lord going.

The entrance to the building had the largest group they had faced on their own. Zahir didn’t waste a moment. His sword moved this way and that, protecting a blow, lunging forward. These men fought differently but they were no match for them now. Zahir and his men had fought too many of them not to get their usual patterns of sword play down. They were inside the building before long. The building itself seemed to be filled with men. He took a deep breath. They were going to need some help here. He hoped Rihan was right behind him, as it sounded like he was. If not, he feared they might not make it through this.

Brandishing his sword, he charged forward.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:31 pm


Kazage sat himself in a lone chair nestled in one corner of the room, one knee drawn in toward his chest as that foot rested at the edge of his seat. With all casual attitude, he continued chewing the end of that cinnamon stick, casting an intrigued sideways glance at Eolyn.

Cinnamon taken from his lips much like a (cigarette) then, the amusement he found in her could be seen only in the expression that upraised brows lent him. "No matter what I do, I will seem suspicious to them. It is because I am an Exile."

Kazage tipped his head back to rest against the wall then. As if he could have laughed at that, his tone of voice turned smug and perhaps even a little somber as he averted his glance to peer through the door, waiting patiently for events to play out outside. "As long as I am an Exile, all that others will see in me is a monster. No matter who they are, everyone eventually begins to see things that way."

The man in white seemed to ignore the rest of Eolyn's words, as there was no hint that he was about to get up to release them. The stick of cinnamon bark returned to those lips, he continued to work his tongue idly along that end of it, within his mouth.



Courisse on the other hand, was still in too much shock to want to speak, and figured either way they would never make it out of the room before the Exile had slain them, if that was his purpose.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Arguing the point, Jungi refused to leave to tend to Toshiro just yet. "We can't go anywhere until we've finished securing our side of the camp. That is our first duty. When it is done we can retrace their steps to where they left Toshiro at."

In a tone of voice that expressed feelings that were a bit more caring, it was clear that Jungi did have some grave concern for the Captain; but he also had a strong sense of duty that made him want to fulfill his orders first. Especially in this instance. "Don't worry. If he sent the Guard on here to join with us, he knows he'll be OK until we're able to come back for him." At least, that was the case theoretically. On second thought, Jungi could just as easily see Toshiro sending the Guard off without him even if he thought he was going to die.

It was obvious that Jungi wasn't leaving that conversation open ended for the arguing though. Taking the guard Zahir sent with him, the Trader started off in another direction to lend the force to helping clear out all of the buildings as fast as possible. He wanted them to find the women and be done with the most trying part of their mission. That is what Toshiro and all of them were putting their lives on the line for, and that is what Toshiro was trusting them to do -with or without him. If Jungi showed up without completing his own part in the mission, the Captain would be furious.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The team from the West had met less trouble than those of the South and East. Rihan and Shannon together, were fast approaching the center most buildings of the encampment. Waving over the Northern group they were supposed to meet up with, it seemed on that front, all had gone smoothly as well.

After the riotous shouting of Rebels from within the building Zahir had just entered, it seemed as though the help might be needed. Rihan sent the group from the North to Zahir's aid, taking it upon himself and Shannon to search the only building yet unsearched by them. This had to be the one.

Feeling anxious, Rihan gave a moment's pause, hoping that both women would be alive and left unscathed. He started off in that direction when a small number of Rebels rounded the corner of the building, apparently having escaped the notice of any of the other rescuers.


Somehow, Rihan had yet been forced to draw his sword. Perhaps that is why he preferred to be only in the company of one of his Captains and why he preferred not fighting on the side of someone he did not well know. Rihan's particular style of self-defense was somewhat of a well-protected secret? Well, in any case, one could be left to make as many assumptions on the matter as they liked.

Rihan exerted his power over the Rebels with the sharp, earsplitting crack that issued from the iron fan in his right hand as it struck out, catching the first man in the side of the neck while Rihan's opposite arm moved to block the sword arm that swung at him. The man collapsed, but he was only stunned -for now.

The next Rebel in line risked coming at him with a sword with an overhead swing. While evading the strike in a pivot to the outside of the man's sword arm, Rihan's fan snapped shut. Hooking the butt of that implement over his adversary's wrist just above where he held onto the sword, the Heir Apparent was able to drive the point of that weapon into the ground harmlessly while at the same time, pulling the Rebel out of his stance, bending him forward as he struggled to maintain a hold of his weapon. From there, Rihan jabbed the blunt end of his hand fan upward, into the man's esophagus, collapsing it; having forgotten all about his sword, the Rebel relinquished control of it so that hands could go to his throat, gasping for breath.

Any other who came at him would be met with similar response. When they came furiously at him, he moved simply, and in turn with them, expending far less energy than they.
And looking back on them, once they'd all been sent to the ground in helpless heaps, he'd not killed one of them by his own hand. Rihan left them alive.

Shannon fended off the others, and soon they would be entering the last building left to them. Rihan steeled himself for whatever reality might be waiting for him on the other side of the door as his hand reached for it. Twisting the door handle, Rihan's anxiety mounted. The door creaked open.

Just on the other side of it...was nothing but the glow of candles throughout the main room.

But then, he heard voices.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Forcing himself to move, Toshiro found a safe haven in the emptied barracks, deciding that if any enemies happened to still be about the southern half of the camp, at least he wouldn’t be completely unprotected here. He could remain hidden in the darkness while he bandaged himself and then, if anyone came, he would have the element of surprise.

Looking about, Toshiro was able to find at least one flask of liquor left unfinished by the Rebel’s men. So, taking it in hand, he removed swords from his hip and slid to the floor with back against one wall. Working his belt loose, he was able to shrug his layered uniform from his shoulders. Having it removed, he tore the under layer into strips for bandages, rolling one into his mouth that he could bite into it to silence his pain if he had to cry out.

The wound created by the broad-sword’s tip, bled profusely and he was beginning to feel a little faint. When he poured the alcohol into the wound to sterilize it, tears came to his eyes as he struggled through the pain, hoping that the cloth in his mouth was enough to have muffled the agonized cry. He had to sit there for a moment, forcing his breath to slow, trying to calm himself as more blood poured from his side, mixing with the alcohol. If his stomach wasn’t as iron as it was, he would have possibly vomited or maybe even passed out.

With that thought, Toshiro took a swig from the flask, and then he thought the better of it, and chugged what was left of it. Hopefully, soon he wouldn’t feel the pain as intensely.

Forcing his limbs to move again, every action was a struggle. Growling through the discomfort, he folded a bandage over the wound and then did everything he could to sit up straight and manage to get the rest of the bandage strips wrapped about his middle where they could hold the first of the gauze in place. Hopefully it would be enough to stop the bleeding soon. He wouldn’t be able to lose much more blood without losing consciousness.

Muffling a tortured cry behind the cloth he bit in his mouth again, the Captain had replaced the outer coat of his uniform and then tightened the belt about his middle where it could provide additional pressure to stem the blood flow. Gasping for breath, he took the cloth from his mouth, tossing it aside, and did his best to ignore the clammy, dizzy feeling beginning to come over him. Maybe there was food? Bread. Something? That and alcohol. More of it.

Nearly forgetting to take his weapons with him, he was unable to replace them at his hip because his left side was the one that had been nearly stabbed through. For now, he would have to hold them.

Getting back on his feet seemed easy enough until he got there, at which point he stumbled, his vision growing dark momentarily. Supporting himself against the wall, he waited impatiently for the sensation to go away, and for his head to feel normal again. Normal did not return, but before long, he was able to start moving, making his way further into the barracks where he could carry out his ‘investigation’, making sure there were no more suspicious clues about, that would need to be brought to Rihan’s attention. Mercifully, there had been some food left out next to Rebel cots, and so he took the liberty of eating what he could that would be easy on his stomach.

Finally making his way back to the door, it seemed like slow progress. One foot in front of the other, cautious steps carried him back outside; and that took more effort that he liked to admit. Somehow, he was going to have to round up enough strength to make it across the camp to join up with the others. Whatever happened, he refused to lose consciousness.

The Captain fought against the blackness edging in on his periphery. He'd lost too much blood and was certain that the bandage he'd put in place was already soaked through. That dizziness threatened to take him, and even as he thought he must still be walking, he'd fallen, though somehow his senses were numb enough from the loss of blood he didn't feel the pain.

A few seconds later, as his senses returned to him, his eyes opened and he realized he was face down on the ground. For the first time, he noticed his hands were caked in blood.

His blood?

His blood. And the blood of one he'd slain.

Maybe he'd tripped over the body and not even noticed? As he glanced aside now, he realized he'd stumbled beside the body of the one who's skull he'd ripped in two by working his blade upward from the underside of the man's jaw. It was a grotesque mask now that stared back at him; ugly and utterly terrifying. To look upon the gore now, up close and in detail made him sick. Not only that, but there came with it the stench of death.

The entire south side of the camp must have been turned into a veritable house of horror, so full of carnage left in his wake; body parts severed and sliced in two, hanging in pieces.

Trying to prop himself up off the ground so that he didn't have to look at the corpse beside him, the Captain fought the bile rising in his throat, fingernails digging into the dirt. It took him a moment, but he realized they also dug into brain matter that had spilled from its host. It was no use fighting it now. Toshiro vomited everything in his stomach and then continued to dry heave painfully, every breath bringing back the extreme burn in his side. The pain nearly brought him back to the ground.

No! He couldn't help but think that's what he got for being so heartless. Now he would suffer through the pain unless he could find more liquor.

And where were his swords? He must have released them from his grasp when he'd fallen.

Finding them in short order since they were nearby, he clung to them as if they might be the only thread still giving him life, yet at the same time he clung to them, he wondered why. There was no reason in his mind he shouldn't die here, even if humans were typically creatures of self-preservation. That instinct alone, made him want to continue on.

Unable to consider his actions clearly, he crawled on hands and knees, his body shaking, as that was the only way he could manage. But again, his mind must have thought that he was moving forward. In reality, consciousness finally fled from him.

Only a couple of steps from where he'd previously fallen, he lay on his stomach once more.

Maybe this was it. Maybe this was the end he'd been waiting for. Maybe this was indeed that very instance inviting of 'Goodbyes'. Maybe this blackness was the deep silent dark he knew all along was coming for him.

But wait. What of 'Goodbyes'?

That sparked a singular memory of a particular face in his mind that kept him teetering on the side of the living. Who was it? Toshiro knew her! In that dark place though, her name escaped him. But now...for some reason unknown to him, at least regaining consciousness had meaning!


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:45 pm

Eolyn

His reasoning was not completely unsound. After all, Holders were suspicious of Holdless and those without homes. Even Traders were less acceptable companions for those raised in Holds. Especially those of Holding families. She had never thought Rihan to be someone to judge harshly about what a person was but much more interested in what they could become. Eolyn herself thought the exile’s actions were enough to perhaps give him some form of protection from the violence outside. He had saved her life. She owed him a life debt. Eolyn was quite sure one day she would be able to repay him. Even if he didn’t think he could change his life now, it was possible.

She frowned at his answer. Her words seeming to do no good whatsoever, she returned to being silent. However the young woman would not let things be for long. “I don’t think you are a monster. “ She said kindly. He had saved her life. A monster would not have done that. “Those men were monsters. They were going to do horrendous things to Courisse and I. You intervened and quite possibly saved our lives. That takes courage and kindness. You could have left us to be tortured and killed. A monster would have.” She grew silent for a moment, trying to get some of her thoughts together.

“Being an exile does not mean acting the stereotype. People follow Lords because it is what they have always done but not every Lord behaves the way he should. Not every Lord knows how to inspire people to follow him. If you continue to act in the service of those in less fortunate positions people are going to see you as a good person. One worthy of the title of Lord and perhaps then you will see that even if you do not resemble Rihan in appearance you resemble him in the things you hold dear to you. Loyalty, chivalry, honor…” Her words were interrupted by the sound of fighting just outside the room.

Oh please let this be someone on her side. She didn’t want any harm to come to herself or Courisse and since the man in white was less than forthcoming about his plans for them, all she could do was hope that he would let them go peacefully. No doubt the bloodshed today was enough in number.

Zahir

The fight was difficult enough that he didn’t have time to argue with Jungi. If that was how he felt then fine. He allowed the man to make up his own mind though he didn’t think that leaving Toshiro on his own was a good idea. He didn’t know the Captain well enough to gainsay someone who did. The young heir was too engulfed in making sure he blocked every blow. It would do no good to save the women and get himself killed in the process. His father would then blame Telgar for his death. He was the only son after all. Not that Eolyn was unimportant, simply that there was no one else to take his place whereas they had a younger sister.

Those who had followed him into the barracks were quickly pushing back the enemy further and further into the building. He, like many of the others showed no mercy. He had to keep it in mind these men were prepared to end his life and the life of people he cared about. It was enough to help him get past his aversion to killing people. Later he might have more trouble dealing with it. For now though, his conscious felt pretty clear. As they tried to clear out this building it became more and more exhausting to lift his sword.

The enemy seemed numberless. There were faces everywhere. He felt crowded and at the same time he knew exactly who was on his side and who was not. His exhaustion was on the faces of some of the others. They needed to finish this. He pushed himself to his limits, expecting the others to follow suit. Swing of the sword here, duck there, shield bash… the movements were almost like a dance. A very intricate one where his life depended on his ability to perform it.

When at last the building was cleared, he stood for a moment, taking in some breaths. Looking around him he nodded. There was only one other building left, the one Rihan had entered. Faranth please let them find the women there. “Alright, to Rihan.” He said and motioned everyone out of the building. They didn’t have far to go. Once they were out of the barrack they walked swiftly to the building Rihan had entered.



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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:33 pm

Kazage and Rihan



“I don’t think you are a monster. “ She said kindly. He had saved her life. A monster would not have done that. “Those men were monsters. They were going to do horrendous things to Courisse and I. You intervened and quite possibly saved our lives. That takes courage and kindness. You could have left us to be tortured and killed. A monster would have.”

The Exile looked on Eolyn with that same expression of amusement, as before, “Hmmmm? You are very generous to assume that I am doing any of this for you.”

He sat back, sucking on the cinnamon as she went on, not taking his eyes off of her, wondering...And when the sounds of fighting drew near enough to the door of their building, he would only then glance up, the most faint of all smiles being traced out upon his thin lips.

There were soft footfalls to be heard, and then Rihan appeared in the doorway.


Coming into the doorway, the Heir Apparent measured up his next possible opponent with a sweeping glance. The only other three men having been previously handled, Rihan nudged the body of the Rebel Second in Command After assessing the threat, his eyes turned aside to find his finace. Never had he probably seemed so cold in her presence, but all he wanted was to know that she was OK. When he’d seen that she was living and breathing, warm and full of life before him, Silvery eyes fixed on the man in white again, his anger crystallizing into a stabbing point of light.


Making quick note of the crimson tassel of Rihan’s sword, it was obvious that this was the singular presence that Kazage had been waiting for. Meeting Rihan’s steely, calculating glare evenly, Kazage didn’t flinch, but slowly began to feel a cold fear creep into him -like the creeping of winter’s frost that would eventually freeze and incapacitate. The Exile’s heart fluttered with excitement, exceptionally pleased that his cousin was a man capable of wearing such a deadly expression -and capable of exerting a presence domineering enough to make others fear him if he wanted. A worthy Heir after all, it appeared as though Rihan had a strong enough spine to rule on his own one day.

Kazage stood before him, finally letting his own faint smile blossom -but only just. Opening his mouth to speak however, Rihan had waited, and now he cut him off.

“How is it that you here, before me now, when you do not exist? You, your father, your fathers father.. none of you ever existed.” Having taken notice of the red tassel adorning the end of Kazage’s own sword, Rihan began by assuming immediate control of their first encounter, denying the Exile any power by reducing his entire existence to nothing.

Kazage’s deep baritone rose bemusedly in reply, “Ah, but you’ve heard of us, so apparently we do exist somewhere. Even if it is only in the darkest, most secretive depths of Telgar's memory.” Secret indeed, for his story was something that generations had worked hard to erase from history.

But Rihan’s level gaze was unmoved, his anger undeterred in the least, as he went straight to the point. “Was all of this your doing?”

“The man lying dead at your feet is the Second in Command of the Rebeks you fought your way through to get here. The Rebel’s First in Command is the one who has been plotting against you and he is not in this camp, if that is your next question. They have decentralized their members so that they would be harder to pin down if found out.” Starting off with a clean record seemed the best way to go, so Kazage had opened up immediately about the Rebels, having no real reason to keep quiet. Though, it might have helped if he’d elaborated on why they were rebelling or who they really were. Kazage saw no purpose in that however. The fact that they were acting against Telgar at all was enough reason for him to hate them. All the finer details didn’t matter.

“And you killed them?” Rihan nodded curtly floorward, indicating the Rebel’s Second in Command.

“Yes.” Pausing, it was brief enough to read the next question in the Heir Apparent’s eyes. “It was by chance that I found the group and discovered their purpose, which was to act against you. So I made it that they should need me. After that, they incorporated me into all of their plans. That is how I ended up here.”

Rihan met the Exile’s gaze quizzically then, “Explain yourself.”

“At present, I may look like an animal to your eyes, but we share the same blood; Telgar is also my House. There’s no way I would let them try to bring it down. When I found out that they were focusing their aggression on Telgar, it was only natural that I wanted to intervene in their affairs. I told them stories that they believed and used the few connections I had to help supply them with enough means to begin implementing their plans. Once they realized they needed me to fulfill their plans, it was easy gaining access to the secrets of their circle of leadership.

“Don’t misunderstand. I never worked for them. Everything I have done has been to misguide them in order take control of them and ensure that they could never weaken Telgar’s grasp on power.” Taking a breath to indicate toward the dead Second in Command, Kazage continued, “As for why I killed him, it is because I have arranged that in the event of his death, only I can take his place. Which means I’ve moved one step closer to gaining full control over those who would bring Telgar to ruin. After I become their Second in Command, the rest will be easily accomplished and I will be able to do with them as I wish.”

Silvery orbs narrowed coldly upon the Exile showed Rihan’s understanding. As if that were enough of an answer to satisfy him, he decided the better of drawing the rest of their conversation out in such a place as this, returning his focus to the Ladies Courisse and Eolyn. “Release the women.”

The key was tossed to him then, but Rihan deftly tossed it to the Guardsman behind him, who went to unlock their bindings. Still wary of the Exile, Rihan’s stance was unmoving as he waited, still pinning a dangerous look upon the man.



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jungi and Toshiro



Once Jungi had cleared the smaller of the two buildings in their vicinity with the Igen Guard Zahir ordered with him, he circled back around to meet up with Zahir again.

By that time, the Heir of Igen was finishing clearing out the barracks.

"All cleared." He directed his words at Zahir as they met up again. Walking with him as Zahir made his way to the building Rihan had entered into, Jungi instructed the remainder of the Guardsmen present. Whether they wanted to obey or not, since they were Igen's men, was up to them. "I'll take the two with me who know where Captain Toshiro is at."

Being more specific then, he pointed out small groups of them as he gave direction, "You two, man the door. You three, create a broader perimeter around the rest of the building. Keep it secure. We don't know if there are any more of them hiding out somewhere." Familiar with the Guard's typical directives, he took the initiative since none of his ranking officers were present and he wanted to make sure there were lookouts.

Nodding to Zahir, he left the man to join Rihan while he jogged off with the guardsmen of Igen.


Only a couple of minutes later, they had located the Captain, and Jungi rushed to him, eyes wide and frantic with concern. Maybe he'd been wrong to wait to come for him! The stench of death surrounding them hung in the air disgustingly. The trader focused on his Captain even more intently so that he wouldn't have to look at the dead.

"Shiro! Shiro!" Calling frantically to him, Jungi went to his knees beside his friend, rolling Toshiro over so that he was on his back. Jungi lifted the Captain's torso, drawing the man into his chest where he could support him in his arms. Checking to see if there was still breath in him, he couldn't tell if the Captain was still breathing, so he felt for a pulse instead. "Toshiro!"

There was so much blood all over him, Jungi had a hard time making out where exactly he was injured, but after a moment, simply resorted to removing the top part of Toshiro's uniform altogether so that he could better assess his friend's condition. "Hurry. Help me remove his clothes." His words were pleading with the other Guardsmen to assist him in the process. And when it was done, and Toshiro had been stripped to his pants alone, the makeshift bandaging was completely soaked through.

Fearfully, Jungi removed the bandage to see just how deeply wounded the Captain was. Afraid for his friend's life, Jungi shouted at them, "Go! Tell the others to prepare a place for him in one of the buildings. We have to move him and treat his wounds as fast as we can! Find water and clean towels if you can, then come back and help me move him."


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:00 pm

Eolyn was not convinced but if he wanted to deny things that was fine. She sat against the wall, legs brought up to her chest. She was beginning to feel so cold. To be home in her warm bed would be very nice right now. She reached her hand out for Courisse, wanting to reassure her. They were going to be saved. Even as she thought it, the soft footfalls were heard in the passageway. Looking up from her maid’s face she saw Rihan enter. He was so serious right now that she didn’t say anything. She could tell that he had every intention of dealing with Kazage first.

His gaze was enough to reassure her that he was mostly unharmed. And she had to wonder if everyone else was? Eolyn was watching and listening to the two men exchange words. As the conversation continued she knew that Rihan did not want to kill the other man but wanted to know what his plan was. As long as he left her and Courisse alone, she was alright with whatever Rihan decided.

When they were finally released by the Guard, Eolyn let go off Courisse and rubbed her own wrist. Followed by standing up at which point, she swayed. Her head throbbed. Clsing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she steadied herself. Walking slowly, she moved to Rihan’s side and reached for his hand. “Can we leave now?” Her voice sounded distant to her even now. She wobbled again, but his hand kept her from falling.

After the girls were freed, Zahir entered followed by the rest of the guards minus Jungi and the ones he brought with him to find Toshiro. When he first walked in he looked at the man in white but saw that Rihan was taking care of him. He saw Eolyn next to Rihan however he made no notice of her unsteadiness as his eyes moved to find Courisse. He breathed in a sigh of relief and walked over to the maid. He didn’t care that anyone saw him.

He held out his hand for the young lady, “Courisse.” He breathed her name as if breathless. He was fighting the urge to scoop her up in his arms. “I heard your screams. Are you alright?” His voice was low enough that only she could hear him. His eyes conveyed the worry that he had felt and his relief at seeing her alive. Holding her hand he listened to her answer taking a moment to think only of her. Duty however was more important now that he knew she wasn’t badly injured.

Zahir raised his voice to a more audible level and addressed Rihan from near the doorway. “Rihan, we need to go. I fear Captain Toshiro has been badly wounded. We need to find Jungi and the Captain to be sure but my source was fairly certain the Captain was in a bad way.” Of course the Captain could be fine but his man had reassured him there was something wrong with the Captain when he sent them ahead.

The Igen heir was inclined to believe him. Toshiro would not pass up a chance to spill blood and the South had been heavily guarded. As he had finished speaking one of his men charged in, having been running at full speed, “Captain Toshiro has lost a lot of blood we need to bandage him. We need water and towels.”

Zahir looked to his own Captain, “Search the barracks, there should be some water there and linens.”

Eolyn spoke up, her voice weary but determined, “I can help him. Get me to this barracks.” Courisse and Zahir knew how extensive her healing knowledge was. Perhaps in this instance it would save someone’s life.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:54 pm

It was not enough that Eolyn reached to take his hand. His left arm wrapped fully about her shoulders, supporting her against him while his right hand still clasped his iron fan within its grasp in case he should need to defend her unsuspectingly.

Rihan was still too focused on his Exile cousin to spend much thought on Zahir and Courisse. Feeling Eolyn against him now, he desperately wanted to give her all of his attention and love right then, but such a thing was impossible. For that reason, he vowed that when Eolyn was finally able to come to him to be married and live with him in Telgar, he would never let her be alone. He would always hold her and cherish her.


Understanding Zahir's concern for the Captain, Rihan had to give pause to wonder, where had Toshiro been at all this time? Typically his trust in the man did not allow for much concern, but the rest of the camp had been cleared and Toshiro had yet to join with them. Perhaps this time he should have given Toshiro more thought?

A bit startled when the guardsmen from Igen rushed into the room, his eyes were full of worry for Toshiro when they only confirmed his fears. With Zahir jumping to give orders to his Guard, Rihan directed Shannon, Jante and Natan. "The three of you will be on permanent escort duty for our hostage. He is not to be bound, but do not leave his side. For now he is to come with us."

Shooting that hard, charcoal stare back at Kazage, Rihan guessed that if Kazage was as proud of his blood as he claimed, he was the kind of man to keep his word, so he did not fear Kazage deceiving them or trying to run. For now, he would have to trust in the bond of blood they shared. Which...didn't seem to offer much comfort to him; at least for now.


Before they left from the building to help Toshiro, Rihan pulled the long blue sash once owned by Eolyn, which he'd found in her bedroom, from under his belt. Tucking the hand fan under his belt instead, he used both hands to tied the thin sash about Eolyn's eyes, blindfolding her. Then, repeating the tender, caring lines to her he once before said, he reassured her, "If your are scared, just close your eyes, and I will be there, protecting you."

Scooping Eolyn up in his arms then, he would carry her weary body. In all honesty, he wasn't really willing to give her a choice about it. "Please, keep your eyes closed. I will carry you where we go." He did not say it aloud, but he had a feeling that where they were headed to, there would be far more disturbing sights for her than Eolyn would be able to handle, especially after already suffering through such a terrible ordeal.




Grateful when the others had arrived, Jungi received their help in moving Toshiro into the barracks on the South side of the encampment. The Igen Guard was busy clearing a bed space for him and bringing linens from other beds as they were able.

The Trader was no healer and became an additional pair of hands where he was needed, but because of that, was glad when Eolyn was able to take charge of the Captain's situation. Even so though, Jungi felt as though everyone must have been holding their breath, waiting to find out if he would survive.


Having brought Eolyn into the barracks, Rihan set her back on her feet, removing the blindfold.



After a few minutes Jungi was whispering, "We'll have to stabilize his condition before we can return to the Hold. We can't move him like this." Jungi was glancing up at Rihan and Rihan was in turn glancing to Kazage.

Rihan voiced to the man in white, "We'll be even more in your debt if you can tell us where the Rebels kept any medicinal supplies that could help him." And after a brief pause in his speech, Rihan went on with some whit of reluctance, "And you will have gained an ounce more of my trust."

The man in white regarded Rihan in his own skeptical way, but in the end, did not doubt the truth in Rihan's words. "Mmmm? Well, it is certainly better to do you a favour than to be indebted to you."

The Exile led two of their Guardsmen to where other supplies were at that could be needed including food for the rest of them. Returning with the Guardsmen who carried most of the goods, Kazage leaned into a chair in a corner of the room away from the others, chewing on the end of that cinnamon stick again. His eyes lifted periodically to view their progress with Captain Toshiro.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:42 pm

((I’m going to skip Zahir for this post… he’s lurking in the background))

Eolyn bit her lip as he tied the sash around her head to blindfold her. The pain in her face burned where the scarf touched it. Once it was in place though, the pain was less noticeable. Having Rihan there made everything seem better anyway. His words were comforting much more so than the blindfold was. Eolyn let herself be carried, in no way prepared to resist her fiancé even if she would have done so.

Wrapping her arms around his neck, she laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes as he had requested of her. “I’m sorry your Captain is injured. I will do everything I can to save him.” She spoke softly, knowing that Rihan had so much faith in the man who might be dying.

When he set her down and took the blindfold off, Eolyn walked over to where Jungi placed Toshiro on the bed. Eolyn scrubbed her hands and lower arms in the redwort. While looking the man before her over. “We need to remove his shirt.” Eolyn had two of the Igen Guards take his shirt off because she could not lift him. The men were gentle. “Bring me the hot water.” She spoke in a commanding tone but it was no less kind for it.

Eolyn spent the better part of a candlemark working on cleaning the wound and stopping the bleeding. They had no needles here so she could not sew the wound shut. She used redwort to disinfect it, then she tied his shirt around his body to hold a makeshift bandage in place. Shaking her head she frowned. She felt so tired herself. So, very tired. The pain in her face was not subsiding. So treated her face as well, cleaning it with clean water and cloths and rubbing redwort in. When she was done she felt as though she were going to pass out.

Standing she looked for Rihan. When she found him she spoke in a whisper, “He lost so much blood. The best thing you can do is keep giving him water on your way home. Change the bandage daily till you get there. He might yet survive.” Maybe they should rest there tonight and move on in the morning. “I need to rest before we leave. I don’t think I could even sit up on a runner.” She yawned, covering her mouth with her hand.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Just as tired as the rest of them, both physically and emotionally, Rihan spoke few words the rest of the night. Having set up a rotation for a night watch, there were always four Guardsmen outside at a time. Disallowing that either woman should step foot outside of the building, Rihan remained close to Eolyn, leaning against the wall to rest, drifting in and out of sleep. He was uncomfortable that way, but his emotions were in too much turmoil for the time to allow him any peace anyway. If Toshiro were to die, it would be his fault. He could blame the Rebels or blame the man in white, but that did not change that it was his order Toshiro had been following.


Tired eyes opened to the sound of Eolyn's voice. It was some small comfort that she seemed hopeful that Toshiro would make it.

“He lost so much blood. The best thing you can do is keep giving him water on your way home. Change the bandage daily till you get there. He might yet survive.”, “I need to rest before we leave. I don’t think I could even sit up on a runner.”

That's right. Eolyn was still awake, tending to the Captain and to her own cuts and scrapes. She too, looked absolutely exhausted, and the red marks on one side of her face now looked painfully irritated as she’d been trying to clean them. “I’m glad there’s still a chance he will make it.”

After pausing to look on Eolyn with more concern, Rihan thought aloud, “I wish that we could spare the time to rest here for a couple of days to replenish our energy for the journey home.” Doubtful that they’d be able to wait given Toshiro’s situation, it was far more important getting the Captain to the Master Healer to be cared for.


Having overheard their whispers, Jungi moved from Toshiro’s side to sit closer to them, glancing back toward the Captain through the dim light that two candles created. “I’m worried for him. We don’t have time to wait, getting him back to the Hold.”

Jungi’s hands clasped together as he leaned forward over his knees, resting his elbows there. The Trader’s own voice came in hushed tones then, as if what he spoke was something he didn’t want for someone overhear -namely the Captain himself, even if he was unconscious still. “The way that he lives, sometimes I wonder if, to him, living is much more frightening than dying.”

A short sigh made his shoulders slump a bit more, making his concern obvious through his posture. Jungi looked to Rihan and then up at Eolyn where she stood, “You may not know Toshiro, Lady Eolyn, but I’m sure you’d agree that to us...living is the most important thing. But to someone Captain Toshiro,...” he took pause in his words to look back over at the unconscious man. “living,... is simply not dying. Toshiro has nothing he loves that keeps him motivated to live. No family. No real home to go to. That is what makes me afraid that he won’t last.“



Courisse in the meantime had been preparing beds for them toward the very back of the barracks, cleaning up the space out of habit, though...in all honesty, she wondered why she had been making it look so tidy, because it was generally assumed by everyone there that they’d be leaving sometime the next day.

After a while, the Maid looked up to see her Lady and the Lord Rihan and one of his men speaking. Instinctively on that thought, she looked about for Zahir, wanting to go to him, but she knew that her Lady came first. Maybe she and Zahir would have a chance to be together later on. She could hope. For now, she walked over to where Eolyn was at and curtsied, finding reason enough in Rihan’s presence to use the typically neglected pleasantries that she and Eolyn had a habit of not using around eachother. “Lady Eolyn, could I see you to bed? You have worked very hard and done everything you can for the Captain. Shouldn’t you rest now?”


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:15 pm

EOLYN

The young Lady felt completely helpless to ease the pain in her fiance’s eyes. All she could do was try to reassure him. “I wish I could give you more than words for comfort. I am not equipped here to do what needs to be done. If I had the resources of a true infirmary, we would not need to worry.” She sighed, wishing her mother would have allowed her to do more training with the less fortunate people of Igen. Her parents had both agreed to put their feet down on the issue long ago.

At his words, Eolyn nodded, it would be nice to spend that time with him but the Captain did not have that kind of time. “The sooner the Captain is on his way to a functional infirmary the better.” It was about then that Jungi spoke to them. She listened to him intently. There were things that were beyond what a healer could do. Having no will to survive was something that she could not fix and perhaps that was what the Trader was getting at.

“The Captain seems the sort to hide emotions. How would any one of us know if he did have feelings for another person? I think he has someone to live for, or he would be gone already.” Her voice was a bit dreamy, as if she were imagining what the man’s life might be like. Smiling at both of the men, “Love is a powerful thing. Even love for one’s friends.” Eolyn glanced back at Courisse, her best friend. They each would have done anything to save the other, which was the meaning of love to her, to live and die for someone else.

She looked to Rihan before saying the next bit, “Get some rest before you rush off. You’ve all fought so bravely. It will do Toshiro no good if you don’t have the stamina to move quickly.” Her concern was not just for Rihan, they all needed rest. Moving Toshiro was going to be hard on him as well. Coursisse’s voice brought her to turn her head to her cousin.
“Indeed, I must sleep.” She said, nodding to the maid. “Thank you Courisse.” Eolyn leaned down to whisper in Rihan’s ear, “Goodnight my love.” She wanted to console him in his worry for the Captain but she had already done, all she could do. Perhaps Jungi would be better for him to talk to since they both knew the Captain so well.

She walked off to where Courisse had the beds prepared. Eolyn wanted to flop into it without thought to the world but first she hugged Courisse to her, “I’m so glad you’re here with me and I’m sorry as well that you were put through it all too.” She whispered then pulled away. “Let me know if you need time with Zahir on the way home.” She was prepared to cover for her best friend at any time she needed it.

ZAHIR

Zahir had been busy on clean up detail. They were piling up bodies to burn in the morning and piling them up where neither of the girls would be able to see them. He was so exhausted that he didn’t have time to talk with anyone. He got back and took on the second watch. When he was relieved, he slept on the ground near where the girls were sleeping soundly. He was going to protect them from whomever might bother them. Being Eolyn’s brother he was the only one permitted to be that close to the girl’s beds. Not that anyone had the energy to bother anyone who was sleeping, even the girls. His sleep was deep and dark. He woke in the morning feeling like he had slept with sand piled on top of his body.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:51 am

Even when the morning sunlight brought the first warm rays of a new, happier day, it did little to disperse the heavy, weary mood of the rescuers. Everyone was still exhausted and they needed to make good time in getting back to Telgar River Hold.

Jungi and a handful of Guardsmen had gone to collect all the runners and prepare them for travel while others prepared food for breakfast. This all gave Rihan a little time to speak with Kazage before they would need to part ways. In the end, there was still much to be said, and little had been decided on Rihan's part, regarding the Exile, but he was going to be even more indebted to the man in the future, if things worked out the way Kazage suggested. And Telgar could not allow such a great debt to go unpaid -it would be a disgrace to them. Regardless, he had no choice in their current situation but to trust Kazage and to let him go, while the rest of them returned to Telgar River Hold.





========================================================================================


As their journey home started, Toshiro had regained consciousness, able to eat and drink and for a little while, ride a Runner on his own. Having consumed as much alcohol as he could though, to help handle the pain, Toshiro wasn't in much of a state to ride either way. But if he was without it, the agonizing pain in his side made him even more miserable.

It was a mercy that Eolyn's treatment of him had staved off any major infection for the time being. As they neared Southern Telgar, dragonriders waiting to ferry them the rest of the way home, Toshiro began looking pale again, his body feverish and chilled as infection began to return. His skin was clammy and the last time they went to change his bandages, the dire wound in his side bled profusely again. Before they returned, he'd slipped into a semi-conscious state, only barely able to gather what was going on around him while his body refused to move to his own accord.


Dragonriders lifted them back to Telgar River Hold in the late afternoon at which point, although Rihan wanted to be by the Captain's side to make sure he received proper treatment, he knew that he would only be a distraction and get in their way. There was nothing more he could do for Toshiro right now. It was better if he went to rest himself. So, Rihan dismissed the rest of them for the time, calling men from the infirmary to take Toshiro there. When it had been done, Rihan and Jungi both went to their respective quarters, Rihan barely making it to his own wing of the Hold before he let himself collapse in fatigue. Of course, he knew how weak he was feeling and had requested two of his servants be there to assist him through the rest of the evening.


Captain Toshiro was hurried into the infirmary and lain on a bed, the assistants shouting for the Master Healer to come quickly. Toshiro was still terribly clammy and his body burning with a fever. Immediately, the assistants began removing the terribly blood-stained uniform that had been keeping him warm, and cut through the bandages wrapped around him. Unfortunately, as the days had drawn on, they'd changed his bandages so frequently, they began running out of them, so the blood ran from his wound more freely once again. The Captain teetered still on that familiar edge of unconsciousness.


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:46 pm

Ariadne arrived to the ruckus of the infirmary, unsure of what was going on. While walking in to work, someone had mentioned that Lord Rihan had returned but no one said anything about there being an injury. When she walked into the turmoil of the infirmary her heart sank. She knew before she looked who would be on the table. Before she could adjust her mind to work mode, the new young healer Lyria, took her by the elbow. They had started to become friends and though there was some educational differences between both women, they tended to work well together. “Ariadne, help me.” She said so that only the other woman could hear her. Lyria looked the sweet and innocent girl but she knew how to run an infirmary.

While everyone else was losing their heads looking for the Master Healer, she had Ariadne help her get what tools might be necessary in helping Captain Toshiro. Once they had everything they were going to need, Ariadne helped Lyria with the Captain’s shirt, which was thrown on the ground as it would need to go to the laundry later. The young healer smiled at Ari,“He is quite handsome don’t you think? Guards always keep themselves in such nice shape. Lets hope he makes it.”

Lryia scrubbed her arms and hands with the redwort and went to work cleaning, the large wound in his side. All the while Ariadne was assisting. While she could be freaking out over this like everyone else, this was so much more constructive and she felt like she had some semblance of control over the situation by helping Lyria.

“Thread the needle for me Ariadne.” Lyria spoke kindly. As she had started to go to work, everyone else started to calm down. The Captain was being dealt with. Although there were people who loudly objected to the young woman doing anything to the Captain, she had decided waiting was not an option that the man could afford and ignored them. Lyria was one to follow her own mind and tended to make her decisions quickly. “Thank you Ari.” She said, taking the needle to the cleaned wound, which had been mostly stopped from bleeding. While Lyria began her stitch-work, Ari held a cold wet cloth to his forehead. He needed to cool down.

“Ari, double check the stitching.”Lyria would have had another healer do it but they seemed to be scarce for whatever reason. No doubt they would all come rushing in when this was finished. “They look great to me.” Ariadne answered after looking them over. Lyria smiled again, “Now we must address this fever. Try to get him to drink some water. I’ll have someone else go to the kitchens with a special request for broth. I doubt he’ll be eating anything too solid until he’s more conscious.”

Over her voice, the sound of the Master Healer entering was heard. “Lyria when you are done with that, we need to have a talk.” The young healer, gave Ariadne a worried look. Ari didn’t say anything but put a hand on her shoulder reassuringly. The young healer had time to send a drudge off for what she needed before heading into the Master Healer’s office.

Meanwhile, Ariadne had brought a stool over so she could sit and try to keep the Captain cool. She was keeping herself so well composed that it would be hard to mistake her caring for him for the same care she would give to anyone who came into the infirmary. Perhaps she would be just as kind and just as helpful if it were someone else but it wasn’t and she didn’t know that she could do anything else and be able to deal with what was happening. He might live but he might die as well. There was no one around now that he had been treated so she spoke softly, “I thought I told you not to take unnecessary risks.”


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PostSubject: Re: Thrill of the hunt.   Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:19 pm



The discomfort of the needle pricking through his skin was barely noticeable outside the burning sensation still radiating through his side because of the deep stab wound. Toshiro had felt so miserable over the past few days since the fighting took place, all he wanted to do was continue drinking and try to sleep. Yet, every time he had fallen into a sleep deep enough to bring him any sort of peace, it had been disturbed by nightmares that made him want to wake. In effect, he hadn't slept much in several days unless he blacked out.

Having numbweed would be nice, and fellis. Now that he was at a proper infirmary, these things would be a great blessing. But since the stitches had to be applied so quickly to help stem the bleeding, Toshiro didn't mind waiting.

The voices in the infirmary were a nuisance to him at first, being so many and so frantic. His senses only beginning to return to him, all he could do was listen. As the women treated him and people eventually filtered out of the room, leaving him alone with Ariadne, he was able to focus on her voice. This voice? He recognized it. This voice belonged to the woman he saw in his mind that kept him from wanting to let his life fade away.

But why? Toshiro's body was so weary. The only emotions that ever seemed permanent to him were anger and sadness; these were draining. So why couldn't he just die, when in death he would find the peace he had always wanted?

That quiet darkness of restful eternity beckoned him. It seemed so inviting. And he could go to it if he desired. He could be forever embraced by it if only the living would let him.

Becoming angry helped awaken his mind to what had been going on around him. Why had they had to bring him here? Shard it! Why did they have to go trying to keep him alive? What business of theirs was it if he was injured? Why couldn't they have just left him to bleed to death or freeze on the mountain side?

Why were these pesky healers trying to stitch him up when he was so close to being able to rest forever! He wanted desperately to let go.

Ariadne's touch as she cooled his fever a bit with the damp towel brought his attention away from those angry thoughts. Somehow, he felt more at ease once his focus turned to her. He kept listening for her voice to come again. What had she said before?

“I thought I told you not to take unnecessary risks.” Yes, that was what she had said. He couldn't remember why she would have told him this. Was she speaking to him? It was so quiet in the room now, she must have been; he didn't sense anyone else around.

Unnecessary risks? His first instinct was to want to argue, but right away he couldn't recall just what had happened to him while he'd been away from this place. Jogging his memory back, it didn't take long to recall events over the last week. Everything came back clearly to his mind and in his semi-conscious state, Toshiro was unable to control his body's reaction as well as he would have liked. His anger was sobered, but it had been replaced by other ugly things, and his body trembled involuntarily. He couldn't stop the shaking.

It was at that time his eyes slowly opened, and the Captain's hand came up, floundering to find Ariadne's hand where she was placing a fresh, cold towel on his head. It was not a strong hold, but he wanted to pull her hand to rest on his cheek, and then he tried to pull her hand to rest on his bare chest. He would have pulled her entire body against him if he could, but he hadn't the strength for it at present. As he did these things, his body shaking as if from cold, Toshiro's breath was cut into short, trying gasps that made it seem as though he was fighting something else, trying to hold it back. Maybe he was trying to stop his body from trembling?

Even as he struggled with his memories and his body's reaction to them, he let go of Ari's hand and tried to roll himself onto his side to sit up. Of course that progress wasn't going so well.




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