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Well it's an April miracle: post is up!
Present-Day Reflections

The stench of burning wolf-flesh seeped into the air, a foul concoction as the vine-like growths that held the beast's rabid form together emitted a rancid vapor. From the corner of his eye, Brennen could see Kean's face scrunching in disgust at the smell, but Brennen was used to it. It was never a pleasant odor, but it was familiar, and that was enough. Smoke and fire had clung to Brennen for as long as he could remember, burning into the very fibers of his clothes; the pores of his skin; the roots of his hair. Part of him now, his birthright.

The Boy-Priest had seen Brennen reject his prayer to the night, reciting what must have been a scripture or sermon of sorts. The wise-men-and-women of the Bog used such excerpts. Years of study and practice had changed them, made the sermons a part of them. Enough that their way of speaking was peppered with verses, waxed philosophical. Brennen never underwent the training that the wise men did, but he saw enough of their rituals and rites to have a firm grasp on the Pyromancers' religion and beliefs.

"I do not recognize your goddess." Brennen said curtly, still rather on-edge as the twisted cries of the Scorned cut through the night. He was prepared to engage in a sort-of verbal debate with the Boy-Priest in the heat of battle but was interrupted by the shifting and churning of earth beneath him - the Tall Fae's work, once again.

Though displaced, in the distance Brennen could see the Templar, moonglow and firelight reflecting off his armor fallen upon his back, struggling himself against one of the wolves, lit aflame by his blade's enchantment. In an instant, it was finished, the blade plunged through the monster's mouth, ending its miserable half-life. Brennen winced suddenly as his pendant burned in his pocket, as if recognizing the magic present in the Templar's blade, longing to be put to use. There was power locked within it, Brennen could sense as much the moment he picked it up. But power like that never came without cost. There would be time to use it, to feel its power course through him. But not now.

Beset by another wolf, the Templar's life was only saved by quick intervention of the Fae's spell, vines snaring the wolf to the ground to be torn apart, soon beheaded by the Templar's striking blow. As he fell to his knees, Brennen sprinted after him, the adrenaline rush that guided his actions giving him swift feet and graceful movement.

Approaching the Templar, Brennen outstretched an open hand for him to grab onto. "On your feet. Road's not done yet." He said simply, nodding down slightly to his beckoning grip.
I'll try and get a post up ASAP, but next week is Finals Week where I'm at, so if my availability wavers for a bit, that's why. However, my last two finals are on Wednesday, so even if I'm waylaid with that, at the absolute worst it'll be three days before I can write something up. I'll keep you all posted, though! No pun intended there
@Lord Zee I've no issue with that, but I can't promise I won't get impatient sometimes XD
Now, I know I announce this with all of my posts, but I have the explanation that I write most of my posts late at night (and this one at almost 2 in the morning) so, again, if I missed anyone or got any sequence out of order that I need to correct, please let me know! I keep an alternate IC tab open when I'm writing posts so I can go down the line and add onto my own in a sequential order, but as with all things, I am susceptible to human error! Otherwise, my post is there!!
Present-Day Reflections

Brennen waited but a moment longer to ensure Kean sprang into action. The younger man looked as tired by the road as any of them had, but his quickness on the uptake impressed Brennen. The horses were disciplined, dauntless, but the Scorned seemed to wield a power more terrible than fang or poison: fear. Terror strong enough to send some men quivering to their knees. Perhaps it was the utter unholiness of their appearance; their untamed, feral savageness as the Blight, its vines, tore at them.

As the attack began, almost immediately, the tall Fae and pallid boy-priest performed some sort-of dark spell or ritual. Shadows gathered about the priest, dispersing like forks to seize the other adventurers. Brennen cursed under his breath, stepping away as if to avoid the tendrils of darkness seeping towards him. This darkness, this 'magic' as it were; no good words were spoken of it in the Bog, though its practice remained infamous. Divination by fire was common among the tribes' wise-men-and-women, reading flame to discern divine messages, predict the future. But even amongst them, superstitious fanatics began associating pyromancy with the shadows their fires cast on the ground, and pursued darker arts; communing with spirits, summoning shadows, manipulating another's Inner Flame to return them from death. Those pagans' reign of terror was short-lived, snuffed out quickly by the other tribesmen, but their ill-fame-and-fortune left a black stain on the tribes' history, like a weeping wound refusing to heal.

Suddenly, the light surrounding them vanished entirely, centered around a tiny bead that was floating in the tall Fae's palm. Brennen's earlier cautiousness became anger as a wave of cold washed over him. But before he could try and rebuke the currently-hovering Fae, the bead in her hand turned to a ray that disintegrated the Scorned monstrosity, along with a substantial part of the treeline.

As if pleased with the result, the Fae asserted her proclamation as 'Greatest Sorceress of the Brightwood Grove', yet fell to the ground with a 'thud' before her sentence could be finished.

As light returned, Brennen quickly resumed corralling the other horses with the ones he and Kean had already gathered, but not before saying to the Fae, with accusatory venom, "That is no sorcery." His voice did not raise, or possess any immediately notable anger, but it nevertheless seemed to speak volumes of his own displeasure, the suspicion surrounding the kind-of magic displayed before him.

The break in battle was short-lived, wrought with fear, as five more wolves burst through the dark woods, three of them now driven hairless by the plague that contorted their bodies and decayed their minds. The Templar found himself waylaid by one of the wolves, while one of the hairless mongrels licked at non-existent lips dripping froth and venomous drool, sizing the Pyromancer up-and-down.

Saying nothing, Brennen's mouth twisted to a scowl of rage, a low growl from deep in his throat seeming to answer the wolf in kind. Flexing his fingers in anticipation, a ball of fire materialized in his left hand, glowing and crackling brightly as it fed on his anger as he faced the monstrosity. With a sudden snarl, the wolf lunged at Brennen in a single bound, who in turn hurled the ball of fire from his hand, letting it collide mid-air with the wolf; who's guttural screech devolved into yelps and whimpers of pain as the flames gorged themselves on flesh and vegetation, leaving the beast to keep screaming that horrifyingly human-like scream.

Brennen drew the hand-axe at his side with his right hand and, without a moment's hesitation, swung the blade down on the Scorned's skull with a sickening 'crunch', and the screaming stopped. In a moment of defiance, of challenge, maybe, Brennen used his foot to kick the still-burning corpse on its back; the shadows of night blending with the sickly-black smoke, obscuring most of his hooded face from view. Yet his reply burned in the firelight.
Hey everyone! Just started a new job, so I've been pretty busy this weekend, but I'll try and have a post up by tonight, barring anything happening!
Present-Day Reflections

Brennen had never ridden a horse before. The Bog was treacherous, best trekked on foot. Winding, discombobulating paths and unstable ground would turn even the hardiest horses into a feast for the Bog's more bestial inhabitants. The look in his eyes screamed uncertainty as he slowly - maybe even warily approached one that stuck out to him, a thoroughbred blood-bay, sturdy and sinewy. The creature looked back on him with black, penetratingly empathetic eyes that seemed to pierce through him like a clean blade. Brennen outstretched a callused, dark hand, placing it on the creature's forehead and rubbing up and down slowly. The horse, as if sensing Brennen's uncertainty, nickered quickly, shaking its head briefly.

Brennen's hesitation had turn into resolve after having broken the barrier of touch. A few of the tribes back home had emphasized the domestication of creatures in the Bog, most typically being the packs of red wolves that inhabited the dryer grasslands outside the marshes. Those tribes seemed to base their entire culture around the domestication and taming of the wolves, using them as hunting aides, companions, and even clothing or raw materials for those that didn't survive. The Bog worked like that. Respect-to-the-dead was an unknown concept to the Pyromancers who emphasized pragmatism above all else. Fallen warriors had their bodies searched for useful resources, weapons, or anything else that might help the survivors last a little longer. Personal effects were left be, and once peace came, their corpses would be cremated, ashes discarded to the tribe's campfire so they may join Valaista forever, truly one with their Inner Fire.

But Brennen could feel something of a bond with this particular horse, despite his complete and utter ignorance in how he would actually ride it. He was thankful, at least, that the horses were already cleaned and saddled. After grabbing a pack, he made the first, among several attempts to mount it, inwardly cursing himself at each failure. He felt like a child, idiotically failing even the simplest of tasks. But finally, he managed to awkwardly step into the horse's saddle, incurring another annoyed nicker from the creature. Soon, the company was off, with Brennen trailing at the end of the line, struggling in silence to control the horse's movement.

The traffic of people from all different walks of life fleeing to Dramon filled Brennen with a sense of sober reflection. The threat of annihilation, the most terrible kind-of death had swiftly eliminated petty ideals of classism and social elitism. There was unity now in a mutual enemy, civilization falling back to the tribes. But as the party seemed to be the only group riding towards the danger, it gave off the instinctive sense of dread. Riding into the storm.

As night fell and the Templar dismounted, Brennen grimaced from the ache in his legs and thighs. On foot he could walk miles more than most men without complaint, face hazardous trails with agile quickness. But here he was disadvantaged, outside his element. The road would make swift work of him, were he not able to rise faster.

But everything stopped once that scream pierced through the edge of the forest. In that moment, Brennen remembered the Bog. Those screams all around him, bleeding with the screams from his own brothers and sisters in haunting chorus - the swamp set on fire, scattering the treeline like stars come to earth. How terrifyingly human, yet inhuman at the same time. Endless waves of monsters emerging from the darkness, scores of them burnt to cindered corpses, yet two scores more behind that one. Their screams, noises had stayed in Brennen's head, even longer after they were dead. And now they had come back.

"Scorned." Brennen declared, unaware he was speaking aloud as he swiftly dismounted his horse, temporarily unaware of his fatigue as his body was renewed with adrenaline. Without thinking, he reached to draw his axe, clenching it tightly, ashed knuckles turning white. His fingers tingled, twitching as he felt flame stoke from within, wanting to be let out. There was no telling how many Scorned he, and others had killed in the days before the tribe fell. Fire destroyed them easily enough, as it cleansed nearly all it touched. But still, more would come.

Then It emerged - a large wolf, twisted and deformed by the rot that plagued the Scorned, plagued the Mountain. The unholy fusion of vegetation and flesh, the lesser of both parties.

"Brennen, Kean, secure the horses away from here! The rest of you, get ready. Don't let it get a hold of you, or you're as good as dead."

The Templar's commands sent Brennen into swift action, using his free hand to grab his horse's reins and pull it back from the road, strength normally unbecoming of him giving his actions ease.

"Take them to the other side of the road!" Brennen shouted to Kean. The open space would make it easier to corral the horses, keep eyes on the Scorned. But whatever plan he had, they would need to act fast and decisively.
@jdh97 Oh shit, sorry to keep you waiting, my friend! My thought process has been 10% current post, 90% random-ass-side-flashback-character-who's-a-semi-blatant-homage-to-one-of-my-favorite-video-game-characters-who-I-can-cram-in-for-my-own-fun
I'll try and get a post up by tomorrow!
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