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Following suit after the woman, Brennen was taken aback - though more out of annoyance - as the water that rose to her knees reached his torso, making his gait slow and unseemly. The Bog had only a few places where the fetid water reached any higher than one's ankles, but the Pyromancers knew to steer clear. Magics had a profound impact not only on their wielder, but on the environment as well. Places shaped, twisted by years of exposure to the mystical forces that lay just beneath the surface of the temporal. Though the Pyromancers stood as steadfast guards within the Bog for centuries, just outside their borders, covens of witches, necromancers, and would-be-warlocks practiced their foul 'arts', irrevocably tainting the land.

Struggling to find a foothold in the frigid, flowing waters, Brennen briefly regretted finding his gear in the Goblin's camp, as the hatchet at his hip felt like a hunk of raw lead only further weighing him down. Eyes peeled just beneath the surface of the river, Brennen kept his arms up as much as he could, in case someone...or something intended to engage them.

Spotting something bright and orange out of the corner of his eye, Brennen did not hesitate, letting out a hiss through grit teeth as he shot a bolt of fire towards its direction in the river. Though dissipating as quickly as it had appeared, the fire displaced the water, leaving naught but steam in its wake.

He looked up at Vah'lux somewhat sheepishly, perhaps thinking his reaction was a tad overzealous. But given the situation they were currently in, a healthy paranoia was, perhaps, a necessity.
"Smoke from the--oh." Brennen caught himself repeating Vah'lux's words as his eyes drifted to the results of his handiwork. He was filled with a sense of shame at his carelessness, however unintentional, and the knowledge that it has been entirely his doing. Lips twitching slightly as he focused perhaps much too hard on his actions, he instead brought himself back to the present, nodding at the large woman as she went to retrieve her javelins.

But before much could be said or done, the woman stopped, tensing, a focused look in her eyes. As she signaled over to him, he heard it, too, the guttural chittering of Goblin voices and the clanging of mismatched, ill-found armor and weapons. He wracked his brain for any possible way to create a distraction of some sort, then quickly gave up. Anything he attempted to do to throw them off would likely only attract them further, no, they had to move.

"Let's be off, then." Brennen declared in a hushed voice, nodding once at Vah'lux before taking off westward. Though he remained unsure just how far the Goblins had taken him from his camp, a man his size, it couldn't have been terribly far. Once he caught sight of the river, he'd be able to better catch his bearings...then see where the road took him next.
'Hmm...Scavengers' Brennen pondered on the word for a moment or two, for it'd be an apt one to describe him as well. Those on the outside had a negative attitude towards it, he found; cultural taboos on the treatment of corpses. Brennen found the custom barbaric, if nothing else. The Pyromancers never buried their own, though bodies of soldiers and mercenaries from ages past could still be found mummified deep within the Bog. No, upon death, a Pyromancer was cremated, their ashes scattered in the tribe's bonfire so as to return their spirit to Valaista, and the Flame that birthed them. Weapons, tools, and gear were fair game, though personal effects were typically given to family and next-of-kin. Sentimentality was but an inconsequential thing in the swamp, and could easily hinder one's survival.

"Goblins. No land without them." Brennen finally said aloud, carrying disgust in his tone. Shifting his expression to one more genial, he smiled again at his rescuer. "You never gave me your name...I've no idea who to thank for my rescue." Taking a breath, he shifted subjects briefly. "I don't know in what direction my camp is, but I travel light, regardless. Nothing of real value there other than a tent and bedroll. Regardless, it's best I be on my way - you as well. I've no doubt more will arrive will before long..."
The battle ended, almost as quickly as it had begun, in fact. The tension in his body relaxing, Brennen's shoulders fell into a more casual posture as he looked upon their handiwork, eyes falling to each of the corpses that marked their victory. Wordlessly, he knelt near to the ground, reaching for the obsidian short sword that lay in the grass, falling from the grip of the Goblin whose remains still decorated the nearby tree.

Holding it to the morning light to examine its craftsmanship, the blade looked equal parts crude and beautiful to Brennen. Given the poor quality weapons possessed by the majority of Goblins, anything more polished than a rusted dagger would have likely been a sign of strength and status.

For a moment, Brennen held the blade properly by the hilt. It was too light and clumsy, made for hands much smaller than his - and certainly much smaller than that of his rescuer's.

He turned to see the woman surveying the camp, with a look that befit a hunter upon the horizon. “I assume this was your place?” She said to him after a deep sigh escaped her lungs.

"No, actually." Brennen answered, ending his first sentence with an uncertainty that indicated he was not done speaking. He looked down at the obsidian blade still in his hands, debating its usefulness, then letting it fall to the wet grass without another thought. "No, they must have dragged me here; looking for loot and a meal, most likely." Brennen continued, a look of concern briefly flashing over his hood-obscured features at the thought of being cooked and...eaten by those creatures; which would have undoubtedly been his fate had this woman not come along when she did.

"I just--" he hung on the word for a second, eyes narrowed as he looked for something. "Need to see where they put my things..." With that, he moved towards the center of the camp, closer to the bonfire that still burned, though was hungering for kindling that was not there. As he walked by, Brennen absentmindedly stretched out a hand into the fire, his fingers curling as tongues of the flame lapped out towards him, as though trying to ensnare him before releasing their hold - unharmed.

Heading towards one of several crudely-constructed tents - the largest, in fact - Brennen stooped low enough to cross the flap-covered threshold, the sound of clattering and items moving about undoubtedly reaching the woman's ears, followed by a sudden "Aha!" As Brennen assuredly discovered something he was looking for.

A few moments after, Brennen emerged from the tent, holding a rustic, weathered knapsack in his hands, made of coarse leather and holding several empty vials on the outside. Opening the sack, Brennen scoured its contents, making a mental checklist to ensure each and every one of his items were still accounted. He procured a chipped and worn hand axe, the tool fitting into his grip with a familiarity and ease that more than signified that this was his weapon of choice. Returning the axe to a notch at Brennen's belt.

Briefly heading back into the tent, Brennen emerged lastly with a shield...if it could even be called that. The slab of planks with an iron boss in the center looked hardly fitting for a Goblin, let alone a proper Human, but Brennen seemed not to care. With his gear now back with him, Brennen returned to the woman, looking all the more pleased.

"Ahh, good to know they didn't destroy everything. Though I think a few of them may have drunk my potions...Hm." Pausing on that note, Brennen looked up to face his rescuer, holding out the axe she had given him with slight difficulty. "I never properly thanked you, I'd have assuredly been killed had you not arrived. I am most grateful." At this, Brennen gave a small, halfway bow, showing all the clumsiness of a man inexperienced with such gestures. "I am Brennen, what might your name be?"
There were few true warriors to be found in the Charred Bog. Their lack of contact with the outside world removed the necessity for it. Indeed, no knights or armor-clad soldiers could be counted amongst their numbers. They were pillagers, scavengers, finding what weapons and bits of metal they could from the swamp, itself. Centuries worth of failed campaigns and ill-fated adventures. The Pyromancers used their home to their advantage; favoring skirmishes and short-lived, decisive battles over drawn-out conflicts. To say that Brennen was out of his element in the middle of enemy territory surrounded by angry, bloodthirsty Goblins would have been a gross understatement.

But to his incredibly tall rescuer, it was almost a dance. She swung her blade with deadly precision, and Brennen could not help but notice the nearly dance-like rhythm of her muscles beneath slate-colored skin. For such a large, unwieldy-looking weapon, she wielded it as though it were weightless.

For comparison, Brennen held the smaller axe she gave him with the clumsiness of unfamiliarity. His own axe was far smaller than this; little more than a hatchet, all things considered. But this weapon, suited for one closer to his rescuer's size, forced him to adapt his stance.

Of the two Goblins that presently remained, one, at least, had the forethought not to end up like his burning companion, and charged at Brennen with a cry that radiated pure malice.

Seeing this, Brennen took a step back, a brief flash of surprise spreading across his features before settling into stoic concentration. Loosening his grip on the axe ever so slightly, he felt the polished wood handle slide down his hand, waiting until he nearly reached the butt of it. Tightening his hold as the Goblin came ever-closer, Brennen threw all his weight into an upward swing, using his momentum to add strength to the strike that he could not have otherwise.

The blade caught the Goblin by head, cleaving into mottled flesh and rotten bone before sending the creature's mutilated corpse back and onto the blood-stained grass.

The last Goblin remained, betraying in its cruel countenance, a fearful uncertainty of what it wanted to do next. Run close and face an axe? Or keep distance and confront the woman's glaive. Still hearing the anguished moans of his still-smoking companion, the Goblin was smart enough to realize two words that every race could trace back to at some point or another: Fire dangerous.
His bindings cut, Brennen released a breath he did not realize he was holding, hands immediately shooting for the burning wound at his neck that stained his skin red. "Many thanks." He bid politely, offering a crooked-toothed smile at his would-be rescuer. His eyes met hers, noting their brightness. All Pyromancers in the Bog had eyes like his, remnants of Valaista's kiss. Brennen had to wonder what the significance of this woman's emerald orbs were...

Averting his gaze for a moment, Brennen turned to see the result of her handiwork: the Goblin's lifeless corpse quite literally dangling from the javelin that impaled him to the nearby tree. Had Brennen not known better, he'd have thought this the work of some siege engine, not the strength of one's arm.

As the woman asked to his condition, Brennen pulled the hand away from his neck, the blood coating his open palm assuring him that his wound was not superficial. "Nothing serious." He answered, clenching blackened fingers into a fist. "Though Goblins are not known for their...hospitality." There was a pause, a gap in Brennen's words as he saw the assortment of Goblins that realized what was taking place, and surrounded the two, waving weapons and shields in anticipation. Brennen was their prize - and they had no intention of releasing him.

"Can you fight? By Kavaki, I certainly hope you can." The woman rose to her feet, and Brennen could not mask a look of surprise as she more than towered over him; his eye-level barely reaching her toned stomach. This only confirmed his suspicions...Whoever this woman was, she was not Human.

Choosing to save such questions for later, Brennen took the axe she offered, and it promptly dropped in his grip; only an exertion of strength keeping the head from landing in the dirt at all. Of course the Goblins had disarmed him - likely pilfering through his possessions while they were at it. Until he could find his gear, this would have to do.

In proud display, the woman unhooked the massive glaive secured to her back, swinging it with dexterous motion that only came after years of training and familiarity.

Moving his right hand closer to the iron head of the axe to keep a better grip on the weapon, Brennen released his left, and - drawing on the adrenaline that now flowed through his body - wordlessly conjured a glowing ball of fire that hovered just above his palm, crackling and lapping hungrily at the air.

With a quick glance at the woman's direction, hoping she would move as he did, Brennen let out a quick cry, pulling his arm back before throwing it forward, hurtling the fireball towards the nearest goblin. With only seconds to react, the Goblin cried out in fear as the orb crashed into its face, sending the creature sprawling to the ground screeching in shock and agony.
"Huuch! Daagaan an or huuch!?" Harsh, guttural words escaped the lip-less mouths of one of the creatures, larger and uglier than the others. With a shortsword that appeared to be little more than a jagged shard of obsidian tied to a makeshift hilt, the Goblin swung the blade about with as much refinement as a butcher with a cleaver.

"Hegaan an huuch!" The Goblin spat, now pressing the sword's tip against Brennen's neck. His head tilted back as far as it could go, Brennen's lips twitched in fearful anticipation, ragged breaths leaving his chest. With only the slightest amount of pressure, the blade began to cut into his flesh, blood already starting to trickle from the wound.

"I don't...know...what...you're asking me." Brennen plead in his defense, wincing as the sword dug slightly deeper, drawing more blood down his neck.

"Hegaan huuch! Or o dhuul..."

Brennen could've sworn the Goblin's rasping voice took a sinister edge, but had little time to focus as the Goblin's blade began to move, opening fresh cuts along his neck, only just skin-deep. Eyes slamming shut, Renault breathed in sharply as the stinging sensation followed the blade's trail.

The spark he had been coaxing in his bound hands flared to life, unleashing a gout of flame that assailed one of the nearby trees. In only a few seconds, the familiar stench of smoke began to fill the air; as leaves and bark began to pop and smoke, fresh tongues of fire forming along the trunk.

Taken by surprise, the Goblin quickly withdrew the obsidian blade, barking commands to the other wretches, who scrambled frantically to try and put the fire out.

Name: Brennen, Pyromancer of the Charred Bog

Gender: Male
Race: Human
Main Class: Pyromancer
Alignment: Chaotic Good

Size: Medium
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 140lbs
Eyes: Amber
Hair: Dirty Blonde

Appearance: A short, peculiar looking man with a lean, sinewy physique resulting from decades spent living off the land, Brennen’s complexion is calloused and leathery, defined by the occasional crag or wrinkle that give him a seasoned appearance, despite his age. His dark blonde hair is often left oily and unkempt, with Brennen paying little heed to its care. Similarly, his square jaw is blanketed by a coarse layer of scruff, permanently singed from near-constant exposure to fire. His bright amber eyes, however, seem to glow with the fires of youth and passion, unaffected by the passage of time.

Brennen's choice in clothing is as otherworldly as his appearance suggests, consisting of weathered and travel-worn robes, shawls, and tunics, covered in burn marks, singes, and frayed ends. His clothes constantly reek of smoke and burning oil, not helped in the slightest by the vials of strange liquid that he keeps on his person at all times.

Personality Description: A textbook bohemian, first and foremost obsessed with fire, Brennen’s isolated and uncivilized upbringing have left him a bizarre, somewhat eccentric maverick; in tune with nature and apprehensive of towns and cities. Humble and unassuming, Brennen is generally polite, if blunt at times, showing general courtesy to everyone he meets, regardless of race or social status. Though lacking in formal education, Brennen's unique perspective on the world reveals a certain philosophical wisdom that gives way to somewhat profound observations, particularly when he is deep in thought.

Well aware of the destructive potential that fire brings, Brennen has dedicated much of his life to discipline and self-restraint, rarely complaining or expressing contempt, even in the harshest conditions. But when flared, his temper is like the fire he wields: ranging from slow-burning and scorching to violently explosive. But just as fire cleanses the old for new growth to emerge, Brennen's rage, once subsided, is gone for good. He holds no grudges or grievances, letting bygones be bygones.
The Charred Bog was an endless expanse of marshes and fetid swampland, filled with all manner of foul creatures and evil-stricken folk, banished from more civilized lands. Lords and kings have for years tried to conquer the region, with every attempt ending in failure, countless lives lost. For now, the Bog would remain unclaimed: an uncharted festering wound upon the region.

But within the swamp, past winding, muddy trails and murky pools - life flickered. A ball of flame, held in the hands of a young boy with all the uncertainty of a novice.

"Focus, Brennen, control your breathing. A spark will not catch without kindling to fuel it." The boy's eyes flicked toward the source of the voice: a middle-aged man standing beside him. The man was tall and slender, with sharp, pointed features, and long brown hair that fell past his shoulders.

The boy - Brennen - did not reply, but did his best to follow the man's advice, taking slower, deeper breaths; all-the-while gazing intently at the fire in his hands. If the man said anything else, Brennen did not hear it, focusing all his attention on the flame he nurtured, seeing it grow stronger, more vibrant, feeding on his energy.

But a child's focus does not hold long, and sure enough, Brennen's eyes were drawn to the sound of a nearby frog leaping into the water, and the flame fizzled into nothing.

Brennen's initial shock quickly turned to frustration: a scowl spreading across his features as he angrily kicked at a clod of mud. The man, however, appeared unfazed, simply moving closer and clasping a hand on the youth's shoulder. "Patience, my son. The fire will return... for it is a part of you."



Visions of Bonfire

"Part of--" Brennen awoke slowly, echoing his father's words through dried and bloodied lips. Disoriented, Brennen blinked several times, trying to adjust his eyes to the light. He was not at his camp. Instinct set in, and Brennen immediately tried to rise to his feet, only to strain futilely against coils of rope that bound his hands and feet.

Where was he? Who had done this to him?

Brennen's second question was almost immediately answered as a small, wretched-looking creature came into view, grasping a spear nearly as tall as it was. Goblins. Brennen had seen small groups of them skulking near his base camp: no more than two or three at any given time. A quick flash of steel or conjuration of fire was often all it took to get them to scatter. But as a sharp throbbing in Brennen's head began to settle, he realized they must have taken him in his sleep.

More goblins began to appear, surrounding an admittedly-impressive bonfire in the center of their clearing. They chanted, screeched, and bickered amongst themselves in their coarse language, unknown to Brennen's ears. Now fully awake, his eyes darted all about, looking for sign of his possessions, or anything nearby he could try to use to free himself. Unwittingly, the goblins had figured out Brennen's perfect weakness. His restricted movement made it near-impossible for him to channel flame. The best he'd be able to manage was a small spark, barely worth any note. But right now, a spark may be what he needed.

Thinking back to his earliest lessons: the basic foundations of Pyromancy, Brennen cleared his head, taking deep breaths, and focusing on them. With time, patience, and perhaps a fair bit of luck, he might be able to burn through his bindings...
ℜ𝔢𝔫𝔞𝔲𝔩𝔱 𝔅𝔢𝔞𝔲𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱



The trip back felt like almost a blur. Renault's legs carried him as best as they could, but age and weariness crept through his entire being. Years spent not seeing combat, weeks spent in a cramped, dank cell, every movement elicited screams of agony from Renault's muscles, though the man, himself, was silent, save for the occasional pained grunt that indicated his age. Though not an elder by any stretch of the word, Renault knew full-well that he was past his physical prime. The pain and fatigue he felt now would only get worse with time. Skill and experience only mattered insofar as one was able lift a sword, and the steel blade at Renault's hip would have felt like a hunk of raw iron in his aching arm.

With the sight of the temple upon them, and the first feeling of sanctuary that they had in hours, Renault welcomed the comforting stone walls and reverent aura that came with it. Their priest friend, for he had tentatively earned that title, seemed more than surprised to see them back so soon, but wasted no time in performing his duties, tending to their wounds with divine-granted magics.

Renault felt strength return to him as his wounds closed, leaving naught but a small scar as a reminder. The energy that coursed through his body made him alert and refreshed, like waking up from a long and restful sleep. He stood tall, noble even; and perhaps his companions would be able to notice the proud dignity he once carried himself with.

Taken to the cellar beneath the temple, Renault would not say he was excited to be surrounded by stone walls and ceilings as he had been beneath the farmhouse. But the warm crackling of the fire and jugs of water prepared for them alleviated that in short order. Almost wordlessly, they each took to cleaning themselves; Vah'lux being more...forthright than the rest of them. Renault averted his eyes as best he could for chivalry's sake - truly this woman was cut from a different cloth.

Choosing a middle ground just as Gorosk had, Renault disrobed as much as he could while still preserving his modesty, using the water provided to wipe away the blood, pus, and dirt that had accumulated from both their prison stay as well as the skirmish against the rats. It was no proper bath, not as he was used to in the Order, at least. But it sufficed his purposes.

Changing into a drab-colored tunic and breeches that was in his bag, Renault felt like he could relax for the first time in weeks. He slumped down, sleep threatening to overtake him, fiddling with the pendant he wore in his half-awake state.
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