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1 yr ago
Currently super swamped by work and having cold on the top of it, so posts will be delayed

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Eva’s dreams were filled with random images full of blood, fire and violence and after waking up she didn’t feel rested at all. The fact that her entire body was still sore, all muscles protesting against the tremendous amount of work they had to do to get up from bed. Taking a few steps across the room felt like a heroic achievement. She was halfway through a bowl of a truly disgusting oatmeal someone had thoughtfully prepared for her when someone knocked at the door.

“Come in,” she was hoping to see Garret, but apparently this new day was not going to go easy on her. It was Sikaro, her other assistant, one she disliked simply because he never seemed to shut up for more than two minutes.

“Inquisitor Gallard,” he entered and bowed his head. “I was hoping you would be awake. I have urgent messages from Superior Jennal.”

Eva closed her eyes for a moment, considering the option to just go to bed and sleep till the next day, since today already seemed like it was going to be hell. “Where is Garret?”

“Well he is still in the city, helping out in the House of Questions. Oh right, you probably haven’t heard yet, there had been huge riots in the entire city for most of the night and House of Questions was attacked, many acolytes and clerks were killed, even one inquisitor is dead, and one seriously harmed. The Vanguard and the city watch restored order and arrested many people, most of the Royal inquisition had been recalled to deal with the prisoners. I mean, you should have seen the horrible mess there, everything broken and destroyed, bodies everywhere, how do those people even dare to lay hands on…”

She stopped listening to his blabbering, trying to figure out what the hell was happening. A few days ago, everything seemed just in order, and now there are riots in the streets, assassins and traitors amongst the people close to the king, members of the Inquisition, city watch and Vanguard being attacked and killed. Could this even be a random coincidence or is this all incited by the rebellious group? She really needed to talk to the Tyler woman and also to Fenros again.

“But that is not what I came here to tell you,” Sikaro barely had time to breathe in between his fast-paced sentences. “There have been certain problems inside the castle during the night and…,” he hesitated, knowing very well what happens to the messengers carrying bad news, “I am afraid that the prisoners and princess Eleanor have escaped.”

“WHAT?!” she yelled out and then just stared at him in disbelief as he told her about everything that has happened during the night. She wanted to scold him for not waking her up earlier, but then again, what good would that do? She could hardly take up a sword and prevent Fenros from escaping, or (ha-ha, so funny idea) jump on a horse and chase them through the woods. “So, they had help?”

“Yes, and it seemed well prepared and organized. One person took out the guards in the dungeons and helped them out through a system of tunnels no one knew about. And when Fenros came to rescue the princess, a considerable number of the Vanguard members stood on their side, staying behind to cover their escape. Several of them were captured alive. There was also a mysterious extremely skilled archer who killed or injured many of the guards as he helped Fenros and Eleanor escape over backyard wall.”

Eva just shook her head. “The Vanguard? Is there no one left loyal in the entire fucking kingdom?” She frowned upon the mention of a skilled archer, there was only one person that always jumped into her mind when those words were spoken, but that were just her personal feelings for the man, there was no reason to assume it was him. Or could it be? The Woodsmen, as mysterious and secretive they were, have always been loyal to the kingdom and it seemed unlikely they would have a sudden change of heart. Plus, the ‘exceptional’ archery could have just been an excuse used by the guards to cover up their incompetence.




The bodies had been taken away, but blood splatters on the grass still marked positions. “Where were they shooting from?” she asked the sergeant that was accompanying her. They were followed by a group of guards who had survived the previous night and now tried their best not to look frightened, no doubt thinking about the punishment they will be given for their failures. Sikaro wandered around, hands in his pockets, seemingly uninterested, but Eva knew that he is noticing every detail of the scene. At least his mouth was shut for now, a small blessing, but you have to take what you are given.

“From up there,” one of the guards pointed to the tip of the wall. “But there was only one, my lady.”

Eva frowned. Only one archer did this in such a short time? She had to correct her previous thought, this truly was a display of an exceptional archery. It didn’t prove anything, but who else than the Woodsmen would have such skills? “And then they just climbed that wall and disappeared?”

“We think they had a rope prepared and used it to climb up,” sergeant answered quietly, sensing her growing anger.

“You don’t know that,” one of the guards opposed.

Second one quickly joined in. “Yea, I didn’t see any rope either.”

“That’s coz you were hiding behind that haystack, desperate to save your ass,” sergeant tried to put an end to the debate quickly, but Eva had already had enough.

“So,” she turned to the first guard, “it is your expert opinion that there was no rope used? I think we will have to make an experiment to confirm that. As I recall, miss Tyler had an arrow wound on her shoulder, right?” There was a look of confusion on man’s face. She didn’t give him any time to react as she pressed a hidden button on her cane. A long sharp blade slid out from the bottom and Eva quickly stabbed the man’s shoulder, watching the confusion turn into disbelief and pain. The others stayed quiet and motionless, smart enough not to draw any attention to themselves. “And also,” she turned to the other guard who spoke before, “sir Allaway had badly broken wrist.” She nodded at Sikaro, who leaped towards the guard, grabbing his hand and twisting it until a series of cracks could be heard. The man screamed in pain and looked around in horror, realizing no one is going to help him.

The sergeant’s lips were sealed so tight they were almost invisible, but he mustered up some courage and moved towards her. “My lady,” he started in a quiet calm voice, “these men…” The look in her eyes made him stop mid-sentence.

“These poor excuses for men you have here,” she hissed and pointed to the rest of the guards, who now looked like they would be happier if the land opened and swallowed them, “let the traitors escape, some of them didn’t even try to stop them. This incompetence will not be tolerated and certainly will not go unpunished, do you understand me?” The field was quiet now, even the injured men have stopped screaming and just sobbed quietly, hoping she would forget they existed. But Eva wasn’t done with them just yet. “I believe we still have the mystery of the rope to solve,” she turned back to them. “So, now that we have established similar conditions, we can begin the experiment. You two have three minutes to get over that wall. If you fail to do so, I think it is safe to assume that the prisoners had a rope. Sergeant, if either of them is still on this side of the wall when the time is up, kill them.”

The men stared at her in horror for a moment, searching for signs of a joke or mercy in her eyes, but not finding any. Desperate, they ran towards the wall and started a series of attempts to scale it.

Sikaro watched them, clearly amused. “Does it really matter if they had a rope or not?” he whispered into her ear.

Eva frowned. “Of course, it doesn’t. But these idiots need to learn that there is a price to pay for incompetence and even higher one for stupid attempts to cover it.”

The men had no chance of getting over the wall, even when they started cooperating, the injuries simply didn’t allow them to pull themselves on the top of the wall. Panting and sobbing they stood on the ground, having nowhere to escape, as the sergeant moved closer to them, reluctantly pulling out his sword. He looked back at her, hoping she might have changed her mind, that maybe this was enough of a lesson for those two, but she just nodded. The men started begging, dropping down to their knees, but their pleads were interrupted by gargled sounds as the blood burst from their cut throats.

“The rest of these men should be punished as well, sergeant. I will leave the means of the punishment to your consideration, but next time one of these dimwits fucks something up, you will be held personally responsible,” she said loud enough for everyone to hear and turned away, walking slowly back towards the dungeons, heavily leaning against her cane.

“Now what?”

“Now we have some more traitors to question.”




Grish pulled the pelts closer to his body, but there was no escaping the cold. Yet, he refused to give up, his eyes tied to the trail on the ground, hoofprints half-covered by snow that was constantly pouring from grey skies. Down in the valley the spring was almost ending, the last remains of the snow washed away by rain, but it was always winter up this high up in the Ubaru mountains. He knew he had until sundown to get to the deer, because he couldn’t continue to track it in darkness and the trail will have disappeared under snow until morning. It was hard to tell the position of the sun through the thick clouds, but he estimated there was still a few hours left.

The snow around the deep prints was marked by bright red drops from time to time. Grish had a nearly perfect throw, but at the very last moment the beast flinched, and the spear missed the heart. He went after it, certain that the injury will slow it down and eventually kill it, but the deer proved tougher than Grish would ever expect. Still, he was getting closer, although he had to venture deeper in the mountains than anyone from his tribe ever had.

His people were hunters, prowling in the large forests around the base of the mountains, moving from a place to place in search of prey. And this was some prey. Grish had given up on the idea of dragging the deer to the encampment, but just hunting such magnificent creature down was a trophy he was not willing to give upon easily. He imagined having the huge antlers hung above his tent, how much respect it would give him amongst the tribe.

Muttering curses through his chattering teeth, he managed to climb on a ridge. The wind was worse up here, nearly knocking him to the ground, erasing the track completely. Grish looked in the valley bellow, it was same as any of the other five valleys he had already walked through, but there was some darker shape on the mountain on the opposite side – maybe a rock overhang or even a cave. The trail of hoofprints, visible on the leeward side of the valley seemed to be headed that way.

It too him long to cross the valley, the exhaustion and cold numbing his body almost to a point where he only wanted to lay down and sleep for a few minutes. He knew that would mean certain death, but the thought seemed more appealing with every step he took. Finally, he reached the cave, peeking inside carefully. The last few hundred yards there was more blood on the ground and the tracks indicated that the animal moved slower and with more and more struggle. Grish stepped inside the cave, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness, listening for the sound of animal’s deep breaths, but the place was quiet.

It seemed like the small outside cave was an entrance to a bigger complex of tunnels and Grish cursed his bad luck. He had means to make a fire, but there was no vegetation around, let alone some dry wood. Eventually he used the bottom side of his spear and a few dirty rugs as an improvised torch, his numb fingers struggling to create a spark to light it.

As soon as the light lit the cave, he noticed there was a lot of blood around. This couldn’t have been from the wound he caused, blood here was splattered on the cave walls and ground. Yet, it was fresh, and the trail led him here. Grish realized that something else must have attacked the deer, dragging it deeper into the cave. He knew that the wisest thing would be to leave, but anger took over him. He spent days tracking that animal and now some lousy predator will come and take his prize? He couldn’t possibly return empty-handed.

He marched forward angrily, following the trail of blood. The determination wore off quickly after a tunnel turned and he could no longer see the daylight. What the hell was he doing? The deer was big, whatever took him must have been very strong, most likely a mountain lion or even one of those huge bears that sometimes wandered down from the hills and caused havoc in the forest. Whatever it was, he was going to walk inside its den alone, with two spears and a knife? He was too exhausted to make good decisions.

The hair on the back of his neck bristled. He turned around quickly, but the tunnel was empty. Only now he realized the strange stench that seemed to come from deeper caves. It wasn’t just still air, but more like a carcass left to rot in the sun. He headed back through the tunnel, suddenly more scared than he would ever admit to anyone.

The growling was so deep and quiet he couldn’t distinguish it at first over his heavy breathing. When it became audible and it was clear that it was coming from the tunnel behind him, he started running, convinced that he must be close to the cave exit.

Suddenly something jumped in front of him and Grish stopped, eyes widened in horror. The thing looked like a wolf that had been dead for a few days, parts of its body rotten away, but still somehow looking very much alive. Grish grabbed his spear to fight, but something heavy landed on his back, knocking him to the ground. He must have hit a stone or a piece of solid ice with his head, because his vision became blurry and he couldn’t move. He could still feel the sharp teeth piercing into his flesh and pain all over his body as he was dragged deeper into the caves.





The light was strangely alien, not yellow and warm, but blue and green and cold. The pain from the bites was bad, but Grish bit his lip not to scream out loud. He could still hear the animals moving around. He had no idea why haven’t they killed him, and didn’t want to attract their attention. There was also a presence of something else, or maybe someone else? Grish could here some muffled noise that sounded like footsteps, but wasn’t sure as the origin of the sound wasn’t in his field of vision and he suddenly felt too tired to even tilt his head.

But something was here, he could feel its presence, not by his senses, but inside of his head, curiously observing his memories. Grish instinctively fought against it, trying to push it out, and for a moment it seemed to have worked. His head was just his for now, but the footsteps moved closer. A dark shape leaned over him and Grish yelped. The figure looked roughly like a man - one head, long neck, two arms and two legs, but that’s where the similarities ended. The skin was pale and grey. Its face was a horrific parody on a man, two large yellow eyes with vertical pupils, nostrils instead of a nose, a serpent-like tongue that occasionally slipped out of its mouth, tasting the air around. And a lot of very sharp teeth.

“Bar’ghul,” Grish whispered, terrified. The creature didn’t look exactly like the demon from the legend, but the similarities were undeniable. Grish remembered how his mother told him the story one night after he and few of his friends ran off and got lost in the woods. An old tale about a demon living deep in the Ubaru mountains, who feasts on the souls and flesh of the unwary travelers who wander too far. Grish was twelve back then, nearly a man, and laughed at the story, thinking it was only good to scare little children. How wrong he was.

There it was again, soft push inside of his mind, feeling of something alien in his head. This time Grish could feel demon’s hunger and a slight satisfaction he felt when he somehow absorbed the memory of Grish’s mother telling him the story. Grish fought back, but it was harder and harder to concentrate. The creature was amused by his efforts, but also impatient. And starving, the deep primal need to feed was almost overwhelming.

Sharp claws encircled Grish’s skull and seemingly effortlessly pierced through the bone right into his brain. The physical pain was incredible, but much worse was the feeling of his mind being ripped apart, every single memory and thought carefully observed and devoured, all this accompanied by the sound of squelching and slurping as the creature feasted on his brain.






The body on the ground was starting to get cold when he finally let his beasts have the remaining flesh. He crawled into a corner and enjoyed the delicious memories, licking the blood from his claws, the hunger sated for now. Old memories weren’t that good as the fear that creature felt, that was something much more delicious, but the fear sadly went away when he opened the creature’s skull to feed on its brain. One corner of his mouth went up in a scary grin when he revisited one of the memories. Bar’ghul. That sounded pleasing to him. Not that he would need a name, but he liked the fear it struck in the human’s mind. Fear was so delicious.

This creature, the human, wasn’t like the animals he usually fed upon. How much the world had changed outside? He could see from the memories that there were many more of these delicious things out there, a rich harvest only waiting for him to reach out and gather it. The beasts stopped feeding and looked at him, sensing his excitement and impatience. He had a loose connection with a mind of every one of his creations, it faded with greater distances, but his monsters could operate individually, carrying out his orders.

Over the centuries of solitude in his caves, he experimented with different kinds, each bearing resemblance to an outside creature, but some of them didn’t prove viable or useful. Alongside packs of the demonic dogs he had several big bear-like monsters he could use, a few amphibians, slimy tentacular things that seemed to love moving under water but also had no problem of traversing certain distances on dry land, and several other specimens, results of more or less successful experiments.

There were also three of his flying monsters, created in an image of gargantuan winged reptiles that once roamed the world above, but Bar’ghul wasn’t going to use them just yet. He grew quite fond of them and didn’t want to risk losing even one. Plus, they were more than big enough to carry him around in that improbable case that he would want to observe the world outside with his own eyes.

His mind stretched out, connecting to his children, giving out orders. The tunnels spread for miles, far in all directions, giving him direct access to several places in the northern part of the continent. He sent out many packs into each direction, some of them will have to be on the move for several days to reach lands on the far south and western and eastern coasts. He felt the amphibians’ joy as they delved into the waters of great river, lazily moving downstream. An entire army of monstrous creatures left the underground, and still many more remained to guard their home and their master.

Each monster carried simple instructions, burned deep into their brains. To scout and observe. To hunt and taste. And, most importantly, to bring back more samples of this delicious new food source.
@The Wyrm Love it :)
Just in case some of you arent on the Discord - you have about a day before I introduce the monsters, so if you want to post something, do it now, or at least let me know you are planning to ;)
@The Wyrm Well I wouldnt be that strict about permanent settlements, it is a fantasy after all, just be careful about general technological level.
@The Wyrm Sure, looks nice, just make sure you dont make it a bit too civilized.
As you wish - Discord
@gowia Of course. I like it, you are accepted! :)
@Irredeemable Feel free to create some NPC tribes if you want to, not sure if the hippie tribes will be eager to fight :D
Also anyone with approved tribe feel free to start posting into IC.
I will wait about a week before I start with the story, so all is well and peaceful for now.
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