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Vansin

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  1. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in New Friends and New Adventures   
    Viscerex wasn't staring at the floor anymore. 
    Did he know how small a child's grave was? Yes. And a teenager's. And a young man's. The impressions of their bodies outlined under cold dirt were etched into him forever. Death was never the end. It refused to be. It refused to leave, its abrupt finality a constant reminder of the dispassionate savagery into which life was arranged.
    Viscerex constantly tried to find beauty in the harshness of life, tried to look at the world as it was, to see the balance in its fearful asymmetry. But he was not God. The cruelty of death was something he could never understand, he accepted that. But he could not accept death itself. He couldn't imagine why men had the power to kill. It seemed a sacred decision, one which ought to belong to God alone. And if it did, and men were mere extensions of God on earth, then death was even more egregious. There was no excuse he could find. But he accepted that. He trusted God. There was no other choice. 
    So why then did he feel heavier now than when he had walked for a day and a half carrying Mythandriel? Why did looking at Ioreth's empty eyes hurt him more than the boots of his torturers? If he trusted God and life and death so, why did he hate them all for painting this misery across the gentle face of the woman he loved? And what could he do to fight it? 
    He thought of only one thing. He took her hand in his, took her back, took her heart and her pain and he leaned into them. He pulled her close, cradling her tight. His skin was hot, his body like a blanket left in front of the fire. 
    "I know." he could think of no poetry to explain himself. He could not find the words to describe that he knew what she felt, that lost love was buried into the heart, not the dirt, and that the smallest graves contained the deepest regrets. But she would feel his sorrow in the heavy beat of his chest. She would feel it in the quiver of his arms. She could share it with him. 
    "I grieve with you."  
  2. Sad
    Vansin reacted to Witches Brew in New Friends and New Adventures   
    Dead blue eyes stared at her, frozen. The pupils were just starting to cloud over. The blood that ran through the veins before had frozen over. They stared relentlessly at her, not blinking. One tear rolled out of the corner of her left eye, cascading down her blood stained cheek. Mythandriel is frozen, staring at the disembodied head in fear. 
    “You did this, you’re a killer. Monster. All elves are monsters.” 
    Her chapped lips moved slowly, the voice was raspy. The woman’s body started to move behind her, her limbs moving stiffly, her bruised body aching as she got to her feet. The body shuffled towards its head, it’s feet dragging. But it did not grab her head, instead the shambling body reached its arms out, and her broken, bloody hands grabbed Mythandriel’s neck, her thumbs digging into her throat. 
    “Monster, monster, monster!” 
    Mythandriel gasped, unable to move. She felt woozy, her knees crumbling. The hands tightened, the thumbs digging harder and harder into her skin. 
    “You’re a killer-“
    Myth woke with a cry, her hand going to her throat. She woke alone, and in pain. The door to the bedroom was closed, so she figured Ioreth and Viscerex were in the living room. She she moved, she gritted her teeth as her wounds oozed. She removed her shirt slowly, and used the ruined fabric to press against her nearest wound. Her hair hung in front of her face, her eyes closed as she pressed the fabric against the bleeding. She didn’t want to bother Ioreth, or Viscerex. She’s bothered them enough for a lifetime. 
  3. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in New Friends and New Adventures   
    Viscerex wasn't staring at the floor anymore. 
    Did he know how small a child's grave was? Yes. And a teenager's. And a young man's. The impressions of their bodies outlined under cold dirt were etched into him forever. Death was never the end. It refused to be. It refused to leave, its abrupt finality a constant reminder of the dispassionate savagery into which life was arranged.
    Viscerex constantly tried to find beauty in the harshness of life, tried to look at the world as it was, to see the balance in its fearful asymmetry. But he was not God. The cruelty of death was something he could never understand, he accepted that. But he could not accept death itself. He couldn't imagine why men had the power to kill. It seemed a sacred decision, one which ought to belong to God alone. And if it did, and men were mere extensions of God on earth, then death was even more egregious. There was no excuse he could find. But he accepted that. He trusted God. There was no other choice. 
    So why then did he feel heavier now than when he had walked for a day and a half carrying Mythandriel? Why did looking at Ioreth's empty eyes hurt him more than the boots of his torturers? If he trusted God and life and death so, why did he hate them all for painting this misery across the gentle face of the woman he loved? And what could he do to fight it? 
    He thought of only one thing. He took her hand in his, took her back, took her heart and her pain and he leaned into them. He pulled her close, cradling her tight. His skin was hot, his body like a blanket left in front of the fire. 
    "I know." he could think of no poetry to explain himself. He could not find the words to describe that he knew what she felt, that lost love was buried into the heart, not the dirt, and that the smallest graves contained the deepest regrets. But she would feel his sorrow in the heavy beat of his chest. She would feel it in the quiver of his arms. She could share it with him. 
    "I grieve with you."  
  4. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in Ancient Rites and Reunions   
    Following Constans' instructions, Saskion found his way to Ioreth's cabin and spied the girl out front just before she disappeared through the entrance. She was an elven girl, far too young and bright looking to be gloomy Ioreth. Was it Mythandriel? Could it be? 
    Before he could quite make it to the front door of the home, the handsome white elk clopped its way into Saskion's path. The elf stopped a few paces away and considered the beast. It shook its head, displaying its antlers pridefully. Saskion met its eyes and noticed the intelligence behind them. This was an elf companion to be sure.
    "Dab- nin aglon, im foeg cín edhel edhil mellon baw injurui." 
    He infused his voice with threads of magic, and the familiarity of the elven tongue took the animal aback. It leaned its head toward Saskion, sniffing at the unfamiliar man with the familiar speech. The elf lifted his hand slowly, offering it like a king might offer a hand for a subject to kiss. The elk gave the skin of his knuckles a single lick, and moved out of the way. 
    "Thank you."
    Saskion crossed the walkway to Ioreth's door and knocked. 
    "Kinswoman. I am Saskion, you know my name, and you know what you keep that I have come for. Open the door." 
  5. Sad
    Vansin reacted to KittyvonCupcake in New Friends and New Adventures   
    Silence fell like snow. Ioreth sank deeper into the cushions of her armchair and folded her hands in her lap. One finger rubbed the smooth metal of her ring. Another pressed itself into the point of her painted nail.
    “She always did have more heart than sense.”
    A flash of memory reared its head; young Mythandriel holding her breath in a field flowers as little white butterflies drifted by her on delicate and drowsy wings, how she once took an injured hare to Ioreth begging “Eighaes de thoil, Iory” until she knit together the wound in its leg and vomited up the contents of their breakfast from the strain, Ioreth on the edge of adolescence yet still clambering up trees like a squirrel after the mischievous fledging elf. They had both been stuck that night, each suddenly paralyzed from the height, and it was Draug that had catch them as they tumbled down. He shouted up to them that he had a thousand other things he would rather do than aid his foolish sister and infantile cousin, but he laughed when they were safe. Even then, his laughter was rare.
    She would have to take Myth away from here, to see what life was like outside of the forests, outside of the brutality of survival, now that the girl knew what it was like to have blood staining her soul and death haunting her dreams. The price. It all had a cost.
    “Her parents were murdered when she was a child. She did not take vengeance upon them in the name of our people, but of hers. Had either of us tried to stop her, I have little doubt that she would have managed to slip away.”
    There was a weight growing in her chest. Her heart flopped uselessly against bone. Ioreth thought she heard Mythandriel stir in her sleep, but it was only wind against the roof and a distant raven’s caw. She rose to her feet and struggled against the urge to pace along the limitations of her cabin’s floor. Had the air inside always been so difficult to breathe? Thick, ossified with the scent of tender meat and herbs and smoke. She shut the doorway of her bedroom and busied herself with finding a spoon and pouring mulled wine into a mug and ladling stew into a bowl, which she set on the low end table besides Viscerex.
    “Sit up,” she said softly, and she perched on the end of the sofa within his reach yet wrapped in her own private tenebrosity. “Pain is a lesson Myth will need to learn in exchange for the lives she took. You brought her back alive. That is what matters. You did not leave her alone.”
    And her heart, her stupid, accursed heart, beat its mangled wings and forced her to stare into the vast expanse that stretched endlessly before her. It pulled out five words and a name like a reticent prayer for a god unsung.
    “I had a daughter once. Her name was Uiliel.”
    Ioreth’s voice was an inaccessible dispassion, but her hands shook and she stared in horror at the widened maw of bleak emptiness that followed her confession. She told no one, she betrayed nothing. These were sacred lands, and every word that followed was a desecration she could not stop now that the doorway had opened.
    “There was a man. I thought he posed a threat—I...took care of it. Uiliel’s father was complex, he made enemies easily...” She blinked and shook her head. “It matters little now. His blood left a mark on me, and his kindred sniffed it out like a pack of wild dogs. We were separated when we settled in a village during a hard winter. I thought I was helping some wretched girl and left Uiliel behind. They locked her in a barn and set it alight.”
    Ioreth’s eyes vacant and dull. “He ran at the first opportunity.”
    There was no need to say his name. It would have turned to ash on her tongue.
    “You did not leave Mythandriel. Whatever happened to her, you were there. Even if you had not been able to save her, you were with her. Uiliel had no one. She crossed from our world to the next alone, when she still required a little rag doll I made to watch over her as she slept.”
    Before the doorway could close, before Ioreth could rip herself away from the desolation that snatched at her spirit, she turned to Viscerex and faintly asked, “Do you know how small a child’s grave is?”
  6. Like
    Vansin got a reaction from The Ripper in Hello >:D   
    If medieval fantasy is your thing, you should hit me up at your earliest convenience. 
     
  7. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from KittyvonCupcake in Strangers in a Strange Land   
    -I only wanted peace for one night-
    Crash! Was it the thunder outside, or the jolt of his heart? 
    -These are not the Wilds, even if you behave as such-
    -Is that why you think your god wants me here with you? For you to charge off and fight for no reason and for me to be dragged in to help clean up your mess, just like that night in Coth?
    -It had been my first night there, and all I wanted was to find peace.-
    Only when she was gone did Viscerex breathe. The air shuddered in his throat. Under the water, his fists were bunched so tight that thin red wisps of blood had begun to drift from where his fingernails had punctured his palms. All of his muscles were tensed, he realized, and as the thrumming in his ears subsided and his body calmed it dawned on him the mistake he had made joining Ioreth here. This was precisely what Constans had wanted when he'd tricked the idiot barbarian Viscerex into accepting this fool's errand. 
    Ioreth was right. He? Protect her? He had almost died by the hands of a child. What worth was he to her? He was a love sick pretender, a warrior in name only, enamored with his own self delusions of power and authority, watching impotently as any hope for either slipped through his fingers. 
    He slammed his meaty fists into the water and clenched his jaw in silent desperation, furious at how unsatisfying a victim the yielding bath made. The water catapulted above his head, only to hit the floor and drench his pants. 
    What could he do? He laughed. And then like a hawk struck by lightning his mirth plummeted again into despair. He sunk into the water and drowned out the horrible world. He couldn't decide if he would ever surface again. 
    But he did. He climbed out of the bath and blasted his hair with fire so that he could clamp the helmet of his father back over his head. He kissed his pants with fire as well, and pulled them on. Just as he was pulling his second leg through he heard a strange and familiar sound alongside the rain and thunder. It was a voice shouting from outside, a little girl's cry from the ground floor, outside the window. No doubt Ioreth would have heard it too. 
    "Fighter! Mister fighter! Are you up there?!"   
    "Sophia?" he whispered to himself, and strode out of the bathroom. He spun past Ioreth. He knew she had nothing to say to him anyways, and she seemed to be brooding still. Happy to be distracted from the elven woman's dark mood Viscerex stood in the windowsill to see the young Sophia and her small posse of mistreated girls holding blankets and coats over their heads. When they saw him, they all shouted and laughed at once. 
    Nothing in the world could have made Viscerex smile, except for this. 
    "Mister fighter! Are you okay!? The boys said they killed you!"
    "Get out of the rain!" Viscerex shouted down, and the girls obeyed, running and laughing gaily into the tavern. He turned around and forced himself to consider Ioreth. 
    "Forgive this intrusion on your privacy." he said. By now they could both hear the sounds of little feet pounding up the stairs. 
    "They will not be here long." 
    Sophia barged into the wrong door somewhere down the hall and Viscerex heard her apologizing profusely. He shook his head and walked out of the room. Again, the girls shouted and charged, all of them soaking wet and smiling. Through the open door, Ioreth would see a little girl slam into his waist, wrapping his tremendous legs in a hug. Viscerex thought better than to let the rambunctious children invade Ioreth's peace, and closed the door to spare her the commotion. 
    "Look!" one of the girls said, pointing to the fresh scar over the barbarian's stomach. Viscerex was still shirtless, after all. 
    "It's true! They shot him!" 
    "I'll kill him!" Sophia cried out. The other girls agreed. The fat boy had to die for this. 
    "No." Viscerex said firmly, crouching down so that his barrel chest and steel helmet were leveled with the posse of vengeful children. 
    "He is dangerous and foolish, and could hurt you. And look, all is well. Vengeance is not required." he explained, taking Sophia's hand and pressing it to the shining flesh of his scar. She prodded the smooth skin, her face a mixture of wonder and horror. 
    "Yes it is." she maintained, "He shot you because you helped us. My father said when someone helps you, you owe them a debt of gravitude." 
    Viscerex patted the little girl and one of her friends on the head. 
    "Sometimes, yes. Not this time. You must promise me that you will not seek vengeance for me."
    "But-"
    "Promise. All of you."
    The assembled girls grumbled various affirmatives. Viscerex stood up, satisfied. Sophia's eyes fell back upon his scar. 
    "But if he shot you...how are you alive?"
    "I have a very special friend." he said quietly, not entirely sure what Ioreth could hear from her bed, only a closed door and ten feet away, "She is an elf, and she saved me." 
    "Is she in there?! Can we meet her?" 
    "No." Viscerex said flatly, "It is time for you to go home. Your families will worry for you, knowing you are out in this storm. Straight home. Now. No vengeance. I have your word."  
    A minute later, when the children were gone, Viscerex re-entered Ioreth's room. He felt refreshed by the love the children had brought for him. He felt like a hero again, though all he had done was pop a ball and get shot in the stomach. He sat on the bed across from Ioreth and stared at her until she met his gaze. 
    "If it please you, lady, I will go downstairs and purchase a second room. I have done little to make your time here comfortable, and I have no will to further upset you."
    And with that he rose, and began to assemble his limited belongings. 
  8. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in Ancient Rites and Reunions   
    Saskion carried a sack of stripped Jackalwere rump up the hill of Coth. The warrior and hunter of elven lineage had taken great pains to clean the worst bloodstains from his doublet and leather armor. He'd scrubbed the muck from his boots and bathed his body all in anticipation of meeting the famous Prophet of Coth. 
    Constans was already waiting for him out in front of his ruined church, for a boy had been sent a few hours back to warn the town leader of Saskion's impending visit. The two men nodded at one another from a distance and, when he approached, Saskion inclined in a shallow bow to the priest and offered the sack of meat. 
    "Lord, a gift from the Oiche Duende. I am Saskion of the Zvenda, sent here to greet your formally on behalf of our folk and to offer you the friendship of the elves."
    Constans took the sack and, courteously, refrained from looking into it. He nodded his head. 
    "Be welcome Saskion. I hope you will communicate to your kinsman that their friendship is the will of all Cothites, and that our home is always ready to welcome you."  
    Saskion blinked.
    "You..."
    Constans nodded enthusiastically. Saskion piqued his brow. The prophet looked as giddy as a boy who had just learned to ride a horse.  
    "You understand me?" Saskion probed.
    "I understand you!" 
    "Fascinating."
    It was more than just that Constans spoke elven. He spoke it perfectly. He flowed and crashed, halting and tumbling through the streams of enunciation like a poet. Saskion had cousins who couldn't speak half as beautifully. 
    "I have been practicing with your kinswoman Ioreth, and more recently with a girl I assume must be a cousin, or a sister to you. Young Mythandriel, who shares your name."
    Comprehension dawned. Ah, Ioreth. He should have known who was responsible for the dissemination of their sacred tongue. Ioreth, whose love for knowledge had her spilling it in every human tavern across the face of Terrenus. And then there was the other name...
    Wait. What name had he spoken?  
    "Did you say Mythandriel? Mythandriel Zvenda?"
    Constans nodded again, smiling ignorantly. 
    "This girl is here? Alive?" 
    "Oh! Oh yes, that's right, her parents met some unfortunate end, didn't they? Yes she is here. Not dead yet, though not for lack of trying, from what I hear."
    Saskion dipped his head in thought. The common knowledge was that a Mythandriel Zvenda had died alongside her parents years ago. Had Ioreth and her apostate brother scurried the child off to human lands? Why?! Why rob the Zvenda of a beloved daughter? Was this Draug's revenge for his exile? Was it some plot of his sister? 
    "Forgive me, Prophet. I am moved to hear that my relative is alive. Would you permit me to resume this conversation with you at a later time? Further, could you direct me to this Mythandriel? It has been long since I have beheld her, and I greatly wish to check on her health."
    Constans walked forward and clasped Saskion by the shoulder, which proved that his intuition for elven language didn't give him any extra insight to their customs. But Saskion managed to resist twisting away from the hand of the priest and forced a smile. 
    "Of course, she is living with Ioreth in a cabin low on the hill." Constans explained, "I'm sure you'll want to see them both." 
    "Not really." Saskion said, and left the Prophet with a last quick bow. 
    Constans watched the elf walk briskly away, nonplussed. He waited until he was sure Saskion wouldn't return, and looked in the bag. It was filled with smelly strips of meat. 
    "Uhg." he recoiled from it, and pulled the bag closed tight. 
    @Witches Brew @KittyvonCupcake
  9. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in Ancient Rites and Reunions   
    Saskion carried a sack of stripped Jackalwere rump up the hill of Coth. The warrior and hunter of elven lineage had taken great pains to clean the worst bloodstains from his doublet and leather armor. He'd scrubbed the muck from his boots and bathed his body all in anticipation of meeting the famous Prophet of Coth. 
    Constans was already waiting for him out in front of his ruined church, for a boy had been sent a few hours back to warn the town leader of Saskion's impending visit. The two men nodded at one another from a distance and, when he approached, Saskion inclined in a shallow bow to the priest and offered the sack of meat. 
    "Lord, a gift from the Oiche Duende. I am Saskion of the Zvenda, sent here to greet your formally on behalf of our folk and to offer you the friendship of the elves."
    Constans took the sack and, courteously, refrained from looking into it. He nodded his head. 
    "Be welcome Saskion. I hope you will communicate to your kinsman that their friendship is the will of all Cothites, and that our home is always ready to welcome you."  
    Saskion blinked.
    "You..."
    Constans nodded enthusiastically. Saskion piqued his brow. The prophet looked as giddy as a boy who had just learned to ride a horse.  
    "You understand me?" Saskion probed.
    "I understand you!" 
    "Fascinating."
    It was more than just that Constans spoke elven. He spoke it perfectly. He flowed and crashed, halting and tumbling through the streams of enunciation like a poet. Saskion had cousins who couldn't speak half as beautifully. 
    "I have been practicing with your kinswoman Ioreth, and more recently with a girl I assume must be a cousin, or a sister to you. Young Mythandriel, who shares your name."
    Comprehension dawned. Ah, Ioreth. He should have known who was responsible for the dissemination of their sacred tongue. Ioreth, whose love for knowledge had her spilling it in every human tavern across the face of Terrenus. And then there was the other name...
    Wait. What name had he spoken?  
    "Did you say Mythandriel? Mythandriel Zvenda?"
    Constans nodded again, smiling ignorantly. 
    "This girl is here? Alive?" 
    "Oh! Oh yes, that's right, her parents met some unfortunate end, didn't they? Yes she is here. Not dead yet, though not for lack of trying, from what I hear."
    Saskion dipped his head in thought. The common knowledge was that a Mythandriel Zvenda had died alongside her parents years ago. Had Ioreth and her apostate brother scurried the child off to human lands? Why?! Why rob the Zvenda of a beloved daughter? Was this Draug's revenge for his exile? Was it some plot of his sister? 
    "Forgive me, Prophet. I am moved to hear that my relative is alive. Would you permit me to resume this conversation with you at a later time? Further, could you direct me to this Mythandriel? It has been long since I have beheld her, and I greatly wish to check on her health."
    Constans walked forward and clasped Saskion by the shoulder, which proved that his intuition for elven language didn't give him any extra insight to their customs. But Saskion managed to resist twisting away from the hand of the priest and forced a smile. 
    "Of course, she is living with Ioreth in a cabin low on the hill." Constans explained, "I'm sure you'll want to see them both." 
    "Not really." Saskion said, and left the Prophet with a last quick bow. 
    Constans watched the elf walk briskly away, nonplussed. He waited until he was sure Saskion wouldn't return, and looked in the bag. It was filled with smelly strips of meat. 
    "Uhg." he recoiled from it, and pulled the bag closed tight. 
    @Witches Brew @KittyvonCupcake
  10. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from KittyvonCupcake in New Friends and New Adventures   
    The mother pulled out her sword and held it in quivering hands. She knew she was about to die. Viscerex knew she was about to die. Her own son knew she was about to die, and he'd abandoned her. 
    Viscerex charged. She swung her sword and it bit into his shoulder hard. For a moment, she felt exuberant! She'd hit him! The next moment, however, she was in the air, something warm and tight wrapped around her throat. It was an odd sensation. She smelled something burning and then she found she couldn't breathe. She felt a bit dizzy. Suddenly, she realized the light was dimming in her eyesight. She felt the sensation of falling. 
    Viscerex watched her head, incinerated from her neck, fall to the ground. Her body slipped from his fingers to fall beside it. He reached over his shoulder and dislodged the sword she had buried into his muscle, discarding it on the ground with contempt. 
    That was when he heard Mythandriel scream. He spun to behold the cowardly knifeman slicing ribbons out of the elf's back. Flames kicked up from under Viscerex's feet and he half-ran, half-flew across the field, an outsretched arm clotheslining the boy and hurling him through the underbrush. Viscerex didn't stop running, but followed the rolling boy's body until it stopped. Dizzy and confused, the knifeman and held up his arms to ward off Viscerex. His efforts did not succeed. Viscerex stomped on the hands with a flaming boot, crushing the fingers and breaking the arms. He stomped again, and broke the boy's neck. Again, and crushed the boy's face. Again, and splattered the remains. 
    He looked up and around, but spotted no one else. He ran over to Myth and grabbed her rope. His green flames burned through it in a moment, and when she fell he caught her in his arms. The flames of God may have melted the flesh and bones of the iniquitous, but Mythandriel would feel nothing more sinister than a gentle glowing warmth. 
    Yet her blood was flowing copiously down Viscerex's arms, and he feared for her life. He strode with her, cradled like a child for the second time, into the elf-killer's tent. Inside, the man whose face he had broken earlier stared up at him in horror. Viscerex had forgotten about him. He dispatched the injured killer with another crushing stomp, which shattered what remainder of his head the barbarian had missed last time. Turning away from the smoldering corpse, Viscerex laid Mythandriel face down and willed God's flames to recede so that he could pick up the wet cloths and wrapping the killers had meant to use on themselves. 
    Tenderly, the wild lord cleaned and bandaged Mythandriel's injuries enough that the bleeding largely halted. He put her on a cot, not daring to pick her up and carry her home until her body began to heal. 
    He sat by her side while she rested; he, a giant crouched in a little wooden folding chair, the small elf's hand gripped gently in his own.   
  11. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in New Friends and New Adventures   
    For Viscerex sitting on sofa, the memories of his return replayed in his head as fast and briefly as reflections from stray puddles on the road; they were glimpses of memories, not the true things. His tired mind glossed over much, but it remembered the soaring of his heart when the door opened and her dark figure stood before him. It remembered handing the girl off and the strange emptiness he felt when her weight was gone. It remembered the pride in Ioreth admiring his hasty bandage-work. It remembered the pain at the sight, again, of Mythandriel's ruined back. It remembered the guilt. 
    But the guilt wasn't just a memory. It was sitting with him now. It was a specter which haunted this joyous reunion, the shadow which loomed behind Ioreth ready to grip her grateful mind and twist it to hatred for the man who had allowed her child-cousin to come to such harm.
    But she demanded the truth. No man who loved her could ever give her less. So he told it.
    "The man who attacked her in Coth was an elf-killer. He was sent with a knife and a letter of permission to kill and capture whatever elves he could find. The knife held some significance to Mythandriel, though I know not what. It and the letter, however, inspired her to return to the camp from where the killers originated. She wished to take vengeance upon them for their crimes against your people." 
    This was where he paused, for the rest was a damning account of his folly. His chest expanded slowly and in the subdued pall of Ioreth's half lit cabin the magnitude of the man painted a humongous swathe of darkness wherever his shadow fell. 
    "Already, I had seen the trouble she had fending off one drunk killer. Yet when I dispatched him I emboldened her. She ran off as you saw and, when I finally caught up to her as you commanded me to, her heart was set. I...I decided to accompany her-"
    -and I regretted it. And I was a fool for doing it. And I betrayed your trust. And I am undeserving of your praise- 
    "-and help her complete her task. We traveled for a time through the forest and then came upon the killer's kin and compatriots. From this moment on, Mythandriel acted only in accord with my instructions, and her subsequent injuries were a result of my own personal failure. For when we set about to ambush the elf-killers, they spun around as though expecting us. One captured Mythandriel and the rest subdued me. She was tied by rope to hang from a tree. I was bound to a nearby trunk. They..."
    They hit her. They molested her. They demeaned her. 
    "They harmed her. And they harmed me, once in their captivity. I broke free and fought back, but in the midst of the violence one of the men took his knife to her back, for I had left her hanging while I fought. Her injuries are a result of my incompetence. This is all a result of my incompetence." 
    There was little left to say. He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped before him. His face stared down through the eyes of his helmet. He dared not look up. He dared not meet Ioreth's gaze. 
    He remembered the words to an ancient song his grandfather had often sung:
    Where so many blessings crowd,
    'tis our duty to be proud.
    Up and answer, faithful swordsman,
    sing it joyfully aloud!
    Evermore upon our country
    God will pour his rich increase
    And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace,
    And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace!
    The song echoed in his head like an unruly animal hurling itself against its cage. What sick irony to think of such a thing, in this moment of misery. Here, truly, was a victory which brought him no glory. God had delivered him life, but it was not God's duty to fill that life with cheer. Only the actions of wise and judicious men could do that, and experience had taught Viscerex again and again that he was neither. 
  12. Superlike!
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in New Friends and New Adventures   
    For Viscerex sitting on sofa, the memories of his return replayed in his head as fast and briefly as reflections from stray puddles on the road; they were glimpses of memories, not the true things. His tired mind glossed over much, but it remembered the soaring of his heart when the door opened and her dark figure stood before him. It remembered handing the girl off and the strange emptiness he felt when her weight was gone. It remembered the pride in Ioreth admiring his hasty bandage-work. It remembered the pain at the sight, again, of Mythandriel's ruined back. It remembered the guilt. 
    But the guilt wasn't just a memory. It was sitting with him now. It was a specter which haunted this joyous reunion, the shadow which loomed behind Ioreth ready to grip her grateful mind and twist it to hatred for the man who had allowed her child-cousin to come to such harm.
    But she demanded the truth. No man who loved her could ever give her less. So he told it.
    "The man who attacked her in Coth was an elf-killer. He was sent with a knife and a letter of permission to kill and capture whatever elves he could find. The knife held some significance to Mythandriel, though I know not what. It and the letter, however, inspired her to return to the camp from where the killers originated. She wished to take vengeance upon them for their crimes against your people." 
    This was where he paused, for the rest was a damning account of his folly. His chest expanded slowly and in the subdued pall of Ioreth's half lit cabin the magnitude of the man painted a humongous swathe of darkness wherever his shadow fell. 
    "Already, I had seen the trouble she had fending off one drunk killer. Yet when I dispatched him I emboldened her. She ran off as you saw and, when I finally caught up to her as you commanded me to, her heart was set. I...I decided to accompany her-"
    -and I regretted it. And I was a fool for doing it. And I betrayed your trust. And I am undeserving of your praise- 
    "-and help her complete her task. We traveled for a time through the forest and then came upon the killer's kin and compatriots. From this moment on, Mythandriel acted only in accord with my instructions, and her subsequent injuries were a result of my own personal failure. For when we set about to ambush the elf-killers, they spun around as though expecting us. One captured Mythandriel and the rest subdued me. She was tied by rope to hang from a tree. I was bound to a nearby trunk. They..."
    They hit her. They molested her. They demeaned her. 
    "They harmed her. And they harmed me, once in their captivity. I broke free and fought back, but in the midst of the violence one of the men took his knife to her back, for I had left her hanging while I fought. Her injuries are a result of my incompetence. This is all a result of my incompetence." 
    There was little left to say. He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped before him. His face stared down through the eyes of his helmet. He dared not look up. He dared not meet Ioreth's gaze. 
    He remembered the words to an ancient song his grandfather had often sung:
    Where so many blessings crowd,
    'tis our duty to be proud.
    Up and answer, faithful swordsman,
    sing it joyfully aloud!
    Evermore upon our country
    God will pour his rich increase
    And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace,
    And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace!
    The song echoed in his head like an unruly animal hurling itself against its cage. What sick irony to think of such a thing, in this moment of misery. Here, truly, was a victory which brought him no glory. God had delivered him life, but it was not God's duty to fill that life with cheer. Only the actions of wise and judicious men could do that, and experience had taught Viscerex again and again that he was neither. 
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    Mythandriel was hoisted up, and she was placed on the Barbarian’s back, her arms draped around his neck, her head resting on his shoulder. Her pack was in the corner of the tent, and she made sure to remind Viscerex to grab it before they departed. She didn’t feel well, as Viscerex assumed. Her back stung, and every time she tried to adjust herself, her fresh wounds screamed at her, blood seeping from the scabs that would break, and then reform. Her breathing was slow, and as they stepped outside of the tent, she felt the full force of the blizzard occurring as the wind started to whip through the trees, snow hitting the two travelers mercilessly. It hurt, but she didn’t complain. 
    Viscerex had too many things to worry about, she’d rather not bother him with the pain she felt. Just hours ago they thought they were going to die here in these woods, their bodies strung up in the trees, their flesh and bones would have been used to make this ground anew, to flourish with new life. But not the forest would have to live with it’s new vicitims, those who sought them pain instead. Her eyes lingered over the mutilated corpses of their attacker’s, the most gruesome to her being Carter’s mother. Her decaptitated head still staring at her, her blue eyes seething with hatred, and fear, and they had now clouded over with rot. She was not a fan of her eyes. She’d see them in her dreams from now on. 
    Despite the tougher weather, Viscerex pushed on. His body generated so much heat, she found herself clinging tightly to him, wanting to soak up as much warmth as possible, but with that much snow whipping against her back, she still found it impossible not to shiver, her teeth chattering slightly. 
    She slept once, it was an accident. She didn’t mean to, but at one point the pain she felt was just overwhelming, and it was the only way she could escape it. When she woke, Viscerex was still walking, and it was nighttime now, the moon taunting them as it sat idly in the sky, it’s nightime companions blazing brightly, leading them home. 
    The rest of the journey was a blur to her, she didn’t know how close or how far away they were, she was delirious from pain, and her back and wounds felt hot. She was getting tired once again. They stopped in front of Ioreth’s door, the smell of the stew lingering in her nostrils. She could hear Dorian bleet for her from the side of the house by her cart. The beast was worried, her hooved feet clawing at the ground as she felt her Master’s fear.
    Mythandriel opened her eyes just in time to see Dorian, a soft smile on her face, just before they dipped inside her cousin’s cabin. It was so warm inside. She was gently placed on her stomach on Ioreth’s bed, her body surrounded by plush furs and warm quilts. Her body shuddered at all the sudden warmth, and she could feel her cousin’s lingering touch. She eyelids felt heavy as she heard Ioreth’s voice, and she grabbed her Cousin’s hand before she departed, and looked into her soft violet eyes. 
    “Forgive me.” was all she could manage to whisper before falling asleep, her hand slipping out of Ioreth’s, her body going limp and she finally relaxed, her face pressed sideways into the furs. 
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    Viscerex was not the only hunter.
    Two hours after Mythandriel departed, Ioreth stared face to face with the man she killed. In the bulging terror of his glassy eyes lie a lifeless plea for help. He had been granted one small mercy: Ioreth sliced the grotesque decoration from its chosen branch and tossed the head to join its body, stiff with rigor mortis, revoking his status as a warning from a child’s fairytale. He was now left as empty and severed shell, feed for the hungry foxes prowling for easy prey during the lean Winter season. When Spring reclaimed her grip, insects would claim what remained after the ravens and rats stripped meat from the bones.
    A man attacked her. He is dead.
    Shadows stirred and Ioreth returned to her cabin, to Mythandriel’s garden and her white elk that was no doubt hungry and missed the touch of her mistress.
    What had Mythandriel found in those pockets, in that discarded boot? What had caused her to leave behind Dorian, her companion since childhood?
    The questions bore no fruit. They whispered and hissed and dragged themselves like a dying man tied by his feet through her mind, and Ioreth pursued solace through keeping her hands busy.
    One day passed. She tidied Mythandriel’s cot and arranged her collection of apothic wares along a shelf dedicated to her little cousin’s collection of items. She placed a large seashell there, nestled in the rows of glittering glass jars filled with salves and potions. She checked Myth’s drying herbs and the plants she had growing within the cabin. She paced, then teased out strands of Myth’s hair from her comb and placed them in a bottle.
    Any venture made outside the cabin had traces of Mythandriel’s presence drifting along besides her. Ioreth walked to the seamstress and arranged for a new dress to be sewn in exchange for the buck Viscerex left behind, one with hidden pockets that she knew Myth would find useful. She fed and brushed Dorian’s white coat, she tended Mythandriel’s resting garden.
    She did not sleep the first day. She waited for night to fall, yet no one came. The sun rose, yet it offered no sight of a little elf and a tall barbarian emerging from the forest, only empty pathways and carrion birds circling over the trees. She scrubbed her floors, she boiled water for Mythandriel’s bean juice, she retrieved an herbalist’s grimoire from her bedroom, recently tidied after her cousin’s prompting, and placed it atop Myth’s cot. Before the noon sun climbed further in the sky, she fed Dorian and considered gathering further ingredients for a tracking spell. She gathered mushrooms, instead, to add to the venison stew Mythandriel liked, so long as Ioreth did not disclose what meat simmered in the hearty broth.
    It was this that Viscerex and Mythandriel would return home to: the savory scent of “Iory stew” bubbling over the fire, a warm cabin, and a she-elf vibrating with a near frantic desire for action to cover the jagged teeth of worry.
    When she opened the door and saw Mythandriel clinging to Viscerex’s back, her clothes torn and bloodied, her exposed skin ravaged and raw, the sound of a thousand small things crumpling caught in her throat and escaped with a broken gasp.
    “Come lay her down on my bed.”
    There was something missing in Ioreth’s voice. No sonorous purr, no dry humor, no seething irritation or soft whispers stirring from the dark. It was as empty as the vacant mask that clung to her. A raven settled on the fence post of her cabin’s garden, its black feathers sharp against the heavy snow. Ioreth shut the door and led Viscerex to her bedroom.
    Her small sanctuary was a place that contained both wilderness and woman. Vines with softly glowing blooms encircled the ceiling and slithered along the walls like resting pythons. A full length mirror leaned in one corner, partially obscured by her silk blue robe draped over its gilded frame. Above it was the second rack of antlers she kept from one of the offerings Viscerex hammered into her door. Gems and curios kept her journals, now stacked in piles and placed in a bookshelf, company. Her staff stood by the doorway with her rucksack, packed and ready to leave at a moment’s notice. He would have recognized her dagger still nestled in the expanse quilts and furs that covered her large mattress, always kept within arm’s reach as she slumbered.
    When Myth was placed gently on her stomach, Ioreth began to inspect the damage done to her back. As she had done with Constans in the tomb many months ago, the pale violet light that pulsed from her hands sang sweetly to the persistent ache of Mythandriel’s wounds, soundless melodies of quiet, of sleep, of a place without pain.
    “Viscerex, did you bandage these?” Sensation slinked back to her, the tumult of heartache cascading with relief, anger and gratitude, a choking sob that threatened to reveal itself should Ioreth continue to speak. “You did well.”
    You returned her to me.
    She leaned forward to brush Mythandriel’s hair out of her face and murmured, ”You rest, and then we will speak. There is much I wish to discuss with you. I’m near if you need me.”
    Ioreth walked away from the side of the bed with tense shoulders and a dark expression. Though her fingertips that came to rest on Viscerex’s arm as she led him out into the main room were light and cool, her jaw was taunt and clenched.
    “Come sit with me,” she said, gesturing for Viscerex to go to the sofa she would often lounge on during late night discussions with Constans as she settled into the armchair the priest preferred. He looked tired, God’s other chosen one, even if she could not see his face. It was in the way he carried himself; still proud, still strong, yet with a diminishing light. Still, she did not release him from the intensity of her gaze that read the bloodstains on his clothing. She lifted her chin, tossed back her hair, and stated flatly, “I need to know what happened to her, and I trust you to tell me the truth.” The sharp snarl of a laugh that interjected itself glittered like a blade. “And I trust that whoever hurt her is now dead. Where did she go, what did she do, and why?”
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    "I am fine, Mythandriel." he said, taking a deep breath.
    "If you are feeling well, we should go." 
    Of course she was not feeling well. She would not be able to walk. Luckily, Viscerex had no intention of letting her. Carrying her like a child would expose her back to the roughness of his stride, and so he helped her instead to mount his back and swing her arms around his neck. He grabbed her thighs in his strong hands and lifted her off the bed. Her back would be toward the cold, but that was all for the good. It would slow any bleeding and expose the damaged skin to a bit of fresh air.
    In this way, Viscerex began to carry Mythandriel back toward Coth. It was slow going. The snow falling around them threw rolling white dunes in his path, but the barbarian seemed tireless, trudging on through wind and weather that would have depleted lesser men. His green eyes burned through the white, and his body radiated divine warmth such that even Mythandriel on his back would, if she clung tightly, feel comfortable in the otherwise inhospitable weather. 
    It took an entire day and a half of slow walking for them to leave the winter storms behind and see the tall hill of Coth rising in the distance. Though Myth had slept and risen, Viscerex had not for a moment stopped walking. He did not sleep. He did not pause. Yet when he saw Coth in the distance, heard the sound of blacksmiths' hammers on the wind and the lowing of cattle at the edges of the farmland territory, when he smelled the cook fires and the sweet stink of manure he paused for a moment and accepted that his arduous journey was finally nearing its end. 
    And then he started walking again, all the way to Ioreth's cabin. He remembered that not so long ago he had given up hope of ever seeing it again, and was glad. Once he reached her door, decorated with its many nail-holes, he tapped against it courteously with his foot, begging entrance. 
    @KittyvonCupcake
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    If medieval fantasy is your thing, you should hit me up at your earliest convenience. 
     
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    It was strange, seeing the Barbarian this way. He had been so serious and stoic the entire journey here, and now he seemed like he was a puddle of emotions. She didn't know how to deal with this side of him, but it was nice to see he had other emotions other than the previous one's she's witnessed. She closed her eyes as he brushed her hair away from her face, his fingers lingering on her cheek just for a moment. She loved stuff like this, these tender touches. She didn't get a whole lot of those either. 
    "Yeah, it seems like I'm going to be okay." She said, her mouth and throat dry, her voice cracking. She was thirsty, but it seemed her need for water could wait. He squeezed her hand, and turned away from her, so that she couldn't see his eyes. Was he upset? She gasped as she moved, her hair falling back over her shoulders, and she slowly sat up, careful not to move around too much, but she got herself upright. She took a shred from her shirt, and wiped some of the brain mush from his helmet. "What's wrong? Are you hurt? Are you upset?" She asked, and she winched as she lowered her arm back down. 
    Who the hell stabs someone in the armpit anyways? Fucking prick. 
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    The mother pulled out her sword and held it in quivering hands. She knew she was about to die. Viscerex knew she was about to die. Her own son knew she was about to die, and he'd abandoned her. 
    Viscerex charged. She swung her sword and it bit into his shoulder hard. For a moment, she felt exuberant! She'd hit him! The next moment, however, she was in the air, something warm and tight wrapped around her throat. It was an odd sensation. She smelled something burning and then she found she couldn't breathe. She felt a bit dizzy. Suddenly, she realized the light was dimming in her eyesight. She felt the sensation of falling. 
    Viscerex watched her head, incinerated from her neck, fall to the ground. Her body slipped from his fingers to fall beside it. He reached over his shoulder and dislodged the sword she had buried into his muscle, discarding it on the ground with contempt. 
    That was when he heard Mythandriel scream. He spun to behold the cowardly knifeman slicing ribbons out of the elf's back. Flames kicked up from under Viscerex's feet and he half-ran, half-flew across the field, an outsretched arm clotheslining the boy and hurling him through the underbrush. Viscerex didn't stop running, but followed the rolling boy's body until it stopped. Dizzy and confused, the knifeman and held up his arms to ward off Viscerex. His efforts did not succeed. Viscerex stomped on the hands with a flaming boot, crushing the fingers and breaking the arms. He stomped again, and broke the boy's neck. Again, and crushed the boy's face. Again, and splattered the remains. 
    He looked up and around, but spotted no one else. He ran over to Myth and grabbed her rope. His green flames burned through it in a moment, and when she fell he caught her in his arms. The flames of God may have melted the flesh and bones of the iniquitous, but Mythandriel would feel nothing more sinister than a gentle glowing warmth. 
    Yet her blood was flowing copiously down Viscerex's arms, and he feared for her life. He strode with her, cradled like a child for the second time, into the elf-killer's tent. Inside, the man whose face he had broken earlier stared up at him in horror. Viscerex had forgotten about him. He dispatched the injured killer with another crushing stomp, which shattered what remainder of his head the barbarian had missed last time. Turning away from the smoldering corpse, Viscerex laid Mythandriel face down and willed God's flames to recede so that he could pick up the wet cloths and wrapping the killers had meant to use on themselves. 
    Tenderly, the wild lord cleaned and bandaged Mythandriel's injuries enough that the bleeding largely halted. He put her on a cot, not daring to pick her up and carry her home until her body began to heal. 
    He sat by her side while she rested; he, a giant crouched in a little wooden folding chair, the small elf's hand gripped gently in his own.   
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    The mother pulled out her sword and held it in quivering hands. She knew she was about to die. Viscerex knew she was about to die. Her own son knew she was about to die, and he'd abandoned her. 
    Viscerex charged. She swung her sword and it bit into his shoulder hard. For a moment, she felt exuberant! She'd hit him! The next moment, however, she was in the air, something warm and tight wrapped around her throat. It was an odd sensation. She smelled something burning and then she found she couldn't breathe. She felt a bit dizzy. Suddenly, she realized the light was dimming in her eyesight. She felt the sensation of falling. 
    Viscerex watched her head, incinerated from her neck, fall to the ground. Her body slipped from his fingers to fall beside it. He reached over his shoulder and dislodged the sword she had buried into his muscle, discarding it on the ground with contempt. 
    That was when he heard Mythandriel scream. He spun to behold the cowardly knifeman slicing ribbons out of the elf's back. Flames kicked up from under Viscerex's feet and he half-ran, half-flew across the field, an outsretched arm clotheslining the boy and hurling him through the underbrush. Viscerex didn't stop running, but followed the rolling boy's body until it stopped. Dizzy and confused, the knifeman and held up his arms to ward off Viscerex. His efforts did not succeed. Viscerex stomped on the hands with a flaming boot, crushing the fingers and breaking the arms. He stomped again, and broke the boy's neck. Again, and crushed the boy's face. Again, and splattered the remains. 
    He looked up and around, but spotted no one else. He ran over to Myth and grabbed her rope. His green flames burned through it in a moment, and when she fell he caught her in his arms. The flames of God may have melted the flesh and bones of the iniquitous, but Mythandriel would feel nothing more sinister than a gentle glowing warmth. 
    Yet her blood was flowing copiously down Viscerex's arms, and he feared for her life. He strode with her, cradled like a child for the second time, into the elf-killer's tent. Inside, the man whose face he had broken earlier stared up at him in horror. Viscerex had forgotten about him. He dispatched the injured killer with another crushing stomp, which shattered what remainder of his head the barbarian had missed last time. Turning away from the smoldering corpse, Viscerex laid Mythandriel face down and willed God's flames to recede so that he could pick up the wet cloths and wrapping the killers had meant to use on themselves. 
    Tenderly, the wild lord cleaned and bandaged Mythandriel's injuries enough that the bleeding largely halted. He put her on a cot, not daring to pick her up and carry her home until her body began to heal. 
    He sat by her side while she rested; he, a giant crouched in a little wooden folding chair, the small elf's hand gripped gently in his own.   
  20. Sad
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in New Friends and New Adventures   
    Viscerex's eye widened as he watched his ax sail past the twisting body of his mark. It collided into a tree, burying into the trunk with such power that woodchips exploded from the oak's side. 
    Suddenly, there were three people rushing toward him. He ripped his broad knife from its sheath and met their charges. He loomed over them, his arms wide to receive them. To his disappointment their strikes were clumsy and wild. He weaved between swords, ducked low under an ax, punched a man in his stomach and twirled to catch an incoming blade on his knife. 
    He sensed someone behind him and he kicked, throwing a woman sprawling across the dirt. At his side, the man he'd punched was doubled over, vomiting half-digested meat and blood on the forest floor. Viscerex put a boot through his jaw and pivoted, again swatting the other swordsman's attack aside. The woman was rising to her feet slowly some ten paces away, and Viscerex took the time to gleefully slam knife-blow after knife-blow at the still-standing swordsman. The man kept barely raising his weapon in time, and the shocks of Viscerex's cuts pushed him down, and down, and down, till the man was on his knees. 
    Viscerex batted the sword away one last time, and punched the man in the temple. When he hit the ground, the man was bleeding out of his eye, the bones of his face crunched inward. Viscerex slammed a fist into his own chest, a rough salute to the joy of life, and spun once more to face the woman who by now was back on her feet. 
    Yet before he could engage with her, Mythandriel's foe called out:
    “Drop your weapons, or your elf bitch dies here!”
    Viscerex paused, turning his iron mask to Myth. He cursed under his breath to see he captured, but his shoulders relaxed. The woman he was about to kill glanced back and forth between Viscerex and the Mythandriel, waiting anxiously for the barbarian's decision. 
    Viscerex dropped his knife. 
    "If you hurt her, I swear upon God's fire that I kill you all with my hands." 
    Beneath him, two of the men were writhing on the ground, weeping and vomiting and clutching their broken faces. The woman hesitated for a moment, looking down at her allies in horror, but then scampered off to get rope enough to bind the monstrous helmeted man and his elven ally. 
    Under his mask, Viscerex seethed with fury. 
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    "Gods smile on you, human." Saskion said, relieved to receive the help. He grabbed both legs and gestured for Tolok to take the creature's arms. 
    "This is a Jackalwere, it's a misleading name because when you hear it, you think of a were creature, like a werewolf. Jackalwere in old human tongue translates to jackal man. But this beast was never an innocent human, it was born like this. What's so fearsome about them is that they can transform into men, to trick people into ambushes. This one here was a particularly successful killer." 
    Together, they hauled the body halfway up the hill, until the homes and farmsteads gave way to housefront shops where butchers were plying their trades. Saskion and Tolok set the beast down, garnering a few puzzled stares from some of the men and women cutting up more traditional meats. The elf approached an old woman and conversed with her shortly, bargaining a bit of gold to borrow her table and her cleaver. 
    "Have you ever taken apart an animal before, human?" he asked Tolok. He waved the man over. 
    "Come, I'll show you how." 
    Saskion had Tolok help him hoist the dead Jackalwere on the table he'd rented. The creature was laid belly up. Though he had the cleaver, Saskion used his hunting knife to cut the beast open. He slammed the knife right above the creature's genitals and began sawing up the seam of its stomach. Soon enough, its guts were spilling out onto the table. 
    "Now, if you want to mount this, you'd stop around the sternum," he explained, "That way most of the chest is intact. Can't imagine anyone wanting to keep this ugly bastard, however, so lets--" he said, and stopped to crack his knife through the creature's ribcage, popping open its chest to reveal heart and lungs, slick wet with blood and oil. 
    "There we go. Now we need to break its hips open, so..." 
    He stalked around to the other side of the body and sliced from the groin down, sawing into the heavy bone between the hips. Once it was fairly well sawed into, the elf gripped the creature's hip in one hand, and sharply pulled its tail with the other. The pull popped the hips open, and the creature's entire lower body parted open like a gory flower. 
    Saskion then showed Tolok how to cut out the organs, explaining which were worth keeping and which were not. From there, he had Tolok help him flip the carcass over, letting all the blood spill out onto the dirt of the road. 
    "You don't want blood drying on your meat." he reminded the human. 
    After that, it was a matter of slicing off the skin, which Saskion did in short order, and then quartering the animal with the cleaver. The afternoon thrummed with the dull thuds of the fat blade slamming into the dead monster's joints. In the end, they pair were left with a few organs, some handsome looking legs and arms, and thick cuts of Jackalwere flesh. As promised, Saskion gifted an entire leg to the human. 
    "It tastes pretty similar to dog, I've found. Somewhere between beef and mutton. Quite good. I hope you enjoy it."
    Saskion then offered the old woman a few more coins if she would strip and cure the meat. She accepted, leaving the elf with some free time. He slapped a bloody hand on Tolok's shoulder and smiled warmly at his new friend. 
    "So, what brings you to this place?"
     
    @The Fire Heart
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    Viscerex was still lost in his sad thoughts. In the pit of his misery, Mythandriel's voice barely touched him. What were a little girl's promises compared the overwhelming sadness of his failure? They were nothing. Nor were the cruel laughs of the men as they approached. Viscerex looked up at their giddy smiles. He had crushed their friends. He had no doubt they would take this opportunity to torture him to their satisfaction. He knew he would hurt, he knew he would scream, but no pain their knives could inflict could match the grief he felt knowing he would never again darken the doorstep of the elf he loved. 
    Viscerex took his beating in stride. His stomach was like iron and while the kicks hurt, the most the red-head got from him was a grunt. He felt his muscles beginning to ache by the time the boy tired himself out, and he knew across his stomach there would be ten or so ripe bruises. He'd endured worse, but in this moment he accepted the pain. He deserved it. 
    His head hung low. He only turned it to the side when he realized the other man who had emerged was standing not in front of him, but Mythandriel. 
    "What a pretty face you have, for a monster." the brown haired boy said, slackening Myth's rope so that she was hanging low enough to look him eye-to-eye. He slapped her across the face with a heavy backhand. 
    Viscerex didn't even think. His body convulsed on instinct, his muscles bulging as he groaned and growled against his restraints. But they held, and the red-head across from him began to laugh. Viscerex ignored him, the calm helmet masking the tortured expression that was aimed only at Mythandriel. 
    Her torturer curled his hand into a fist and buried it in to her stomach. He turned toward Viscerex and feigned surprise. 
    "Oh? Oh? Is this yours, big guy?" tauntingly, he reached a hand up to Mythandriel's chest and grabbed her breast in his hand, mocking Viscerex with a stupid expression as he mistreated the poor elven child under his power. 
    Viscerex leaned forward, pulling so tight that the ropes began to fray his skin. Blood trickled down from them and the red-head's smile dropped slightly. The ropes were stretching more than they ought. 
    "H-hey Cal. Hey, whoa!" 
    And that was, perhaps unexpectedly for the two unfortunate torturers, when they discovered that Viscerex was beginning to catch on fire. They were lines of green, at first; wispily they coursed over the valleys between his bunched and straining muscles. But seconds later, those lines had turned into shimmering green waves of fire, waves which coursed over his skin and began to singe through the already taut ropes before they torturers even understood what they were looking at. 
    "NOOOOOOOOO!" Viscerex leaned harder into the ropes, the thin lines of blood weeping from the torn skin of his chest and shoulders began to boil in the heat of the holy fire that was consuming him. Once a single burned rope snapped, the rest began to pop all at once. Viscerex's arms surged up, and he rose to his feet fast as a scrambling dog. The red-head took a step back, his face alive with fear. Viscerex's hand gripped over that face. The boy screamed into mighty Viscerex's hand and he grabbed the barbarian's massive forearm in desperation. Within a moment, Viscerex's burning fingers melted into the flesh, burned through the bone, and crunched into a fist halfway through the man's skull. Bits of skin and forehead and brain popped out with the collapse of the red-head's face, and his body fell to the ground bonelessly. 
    Viscerex turned his palm up, his impassive mask looking down at the mess dripping off of it. Then he turned to the other torturer, who was standing with his mouth agape in front of Mythandriel. 
    Viscerex took a step toward him, and the boy's legs gave out. He fell to the ground, scrambling desperately to crawl away from the burning green monster he had unleashed. 
  23. Sad
    Vansin got a reaction from Witches Brew in New Friends and New Adventures   
    Viscerex's eye widened as he watched his ax sail past the twisting body of his mark. It collided into a tree, burying into the trunk with such power that woodchips exploded from the oak's side. 
    Suddenly, there were three people rushing toward him. He ripped his broad knife from its sheath and met their charges. He loomed over them, his arms wide to receive them. To his disappointment their strikes were clumsy and wild. He weaved between swords, ducked low under an ax, punched a man in his stomach and twirled to catch an incoming blade on his knife. 
    He sensed someone behind him and he kicked, throwing a woman sprawling across the dirt. At his side, the man he'd punched was doubled over, vomiting half-digested meat and blood on the forest floor. Viscerex put a boot through his jaw and pivoted, again swatting the other swordsman's attack aside. The woman was rising to her feet slowly some ten paces away, and Viscerex took the time to gleefully slam knife-blow after knife-blow at the still-standing swordsman. The man kept barely raising his weapon in time, and the shocks of Viscerex's cuts pushed him down, and down, and down, till the man was on his knees. 
    Viscerex batted the sword away one last time, and punched the man in the temple. When he hit the ground, the man was bleeding out of his eye, the bones of his face crunched inward. Viscerex slammed a fist into his own chest, a rough salute to the joy of life, and spun once more to face the woman who by now was back on her feet. 
    Yet before he could engage with her, Mythandriel's foe called out:
    “Drop your weapons, or your elf bitch dies here!”
    Viscerex paused, turning his iron mask to Myth. He cursed under his breath to see he captured, but his shoulders relaxed. The woman he was about to kill glanced back and forth between Viscerex and the Mythandriel, waiting anxiously for the barbarian's decision. 
    Viscerex dropped his knife. 
    "If you hurt her, I swear upon God's fire that I kill you all with my hands." 
    Beneath him, two of the men were writhing on the ground, weeping and vomiting and clutching their broken faces. The woman hesitated for a moment, looking down at her allies in horror, but then scampered off to get rope enough to bind the monstrous helmeted man and his elven ally. 
    Under his mask, Viscerex seethed with fury. 
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    When Viscerex patted her on the back, and complimented her, her eyes lit up, and a smile grew on her face. She felt giddy, like how a child might feel when their father or a mentor would say they were proud of something they had done. She wanted more of it, she wanted to make Viscerex proud. She would listen to every instruction with enthusiasm, and execute each command with immediate obedience. 
    For over two hours they watched the group, they seemed like some strange dysfunctional family of sorts. The woman was older, she didn’t seem like she was anyone’s mate, and she was more affectionate towards two of the more taller men. Her sons maybe? One of the sons was a tall, dark skinned man, with tight curly black hair. Was that Carter? Her eyes narrowed as she watched, her hatred for the unknown man was clear, and the others had to die also, just from being associated with him. She didn’t care who they were. It was when they settled around a fire, and the woman started cooking was when Viscerex had more friendly advice to share with her. 
    She drank it all in, each word he whispered hung heavy in her ears, and she nodded, ready to finally strike. They crept slowly, carefully, keeping low to the ground while making sure they were careful about where they placed their feet. Myth couldn’t feel her toes at this point, but the adrenaline she felt numbed her entire body. She was ready. Slowly she withdrew her knife, keeping it in front of her at all times, ready to strike at any moment. They stopped behind a tent, and Viscerex said it was time to throw. It doesn’t have to hit, it’s just there to surprise them. They have to strike immediately after, no second chances after this. She had to be ready. She withdrew a second knife, it was smaller, easier to throw. When he asked if she was ready, she nodded, and took a deep breath. As he readied his axe, she stepped out from behind the tent slowly, and in one lightning fast whip of her arm, the knife let loose from her fingers, and ripped through the air, slashing a man in the arm. She gripped her dagger tightly in her hand, and ran forward, ready to start her assault. 
    However, a yell rang out through the air, and everyone was on their feet, ready for the two invaders. This was not going to be as easy as she thought. They were already armed, and charging at them both. Mythandriel gasped, and ducked as a sword slashed towards her head, the man who’s arm she cut was grinning at her, his dark eyes full of pain and excitement. Swords were drawn, arrows were unleashed, and smiles were all around them. They had been ready for them. Myth slashed out, wanting to just cut anything she could possibly manage too, but the man was faster than she was, and grabbed hold of her wrist, bending it in the opposite direction, sending a sharp pain up her arm. 
    “You didn’t think it’d be that easy, did you?” He sneered down at her, and Mythandriel drew back her lips and hissed, baring her teeth at him, like a feral cat. She then ducked low, and swept her leg around, trying to knock him out from under himself. He however, saw that move coming, and used his elbow to knock the wind out of her, jamming it into her stomach. She crumpled to her knees, her dagger dropping from her hands. Viscerex was still fighting, she could hear his grunts, and the cries of his victims as they attempted to fight the giant man. 
    The man who held her wrapped his hand around her throat, pulling her up to her feet, and turned her around, so that her back was pressed up against his stomach and chest. He picked up her dagger, and held it tightly to her throat, so that if he wanted, with one swift move, her blood would spill over the broken earth below them. 
    “Hey! Giant man, drop your weapons!” The man demanded, and he tightened his grip on the elf. Myth’s heartbeat quickened. She didn’t want him to stop fighting, he had to kill them all! He had too! 
    “Drop your weapons, or your elf bitch dies here!”
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    "Viscerex, don't-" Mythandriel started to say, but then the blade was pressing harder into her throat, threatening to cut. The man holding her smiled, and his grip on her tightened. Her heart beat loudly in her chest, and she felt like a damned fool for letting herself get beaten this early, and this easily. Viscerex was counting on her to do a good job, to slaughter at least one man. She had seen him take on four people, all at once! How could it be that she was so bad at this? 
    "That's it Big Guy, drop the knife, and she doesn't get hurt." He said, and his eyes lit up as the Barbarian before him did as he said. His mother ran off to go grab rope to restrain the two, and he couldn't believe it. They actually managed to catch them. He had spotted them lurking earlier in the morning, but he didn't think they'd actually attack. He couldn't believe their luck. He was also lucky that the Barbarian cared enough about the Elven whore to actually drop his weapons. They couldn't defeat the man on their own, with their best fighter out on a mission in Coth. The Barbarian threatened him, and he laughed. "Oh! I won't hurt the Elf, not yet." He said with a devious grin, his pale teeth bright against his dark skin. 
    When his mother returned, the Barbarian was bound first, after being led to a thick tree, his arms tied behind the trunk, and he was allowed to sit. The elf however, was strung up from a branch, her arms above her head, her feet dangling above the ground. They wouldn't attempt to do that with the Barbarian, he looked too heavy for one, and it just seemed scary to have a giant man dangle from a tree, what sense would that make after all? 
    Mythandriel tried to fight as she was dragged over to the tree, having watched Viscerex surrender. She felt awful, and her legs lashed out as they hoisted her up, taking away her pack. Once they were securely immobilized, Myth let her head hang there, and she held back tears. She was not going to cry, not now. The woman was tending to the wounds Viscerex had inflicted, and they were left alone. 
    "I'm sorry." Was all Myth said to him at first, but then she continued. "You put your trust in me, and I let you down." 
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