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Grimshar

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About Grimshar

  • Rank
    Immortal of Sithrak
  • Birthday 03/05/1993

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  • Location
    Washington State
  • Interests
    Gaming, Hiking, Hunting, Target Shooting, Electrical Engineering.
  • Occupation
    IT Support Specialist

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  1. Concern cut through Valerie's fugue, like a hot knife through fresh cheese at the sight of tears welling in her daughters' eyes. As the previous flurry of emotion melted away a surge of anxious energy and a desire to comfort her daughter pushed its way to the forefront of her mind. She pulled herself forward with the arms of the chair, intent on pushing herself up and rushing to wrap her arms around her daughter and give her the safety she deserved. But, Ysgrid practically leaped from her chair as she brushed away the very tears that tore a rift in Valerie's soul. Empty excuses fell from Ysgrids' lips like a waterfall, Valerie didn't believe any of them. She let the tension flow from her body and allowed herself to relax back into the chair, drawing her eye calculatingly over Ysgrid as she practically groveled her way out of the room. It was hard to remember that Ysgrid was a woman now, no longer a child of only twelve, that she had a will of her own and methods of dealing with trauma that didn't always align with Valeries'. She let her daughter go without complaint, finishing off the rest of her glass as Ysgrids' footsteps disappeared up the stairs. An uncomfortable silence descended in Ysgrids' absence, the young woman was the only thing that brought life to her home anymore. Her concern for Ysgrid slowly slipped away, leaving only a hollow, listless feeling behind. She needed to fill that hollow within herself. A numbness had taken over her, she didn't even feel herself drinking the rest of Ysgrids' glass, nor did she realize she had removed the entire bottle of whiskey from the cabinet. Her feet moved of their own accord, taking her to the stairway as she absently sipped from the bottle. The dark amber liquid worked its way into her bloodstream, pulling her up from the depths of her despair and depositing her onto a pleasantly floating cloud. It wasn't long before she found herself back in the study, pulling her clothing tighter against her body in a futile attempt to ward off the cold. Her eyes were drawn again to Renkors' corpse. Their fates had once been entwined, so close that they were almost indistinguishable. Seeing him now, a corpse without the usual vitriol of life that she had grown accustomed to, it disheartened her. How had she fucked everything up so badly? She stepped over to the gaping hole in the side of the house, realizing that the blizzard seemed to have stopped. Heavy clouds still hung over the town, blocking the sun, but no fresh snow fell from them. She took another swig from the bottle, trying to push herself further and further into that floating feeling that numbed her soul. When before she had thought Valjer was burning, she had been wrong, it was a rash of fires, but nothing serious. Now, Valjer burned. Half of the town was aflame, burning to a char and leaving her people stranded in the cold. A sickening thought managed to pierce the veil she had drawn over her awareness, by the end of the night would she even have anyone left? Even if she did, it would take months for the town to rebuild. She turned away from the sight again, trying to hide from her anguish. The now-empty bottle of alcohol fell from numb fingers, bouncing off the ironwood floors with a dull thunk. She fell to her knees next to Renkor and reached out to run her hands across his face, feeling the sharp angles of his face that were so distinctively elfish. He looked so peaceful, so happy, she wanted to be happy too. She laid down next to him and wrapped her arms around him.
  2. Valerie lost herself within the whirlwind of events that occurred following the Scion depositing the trio in her house. Cleaning, suturing, and bandaging the wounds of the two living members, losing herself in the old embrace of mending wounds. It wasn't something that she had done in the recent past, having to take over the day to day operations of Valjer from her late husband had consumed the majority of her time. She would be lying if she said she hadn't slipped into a mild depression at losing the one thing that had truly been her passion, and being able to immerse herself in that passion again was like being able to breathe again. Like all things though, it came to an end. There were no more wounds to clean, no more heart rates to monitor, just two patients that needed to recover on their own time. The guards had hovered for a few minutes before eventually deciding they would be of no use and returned to their posts at the front of the manor. Ysgrid still knelt next to her, having worked just as fervently as she to get their two patients stabilized. The biting cold was the best motivator, like a cruel taskmaster standing at their backs with a prod, ever present and needlessly liberal with the punishment. Her hands had gone numb long ago, a reminder for the urgency of finding shelter form the storm still raging outside. With the cold in mind, she motioned to Ted's unconscious form, "Ysgrid, carry him down to the basement where it's warmest, we'll drip feed them some of the soup broth and try to wake them up." She looped her arms behind Aelyria's knees and shoulders and hefted the waif of a woman up and over her own shoulder before heading towards the door, sparing only one glance back towards the supine form of Renkor before entering the hallway and stepping down the stairs. The fire had dwindled in the basement fireplace, but the warmth remained for now. She lay Aelyria in front of the hearth and finished stripping away the layers of clothing and canvas that were wrapped around her body, replacing them with a thick bear skin that was much warmer. Her hands warmed as she did this, feeling returning along with a prickling sensation that was uncomfortable to say the least. She shivered at the feeling of Aelyria's frigid skin, pale and delicate like a sheet of paper, as if all the life and warmth had been sucked out of her. She placed Aelyria's equipment off to the side and grabbed several split logs to throw onto the still hot coals. Ysgrid had done much the same for Ted, stripping his wet and cold clothing before replacing them with a fur that was warm and dry. With nothing left to do besides wait for the fire to warm the two frigid companions, she retreated to the small liquor cabinet kept next to the plush reading chairs and book cases. The cabinet was another relic of Valjer's storied history, an ancient ironwood barrel that had been converted into a cabinet with shelving and swing out doors. It was an heirloom that had been crafted by the hands of men who knew no life outside of the dark depths of the labyrinthine caves underneath the very place she stood. She drew out a decanter of amber whiskey and set it on the barrel-top, realizing that perhaps her own willingness to hold onto items from the darkest part of Valjer's past was part of what had continued to contribute to the very issues that plagued her city today. She poured two glasses of the liquid, tossing one back immediately before refilling it and taking both to the plush chairs, sinking into one with a sigh. She placed the second glass on the low table that stood between the two chairs for Ysgrid. The whiskey settled in her stomach with a burning curl, her thoughts skipping over everything that was happening. The creature that was rampaging in their town couldn't be the Scion of Valjer, as she had begun to suspect. Her late husband was delusional about many things, but the appearance of the true Scion of Valjer just a short while ago proved that whatever was killing her people was not their savior. But, if that was true, and the Dragon that had torn half her house apart was the real Scion of Valjer, then what was she supposed to make of it bringing her a near dead trio with such infamy. Well... duo now, Renkor had long since passed into Death's Embrace. Was the Scion delivering them to her for her to deliver justice? If that was so, why wouldn't the Scion have dispensed the justice itself? No, the more she thought about it, the more she began to convince herself that the Scion had brought them here for her to protect, to the seat of power in the city. That made things awkward for her, since the last time she had seen Aelyria or Renkor had not been a pleasant interaction, in fact it had been quite hostile, with Renkor himself promising to kill her if their paths ever crossed again. She swirled the amber liquid in her glass, feeling that despair creeping up from the pit of her stomach. "Oh Ysgrid... What am I supposed to do?"
  3. Valerie Valmer sat in her late husbands study, staring despondently at the ruined state of the room. The ironwood desk that had been an ever present, monolithic symbol of the enduring nature of the people of Valjer was split completely in half, its contents strewn about the floor. The desk was a relic of a time before her ancestors had emerged from the labyrinth below the city, dragged from that very same labyrinth and preserved in the Valmer manor. It had to be at least two centuries old, it was quite honestly the most beautiful piece of furniture she had ever seen. It was a shame that her husband had corrupted the very principals that it had once stood for, driving them back into the very isolationist and backwards type of existence that would lead them back into the labyrinth below the earth. The weight of the world settled on her chest, how was she alone supposed to deal with all of these issues that her husband had brought about, there was no one that she trusted enough to bring into the fold of her machinations. It was nights like these that she would sit in the basement, in front of the hearth, the roaring fire the only light provided, swirling a glass of amber whiskey and sinking into the depths of her own despair. Tonight, though, she couldn't afford such luxuries. She needed to turn her mind away from idle thoughts, to turn away from the despair, turn away from the knowledge that there was a creature of indomitable power rampaging through her city, killing indiscriminately, and her best rangers could do nothing to stop it. The window that she had stood before only hours before, admiring the attractive city skyline, stayed firmly at her back now; she couldn't bear to see the flames that raged across it now, consuming the city. She turned her attention instead to the contents of the desk strewn on the floor, the books knocked off their shelves, the blood staining the wood, and the gouges in the floor from the werewolves claws. Ysgrid remained in the basement, sheltered from the sights of gore and destruction that made the otherwise bleak and emotionless study fill with horror and revulsion. The bodies in the hallway had been removed, but the blood had found its way inside the room, the scent of blood heady in the air. It was a fitting scent as she organized the various relics from the bloody and brutal past of Valjer that Bailey Valmer had hoarded in his desk. Most of them small trinkets that were little more than carved pieces of stone, bone, or wood, depicting animals or monsters. A few, though, were more substantial. Daggers of dark ironwood, inscribed with symbols that she couldn't understand, sharp as any steel blade. Lupine skulls, too small to be from a white wolf, but equally vicious looking. Crystals the size of a closed fist, clear like the purest glacier water, but flecked with drops of red that reminded her of drops of blood in a pool of water as they diffused. These were but a few of the things that she scooped up and placed in baskets that she had brought from a closet. She was broken from her somber mood by shouting coming from outside, the replacement guards that stood watch at her front door. A jolt of icy fear spiked through her chest at the thought of seeing that beast of a werewolf maul more of her loyal citizens. An odd sound, like that of an enormous tarp flapping in the wind was the only warning she had before her precious second floor windows, along with much of the wall, was torn from the building with a horrific cavalcade of noise. She shrieked and covered her head and neck as shards of glass and wood sprayed her body, her clothes protecting her from most harm, but several slivers finding purchase in her soft flesh. She uncurled, looking towards the wall as the dust settled, and felt that bowel loosening fear intensify as she stared into the face of a massive, scale-plated, lizard-like head. It was a cobalt blue and the size of a cart, hoarfrost hung from the spikes that protruded from its head, and a forked tongue flicked out to taste the air. Then the chilling cold hit her, the subzero temperatures sucking away whatever warmth she had held onto in the blink of an eye. She fell to her knees, ready to surrender to what she could only assume was the Scion of Valjer, the very dragon that Bailey had said was the protector of the city. So it was to her surprise when the creature snorted, then pulled back from the side of the building and used its razor sharp claws to shear through a row of straps holding something to its distinctly drake-like body. A saddle, she realized, with saddle-bags, fell from the creature, then it awkwardly picked the saddle up with it's front claws and gently deposited the entire saddle in the study, its bulk taking up almost the entire room and forcing her to the back wall. The Scion snorted one more time before turning and with a single bound flapped its great wings and soared away from the building, away from the city, releasing one world shaking screech before disappearing into the thick snow storm, heading for the mountains. Valerie struggled to overcome her shock, struggled to understand what had just happened. She stepped closer to the saddle, trying to pick through the piles of leather and rope that had allowed it to be harnessed to the great creature, and eventually found the main portion of the saddle. Three large bundles were strapped to the back with what looked like vines, and six saddle bags, three on either side, were stuffed to the brim with various items. She stepped over the straps, focusing on the three bundles, They were a combination of canvas and some kind of insulating fiber, wrapped together with more vines. She pulled free her dagger, slicing easily through the vines and peeling away the layers of canvas and fiber, revealing the contents of the package. Her shock turned to anger at seeing the face of Renkor in the package, a quick jolt that turned into a rising burn that made her want to sink the dagger into its hilt in his eye. That anger subsided rapidly when she saw the damage to his body, the blood that was dried and coated to him. She reached out and placed her shaking fingers against his throat, feeling for a pulse, and left wanting. She turned away from the corpse of a man who despite the circumstances she could only give a begrudging amount of respect for his tenacity. She quickly peeled open the other two packages and was equally shocked to find Aelyria, and an associate of Renkors', a man she only knew as Ted. These two were alive though, they looked pallid and weak, but alive. She ran into the hallway and yelled down the stairs. "Ysgrid! Start a pot of soup and then come help me, quickly!"
  4. The endless snowfall that fell from the sky above Kjell seemed to take on a new weight, one that settled firmly on his chest and lay there like an annoying cat. Defeat, that was the sensation; It was not one that he had felt in a long time. There had always been hope before, always a chance that they could pull off a miracle and save the day. Against this foe, though, he felt no such hope. They were outclassed from the beginning, they just hadn’t realized it, now they were paying the price. The frozen blood of his fellow townsmen was proof of his own incompetence, his inability to do what he had always done, to save them. He sat up slowly, struggling against the weight that pressed against him, telling him to stay down, to give up. His own team littered the ground around the small intersection, interspersed with the dead members of the guard; why had they been killed but himself and his team spared? He got to his feet and started walking, leaving behind the shattered sword that was so painfully reminiscent of his own feelings; broken, pained, jagged... raw. He wasn’t really aware of his surroundings as he walked, his mind wrapped in a thick blanket, his ears still ringing from the intense blow to his skull. His feet dragged deep furrows through the snow as he half stumbled along, he was halfway down the street before he realized that he didn’t actually know why he was walking or where he was intending to go. He stopped, almost halfway down the street, and turned his eyes skyward again. Bailey Valmer, curse the man, even in his death he found a way to meddle in Kjell’s affairs. He was almost certain of it now, that Bailey Valmer had somehow managed to cause this curse, to bring this beast to Valjer to cause mayhem. The man had been a raving lunatic, so it wasn’t hard to connect the dots when the creature seemed to share his isolationist views. The strain on his body finally took its final toll, his knees giving out and smashing painfully against the ice under him. He collapsed there, face down in the pathway, unable to muster the energy to fight the pain and continue on. His head throbbed with an urgent and insistent agony, and despite the fleeting thought that he should probably find some shelter, or help, he passed out in the icy snow.
  5. Eriko strode deeper into the room, avoiding the roaring fires that adorned either side of the room. Who needed to warm their house in the dead of summer anyway? As she walked, one tapestry in particular caught her eye, a massive piece that spanned the entire height of the wall and then some. It was woven with the most vivid color she had ever seen, the background a blue so deep she felt as if she were staring into the ocean depths, yet tinged with a brightness of color that mesmerized her. She found herself lingering ever so briefly in front of it to let her eyes devour the sight of it, trying to decipher the story that it told. Each figure so contrasting to the blue background that they seemed to pop off the tapestry and come to life before her. A man with a chiseled jaw and dark hair throwing objects that glowed on the weave towards little, red, imp like creatures was the only image, and it was stunning to look at. She didn’t have time to get distracted, so she continued moving through the room, not noticing the multiple sets of eyes that peered out from underneath the furniture, tracking her through the room. How shadows had managed to stick to the bottoms of said furniture, was a magical miracle in and of itself. As she moved through the room to the opposite end, she passed the two doors that were adjacent to the entrance. They were made of the same dark wood as the tables, and hung seamlessly in the wall. They appeared to swing outward, which she thought made sense, they would be harder to break into that way. As she approached the wall, she noticed an alcove that was previously hidden by the dim light, it was filled with objects half hidden in shadows. She reached out tentatively, chewing on her lip as she did, grasping one of the objects gently and pulling it free of the darkness so she could inspect it. She cringed when she realized it was a dagger, one that looked old, really old. It was covered in rust and pitted all along the length of the blade. She hastily set it back on the stand she had plucked it from, not wanting to damage the item. Flakes dropped free of it when it settled back into its resting place, dusting the alcove and causing Eriko to cringe a second time. She backed slowly away from the alcove, turning to head back to one of the sitting areas closer to the center of the room. Perhaps if she waited for a short while, someone would arrive to greet her. She eyed each of the various chairs and couches, examining them for their potential comfort, before settling on an extremely plush looking leather armchair. As she lowered herself into the chair, a happy sigh slipped through her lips, this was one of the most comfortable chairs that she had ever had the pleasure to sit in. Even though it was still early in the day she found herself starting to nod off, the room was the perfect temperature for a nap, and the chair was just so damn comfortable. It wasn’t long before she gave in and allowed herself to slip into a rather pleasant dream about raspberry cream tarts. The sudden sensation of falling brought her abruptly back to wakefulness, a pang of annoyance rushing through her at the all too common nightmare interrupted the wonderful nap she had been having. It wasn’t until her face smashed into the floor that she realized she actually was falling. She sputtered indignantly and raised her hands to her face, clutching at the throbbing flesh there. Her indignance turned to icy fingers of terror when something, or someone, grabbed her ankles and yanked, hard. The legs of the leather armchair flashed past her, she yelped the threw her arms out, trying to catch a hold of something, anything. But it wasn’t meant to be, her fingers scrabbled over the legs of the chair and the hard, wooden floor beneath her before she felt that falling sensation again. The world turned dark for a brief moment before the lighting changed drastically, she couldn’t see much in the dim light, just hard stone flashing past her as she fell. Another hard jolt rattled her as she hit something hard beneath her, driving the breath from her lungs and knocking her out cold.
  6. There were many in the land of Terrenus who knew the ways and customs of Dougton, Eriko was not one of them. Despite being born in Casper and traveling all over the continent with her merchant father, she knew and understood very little about its different cultures. That was probably how she found herself in this situation. She had recently traveled to the town of Dougton from Casper, offloading large quantities of silk at such a low margin that she nearly wept. It was then that she heard of a man who was rather reclusive, and liked to collect antiquities. This alone wouldn’t have been enough to pique her interest, she didn’t have anything that would be of interest to the man, so an easy sale wasn’t her lure. It was the tales of debauchery and villainy that were spread by a doomsayer that preached from an overturned box in the market. This man wasn’t particularly exceptional, not by any means of the imagination. In fact, Eriko had seen thousands of them in her travels across Terrenus, there was always someone who thought the world was ending or that mole people were going to invade. But, as the man shuffled erratically back and forth on top of his box, thrusting a rusted and pitted iron cage to and fro and screaming about demons bringing about the end of Casper, she couldn’t help but feel a growing sense of excitement. Could demons really be coming? Could this man, Alban Moore, truly be able to summon creatures from another plane of existence? He wouldn’t be the first person in history to be able to summon beings from another plane, but the rarity of the ability was a draw that she couldn’t resist. Imagine, her, seeing a real, living, summoner! She tingled with excitement at the thought. She moved through the crowd, getting closer to the man and his cage, and was stunned to see a small lizard like creature with two small nubby horns protruding from its skull. The creature seemed to be upset about being swung round and round, and alternated between attacking the rusted iron bars and swiping at its captor. This was the real deal; she needed to find this man and speak with him. She rushed off to find her cart, spending no more time than necessary to wrap up the transfer of gold back to the banks of Casper and send a note to her father giving word of her delay. Then, she unhitched her horse from the caravan, asked a few people where to find Alban Moore, and raced off into the surrounding hillside. It was not a long trip, Dougton was a large city by every stretch of the imagination, but it was extremely dense. It was only once you reached the outer limits of the city proper and entered the farmlands that you stopped fighting the crowds. As she and her horsed cantered quietly across the rolling hills, she kept her eye out for the sign post indicating her ultimate destination. She muttered the instructions to herself as she rode, keeping them fresh in her mind. “Follow the main road out of town, turn on Moore Drive, then straight on until his manor.” The path down the main road had been quite pleasant, very flat, only curving slightly upward as it climbed out of the valley. Moore Drive, however, was less maintained, almost overrun with long grass and shrubs that made the entire road seem claustrophobic. As if a predator was hiding amongst the long grass, waiting for the perfect moment to strike; It was difficult to resist the urge to spur her horse forward at a gallop. Eventually though, the path opened up and she found herself mere yards from the front of the manor. Calling it a manor was probably too conservative, this was a full-blown compound. Tall fences lined the exterior of the compound, topped with razor wire. The building itself was a four-story monstrosity that loomed over her, and she couldn’t help but wonder why she hadn’t been able to see such a large building from afar, even with the tall grasses blocking her view. The building had two large wings, extending back away from the front entrance, creating that ever popular horseshoe style. The walls were made of dark stone, which was an odd choice of construction material in comparison to the rest of the buildings that had lined the streets of Dougton, which were mostly constructed from wood. Despite the imposing appearance that the building struck when she first lay her eyes on it, the front gate was propped open, as if inviting travelers to come inside. She nudged her horse forward, walking it inside the tall metal fence and into the front yard of the compound. There was a hitching post attached to the front porch of the manor so she tied the horse there and made her way up the front steps. Large wood doors loomed over the porch, twice her height and nearly as wide, they looked solid enough to stop a charging bull. She reached out and pounded the heel of her fist against the door. She had assumed that such a solid looking door would require a lot of effort to create a loud enough knock, but it boomed and the door actually creaked open a few inches. Was she just supposed to go in? Was there an attendant in the foyer that would be waiting for her? She assumed that such a place would lock the front entrance if they didn’t want people to just wander in. So, she pushed the door all the way open and stepped inside. As her eyes adjusted to the lower light of the room, she was able to take in the level of opulence laid before her. Thick rugs covered the floors, ornate pieces that were woven with golden threads, tapestries depicting all manner of scenery covered the walls, a crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, several low tables of dark wood were surrounded by thick leather armchairs. Two fireplaces with no apparent chimney’s flanked the room, fires roaring in their hearth. But, no one was present, the room was entirely empty and devoid of life. She couldn’t help but tenuously break the silence. “Hello?”
  7. Ted had spent precious minutes retreating with the Mork’Outh and Renkor’s corpse. He didn’t know how long it had been, couldn’t know, there was no way of telling time in these damned caverns. It felt like hours, and at some point, he had run out of orbs to throw. The only upside to this whole situation, was the open tunnel that was at his back. He had a funnel for the bugs, and that worked greatly in his favor. He had recklessly jumped into the fray, with nothing but his fists, and began ineffectually beating on the hard carapaces. If it wasn’t for the Mork’Outh occasionally reaching out to block a weapon strike that would have otherwise severed something important. Somehow, somehow, he managed to steal a sword from one of the bugs. The details on just how he managed that, were hazy. A sharp pain had erupted in his skull, like cold knives stabbing his brain, fortunately that wasn’t actually happening, but it still hurt nonetheless. He fumbled the sword around, slashing almost negligently at the bugs, nearly cutting himself several times. Even with his new weapon the press of the bugs was too much, they began overwhelming him, his sword strikes unable to hold them back. One particularly large bug rushed forward, a deep roar emanating from its mandibles. No... Xer’Orians didn’t roar, the sound was coming from behind him. Something massive rammed into him from behind, flattening him to the ground, but leaving him unharmed. He didn’t feel the need to get up, his body was so heavy, he was so tired. He did manage to turn his head to watch the utter carnage unfolding before him. Grigori, Renkor’s mount, who had grown significantly since their last encounter, shredded the Xers’ like paper with his claws and tail. The havoc lasted only a few short moments before the bugs seemed to lose hope and ebbed away like the tide. The drake hopped over to Renkor’s corpse, stepping over Ted to get there, before sitting on his haunches and hovering protectively over the man. Aelyria appeared in the mouth of the cavern, from where he didn’t know, the light of some darkness shining in her eyes. His own bone deep weariness pressed him to the stone, he had no desire to fight it anymore. “What now Aelyria?”
  8. You would think that having someone decide not to kill you would be a great relief. Turns out, it was, but a great weight still pulled against Ted as Aelyria turned her wrath against the Xer’Orians that came pouring from the labyrinth of tunnels around them. She carved through the buglike creatures with no more care than a farmer reaping his wheat, her body wreathed in smoky black flames. He let his body sag even further into the hard stone, feeling the haze and murk of his head wound already starting to creep back in. He didn’t have time to relax though, Monsieur Frond strode over to him before breaking the bonds that kept him shackled. Hundreds of Xer’Orian soldiers had surrounded them, now there were half as many, and Aelyria didn’t look like she intended to slow down. If anything, her doggedness could only lead to... yep... there she went, running straight after the Queen and her Consorts. He winced as one of the soldiers slashed Aelyria’s side, but she didn’t seem overly bothered by it. Then she was gone, obscured by the even larger press of Xer’Orians that rushed forward to stop her. A dozen of the creatures zeroed in on them, presumably because the Queen wanted to be able to re-exert her control over their minds and the easiest way to do that was by killing them. He tried to act quickly, but the head injury that was quickly revealing itself to be a nasty concussion prevented him from doing so. His fingers fumbled over the usual spots that he tucked away weapons, feeling nothing, the Xer’s must have stripped him of anything sharp. His pack was still firmly strapped to his back though, and as he slipped his hand into the side flap, he felt the familiar orbs rolling around. He shuffled through the orbs, most of them were only marble sized, not big enough to do much damage. Some were even smaller, no more than little firecrackers he used to start fires when it was too cold to do it normally. The bugs were almost on top of him when he managed to grab a handful and whip them out, throwing them in a wide arc at the feet of the advancing mob. Four of the five marble-sized orbs struck the ground and erupted in flashes of fire and smoke, a sharp report followed, bits of stone shrapnel spraying out in every direction, peppering both him and the deeper ranks of the bugs. The orbs weren’t strong enough to kill, but they were loud and disorienting, on contact they could even blow off a hand or foot, maybe even a leg if you hit the knee. The distraction was all he needed, he bent and grabbed Renkor’s clothes by the back of the neck and started dragging him. He got a few feet away before the bugs recovered and he had to stop and pull out more orbs to throw. He grunted in frustration; it was so difficult to split his focus. He could barely manage to keep a hand on Renkor while he dug around in his pack, it kept wanting to loosen on its own. He tossed the orbs, a spike of satisfaction as he saw one of the bugs pitch over as an orb connected with what he assumed was their shin. He went back to dragging, hoping Aelyria would be able to kill the Queen and somehow save them as well.
  9. Steel sang as it was pulled free from all manner of sheathes and binds, a Ranger was always prepared. It was impossible for anyone to react perfectly in an ambush, Rangers were drilled to understand this and mitigate their own mistakes with rapid action. It sometimes almost seemed as if the Rangers took the motto: ‘A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.’ and embraced it with almost suicidal fervor. Britt let out a war whoop that sounded suspiciously overjoyed before leaping at the nearest werewolf, which was still in midair, and swiping at it with a ridiculous looking horizontal attack. Jorge and Svein raced for each other, probably planning on using a complementing long-short spear combo that would enable them to harry the larger creatures. A pair of arrows hissed as they cut through the air and punched into a werewolf. A monstrously large werewolf landed in front of him and the fight was on. His opponent was twice his height and probably triple his body mass, a shiver of anticipation and fear ran up his spine as he squared himself against the creature. It must have been the pack leader, perhaps seeing his command over the rest of the squad and determining early on that they would face each other. It moved without preamble or fanfare, simply raising a massive arm and bringing a hammer fist down to smash him into the ground. He barely managed to sidestep and bring his sword up to counter the move, slashing upwards to sever the beast’s hand. He felt the blow connect and was startled when the beast’s flesh and skin held firm. He was even more surprised when the momentum from the hammer-blow pulled his sword towards the ground, wrenching his forearms and shoulders in a painful way. As his sword tip scraped along the ground the werewolf finished its blow, its fist smashing a spiderweb of cracks into the thick ice the covered the side of the pathway. It left Kjell in a bad position, but for the werewolf it was worse. The blow had pushed Kjell to the werewolf’s left side, and with the creature hunched over and overextended from its attack he had a clear opening. He pulled the sword in close to his sternum and stepped forward in a piercing lunge, driving his shoulders forward with his attack for maximum force. The tip of his sword found the perfect little notch in between the thing's ribs, slipping only slightly before catching and putting all of his force into the tip of the sword. It shattered, exploding in a thousand jagged, frozen pieces of steel and falling to the ground, leaving him holding just the hilt of a sword. He practically gaped, he’d been hunting wolves for the better part of two decades, and he’d never before broken a sword. A deep, screeching rumble emanated from the beast, which he absently realized was a chuckle before it backhanded him across the face. The metal cap he wore crumpled like a cheap piece of pot metal, digging painfully into his head as he was lifted bodily from the ground and tossed backwards. His neck screamed in agony, a blessing in disguise, at least it wasn’t broken. From his supine position he was able to see the rest of his squad had faced similar fates, downed and broken, but alive. A massive, hairy hand closed around the lower part of his face, turning his head to look into the too-close eyes of the werewolf. “Submit to Hati, Pure of Blood, I hunt not for you or your kin.” It must have meant his squad, by the way it gestured to the others. “My pack cleanses this place; we will stop the invaders from harming you.” Kjell could only stare up into the eyes of the massive werewolf and try not to gag on the fetid scent of its breath. Every time it spoke, it seemed to give away more clues as to what it was doing here. Without another word it stood, jumping back to the rooftops along with the remaining pack members and disappearing into the snow again.
  10. Ted wove in and out of consciousness for what felt like eons, as if worlds rose and fell around him during his haze. Moments of intense clarity burst through the fog of his mind, images of dark tunnels and chitinous monsters that haunted him. For the briefest of moments, he could have sworn that he caught a glimpse of Renkor, but not the Renkor he was familiar with, that he had traveled through Taen with. This one stared lifelessly back at him, his body crusted with dried blood and mucus, his hair long, a gaunt look on his face. He was glad that whatever was happening he was at least unconscious for most of it, the pressure and pain in his head was excruciating. The few times he was able to form a coherent train of thought brought the realization that bile stained the front of his clothing. A soft pop, like the sound his knees made when he knelt on a hard floor, brought him back to a state of lucidity. Everything hurt, everything. It was like someone had worked him over with a tenderizing mallet. Worst of all were his eyes, so much pressure, if felt as if they might explode out of his skull. As he opened his eyes he was greeted by an odd sight, Aelyria - whom he thought was dead - was standing directly over him holding an oddly luminescent blade. The rough feeling of hempen rope digging into his wrists alerted him to the possible danger of the situation, his sixth sense for danger tickling the back of his skull. There was an odd look on her face, like she was battling an inner demon long forgotten. He was hesitant to take his eyes off of her, but he needed to know what the hell was going on. A quick glance around the area revealed they were in a large cavern of carved stone that spiraled up and out of sight. Several of the insectoid Xer’Orians stood around them as if waiting for Aelyria to act. The man he had seen in his haze, the man who he instinctively knew to be Renkor despite his lifelessness, lie sprawled next to him. It was in that moment everything clicked together and he realized the deceit. A huff escaped him as he relaxed onto the cold stone floor, he should have figured this would happen once they lost their guide. Perhaps he should have been more forthcoming with information, in hindsight it was obvious, but at the time how could he have known they would have been so resistant to following his simplest of requests? He didn’t know what Aelyria was seeing now, but he knew it wasn’t any version of himself that she would care for. Monsieur Frond had divulged much information regarding Taen, about the Xer’Orian Queens and their ability to influence the mind. Of course Aelyria and Caliben would assume he was insane... talking to a lizard. He just couldn’t bring himself to reveal the truth to them, that Monsieur Frond was just a lizard possessed by one of the Mork’Outh. That with that possession came protection from the Xer’Orian mind games. He could only wonder why the Queen had relinquished her hold on him. Perhaps she was so focused on trying to bend Aelyria to her will that she didn’t have the capacity to bother with him, injured as he was. Aelyria shifted above him, her nearly skintight clothing betraying only the slightest of a whisper. She raised the blade above her head, hesitating there as he lay resigned to his fate. She didn’t have a chance to make up her mind. A wave of orange mist swept through the room in a silent wave, tousling his hair and clothes as it passed. A shocked look appeared in Aelyria’s eyes, so he turned his head to look towards the origin of the mist and saw someone he never thought he would see again. A mad cackle erupted from his lips, okay it was probably more of a hysterical wheeze. Monsier Frond had returned, not as a lizard, but in his natural Mork’Outh form. He was an impressive sight, nearly ten feet of solid power and curved horns that exuded confidence. The Mork’Outh’s eyes locked onto Aelyra’s form, “Quickly child, destroy these invaders before I can no longer prevent her from influencing you.”
  11. Kjell rolled his shoulders as they exited the house, trying to relieve the stress that had bunched up in his shoulders. He belatedly realized that they had never asked the man whose home they were searching for his name. Oh well, at this point it wasn’t relevant. The rest of the hunting party still held their positions in the pathway outside the courtyard, vigilant and guarded. He waved them close as he, Jorge, and Britt approached. “It was definitely here, there’s a survivor inside that said that it attacked his wife, turned her and then they left.” He nodded towards Jorge, “Jorge says he has a theory about what’s going on.” Everyone turned expectant eyes to Jorge. “The man said his wife’s name was ‘Ashley’, it made me think, and the man confirmed, that she wasn’t a native to Valjer. He also claimed the Werewolf wasn’t interested in him at all and focused solely on his wife.” Kjell cut in, a light of understanding shining in his eyes. “The Werewolf spoke about the ‘Unclean’ and serving the ‘Heart of Valjer’. You think the Werewolf is hunting outsiders, foreigners, and turning them into Werewolves to assist it in, what? Culling the town of anyone who isn’t a native to Valjer? Who doesn’t have a bloodline?” Jorge gave a half-hearted shrug, either unsure of uncomfortable with the thought. To Kjell the thought was both chilling and absurd. Only a madman would have such an aspiration, someone who was willing to commit what amounted to cultural genocide. Only someone as crazy as… as crazy as… “Bailey Valmer…” He hadn’t intended to say the name out loud, but the heads of his hunting party turned to him with inquisitive stares. Kjell was one of the few who knew the truth about Bailey’s death, about his insanity, his desire for the supposed Scion of Valjer to return in the form of a dragon and protect them from outside influence. These Rangers had been present at the assassination, forcing away their scapegoats at Valerie’s behest. At the thought of that blood-soaked farmhouse an image flashed through his mind, a dark visage and shadowy claws. He shuddered, pushing those thoughts away. “Nevermind. I was just thinking about something Valerie was telling me. It’s not directly related.” He didn’t want to bring up the deeper issues of the Valmer family in front of the Rangers, they knew some of the story and reasoning behind Bailey’s death, but not all. Telling them all about Bailey’s deepest and darkest fantasies wouldn’t help them now. “We need to clear this street and meet up with the nearest Rangers, they should be just down the road, at the next intersection. We need to know if they’ve seen anything.” A deep sense of foreboding hung over him as he stared into the wall of white that obscured his view of the end of the road. With the amount of snowfall, you couldn’t see or hear anything happening twenty feet away. In these conditions, even the white wolves stayed inside, he couldn’t help but wonder if they were still the hunters, or if they had become the unwitting hunted. They continued down the road, finding much of the same, some houses untouched by the Werewolves, others telling similar stories. Some houses sat empty, the doors ajar, puddles of blood drying on the floors and walls, their occupants nowhere to be found. It was a grim tale, one that was told in the silence and gore. Each house, each story, drove the sense of urgency and fear deeper and deeper into Kjell’s gut. It was beginning to feel like an uncontrolled outbreak, how could they possibly move faster than the Werewolves? As they reached the final house in the row, it became apparent that they couldn’t. The intersection of the roads had turned into a bloodbath. Snow was beginning to cover the corpses of what looked to have been a bloody and vicious battle. Several City Guards were lying in the snow, their armor torn open, flesh shredded, it was obvious that they were dead. A burst of satisfaction washed over him as he saw at least three Werewolves lying there with them. The feeling quickly soured when he remembered that these were once proud citizens of Valjer, whether they had been born here or not. He didn’t see any of his Rangers as they crouched among the dead to check for any still living. He was sure one had been posted at this intersection, its proximity to the original sighting, the Regent’s Manor, and the old Farmhouse, made it a key position to place a sentry. He hoped the Ranger was able to escape, to make it back to the Ranger Headquarters and report the attack. Kjell had the hunting party cast about the intersection, trying to find clues among the dirty snow as to where the pack had gone. While the group was preoccupied, Kjell himself knelt next to one of the werewolves, inspecting its body. He had only ever seen depictions of werewolves in books, but he could immediately tell that these were different from the ones recorded in times past. Whereas the depictions he had seen showed humanlike facial structure, with only a mildly elongated ‘snout’, these werewolves had skeletal structures that were almost identical to that of a white wolf. Their backs were hunched slightly, their heads more horizontal with the ground, a trait that made them seem more predatory. Surprisingly, their musculature was focused on the upper body, with massively elongated arms along with bulging shoulders and back muscles. Jorge approached him, his expression unreadable behind the cloth mask that protected his face from the cold. “The tracks are unclear, there’s a lot of prints going and coming in the area, it’s muddied any sense of direction.” Kjell stood with a sigh, leaving the corpses behind, and turned his eyes upwards to the sky. The snow still fell like a curtain, blocking his view of the stars. The wind still blew harshly, causing the snow to on occasion hang in the air as if suspended by some unseen force. It was at the exact moment he looked up that the snow did this, hanging in the air all around them. It was almost as if some benevolent deity somewhere was taking pity on him, because as the snow hung completely still for only the briefest of moments he was able to see the movement it had been concealing. He barely had time to yell out as a dozen werewolves leapt from rooftops all around the intersection. “Ambush!”
  12. Almost immediately upon entering the outer courtyard of the home, Jorge could tell something was wrong. The front door was slightly ajar, a small snowdrift was building up on the visible part of the floor. Jorge stuck his spear butt-first into the snow and drew the short sword that hung at his waist, leaving the spear to stand on its own. A spear was good when there was room to maneuver and swing it, but in the close confines of a Valjerian home, nothing was better than a short sword. As Britt pulled free her own sword, Jorge crept forward, staring at the small open space behind the door that was visible. Firelight still flickered in the home, the shadows visible to Jorge jumped and danced in eerie and silent patterns. Each step that led up to the front door was a horrid crunching noise that echoed in Jorge’s ears like the crashing of glass on the floor. He placed his hand on the door, it swung open silently, the hinges were well greased. The interior of the foyer was lit by a small fire that burned in an equally small fireplace, no one tended to use the foyers for social events in Valjer, so keeping it warm was a waste of wood. The door that led beyond the foyer was a splintered mess, much the same as the furniture he could see. They advanced slowly, listening for the sound of anything unusual. As the reached the door, Jorge got a full glimpse of the room beyond for the first time. He stared at what was left of a common room, shredded and smashed chairs, a low table that was cracked in half and missing a leg, and a fire that still burned. Most disturbingly was the blood, it was splattered everywhere, on the walls and the floor, clumps of gore hung and dripped from the ceiling. It was as if the werewolf had savaged its victim, without doing anything more than superficial damage. A pair of legs poked out from behind one of the damaged chairs, clothed in the normal thick fur booties and pants worn inside during the winter. Other than that, there was no sign of anybody else in the room, man or beast. Jorge caught Britt’s attention with a wave, then signaled to her that he was going to check on whoever it was behind the chair, then retreat to the foyer, and that she should watch the door that led deeper into the home. She nodded and tightened her grip on her sword, stress displaying prominently on her face. With a quick, one, two, three count down, Jorge swept into the room and directly to the prone person, Britt’s footsteps followed him in. It was a man, on the young side, mid-twenties perhaps, with standard Valjerian features, white hair and pale skin. A quick visual inspection showed the man was passed out but not wounded in a way that would cause the amount of blood splatter, and a quick tap confirmed that he was unresponsive. Acting quickly, he grabbed the mans left pant leg, down near the ankle, and performed a neat shoulder roll while scooping his hamstring. As he completed the roll, the mans body came up with him, placing him squarely on his shoulders in what some might call a ‘fireman’s carry’. It didn’t feel pleasant for the recipient considering at one point all his weight was balanced over his shoulder, and if he miscalculated his roll it would drive into the man’s chest. Fortunately, the man wasn’t conscious, so he wouldn’t have felt it if he did mess up. With the man squarely draped over his shoulders he pushed himself to his feet using a lunge, grabbing his fallen sword as he did so. Now standing, with Britt covering his ass, he walked the man through the doorway and back into the foyer as fast as he could, dumping him to the floor as gently as possible. He would have preferred to remove the man from the building entirely, but he wasn’t confident the man would survive out in the harsh weather with only his under-furs. He propped the man up against the wall, adjusting him as his head lolled to the side. “Britt, go get Kjell, tell him to bring the smelling salts.” The woman rushed outside, leaving Kjell to stare anxiously at the interior doorway, expecting a slavering werewolf to appear around the corner and tear him to shreds. It never came, but Kjell did. The man nudged Jorge out of the way, snapping open a package of the smelling salts and waving it under the man’s nose. With a gasp he awoke, his eyes snapping wildly around the room, his limbs rocketing up and flailing as if to ward off his attacker. Kjell snagged his arms from the air, both to prevent the man from harming himself or them. “Relax! You’re safe!” The man was hyperventilating, his breath coming in short gasps as he stopped struggling. A pained whine escaped the man as he lay there, “Where’s Ashley?” Jorge shared a look with Britt and Kjell, shaking his head at them. There hadn’t been anyone else in the common room. Kjell grabbed the sides of the man’s head, forcing him to look him in the eyes. “What happened here?” The man twitched in Kjell’s hands, trying to look everywhere in the room at once. His words stumbled along, at times a rush that swept past almost impossible to understand, then slowing to a painful crawl as he tried to remember. “Something attacked us, it broke down the front door and was on us before we even knew what was happening. I… I remember her screams… her pleading with it as it tore her apart… It didn’t even care about me. It kept saying she was unclean… that she would be reborn to serve the Heart of Valjer. Then it bit her! Bit her… and she changed! She became one of them… a werewolf, her fur was so white… so beautiful… I tried to stop it, but it knocked me across the room. I don’t remember anything else.” Jorge’s mind turned over and over, trying to process the information he was receiving into useful, actionable intel. This was quickly becoming a worst-case scenario, a Werewolf running through the town attacking people… unclean people? Turning them into Werewolves as well? Why would it only care about this man’s wife, Ashley? A small thought, not even a conscious thought really, pressed against the back of his mind. Ashley wasn’t a common name in Valjer, no one he knew whose parents were born in Valjer, whose family line could be traced back to before the Deep Delve, was named Ashley. “Where was your wife born? Was she Valjerian?” The man shook free of Kjell’s arms. Sitting up straighter and turning his head to try and peer into the common room. “No, she was born out west, someplace called Lantern Way, I think? Her family wasn’t from here…” Jorge leaned into Kjell, “I think I’m beginning to get the big picture. Let’s finish clearing the house and then I’ll tell you my theory.” Kjell nodded his agreement, then stood to join them in clearing the house. Jorge steeled himself with an iron resolve, a grimness that could only be acquired from years of fighting for your life.
  13. Kjell stomped furiously through the outer courtyard of the Ranger Headquarters, still fuming at the thought of the overweight Guard Captain and his absurd timelines. The snow was still falling thickly to the ground, the storm having continued for several days already and showing no sign of stopping. He pulled his cowl tighter around his throat, trying his best to ward away the shockingly cold air as he stepped closer to a group of Rangers huddled together around an iron brazier. Despite the frigid temperatures and constant snowfall, Kjell wasn’t overly bothered. Sure, the cold was an annoyance and if you didn’t respect it and it could be lethal, but to a veteran Ranger in full winter gear it was harmless. He was more worried about getting snowed into a drift if he sat still for too long. The group of Rangers were chatting amiably among themselves as he approached, keeping warm next to the fire that roared and crackled merrily in brazen defiance of the cold and the snow. Kjell scanned the courtyard as he entered the circle of Rangers, the six-foot stone wall wouldn’t stop a werewolf, it would barely give it pause. The thought was an uncomfortable one, the wolves they normally fought weren’t ever bigger than a horse, knowing that a beast of even larger stature and strength was roaming their town caused a chill deeper than the cold winter weather. Jorge, a well-known and respected spearman greeted him with a hearty shoulder clap. “Did you have fun playing with your toys then, Kjell? Are you ready to join us in the hunt?” Kjell bumped the man with his shoulder in response to the friendly ribbing. “Of course, Jorge, I see you’ve assembled your favorites.” He was secretly please with the man as he glanced at the group assembled before them. Jorge may have played favorites among the rank and file, but it was well deserved. In the proximity of the iron brazier everyone had pulled down their face masks, a socially polite gesture amongst friends, allowing everyone to see each other’s faces. He spotted Svein, another spearman that worked alongside Jorge to lance wolves and hold them in place, Britt, a bulldog of a woman who bandied about a bearded two-handed war axe like it was a plaything, and Reidar and Einar, accomplished archers. They were all proven wolf hunters, having taken part in many raids against the packs of White Wolves that roamed the lands around Valjer. “You all know the danger, more than anyone, but this is different. We’re dealing with the possibility of a sentient creature, far stronger than any white wolf we’ve encountered before, with unnatural ability. We stick together and fight together, no heroics, just a coordinated assault that will bring this monster to its knees.” The group nodded and pulled their masks up, they knew he wasn’t one for long and rousing speeches, nobody who joined the Rangers was interested in pomp and circumstance, that was what the Guard was for. Without any other words he turned and headed for the thick ironwood gate, pushing it open and stepping into the narrow road where the wind whipped past in a frenzied gale. He yelled over the noise of the wind as the others followed him, “We start at the origin point, just outside the Regent’s Manor, then proceed through the Farmhouse District, clearing house by house and tracking the beast as best we can. Fortunately, the Ranger Headquarters was only a few hundred yards away from the Regent’s Manor, it was one of the first buildings that had gone up during the exploratory years as the town emerged from the Deepdelve, so the trek through the pressing winds only took ten minutes. Even with the fresh snow that had fallen on top of the deep furrow left by the Werewolf’s passage it was obvious where the creatures had traveled. The furrow in the snow tracked sharply around the first intersection, following the downhill slope until it disappeared in the falling snow some thirty yards away. Kjell waved his hand at Jorge to get his attention and knife handed the first building in the row, closest to the Regent’s Manor and the furrow where the Werewolf had passed. “Jorge, check the first building, take Britt. I’ll hold the street with the rest of the group, if something is wrong don’t overstep.” Jorge nodded, and the pair hustled through the entrance to the outer courtyard.
  14. Tell me when two days have passed.

    ?

    1. Grimshar

      Grimshar

      I'm going to "@" you.

  15. Kjell Bondevik was a patient man in the best of times. When a werewolf was currently loose in Valjer, however, he was not. So when the final vestiges of the city guard finally arrived he was just about ready to chain them together and leave them in the central plaza as bait. He had sent word over thirty minutes ago that they would meet in the Deep Delve Ranger headquarters for a quick brief before marching through the town on a hunt, he could only imagine what was happening with a creature so dangerous free to roam. Kjell let his gaze slide over the men assembled before him, the only hint of his displeasure a slight frown that marred his normally smiling face. The City Guard had long been seen as a group of drunken misfits in the eyes of the Rangers, unfit for anything more than warming a seat and giving the seldom few visitors directions. He guessed they were a product of their environment, the number of violent crimes in Valjer was low, lower than most towns; everyone knew the real threat lay in wait outside their walls, or fell from the sky. The Rangers were the true might of the town, when your job was to venture outside the walls and slay the innumerable threats that plagued the icy landscape, you tended to be a bit hardened. Picking the sculpted physique of the Rangers out amongst the crowded room was as easy as recognizing their grim stares as they silently awaited instructions. With the last of the expected visitors having arrived, Kjell motioned to the massive map of Valjer that was unrolled on the War Room table and separated him from the group. The map was one of two that they frequently used, the other being a map of the surrounding region. He took a small but intricately carved statue of a Queen and placed it over the Valmer Manor, raising his eyes to address the group. "Regent Valmer was attacked in her home this afternoon, the two guards assigned to her were killed. The Regent was able to confirm that her attacker was a White Werewolf." At this several members of both the Guard and the Rangers broke out into muttered exclamations. White Werewolves hadn't been encountered in Valjer since before the descent underground. Kjell raised his hand, earning silence from the Rangers instantly, followed shortly by the Guard. "I've instructed my Lieutenants to post Rangers at every major intersection and every notable building. But, there are only fifty of us in the city now, that's one Ranger for every one hundred citizens. If the Guard can call upon all ninety of its members, we could bolster the Rangers already deployed and hopefully have enough men on the ground to blanket the whole city." He picked up a handful of the small statues and placed them at the intersection just outside of the Valjer Manor, they were carved as wolves, representing the werewolf and the two regular white wolves that had been seen with it. "This is the last known location of the Werewolf. I am going to personally lead a search party through the Town, starting with the Farmhouse District, then into the Common District and the Industrial District. I imagine the Werewolf will be found in the Common District, it has the highest concentration of people and as such the most hosts for its plague." Kjell leaned against the table with his hands, looking at the Guard Captain that stood across from him, "Can I count on the Guard to reinforce my Rangers?" The man had been listening intently the entire time, but now stood staring at the map that lie between them. He seemed unsure of himself, taking almost a full minute to come up with a response. "Yes..." He seemed to hesitate after saying the word. "I will have them mustered and deployed to reinforce the critical positions within two hours." Kjell's jaw practically dropped, the quiet shuffling of the other Ranger's indicated that he wasn't the only one shocked. He only barely managed to keep himself from stuttering in rage like a fool. Instead, he smashed his hand against the table, rattling it and causing the statues to jump and clatter on its surface. "Two hours?!" He roared. "It shouldn't take you more than fifteen minutes to run across the whole town, let alone Muster everyone in a central location and then assign them their posts!" Kjell snarled in disgust at the man, whirling away from the table and stalking for the door. "Rangers, you have your assignments, serve your town with pride." With that he shoved open the front door and disappeared in a swirl of snow.
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