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Bradapalooza

-Whispers in the Woods-

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[FONT=Georgia][COLOR="#000000"][URL="http://www.valucre.com/showthread.php/22931-Lore-Article-The-City-of-Coban"][CENTER]The City of Coban[/CENTER][/URL][/COLOR][/FONT]
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[FONT=Georgia][COLOR="#000000"]Edgar frowned at the missive. The Daily Patrol for the Outskirts had reported some of the strangest things he’d ever seen. Missing animals, distant screams, uncanny noises, and vanishing trees – the last one was almost the most worrying. He would have assumed it was just a rampant bear or poachers except for the report on the tree. It was by Raegar, who had been Edgar’s personal tutor in woodsmanship when he had joined the Militia. He couldn’t discount it as fantasy.

But Edgar didn’t know what to do about a vanishing tree. He looked around the warm den of the Garrison. The fire cast long shadows from the legs of men, women, and the strong oak tables. The mead in his belly had warmed and relaxed him. He didn’t want to patrol.

Yet, it was his duty.

Edgar stood from the long wooden bench and donned his Coban Militia-issue cloak. The cloak was made of the finest fibres and woven by the best Coban City had to offer; dark green, filled with pockets, and decorated with the emblem of Coban City itself, it was both practical and a work of art. He stepped out of the threshold of the Garrison without a word to any of his troops. He needed fresh air. The cloak protected him from the nip of cold in the climate. Coban City never grew stiflingly hot – it was one of the cooler places in Orisia – at least as far as Edgar knew. He’d travelled, but Coban City was home.

He loved the blue-grey stone, the neatly arranged buildings, and the chaotic terrain that the town was nestled within. Coban City felt safe. Cradled between the cliff and a cavernous ravine – which the beautiful Coban bridges spanned at either end of the city, set exactly at right angle from each other – the town was a beautiful haven in the dangerous terrain. A flock of crows flew above the city and he watched them as he felt and inhaled the soft breeze

Edgar set off down the streets at a jog. He’d ponder the situation as he got into the woods and on the Coban Road. His calf-high soft brown leather boots pounded the ground rhythmically as he set off. His eyes roamed over the edge of the bridge, as always, and he marveled at the distant river at the bottom of the ravine. The sheer beauty of Coban City always helped clear his mind. The crisp air, the slight chill, the beautiful stonework, the exotic terrain – this was home.

Captain Edgar of the Coban Militia slid to a stop thirty meters down the Coban Road. He stared in silence at the horrors in front of him. He threw up violently and resumed staring without pause.

A crow pecked at the ritually arranged innards of a full-grown steer. The head – with its longhorns serving as skewers for the heart, stomach, and liver – sat in the center of the design, with blood and cortial matter drawing a circle around it on the blue stones of the road. The intestines, hacked apart at two handspan intervals and not cleaned, formed a nine pointed star of massive proportions. The legs each pointed perfectly the direction of a compass: east, west, north, and south. The ribs were interwoven into a circle, bone encircling bone. The rest of the innards coloured in the strata of the star.

Edgar ran back towards the Garrison. His feet could not carry him away fast enough. He had no idea what the fuck was going on – but something was out there.

He burst into the Garrison door. [B]“I need militiamen! Now!”[/B]

He thought he needed more than that.
[/COLOR][/FONT] Edited by Bradapalooza
Used "air" so many times

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No doubt everyone in the garrison was having a grand old time, drinking and laughing. No doubt.

Too bad they couldn't enjoy standing around, [I]tied to a tree,[/I] for two hours in the bitter wind with a scarf in their mouth instead of around their neck. A shame really.
It was great fun, it was. And, even better, the angry throbbing in the back of the head added a touch more excitement into the mix.
Enough to drive anyone crazy.
Sergeant Ren included.

To add insult to injury, she had no idea who it was who had knocked her unconscious with the cast iron pan (still laying at her feet) and left her stranded out on the Coban road with no hope but that someone might chance to notice her. A [I]pan![/I] Obviously simply being captured and tied up wasn't humiliation enough.

Ren snarled through the gag and tried to hide from the cold behind her long dark hair. The first hour of captivity wasn't so bad. The likelihood of someone meandering along on the well-used road was high enough to keep up her spirits. The second hour, however, was torture. Without being able to move anything but her eyelids the cold was becoming more and more painful. Shivers racked her body even though the temperature was well above the freezing point. The thin rope used to secure her to the trunk was cutting into her bare arms and wrists in response to her initial struggle. Lastly, the stench of some poor beast rotting nearby was making her extremely nauseous.

[I]Footsteps?[/I]

Ren's heart accelerated as fast moving footfalls were heard moving towards her from Coban City. Relief! She shouted and snarled through the gag to make sure that her rescuer would be able to find her.

[I]Nothing.[/I]

The running had stopped. The sound of vomiting made Ren's gut turn. What had done this? Who had come so close to finding her but instead was stopped by illness only a hundred feet away?
Tears threatened to rise as the footsteps began again, this time back towards the city. Edited by riv

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Just coming from a long shift, Ragnar's body was tired from his work. The military life had never truly suited him really, but it was the only thing he had a nack for it would seem. In the past, he always did have a hard time keeping an occupation for a long period of time. But the local militia seemed to suit him, even though he did not enjoy it very much. But I guess he could do worse, after all.

[COLOR="#696969"][B][I]He didn't do much except pursuing the occasional poacher. And depending on how you looked at it the life within the local militia could almost be considered as an early retirement.[/I][/B][/COLOR]

His father had been a smith, and thus has teached Ragnar from a young age about the ways of iron and steel. But as his years had gotten the best of him and his arms and knees had worn down from many years of hard labour he had been forced to retire from his profession. But even if he could not properly slam down his hammer upon solid steel anymore, he could still hold his trusted axe by a firm grip should it be required.

He could also lift his shield high as he pushed opponents almost half his age back as they stumbled upon the own feet. The militia was full of them, but they knew to respect Ragnar in proper fashion. If not they would get a proper lecture upon the training grounds. But he did not deny it, the long years had taken a toll on him.

[COLOR="#696969"][B][I]When was it that he had become so old?[/I][/B][/COLOR]

Approaching the compund where his bunk was located, he let out a deep sight as he took his last few breaths of the cold and moist air that surrounded him. He entered the Garrison from patroling his assigned area he instantly felt the conforting warmth that resided within the structure. But as he would move to shut the door behind him his action was suddenly interrupted as the door was pulled upon in front of him. Before he had proper time to react the Captain Edgar had appeared before him.

[COLOR="#696969"][B][I]The expression upon the Captains face suggested that he had just laid eyes upon something horrible.[/I][/B][/COLOR]

So it was true, then. They had all heard about the recent reports about the strange occurrences that had taken place around the City of Coban. But he believed them to be nothing but rumors, until the moment he had laid eyes upon the expression upon the captain's face just now that is. Ragnar expression quickly changed as he stood across from the captain as his sense sparked from the sudden turn of events.

[COLOR="#696969"][B][I]It seemed he would get no rest, at least not for the moment.[/I][/B][/COLOR]

He nodded towards Edgar as he fixed the leather strap the held his shield upon his back in proper place. He turned for a moment as he noticed others rise from the call to arms as they all gathered around the door in before long.

[COLOR="#696969"][B]"Lead the way, captain."[/B][/COLOR] From the expression upon his face, Ragnar figured now was not the time for foolish questions. And so he would ask them, because he knew before long it what the captain had seen would most likely be revealed. No matter if he wanted it to be or not. Because it was his duty to stomach things so that others did not have to. Edited by Diremast

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"On your feet!" Came a cry from behind. Private Crim glanced behind him, turning his eyes away from the steaming bowl of mutton stew.

"Huh?" He mumbled, slowly pushing his chair out with his knees in unison with some of his fellow men at arms.

"Captain Edgar's orders. Suit up and get moving!"

Crim Sonap Parel was about as green around the ears as a Militiaman could get. He'd joined at the end of the summer, his Father was a woodsman and it had been expected he would follow in his old man's footsteps. He was tall and slender, with a thick crop of ashen blonde hair that always seemed to fall in front of his eyes.

"From the Captain?" He repeated to himself, as if by saying them again he would somehow digest more meaning from them. It took just a moment longer for him to shake himself from his sluggish stupor."From the Captain!" He repeated it again, this time somewhat louder and with a dawning look of comprehension on his face. He quickly shovelled one last, large spoonful of stew and turned to follow the others departing for the Garrison door. His mind was literally buzzing with a thousand questions, some of them more foolish than others, but Crim kept quiet for now. He knew he was a rookie and it was best for him to not put his foot in his mouth by saying something stupid out loud. Whatever he needed to know, he'd be told. He reached down subconsciously and ran his hand along the smooth, redwood haft of one of his handaxes. He'd carved the haft's himself from the planks of a fine cherry tree. There wood was a deep, rich, ruddy brown colour, polished to such a glossy hue that you could almost see yourself in them. Crim had never been prouder of himself than on the day that his Father had brought them back, shiny steel axe heads attached, bound with thick brown leather braids.

His feet brought him to a halt towards the back of the entrance corridor, a tall lad, he sprung up on his toes to get a better view of Edgar and the door.

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Naria counted the playing cards as they slid soundlessly across the table. [I]1 … 2 … 3 … [/I]They slipped right into her hand. The grizzled man seated across from her was an expert dealer, and the table the best-polished surface in the Coban City garrison. The table was sacred—she'd learned that already in her short time here. It was an altar she loved to pray at.

Bets were placed, cards flipped, and the grizzled militiaman, Tordon, cursed for the sixth time that night. "Girl, another hand like that and we're gonna have to turn out your sleeves." Naria hoped he was kidding. She expected her comrades wouldn't take too kindly to the dagger she stashed there (for emergencies).

The woman to Naria's right spoke up. "The rookie's got luck, Tordon, that's all. It won't last."

Naria smiled. Gambling was only half luck. The other half was reading people—something Naria was very good at. Currently she was reading that Tordon was becoming quite annoyed with her. She schooled her own expression and waited for the next hand to be dealt.

"On your feet!" The shout came from the hall. Naria's bow was off the back of her chair and in her hand before she even stood. She pushed back the chair and slung the weapon's harness onto her back as she got to her feet.

The older militiamen and women chuckled. "Don't be so quick to jump to it, rookie, I'm sure it's nothing exciting. This city has been quiet as long as I've patrolled it." Tordon got to his feet and took his time retrieving his sword.

Naria had been startled, but her winnings didn't slip her mind—she turned back to the table and scooped the coins into a pouch. Then, without a word, she darted into the hall. The others may not have been worried, but there'd been something... panicked in that shout. And who or what could be important enough to alert the whole garrison?

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Nica had amassed quite a reputation among mercenaries and soldiers in Genesaris, and this was the reason she had moved again--this time to the island Orisia. Coban City to be more precise, and to be even more specific the outskirts of Coban City. After years of being in the city the woods had a refreshing feel, even comforting. Although her homeland had been manly tall grasses and rolling prairies, the forest had the same energy, the same cleanness and mystery, and entire ecosystem underneath what you could see.

The point was, she didn't want to be noticed or found. So the blacksmith figured taking a break from the main land would be a good idea, maybe selling her wares to some rough and tough mountain folk. They weren't quite as brutal and classless as those in the South of Genesaris, yet the people of Coban had that gruffness accompanied by a more respectful demeanor. Cobans were just courteous in their own way.

She had taken the day off. Her workshop and home was located in the untamed outskirts of town, the downstairs containing her tools, counter, and the forge, and the upstairs held all her more personal areas.

In the late evening, Nica had decided to take some orders into town, (her sword Prahava strapped to her back like a security blanket) since it was[I] such[/I] a hassle for customers to walk out and retrieve their weapons and armor themselves. It was slightly tedious, but she didn't mind too much; it was a nice night, like most, and she could use the outing.

The road was quiet, and the owls were the only sound she could hear. That is until she heard the thump-thump of boots on stone, a little while off but close enough to reach quickly. She began to walk faster, the extra weight of the orders only barely slowing her speed. In a few minutes she reached the sparse crowd of Coban Militia around what, she didn't know. However, it did seem serious to warrant that many officials.

The woman edged closer, her observant gold eyes considered the situation cautiously; just being here gave her a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. Where would she be most likely to get a glimpse of what was happening, or find some poor bastard to badger into telling her? She usually wasn't one to interfere, but if someone was in danger or something bad was really going down, she would try her best to help.

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Whomever had made the observation that the garrison was likely knee deep in the night, drinking and laughing, celebrating the relative peace that Coban had enjoyed as of late.. was entirely right. Big Jack Seluride, a man as wide as he was tall (which thankfully wasn't very), had put back a pint or 14 and, after losing more than a few hands to the rookie female (who was clearly cheating, he might add), had settled back into one of the canvas bound cots and, despite its creaking objections, slipped into a nap - just a quick nap, a few stolen winks, a single round with the sandman...

A few minutes later, the sound of Jack snoring bubbled out like an engine threatening to stall.

[quote name='Captain Edgar']"I need militiamen! Now!"[/quote]

[i]Militiamen![/i]

[b][i]Now?![/b][/i]

"Wha.. ?"

The big man half-rolled, half-fell out/off of his bunk, landing mostly on his feet as he plucked his axe from the peg on the wall and threw a chain shirt on over his standard, Coban tabard.

[quote name='Someone']"On your feet, now!"[/quote]

"By the Gods, man!" grumbling, Jack jogged over to the gathering group of militia men- all half armored, with chains jingling and unbuckled buckles clanging, with his wide, reinforced shield slung over one shoulder and his big, double-headed axe over the other, glaring as he tried to blow crumbs from last nights hearty bread out of his thick, red-brown beard.

"'Tha hell's the fire?" he asked his fellow soldiers as, half out of breath, he drew close to their group.

Nothing in Coban required this much of a hurry.

[I]Nothing.[/I] Edited by Noko

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[FONT=Georgia]Captain Edgar watched the proceedings in a daze – only cognizant for brief flashes. The steady drum, his heart, slowed. He had been panicking – he could only recall images of the bloody sigil in glimpses. It was probably just – just vandalism. Not a matter worth bringing to the actual Coban Guard upstairs. Yes, it was probably just someone with a twisted sense of humour; not actually dark arts. The Militia would handle the issue. He’d simply lost his head. That was it – plain and simple. He wouldn’t report it to Second Lieutenant Choncer of the Coban Guard – he’d be laughed at. Edgar could hear what they would say: “Little Captain Edgar pissing himself over a bit of vandalism – want to run home, lil’ Captain?” The actual guard always heckled him when he made a mistake.

No – he’d just take a few people and they’d clean up and check for evidence. Nothing to worry about – he just needed one or two people.

It was a big mess . . . perhaps five people would be better. Yes, five people, not including himself. Edgar’s attention returned to the rowdy Garrison.

Over the heads of the small crowd that had surrounded him, Edgar spotted a familiar, drowsy, face. “Corporal Seluride!” he bellowed, in the best imitation of his normal command voice he could manage. “Get over here! And bring those two greenhorns while you’re at it: Nadia and Crumb!”

“Crim and Naria, Cap’n! You should really bother learning names more, sir,” said a familiar voice. First Sergeant Nimpra, Edgar’s oldest friend, and the most insubordinate militiawoman on the planet.

“Nimpra, you’re coming to just because you can’t hold your damn tongue!” Edgar shouted in reply. She always made him look bad in front of the troops – and did so that very moment as she stuck her tongue out while lazily rising from her seat. But if anything bad happened, Edgar would be damn glad to have agile Nimpra and her short blade along with Big Jack and his big axe. The privates would be useless, of course, but nothing bad would happen. It was just vandalism. Probably . . .

Edgar abruptly noticed Ragnar standing, prepared, right in front of him. The Captain’s sluggish brain connected the mess of noises from the past few minutes to the grizzled voice of Ragnar saying, “Lead the way, Captain.” Edgar gave a curt nod of acknowledgment to the gruff First Lieutenant – his direct subordinate. It wouldn’t hurt to have another officer along. Especially not one that he’d seen take down a giant elk by dropping from a tree and decapitating it with his ever present axes in a single fluid motion.

Not that Edgar was frightened – it was just good protocol to have another officer – that was all.

[HR][/HR]

The group had donned gear and jogged the short distance.

Edgar's gut turned. Just around the corner, they'd see it. They'd see the horrible, horrible sigil. He kept his mouth shut for fear of throwing up again. He answered no questions. He rounded the corner.

Edgar stared at the Road.

Nothing was there. The entire bloody mess had fuckin’ vanished. This was the spot (his vomit confirmed it). Yet, it was clear. He’d imagined the whole fucking thing. He was going crazy. Somebody was fucking with his head or–

He heard a muffled cry just down the Road and took off in a sprint. Maybe nobody would suspect Edgar hadn’t been intending to investigate cries in the forest all along. Then he wouldn’t look like a dumbass to the five pounding pairs of boots behind him. But – he hadn’t imagined it. He knew in some part deep within, some part he didn't acknowledge, that the sigil had been there.

His stomach twisted and he broke into a cold sweat. He rounded the bend and . . . found Sergeant Ren tied and gagged to a tree. And a cast iron pan at her feet. And Militia-issue rope binding her along with a Militia-issue scarf gagging her.

Of course, Nimpra was the first to comment. “This is what you dragged us out here for? Somebody pulled a fucking practical joke?”

Edgar ignored her. Maybe Ren had seen something. Maybe she’d seen the dark ma– . . . the vandals. He cut her down in short, swift strokes, and whispered in her ear.

“Ren – did you see anything . . . strange out here?”[/FONT] Edited by Bradapalooza

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That horrible stench was finally drifting away. The sun also was now disappearing from sight from within the tall forest. On normal days dusk was perhaps Ren's favorite time of day. Long, sharp shadows made the trees glow, the grass glisten. Life slowed down to the cheerful chatter of woodland birds and the occasional snorts of bucks on the trail of a pretty doe in this season. Near perfection held rule at dusk.

But somehow all the beauty had abandoned the forest since Ren had been knocked out by cooking gear and rudely attached to a tree. The sun skipped along its sky path not bothering to grace the land with its golden rays, keeping hidden behind dull gray clouds, anxious to slip below the horizon unseen. The songbirds kept completely silent. The only sound was that of sudden gusts of wind to chill her bones, the falling of brown leaves. Moreover, a feeling of death clung to the atmosphere, a poetic impending [I]doom[/I]. Ren could feel it, the quiet animals fled from it. What secret did the evening hold?

The sergeant, still bound hand and foot, coughed angrily for the umpteenth time. Her throat was now as raw as her wrists, and her fingers were becoming dark purple as frostbite set in.
[I]But people![/I] Ren started to grunt and call through the gag again as several sets of footsteps made their way quickly towards her. She didn't really care who they were as long as they found her and set her free. Unless...

This was embarrassing. She, a sergeant, tied up to a tree, had attracted six different militiamen to come to her rescue. Maybe there was a chance she could convince them all to keep the story a secret, maybe a bribe.

[I]Right...[/I]

As Captain Edgar cut the ropes, he spoke in her ear so that only she could hear what he said.

[quote name='"Captain Edgar"']“Ren – did you see anything . . . strange out here?”[/QUOTE]

Ren's heart sped up at the odd question. So, after all, it hadn't been her lonesome self which had brought them all running from the comforts of the garrison. It had been...whatever it was that was out here.

"Captain...there is something evil and terrible in the fading light tonight that thus far is inexplicable, but I have witnessed nothing."

The sergeant shuddered as she remembered the horrible feeling of being watched by a thing whose only wish was to devour her. Edited by riv

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Nica followed the group of officials, still very curious. The weapons were still firmly tucked under her arm, but she was exceptionally strong for her gender, height, and build and had little trouble hefting the load around.

Golden eyes searched the moving assembly, looking for a person to inquire about the obvious situation to. Selecting what seemed to be both a slightly familiar face and the leader of the troupe, the blacksmith attempted to stride with purpose to the man. However, he was very busy untying some poor girl and she decided to hold back, gritting her teeth in signature annoyance and frustration. For all saints, she just wanted some answers to sate her burning curse of curiosity.

Sighing, she decided to settle for the word of a mere soldier; edging closer, she lightly tapped the nearest militia officer on the shoulder. "Excuse me, but I was wondering if you might explain what's going on." Her voice was partially authoritative and strong, partially friendly and clear; she hoped the unique blend would encourage the person to answer frankly and briskly. Nica wanted to know if she should stay in town for the night or perhaps turn back now and hole up in her cabin-workshop--if something dark was afoot like she so adamantly felt, she did [I]not [/I]want to be a bright and wide target alone in the woods.

After all, night was approaching too quickly for comfort.

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[quote name='Captain Edgar, "Hot Pants", Veridion - (Only takes sitting on the campfire just /once/ to get a nickname..)']“Corporal Seluride!”[/quote]

Ah, hell. Was that [i]Edgar?[/i]

Two giant, busy red caterpillar eyebrows crept and crawled their way upward onto Jack's washboard forehead - so high it seemed they might almost disappear beneath his hairline, only to instead joined it like the frothy edge of newly mowed grass.

"Cap'n?"

Like Crunch, that's right.

Aw, [b]hell[/b].

"Nambia...!

[size=1]..Nadia?[/size]

[b][size=3]NARIA![/b][/size]

Get you an' Crumb.. Crim.. over here. The two'a youse gonna get t'run support on this patrol."

[i]Support? Might as well put on a red-shirt...[/i]

With the buckle of his belt and the flat of its other side clenched in left hand, while the other held both the axe [b]and[/b] his shield, Corporal Seluride jogged a jingling, jumbling jaunt over to Captain Veridion - good ole hot pants - and saluted with such blinding speed that, to everyone's benefit, he somehow managed to not drop his pants.

"Oy, you know I been up all about 5 minutes, right? Don't none'a y'all stand near me if things get t'swingin'.. Don't say I didn't warn ya none."

Dropping the axe-head to the ground, Jack reigned the ends of his belt in, securely buckled them, and latched his weapon belt on top so it lay crooked across his hips. A couple tugs, the shift of his shoulders and a few minor adjustments to his mail, and the unlikely officer almost looked presentable - - [i]almost[/i]. His thick, wild beard was clean[i]er[/i] at least, and the cook had taken the scissors to his mustache a few nights ago - somethin' about not liking a mouthful of hair when she kissed him - so you could almost see his lips when he spoke. It was better, at least.

Despite his girth, which was both solid and substantial, Jack jogged at the front of the greenhorns he'd been assigned- only slowing as Ren's bound figure came into view. It was, at first, [i]concerning[/i].. but as the shadow peeled back to reveal nothing menacing nor malevolent, Jack found himself joining Nimpra in her mockery of the situation. As he approached, he drew two fingers to his mouth and sent a wolf-whistle peeling through the quiet night air.

[quote name='Ren']"Captain...there is something evil and terrible in the fading light tonight that thus far is inexplicable, but I have witnessed nothing."[/quote]

"Only thing 'orrible an' terrible is gettin' dragged out here t'cut you down from playtime!"

Laughing, he elbowed Crim, then Naria.

"Y'believe this? Hey, tho'- at least y'kin put 'the darin' rescue'a Ren-the-Bound on yer service jacket.. get ya a commendation for defense'a her purity."

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Was this for real?

At the Captain's word, Naria joined the group and headed out into the woods. She felt a burst of energy at finally getting to do something other than part the other militiamen from their money. Her bow was a solid, comforting weight at her back, and her feet fell into an easy rhythm to keep up with the others.

But they'd stopped, and there was nothing here but a tied-up sergeant (and how the hell had that happened, anyway)?

[QUOTE]"Captain...there is something evil and terrible in the fading light tonight that thus far is inexplicable, but I have witnessed nothing."[/QUOTE]

Naria studied the sunset. The light had faded to dark streaks as they jogged to the Captain's mysterious destination, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Tracking was Naria's specialty, and despite the fact that no one had asked for her input, she knelt down and examined the dirt road closely. Nothing.

She stood just in time to be elbowed by Corporal Seluride.

[QUOTE]"Y'believe this? Hey, tho'- at least y'kin put 'the darin' rescue'a Ren-the-Bound on yer service jacket.. get ya a commendation for defense'a her purity."[/QUOTE]

Naria looked to Crim. Was this all some sort of elaborate hazing ritual? She'd play it cool, just in case it was. She shrugged. "Guess Coban really is as quiet as they say."

But when she studied Captain Edgar out of the corner of her eye... he looked [I]afraid[/I].

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[QUOTE=Liha'Irden;325362] "Excuse me, but I was wondering if you might explain what's going on."[/QUOTE]

Crim turned slowly to face the person who tapped him on the shoulder and found himself staring into a pair of wide, pretty, golden eyes. He swallowed hard,

"I-uh... I'm not sure yet, we haven't been briefed... just told to assemble. I th-"

[quote name='Bradapalooza'] “And bring those two greenhorns while you’re at it: Nadia and Crumb!”

“Crim and Naria, Cap’n! You should really bother learning names more, sir,” [/FONT][/QUOTE]

The lanky blonde's head snapped at the sound of his name. The Captain has asked for him... he wasn't sure if this was a good sign or a bad sign. His heart skipped a beat and he felt his palms growing sweaty.

"I've got to go." He apologised, "That's me. I'm Crumb. I mean Crim. I'm Crim. Private Crim Parel..." Subconsciously he knew he was blabbering, but he found it hard to stop. It wasn't very often the Private found himself tapped on the shoulder by young ladies. He cleared his throat. "I'll tell you what I find out!" The words burst from his lips as he quickly about faced and took off running after the Captain and the other officers who had moved slightly away from the group congregating along the road.

When he finally slid to a stop what he saw confounded him. The Captain was cutting down a fellow militia member. Crim was terrible with names, but he thought he recognized her face. What was she doing bound up to that tree?

[quote name='Noko']
"Only thing 'orrible an' terrible is gettin' dragged out here t'cut you down from playtime!"[/QUOTE]

Corporal Seluride's bawdy accent and prodding elbow pulled the young Private out of his reverie. He glanced up at the superior officer, and then past him to where Naria stood, looking as bewildered as he.

"What the hell is a militia woman doing stuck to a tree?" His lips slowly pulled down into a frown, "Are we under some kind of attack?" Despite fervently wanting some answers, Crim still managed to keep his voice low enough that it didn't carry past the ears of his two companions. He might not have been a ranked member of Coban's Militia for long, but he wasn't a complete fool. If it was an attack, there may very well be spies watching them through the thick foliage... and even if it wasn't... even if it was some kind of prank, the Captain likely would want to punish whoever was responsible... it wouldn't do to be yelling out that they'd found the victim and give the perp enough time to sneak off and prepare an alibi... Edited by Elliterate

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"Well, Crumb." Jack paused, his watermelon-sized head tilted up to the sky as he sorted between the various names bandied about these past few minutes.

"Crim? Crim, my man, figger y'got yerself a nickname. Anyways, Crumb. I don't right know. Lemme go see what Edgar's got t'say about things."

Formality, shmorality(?). It was hard to maintain much in the way of stiffness when most of the nights were spent with a stiff drink, a stiff night in the cook's bed, and a stiff headache come the morning.

[i]This was the life.[/i]

Jack's chainmail kept pace with his feet, marking his paces as he ambled over to where Captain Edgar had rescued the distressed damsel - er - Sergeant Ren.

"Ren.." Ever the 'gentleman', he greeted the lady first with a grin and a sparkle in his eye. "Cap'n. What y'figure's step two? You want me t'bring these greenhorns back t'camp or run'em about an' make sure whatever bumped Ren in tha night's come an' gone f'good.. " The big man guffawed once, loudly, easily a victim of his own humor. He continued after that, though his words were occasionally interspersed with chuckles.

"We kin always use it as a exercise in recon." he said, shrugging.

Now that they'd woke Jack up, he might as well do something useful.

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[FONT=Georgia]“Cap’n. What y’figure’s step two?” Corporal Seluride’s question floated to Edgar through a haze. He could feel the danger like an oppressive blanket draped over him – suffocating him – and confusing him. Edgar truthfully just wanted to go home. He did not know how the rest of the knot of soldiers failed to feel the presence in the air. Night was fast approaching.

They should just leave. Edgar put aside his pride and opened his dry mouth to attempt to get the words out.

“Everyone–”

The distinct sound of dried wood snapping under a boot cut through the noise of the group. But louder – far louder – more like a tree had exploded. An uncanny silence followed the noise as every face twitched towards the forest. Edgar opened his mouth again – they needed to get out. He couldn’t produce a sound despite feeling all his attempts. He knew his mouth and tongue moved but it was as if he had suddenly gone mute. Edgar felt a hand wrapping around his throat, though he could see nothing. An irresistible force pulled him towards the wood. He tried to signal his panic but his hands refused to respond. Nimpra nodded at him as his hand signaled her to lead the group into the forest against his will.

The trees seemed to loom in against their sides as they entered.[/FONT]

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