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[RPC O] The Marathon [Closed]

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[RPC O] The Marathon [Closed]

Post by Sammy » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:35 am

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Following tradition I, as mediator, have the pleasure of setting you your first task - a challenge of stamina, skill, pacing and careful tactics. Rush ahead without thought and you might find yourself hitting that wall, take it too slowly and, well, you might find yourself and your team slipping further and further behind the pack.

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Marathons are not for the fainthearted and this challenge is certainly no exception. You will have until the 31st August to do the following:

Write 4000-5000 words inspired in some way by the mythology or, an aspect of the mythology belonging to any culture of your choosing. It can be as loosely or as directly correlated to existing mythology as you like but we would like your finished piece to be accompanied by an additional 2-3 sentences explaining the development of your idea and your story, including the source of your inspiration.

I've picked out a few books/series that have utilised mythology that might be worth a read if you are so inclined:
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
The Song of Achilles/Circe - Madeline Miller
The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden
The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker
Percy Jackson & the Olympians - Rick Riordan

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  • The finished piece must be at least 4000 words in length but not longer than 5000.
  • All submissions must be made by the 31st August.
  • All submissions must be accompanied by a brief explanation of what element of mythology inspired your idea and how you think you've incorperated that into your finished piece.
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As with all of our Olympic events, every competitor will net themselves an Olympian title until mid-September - except for our top three, who earn an exclusive Gold, Silver or Bronze Medalist title depending on where they place. As this is a particularly challenging contest, you will also be rewarded with either a game or a commission from one of our resident RPC Artists. Oh, and lets not forget, a much needed medal for your team!
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Re: [RPC O] The Marathon [Open - 31st August]

Post by Ares [Darkblade] » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:10 am

The following story, is an adaption of some of the key points of the myth of Cú Chulainn with a wild west backdrop. From the killing of the dog of Chulainn, his taking the dog’s place, the cattle raid of Cooley where he defied the will of Queen Medb, and ending with his death. The story is obviously not going to follow the proper timeline which would take too many words, and mix things up a bit. Replacing the dog of Chulainn with a Sheriff, Queen Medb being a bandit leader with an axe to grind, the cattle raid being the battle where he would die rather than a later battle, and generally trying to keep to the tropes of a western over the nature of mythology of the Ulster Cycle.

Cooley, a rather nondescript town in the middle of the west. Towns like it had sprung up all over the place, revolving around grabbing as much money as possible from those that visit. It’s only real difference being the Ranch of the same name, likely it was the owner’s name. Which told Cu all he needed about the type of place this was, a place without any imagination. Did Cooley have to ask which specific Cooley was being referenced in a conversation? And did they find that overly irritating by now? In any case it was a good enough place to grab a drink, as the wagon trails left little in the way of comfort. Even less in the way of opportunities for a man who had a gun and a willingness to use it for profit. The herds were no longer needing driving with ranches popping up, the great expansion had long since past, and he wasn’t the sort to resort to crime. But he was well aware the days of the cowboy were on their way out, which irked him as he wasn’t ready to think about settling down.

A small beardless man, the road had weathered him as much as he backside had his saddle. His grey eyes still spoke of the youth that lay within, for a man so worn by the world was barely approaching his second score. His hair red gold, for it was as vibrant and red as saffron that shared that moniker. His garb, simple and utilitarian, a brown felt slouch hat to keep the sun off his face. A sombrero to keep the dust off him, and kept him reasonably warm at night. Though being from the Emerald Isle, his was more a tartan. Blue denim, cause it was the easiest to get his hands on. Leather chaps cause he rather not have his legs scratched off him. Something he learned the hard way, a painful few weeks those were. All in all he looked a lot like a stereotypical cowboy, complete with a .45 Colt Single Action Army revolver resting in his holster. An 1973 winchester rifle, chambered for .32-20 rounds settled in it’s own rest within his saddle. Always within reach should trouble meat him on the road, the horse itself a tempermental roan mare he called Emer.

As he entered town he noted a woman washing denim, he could see the the water becoming red as she washed. The scent of blood reaching his nostrils, so there was something in the way of excitement in this town. Though also a bit of a poor omen, a sign that his ancestors would say spoke more of things to come than things that had occured. But then they were the sort of folk who looked to the sky for deeper meanings that weather and telling if it was day or night. Foolish people, life doesn’t come with a script, you write your own destiny. The woman looked up, brushing her raven black hair from her face. It had been crying, that much he could tell. He nodded in greeting as he continue to ride on past what was likely their home. There were a few houses, simple wooden structures, he’d note the occasional glance from a window. A mother calling her kids inside, some old woman beating the dust out of a carpet. Typical signs of life even here, it always made him a bit proud of the human race, to find anywhere they could and lay claim to it as their own. He pulled his bandana from his mouth, as he rather not have them think he was some bandit. It also wasn’t likely he’d find himself choking on much dust now, the hard riding was over with.

The hub of the town was the general store, smith, and of course the tap house. Might as well also called it a juke joint to, for such places offered just about anything to part a traveller from their money. That wasn’t his thing, not at all, he just wanted a place to lay his head and wash the trail off. Then perhaps see if there was any pay to be found, if not, he’d head back on the trail. Probably head further to the interior where things were still wild, and his talents of some use. Pulling the winchester out from the rest as he dismounted, only a fool left their gun out where just anyone could grab it. As he moved to hitch his horse up, it tried to take a bite, not a serious attempt but enough to let him know it wasn’t happy with all the traveling.

“I know, I’m hardly a fan of it either. Hopefully we can stay in town a while, and get your shoes seen to.”

She’d seemed to favor her forelegs, likely worn the shoe down again. Or a stone bruise, nothing to serious, but it was something to have a look at later. The smith he hoped wasn’t the type to charge a mean price due to the lack of competition, if so, well he could probably find a way to make him lower his price. Holding the rifle along the barrel and resting the butt along his shoulders, the least threatening way he could think of though still within his ability to pull down and use if needed. Swinging doors, another bit of unoriginality for this town, walked through them and walked right to the bar keep.

“Hello neighbour, got a room?”

The barkeep looking up from at Cu, seeming to size him up. Lingering on the rifle, apparently contemplating whether it would be worth the hassle.

“It’ll cost you twenty cents a night.”

Twenty cents, about twice as much as the previous town. Was the dollar that bad to see prices would double in a week of riding? But it was their place, and he could afford it. No point pressing the issue, assuming he was going to stay in town for a while. Dropping a couple of dimes, he waited for the barkeep to hand him a key. Small places like this didn’t really have the people to consider the showing people to their rooms, considering a few early drinkers wouldn’t say no to helping themselves.

“Thanks neighbour.”

Looking at the key, room four. Had to ponder if that meant there were three other out of towners, or just the first key the barkeep grabbed? Heading upstairs he found the fourth room easily enough, he hoped he wouldn’t have to share his bed with too many bedbugs.

-----

The sun was starting it’s decline from the sky, and Cu was nice and refreshed. A bath was just what he needed, to work out the kinks of the road. He left his rifle under the bed, no point in carrying it around everywhere. Considering he was here to see if there was any money in town worth his while, and nothing caused money to run off than someone holding a gun. Walking out of his room, he noted the bar was filling up, a few of the morning drinkers were still there. A tad more drunker than they had been before, but seemingly enjoying themselves.

“You looking for a good time?”

It was the woman who he had seen washing blood out of denim on his way into town, so she was a working girl. He shook his head, continuing down the stairs, he noted a pair of men talking while looking at him. The barkeep’s eyes moving from the scene to another man wearing a black suit and a derby who was apparently watching intently. Her employer most likely, well he wasn’t interested.

“Come on, I’m sure you could do with some fun in your life.”

She was practically trying to drag him back to her, he was impressed by her strength. Though he still wasn’t interested, so he pulled away, she stumbled. Though he managed to stop her taking a trip down the stairs, setting he back to her feet he continued on down the stairs. The derby wearing man was at the bottom of them, squinting at Cu. Who rolled his eyes, so it was going to be like this?

“Yes neighbour?”

The man spat tobacco on the floor, Cu pondered if he thought that was meant to be intimidating.

“My women not good enough for you?”

Interesting use a plural, when Cu saw only counted one.

“I don’t pay for women, simple as that.”

It might be more his ego than any sort of morality, considering his tendency to stain his hands in other vices. But he prided himself that when it came to women, that he was man enough to woo them without money. Also made sure to get out of town quickly afterwards, as women always seemed to have some grand desire to settle down. Something he wasn’t ready to do, not till he was grey or dead.

“Why aren’t you a saint, but you’re not getting it. When people come here, they always pay for Morrigan. One way or another, they always pay.”

Cu rolled his eyes and walked on, he knew that would infuriate the fellow. Their type acting always full of bravado, and yapping about how they’re some kind of big deal.

“I wasn’t done talking, boy!”

Stamping his foot, well that’s fun. A man calling another man a boy while acting like a kid who didn’t get no candy from grampa.

“There are two ways this goes, we both know it. Either you let bygones be bygones, or we fight. Either way I’m not paying.”

He hadn’t even bothered to turn around as he moved towards the barkeep, he hoped the man would take the out he was giving him. There wasn’t a need to fight over this, he was being rather tolerant here. Considering he ought to knock the guy’s teeth out for treating a woman like that, he hadn’t imagined the tears from the morning.

“You’re still not getting it!”

He hadn’t even gotten the chance to at least get a drink first, could’ve at least waited for that. Slowly turning flexing his fingers, he was tempted to go for his revolver. However he rather not have a sheriff on his tail, for what amounted to an idiot picking a fight with the wrong person.

“Then come along neighbour, we can do this outside. I doubt these fine folk would like having their drinks spilled on your account.”

Turning away again to leave, he heard the quickened steps, so he was going to try blindsiding him. That was such a cliché, and as the hand went to grab his shoulder he turned and sent a punch right into the man’s gut doubling him over and making him drop his derby. Cu then turn and grabbed them by the back and ease them towards the swinging doors. Sending the man sprawling down into the dirt of the street, he was fuming and spluttering as Cu advanced upon him swinging another punch. Catching them in the temple as they were rising to their feet, he could keep this up all day. Watching the fool fall to a knee, he could see the man’s eyes were glassing over. But he saw something else, the man was going for his gun. Punch drunk or not, he wasn’t about to let the man shoot him. So he drew his own gun, moving to the man’s right to throw their aim and keep them from shooting right into the tavern. Their shoot was wide, but Cu’s aim was true. Right in the chest, he noted they didn’t even notice at first. That moment where they weren’t aware they were dead, that was always bitter, seeing their face slacken in horror as their body stopped obeying them. The man’s gun falling to the ground, as the blood started to pump out staining their suit. Well this was not what he wanted, but here he was, with some idiot’s blood on his hands. He walked over, picking the man’s gun up, no point leaving that around, some kid could pick it up.

The two men who had been talking to each other while looking at him came out, they didn’t expect to see Cu standing. That much he gathered from their worried expressions, kneeling down to their apparent friend.

“You want his gun?”

Cu offering it to them barrel first, cause he wasn’t giving them the chance to just shoot it while it was still in his hand. One of them snatched it the other making a rather valiant effort to lift him.

“His fault, tried to shoot his way out of a fist fight.”

He kept his eye on them as the man pocketed the gun, likely thinking about using it first. But helping his friend was the mor pressing cause, not that Cu was taking the chance.

“You’ve no idea, you’re going to regret this.”

Cu backed away as they haphazardly carried the body down the street, well nice of them to warn him. Not like he didn’t know killing a person would be something to regret, though they probably meant he had more buddies willing to try taking his life over this. Entering the bar he noted the wide eyes of the barkeep, seems his survival wasn’t as guaranteed as it was in his own head.

“You killed him?”

“Yes, he pulled on me. Couldn’t let that slide.”

He made a drinking gesture, and the barkeep pulled out a bottle of whiskey. Always whiskey, these out of the way towns needed to get their hands on a more varied selection.

“Five cents a shot”

He placed a dime, as he downed the first shot in a swift motion and let the barkeep fill the second. Their distiller needed work, that much he could tell from the burning sensation on his tongue. But a drink was a drink.

“Hope the sheriff won’t make much of a fuss about it.”

“I’d like to think so, you shot him.”

He’d shot the sheriff? Were the other two his deputies? Well at least he didn’t shoot them.
Though it was odd to him that the sheriff would be involved in managing working girls, he glanced up at her. She hadn’t moved, but her shock didn’t seem to be dismay. At least there is that, rather not have her come running down and trying to scratch his eyes out.

“Well maybe his replacement will know better than to pick fights.”

Downing the second he looked outside, and felt it was time to see about sorting out his horse. It was increasingly unlikely this town would be of much benefit to him, considering he’d just one and shot their sheriff.

-----

The smith had been as much of a git as he expected, but the reshoeing of Emer was coming along. And she’d only tried to by the fellow twice, a marked improvement over the last time she needed shoeing. He noted the riders coming at speed, he had expected it to be the two ‘deputies’. Deciding it was time he was taken care of, but no, these two were unarmed, and had the look of hard work etched into their bodies. As they came to a stop, he moved out from the smith, leaving them to their work. A young man likely under their first score, and an older man, who was quite a bit taller than Cu.

“Can I help you neighbour?”

The two of them getting off there horses, mustangs by the look of them. Someone had expensive tastes, but then a horse was a horse to Cu.

“You’re the one who shot the sheriff?”

The older of the two spoke, Cu noting the younger one looking to the Smithy and his horse.

“I see word got around.”

“Then Chulainn wants a word with you, we’re to ask you to come with us.”

Cu sized them up, the man seemed more than good for a fight. But that would just bring even more hassle, and it didn’t seem like he was being arrested so he shrugged.

“Once my horse is shoed, if that works for you neighbour? Name’s Cu.”

The taller man seemed to have a perpetual squint, but he had a broad smile as he looked down at Cu. Well that was reassuring, he didn’t seem to be holding any grudges, or have a rather rotten sense of humor.

“Sure Cu, we can wait. I’m Fergus, and this slack jawed kid is Conall. Just to shoot the breeze, why’d you shoot the sheriff anyway?”

He didn’t seem overly curious, but Conall’s ears seemed to perk up at that. Might be the only reason he came along, seeing as Fergus here seemed more than able to delivering this message by himself.

“Simple really, I wouldn’t pay for his woman. He took exception to that, and when he should’ve stayed down. He stupidly decided to pull his piece on me, and to top it off, he’s the sheriff. I certainly am living a charmed life.”

Fergus laughed, well it probably would be funny to someone who wasn’t the one who’d end up paying the consequences. Conall seemed disappointed there wasn’t more to it, typical kid, wanting more adventure in what is a rather mundane life. It took a few more minutes before Emer was led out of the stable, the smith he noted had his left hand wrapped in cloth. So the Emer got him, Cu didn’t find a need to warn people of the roan horse’s temperament, as that became apparent very quickly.

“Thanks neighbour, she was getting awfully granky about those shoes.”

He merely grumbled handing the reins over, payment had already been made. A full dollar a shoe, so Cu wasn’t exactly displeased that Emer made the man miserable. He pulled himself up, looking at the pair also saddling up as well.

“By the way, why do you call people neighbour?”

Conall spoke for the first time, with Fergus leading the way Conall taking the opportunity to get to know the gunman.

“I find it puts people more at ease, which is useful when they could be carrying.”

Conall mulled that over, and found another question to ask.

“Why not say friend then?”

Cu chuckled at that, looking ahead of him and the direction they were headed. The Ranch, it was as he expected. So Chulainn was likely the current owner, wonder if that made his assumption everything was named after the founder a mistake?

“That’s cause I don’t know if they’re going to be a friend.”

-----

The ride was brisk, and Conall had managed to badger him with questions the entire way. At least till Fergus gave him a look, that seemed to cow the young lad. Shame he didn’t do it before they were at the gates of the Cooley ranch, great wooden barns and miles of fencing wrapped with barbed wire. That was the death knell for cowboys, rather than having herds moving across the plains they were fenced in. And once the railway made it’s way here, no longer a need to drive them to them across country. So even less opportunity for money for the a wanderer to get his hands on. The main house was nice enough, white washed wood to make it stand out from the dwellings of the ranch hands. Fergus got off his horse first, Cu and Conall following.

“Conall, take the horses to the stable and make sure they’re tended to.”

Conall grabbing Emer’s reigns, Cu noticed that Emer didn’t even try to take a bite. Likely waiting till Cu was out of sight, but again he didn’t give the warning. Life was dull if you knew what was going to happen all the time. Following Fergus inside, there was a sense of modesty though didn’t shy away from the fact the owner was wealthy. Fergus leading the way to an silver haired man with a well trimmed beard, wouldn’t have looked out of place in military uniform.

“This him?”

Fergus nodded, then left, seemed he knew he wasn’t going to be part of whatever this was.

“He’s a good man, always seems to know what I want of him.”

Cu made to speak, perhaps explain the situation. Before this old fellow decided on anything that would be problematic.

“Don’t bother, whatever reason you saw for shooting that dog. I don’t want to hear it, he deserved it, and much worse. However it puts my back against a rather stubborn wall.”

He paced, it would seem there was more to this than just killing a sheriff. That would’ve been a simple case of Cu getting in trouble with the law, assuming they ignored the fact the sheriff was the one at fault.

“The queen isn’t going to take this lying down, not one bit.”

“Queen?”

Cu didn’t understand that at all, there were no queens here. They were still slapping each other on the backs for that, and likely would continue to do so for the years to come.

“Yes, that’s what Medb likes to call herself. A very disreputable woman, and my sister."

He offered a seat while he sat down himself, wickered chairs. Cu took the offer, as he was the one with his back against the wall.

“You see, my father Connacht Cooley, set this all up. The town and ranch, contracts that would see the railway come here in time. Well my sister was the real brains, but father was a traditional man, and so I was to inherit everything. He tried marrying her off to Fergus, that was the final straw. So she left, and I didn’t hear anything from her till after father’s death. She’d taken to banditry like a duck to water, her boys could easily burn this place to the ground you understand. I made a deal, she could profit from the town. I wouldn’t interfere in her boys’ activities and the town stays standing. She sent one of her numerous brats along to be sheriff, whom you shot.”

The old man looking at Cu, well this was certainly a rather mucky situation. And it was going to get worse thanks to him, well more thanks to the idiot who went and pulled a gun in a fist fight. Connacht pull something out of his waistcoat, throwing it at Cu who caught it instinctively.

“Even if I gave you to her, she’d use this as an excuse to take what she feels ought to be hers. So instead, I’m going to give you the chance to clean this up.”

Cu opening his hand to see a sheriff’s badge, well that would explain why he didn’t see one on the dead man. He considered the situation, well this was going to be a big hassle. But he did seem to owe them some service, considering his role in this.

“Very well, I’ll take the job. Till this ‘Queen’ is dealt with, after that, you’ll probably want a more upstanding fellow to wear it.”

-----

Word had spread since he took up the role of sheriff, the Queen had sent back the ‘deputies’ with the intent of taking the law back under her control. Well that went about as well as one might’ve expected, kept the local undertaker in business at least. Which only served to infuriate this Medb all the more, she left word that she was coming and that anyone standing in her way would find themselves subject to her wrath. Fergus was holding down the ranch, for the most part alone as people were making to head out of town to wait this out. Cu had taken to patrolling the Ranch, as he knew there was little of value worth the Queen’s time. The cattle couldn’t be moved easily, the downside of a ranch. Which made it the most valuable thing for miles, and lay claim to the birthright denied her. The sound of a horses roused him, it wasn’t enough to worry him, but who rode them made him roll his eyes. It was the woman, Morrigan and the young lad Conall.

“Well neighbours, what exactly possessed you to come all the way out here?”

Conall looked a bit sheepish, but Morrigan, well she was a tad harder than he expected from a woman who’d been forced into that line of work.

“You can’t be thinking to face them down alone?”

Cu sighed, this old chestnut.

“I don’t see how that’s your problem, I’ve a mess to clean up and this is the best place to start.”

Just how many times did he have to reject her help before she’d get it into her head, this was not the place for amateurs. He’d even pointed that out to Fergus and Chulainn, but they wouldn’t budge. And frankly he wasn’t in a position to really tell them how to run their Ranch.

“I’m the reason you got into that fight to begin with you idiot!”

“No, I let myself get suckered into a fight with an idiot. Conall, take her up to the house, I’m sure Fergus or Chulainn can keep an eye on the pair of you.”

Morrigan was going to start again, but Conall put a hand on her shoulder.

“He’s not about to change his mind, I’m sure we can help Fergus. He’s smart enough to know when he needs help.”

A bit of a jibe, but Cu didn’t care. The lad had a life ahead of him, at least a two score more if he didn’t get himself killed. Which was something the gunman had no intention of being the cause of. So he watched them gallop up to the ranch house, and returned to waiting for the Queen to make her grand entrance.

-----

He was surprised Medb didn’t want to have a grand old stand down with the man who’d killed one of her brats. Smart, as the quick way to end this would be with a bullet in her head. Instead they came riding up guns ready, Cu’s winchester though had the range on them. And he used it to his advantage, rather than aim at the men, he shot their horses. Unseating them, some of whom weren’t able to rise up and rejoin the fray. But too many were able to do so, and he felt the first bullet smack him in the left shoulder. Wheeling around, to aim with just his right arm, he saw them. Someone had let the cattle out of their shed, and causing a right bit of chaos and now stampeding his way. Emer rearing up and sending him to the ground, leaving him to roll away from the stampede. Whoever did that was going to get yelled at, for it cost him his rifle, drawing his pistol he moved to engage them.

The battle had been a long one, considering it was her boys against one man. Even now he stood defiantly against them, his gun hand pointed down range. None of her boys willing to rise from cover, his denim soaked in blood and sweat. A terrifying sight, considering the number of dead he had littered the ranch with. Just who was this man who came from nowhere to disrupt a system she’d spent years setting into motion. Then came a raven, and landing on his arm, the man didn’t move at all. It puzzled the Queen, could anyone be so focused on killing they’d ignore a bird flapping all around them? No way, but that meant.

“He’s dead boys! Come, let’s take the Ranch and be done with this!”

They didn’t move, still terrified, insufferable. This man, no matter how good a shot he was, wasn’t about to shoot anyone while they were dead. She rose from cover, she’d show them, she’d lead them, and enjoy the spoils. Almost dancing with joy, as she moved to the body of the gunman who’d cost her a lot in such a short time.

“See! The fool’s dead, and too stupid to fall over!”

The raven though was squawking at her, it’s feet resting on the gun as it tried to drive her back.

“Stupid bird, get!”

She swung her hand at the bird, who flapped back, leaping backwards. It’s claw rising up and dislodging the primed hammer. There was an awful bang, and the raven flew off away from the noise. Medb though, she was in shock, unable to comprehend what had just occurred. Turning to her boys, they were rising up, their faces in horror. She felt herself falling, and her boys abandoned her before she had even hit the ground. All she wanted was meaningless now, killed by a dead man. Who even now stood, gun trained ahead of him, a raven circling overhead.

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TwisterZaraku
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Re: [RPC O] The Marathon [Open - 31st August]

Post by TwisterZaraku » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:34 am

Author's Note
A sort of Star Wars-Meets-Hellboy-Meets-Avatar:TLA Retrofuturistic High Fantasy *Cyberpunk set to a medieval and somewhat mature theme. The general idea is all life is powered by a central living force known as the Animus -- including the creatures of legend from eons past, which include several mythical ones from European folklore, specifically barghests, the Scylla, and a nod to the Seven Deadly Sins. Admittedly, this has been a story idea I've been sitting on for some time that I wish to one day expand into a series of books that was originally inspired by the Guilty Gear video game series and A Song of Ice and Fire, so I really hope you all enjoy!

Word Count: 4,998

Solus Woods
An island within Silentium Sound
934 A.T.D.


"Are you sure we're clear of the Keltoi out here, Sir Feldhahn?" muttered Phylip, allotting attention to the darkening woods that surrounded them. Marc Feldhahn, the older Knight leading the three others, chuckled audibly.

"If those barbarians were within a dozen leagues of here, we'd have heard them by now," the stout Knight answered, an air of amusement dancing on his tongue.

"Your concern should align with the presence of the Umbra, Sir Greywater. Your inexperience is beginning to show, already," Marc's longtime partner, Amya, added on, doing little to hide her ridicule as she remained in the rear of the formation. Phylip shifted his weight from atop his destrier uncomfortably, a glistening chant of smooth platemail and the clink of chains breaking the rhythm of the wind around them.

"Perhaps, Dame d'Avre," Phylip remarked, his voice projecting forward. It echoed off the hollow, dark-red trees surrounding them. "I'm just a tad unnerved by the presence of these woods. The darkness is settled here, yes. But.. Something feels... different," he said, unable to pinpoint what, specifically, chilled his soul. "It's eerie how the Permafog that hovers over the Sound does not affect this island."

"The Permafog covers all rough waters, Sir Greywater," Marc called over his shoulder casually. "It's no surprise its length doesn't reach these shores." Phylip shook his head.

"I suppose so," he said, his brows creased slightly. "We're also the first one's here."

"Well, we've been met with twilight," Amya quipped. "The breeze has picked up a bit. Perhaps it's the song of the wind that unmans you?" Marc clearly found amusement in vexing the amateur Knights, but she could practically see Phylip's mouth harden into a line.

"In the two-hundred years since the Order has been established, no Knight has come across anything beyond the Permafog," he replied, keeping his position atop his mount firm. "Forgive me for remaining cautious."

"Sounds like someone fresh out of Squirehood," Amya scoffed in response, not refraining from ridiculing the lack of experience her new teammates possessed. "You'll quickly learn the real world is nothing like the scrolls you've read. Try doing this for a couple of decades -- you'll have seen it all, Greenwater." Phylip narrowed his vibrant, honey eyes in reaction. Truly, him and his partner, Vulmar Hendry, were on their first assignment tasked by a Lord since leaving the Headquarters, but they were far from 'green'. It was tradition for a Squire to assist their Knight before being promoted, themselves, at twenty-one years of age, though it seemed the older Knights may have forgotten. Perhaps the times had passed with the years, Phylip thought to himself. It was evident to everyone he was in no mood to be made light of, and so he fed into the banter no longer.

"You've been awfully quiet," Phylip said, turning to the side to look at his partner. "Have we any indication of where the den is, at the least?" He asked Vulmar, who rode his horse in silence. It was clear he had been trying to get a piece of technology on his forearm to respond for quite some time.

"We're close, though the Finder abandoned us a league or two ago," he responded, waving his forearm towards the other Knights to show the unresponsive armech that sat atop it. "Piece of shite... Every armech we get is refurbished..."

"Every armech you'll ever get has been refurbished," Amya responded with annoyance on her tone. Vulmar turned his shoulder to look at the copper-skinned woman with his own glowing eyes of blue-fire and shrugged before turning back around, only accompanied by the loose sounds of chains rattling and the steps of their horses.

"I suppose that's a truth," he said spritely before finally closing a clasp on the armor on his forearm to be done with tinkering. "We've done okay without it, besides. Can you not feel it?" Referring to the Animus, Vulmar inhaled sharply through a hawkish nose to invite in the air around him.

Phylip closed his bright eyes and felt the presence of the island surge within him. Like a sunrise explosion, it filled him with vivid details of the surrounding area. It was hollow, like the trees, and devoid of any natural life, but still it had light to it. Despite the darkness of the region, he could feel the life of the island. And then, in the midst of this meditation, he heard it again. The same sound that had called out to him since before dusk:

Find me, my child...

It was faint and obscure... but.. was that...?

"Yes, Sir Hendry. I can, indeed, feel it," Marc answered, making Phylip snap out of it. It appeared no one else heard it, so he said nothing to avoid further ridicule. "The air is heavy."

Marc allowed himself to slow his destrier, which in turn slowed the other three Knights in the formation behind him. He glanced upward at the sky to see the first stars waking from their slumber. The dim light they gave peaked through the skeletal canopy hanging overhead. His shining amethyst eyes closed shut, and without further movement from him, the wind changed its melody. Instead of cackling behind the dry, brittle branches of the dead standing oak trees around them, it seemed to emanate from his own body -- which indeed it did. Pressing outward, gentle bursts of air wove themselves through the trees to create a new hollow song. After a moment or two, the breeze quickly retracted, slamming back into the body of the stout knight, the sounds of rattling chains echoing quietly.

"To the northwest. Seems we'll find something there," the salt-haired Knight paused for a moment, looking at the horses they rode on top of. "Let us continue our trek on foot."

And just like that, the other Knights obeyed, each bound by honor to do so. They all slid off the backs of their mounts and found low branches to secure their reigns around, though Vulmar and Phylip remained a step behind the other two. As if on queue, Amya took the lead of the group. With the flick of her hand, she made a flame appear in her palm, resting on the leather that covered it but doing nothing to harm the skin beneath. The light revealed their armor with radiance. The snow-burned metal reflected its luminescent gold trimming beautifully, while also absorbing the rich scarlet cloak adjourned by a phoenix sigil hungover their pauldrons.

As they traveled through the creeping shadows of the Solus Woods, the light only grew in intensity the darker the sky became. Splashing against an aged face covered by slick strands of black, the glow from the fire showed the experience of Amya's years as a Knight, and by her confidence, it was evident that the nearly two decades of scouting she had under her belt came into effect at that moment. The same presence hovered over Marc, who pressed forward with more vigor and purpose than either of the younger Knights. An outcome one would expect from two Suprema Knights with nearly half a century of battlefield experience between them.

The older duo had an air of calmness between them. Phylip, however, was very nervous. Honey eyes, glowing bright from the presence of the Animus coursing within him, shifted nervously around the darkened woods around him, looking for any signs of oncoming danger. Despite being slender as a knife, he felt like the largest target in the group. Vulmar took note of his anxiousness and mirrored it. There was something different about this island; something beyond the typical terrors that haunted the woods of the mainland. This.. This was something new. For the first time in all his life, Phylip Greywater, the prodigy of his noble family and an expert at understanding the call of the force that surrounded himself and all things, found the Animus to be cloudy to him.

The young partners exchanged a glance between one another and confirmed without the need of words what they each were thinking. A look that did all but scream, "run". Yet somehow, they kept their march. For reasons unclear to the novice Knights, either guided by conviction or blinded by experience, Amya and Marc seemed to not share the same fright. However the reason mattered little to the pair; it was enough for them to swallow their trepidation and continue to press onward onto their objective. Each careful step brought with them the simple sound of marching feet and loose chains shaking, matching their every step. Then, suddenly, Amya's fire dispersed, and the twisted shadows of the woods devoured them all. An eerie silence hovered over them, as they each immediately halted their pace and tuned their ears. Then they heard it..

From the darkness, the ambiance of the decayed forest was accompanied by the haunting sounds of incorporeal chains. The Knights realized none of them wore chanimail nor loose metal, yet the sound of linked cuffs had been following them. They knew, then, they were not alone. The darkness had brought something with it.

"Shite.. Ready yourselves!" shouted Marc. "The opportunity may be stolen from you before long!"  His expression changed to that of urgency as he ushered out the command. In the same motion, he "unsheathed" his weapon. Reaching a hand up over his pauldron, he grabbed the handle of what appeared to be a sword, but revealed nothing else when pulled forward when brought before himself. Then, from within its own contents, a blade emerged bit-by-bit, revealing the full form of his gladius. It glistened in the dim moonlight and hummed with the presence of the Animus surging through it; an extension of his own spirit.

"It seems we've stumbled upon the den," Amya spoke with a chilling coolness in her voice, much different than her usual heated tone. She readied her broadaxe to her front, and despite themselves, Vulmar and Phylip quickly followed suit, sliding into a stance that'd guided them through countless other interactions with the Umbra -- the shadowy reflections of the Animus. As the Knights shuffled and the sounds of constructing metal filled their area, a sinister howl pierced the darkness. It was horrendously loud and jarring, reminiscent of a thousand glass pegs being dragged against a sheet before all shattering at once. It sounded as though death itself called out to them. Phylip felt his bowels turn to water.

Suddenly, piercing through the night, six pairs of eyes, all lit ablaze by hell itself, appeared, followed shortly by the baring of countless sharpened fangs. The shadows of the forest almost seemed to converge on these eyes, swirling hideously into a shape almost resembling that of a bear or perhaps a large, grotesque black dog. Phylip tried to look directly at it, but like most Umbra creatures, its figure couldn't be focused on. Instead, it danced just outside his ability to focus on it. The creature stayed stationary as it came into view, but it was Phylip's own eyes that refused to understand what they were looking at. From what he could see, the beasts stood about eye level, with heinous paws larger than his head. Wicked ears slicked back behind the heads of these beasts, which, like the rest of their bodies, were as black as midnight.

"Barghests..." whispered Marc, the word visible in the cold night air. His grip on his weapon tightened. The black dogs began pacing in a circle, snarling and snapping at the Knights who were forced to remain clustered. They soon found themselves backed into one another as they watched the beasts plan how to devour them. Just then, a small axe doused in flames shattered the darkness. It twirled magnificently through the air, shedding light on the foul beasts before connecting into the throat of one. It snarled heinously and whipped its head back viciously. It was Amya's throwing axe.

"Now!" She shouted, the fire still hot on her axe. Marc grunted as he lifted a hand towards the axe she threw. With a gust of wind, he pressed air towards the weapon and helped feed the fire to furious heights, engulfing the full head of the beast in flames. Their coordination was flawless, and the beast began to howl in agony. It slammed its head on the ground and against dead trees in a frenzied attempt to save itself. Right after, Amya ran forward, nearly faster than the eye could follow, and jumped from the ground, a burst of starlight appearing beneath her iron boots. With a powerful yell, she slammed her broadaxe down with mighty strength, successfully connecting with a separate fiend and cleaving it nearly entirely in twain. After Amya took the charge, Marc turned his attention opposite the direction she left, lowering an arm to propel him forward with a gust of wind. With a spin, he connected his knee with the body of another monster, before following with a swift strike of his sword into the throat of the hound. A fountain of noxious ink sprayed from the wound, splashing against the pure armor donned by the Knight. Meanwhile, Vulmar managed to parry a strike savaged by an unoccupied barghest, preventing a fatal wound from marking him and opening it up for a quick counter with his longsword.

In that instant, another barghest lunged towards the rear of Marc, who'd been preoccupied. It opened its large jaw and lunged its sharp teeth towards the aged Knight, when suddenly the blunt edge of a warhammer met its snout. The sudden shock of the strike would have been enough to cause the beast to stumble, but Phylip did one step further and engulfed his mallet in fierce flames. The snout of the barghest was burned as well as smashed in. Due to the strength of the blow, it was launched into the closest tree which collapsed its hollow trunk inward. The first hound fell to the ground, defeated by the cunning actions of Amya and Marc. Once the creatures had been defeated, they began to contort and break in an abominable method, the sounds of cracks and the snapping of bones heard over the flurry of the fight before returning to the darkness of the night.

The beast that Phylip had struck rose back to its feet, despite the injury to its face. It planted its massive paws and lunged its head backwards. It then let a howl so fierce the trees themselves shuddered in intimidation. Soon, the sounds of rattling chains could once again be heard echoing in the woods around them. It grew louder and louder as more chains joined the harmony. Marc and Amya exchanged a nervous look. Through the darkness pierced another set of eyes of fire, then another, and another. Before long, there were a couple dozen sets of eyes. Marc got to seventeen before he stopped counting.

"How could there be this many?" Marc asked, a grave expression taking over his weathered face.

"Now's not the time, Marc! We must fly!" Amya spat out. Nearly on cue, the dozens of other barghest creatures began to materialize, and in an instant, they lunged towards the Knights. "Fly, damn us!"

They broke off, knowing the severity of an injury by even one of these foul creatures. As they ran, the barghests were quickly in pursuit. Were it not for their exceptional speed, the Knights could not possibly have a chance to escape their hunt. Their steps were frantic, but still, Amya and Phylip managed to blast volleys of flames behind them in an attempt to slow the beasts, each blast empowered by the support of Marc's wind. The beasts managed to weave themselves between the defenses, and it was merely a matter of time before the Knights realized there was little point. Instead, they focused their efforts solely in running, reverting to creating distance. The moment they stopped attacking, however, was the moment the beasts saw their opportunity.

Materializing next to Phylip, a barghest lunged towards the young Knight, lashing forward with a mouth full of teeth straight for his throat. Reflexively, Phylip lifted a hand to defend himself, as there wasn't time to think of anything else. With raw might, the barghest burrowed its bite into the flesh of the Knight, piercing straight through the armor that was meant to protect him. The spray of crimson shined under the dim moonlight. Phylip shouted fiercely in agony, as he could feel its teeth shatter and rip through bone. His face turned pale. He knew the meaning of this wound.

During his despair the beast unleashed its grip and fell to the ground as Vulmar's blade pierced its skull. Instinctively, Phylip lifted his wounded arm and looked at the warped metal that once made his armor and the mangled flesh that once made his arm. The blood from the bite glistening even on his russet skin. Originating from the wound, Phylip felt hellfire burn through his veins as his arm turned black. Pain from the attack was nothing compared to the aftermath he was experiencing. The other Knights rallied to his aid, pushing back the oncoming barghests to their best ability. Grunting loudly, Marc threw a hand forward, straining a great deal as he did so. The Animus rallied to his beck and call, and with one powerful sweeping motion, a strong gust of wind knocked the beasts sideways quite a fair distance. It wouldn't be all they needed to escape, but it was enough to buy time. Then, Marc turned to Phylip.

"Sorry, lad. A barghest wound never heals," said the older Knight gravely. "There's but one option."

"No! Wait!" Phylip tried to plea, but it was far too late.

Vulmar began to protest as well, but before he could manage a word, Amya already had a tight grip of Phylip's arm and Marc had his gladius firmly held with both hands. With one, swift motion, Marc sliced through the arm of the wounded Knight, and Amya placed her palm against the stump and produced flames to burn the bloodied end. The air smelled of burnt flesh and sounded of Phylip screaming. Weakly, Phylip looked at his left arm -- or rather where it used to be -- and let out bated breaths.

"We have to keep moving," said Amya, giving a nudging look to Vulmar as she slung the stump of Phylip around her neck to help him move. Vulmar remained frozen, stunned by the brutality of what he just witnessed.

"Gods be damned, Hendry, I said fucking move!" Amya demanded. It was enough to snap Vulmar out of his daze and grab the other arm of Phylip. Once again, they sped off, this time with a bit of distance from the barghests but they were very quickly losing it. Phylip was struggling to maintain his consciousness, stumbling his feet more often than not.

The group continued to run in a frenzy, jumping down ledges and briskly up hills. Soon, Phylip found he was well enough to run on his own, which enabled them to quicken their pace just a bit. The forest was kinder to the beasts, however, for the Knights knew little of their path. Then, finally, luck befell them. A raging river a quarter of a mile thick appeared on their horizon. Running as fast as they could, the Knights followed Marc's lead and kept running full sprint to the clearing and the bank of the river.

"Hendry! Get ready!" Marc shouted while not stopping his sprint. Vulmar sheathed his weapon and crossed his arms. Then, with great might, he forced a sound from his gut as he was met with physical resistance uncrossing them. As he made progress doing so, however, the river before them began to split apart and open a path for them. It took a great deal of effort to use the Animus to move water, especially under these circumstances. However, Vulmar managed to do so with precision.

When the Knights were far enough into the river, Vulmar allowed the opening to close behind them. Several of the barghests halted their pursuit, but those close to the edge jumped in after them, avoiding the water. Though Marc was prepared. Planting a foot into the wet earth, he pressed a fist in the direction of the fiends, pushing them into the water with a burst of wind and once more hearing the muted sounds of distortion from within the river. They continued their pace, closing the water behind them as they moved. Eventually, they cleared the other side of the river, and they collapsed, felled by exhaustion. Heavy breaths escaped their lungs as they sprawled out on the rocky bank. Marc looked across the water to see the beasts pacing furiously back and forth, desperate to find a way to them. He knew from previous encounters with the Umbra that barghests couldn't cross water. After he confirmed the threat was done, and his breath found, Marc turned his attention to Phylip.

"Greywater. Can you carry on?" he asked the disfigured youth, offering a hand to help him rise. Phylip reached his right hand out and took it, standing to his feet.

"Aye, Sir Feldhahn," Phylip replied with a wince. "I've still my sword-arm." Remembering he'd left his hammer, Phylip reached to the waist of his armor, which produced another hilt for him. This one assembled into a shortsword; a weapon he'd have no problem wielding in his current condition. After confirming his companions were secure, he turned his attention back across the river, taking a step up to Amya who was already doing the same.

"We're going to need to report this to Lord Wake," Amya said, glowing grey eyes still set on the creatures. "The Umbra's presence here is unlike anything we've seen, before." Marc tightened his jaw and narrowed his eyes.

"Let's return to base. We'll cut south and take the long way back," he said. "Hendry, can you call in an escort?"

"I already did, Sir," Vulmar responded, waving a hand through a shaky hologram from his forearm. "The signal out here is horrendous, however. We need to move back to shore in order to get a clearer signal."

"Then we shall take our leave."

---

A few hours passed, and still they hadn't reached their destination. Amya groaned in aggravation.

"We must've come through here half a dozen times, already!" fumed Amya, the aggravation in her voice apparent. Marc sighed, concern growing in his voice.

"Hendry, you're the one with the armech; what does the Compass tell us?" Marc asked. Tapping on the same machine as earlier, which appeared to have been taken apart and reassembled half a dozen times before that evening, Vulmar made a faded needle appear. It hovered above his forearm, and seemed to be immaterial, but still pointed true north.

"It says you're right, Sir Feldhahn," confirmed Vulmar, much to Amya's dismay. She already knew the smug look Marc would have before she even looked at him.

"That things a piece of junk -- for all we know we could be completely lost!" Amya shouted back. Marc shook his head.

"It's the best we have to go off of right now, Dame d'Avre," he said firmly.

"Pfffft," Amya tutted. "You get us lost on nearly every mission, you know this?"

"You just never have patience to see the end of the paths!" Marc growled, and soon the partners were in one another's faces. Vulmar shook his head and kept tinkering with his armech to try and get it to respond entirely.

The two went back and forth between one another with Vulmar attempting to get better results from his armech. Meanwhile something glowing deep in the forest caught the eye of Phylip. He blinked a few times, unsure of whether or not he saw it, but then it appeared once more. Something was in the forest, and it soothed him. It called to him. In reality, Phylip couldn't really hear the call of the Animus at all, but the light still pulled him forward. Without a word, he started to shuffle his feet towards it, the sounds of his teammates fading into the background. Light faded from around him and he only focused on the glowing light deep within the shadows. Soon, a chime could be heard matching the cadence of the light, which simply entranced Phylip even further. After a few more steps, the dark scenery vividly changed.

He found himself in a grove, surrounded by beautiful flora and enhanced by a kaleidoscope of colors. The area sang of the Animus, which was accompanied by small birds and other woodland animals scurrying and flitting quickly around the room. The space was massive, and, from the clearing in the canopy overhead, moonlight rained graciously into the clearing.

And that was when he saw her... A woman, unlike any he'd laid eyes on before. In the center of the grove stood a woman of pure beauty waist deep in still-standing water. She was elegant, nearly celestial, invoking emotion out of the Knight merely with her presence. Truthfully, she was radiant, like the first hello from the morning sun and her hair appeared as light as a dandelion in the breeze. She didn't move, however, but simply whispered. It was the same whisper Phylip heard earlier in the night.

You have found me, my child. Oh, how I have longed to meet you once more

His mouth dropped as he heard her voice and stared at her divine face. She spoke in a way that seemed beyond his own body, but nonetheless it was loving. He stepped into the water, causing ripples in his wake. It came up to his waist, though it seemed as though he hadn't met any resistance. She reached slender arms made of golden sunlight towards him, as he soon felt the heat she gave off. It was pleasant. He kept walking towards her...

Yes... You're finally here. You're finally mine again.

She cupped his face and held it gently, and for the first time in his life, he felt completely at peace. No doubt, or fear, or worry. No outside call from the Animus. Just... calm. His body was limp as she pulled him closer, and closer to her blurry face...

"Sir Greywater!" Marc shouted, appearing in the clearing. Phylip did not react, but the woman holding him shrieked piercingly and turned her attention towards the three intruders. Her mesmeric face morphed into that of something sinister and slithery, as her nearly angelic skin turned scaley and her eyes grew dark.

"Unhand him, you murky bitch!" Amya shouted, readying her broadaxe once more. Vulmar, too, got readied for the monster to attack.

You can move as freely as a heron... The creature spoke, calmly, before twisting its voice into a heinous and sinister cadence.

I want that gone.

Suddenly, she rose from the depths of the water high into the clearing, Phylip still powerless to move. She was hoisted up by twelve, endlessly long tendrils coming from below her waist. Snaking up out of the water, vicious heads of wolves emerged from the ends of those tendrils, though they moved in a serpentine fashion. Fur faded into black, oily scales and despite their long, wicked snouts, their forked tongues whipped out between barred teeth. She moved to holding her captive Knight with one hand while she waved her free one towards the other Knights. The wolf-serpents lunged towards the trio.

They did their best, but it was a massacre. Marc managed to stab one while Amya did her best to inflict burns, but despite the flash of fire and sudden breezes that happened in the now wet grove, the Knights were disposed of with haste. They were each wrapped in a coil of one serpent while another one swallowed each of them. They kicked and clawed and squirmed to escape, but never reached salvation. Slithering skyward, the heads held the knights up with their powerful jowls, and slowly devoured each of them, agony the only thing heard before an awful crunch made by muscles forcing their bodies to adhere to a particular shape.

After she finished her meal, the monster returned to her previous state -- the beautiful woman returned. The wolf-serpents retreated to under the surface of the water while she moved her attention and delicate hands back to Phylip's face, which had grown wet. The being's face twisted to show almost that of pain. Her hands raised, and with it, so did the Knight's body, independent of his control. She wiped the tears away and compassionately rubbed her thumb across his dark skin, then lowered her face to his.

Oh, my child.. there's no need to cry. You have everything you could ever want...

She spoke directly to him, but still he couldn't understand her. He was unable to move. He was frozen, not because of any sort of spell or magic, but simply out of paralyzing fear.

I envy how freely you live...

I WANT YOURS... I WANT ALL OF WHAT YOU POSSESS...

Phylip looked up for the first time into emerald eyes that almost seemed human, but were just out of focus. His heart sank. It was all the evidence he needed to know his end sat in her hands. He started to weep fully, and the golden angel continued to rub his face gently. Soon, Phylip's honey eyes rolled back as dark venis appeared beneath his skin. It spread through all of him while he screamed in anguish. The angel let him go, yet he remained in place above the water, while she slowly sank below it, a wicked smile on her face. Phylip's torment continued for what felt like eons, until he finally landed, softly, on the surface of the water.

He rose...

He turned towards the entrance of the grove and left with a sinister grin, his vibrant, green eyes staring forward.
Last edited by TwisterZaraku on Sat Aug 04, 2018 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [RPC O] The Marathon [Open - 31st August]

Post by Sammy » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:11 pm

That brings us to two entries from Poseidon.

Who will be the next combatant to finish?
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Re: [RPC O] The Marathon [Closed]

Post by Hades [Forge] » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:18 am

It's all over. Team Hera have judged our entrants, such as they are, and have given their verdict:

In second place...
Twist!
Which mean first place, and taking the gold for this event;
Darkblade!
Congratulations to both of our entrants for this event!
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