Circle of Stone (reprieve)

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:18 pm

Thanks Azriel for sticking with it.
Youre over the worse of the food references for now you'll be glad to know- I should have put a disclaimer on that one not to read when hungry. Very Happy

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Post by azriel Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:21 pm

The way I feel your "rotten fish" sounds fry-able! just read your crabbit post!

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:23 pm

Trust me if you were here you'd not be wanting to fry this smell! No

And Ive had to open all the windows to try to clear it out so now Im also bloody freezing. Mad

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Post by azriel Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:50 pm

Ere, weve crossed over threads!! Laughing

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:54 pm

Thats Forumshire for you. Very Happy Soon sort that though......


The tables were well laden but the fare was what you would expect of a Barony like Northolt; large loaves freshly baked, shanks of meat and barrels of mead and ale. To the eye of Haval the Gnome it was mundane and ill presented. The hall he was in was one of the smaller dining halls in the Northolt Keep but even so to Haval it seemed overbearingly large and the roof seemed distressingly far away.

There was to be a private feast here shortly to celebrate the Barons early return from Court and the Baron had granted him an audience before it began.

It had been three days since they had arrived in Northolt and now he was beginning to regret appointing himself group spokesman, now that he found himself alone in this imposing hall with its wall of stags and bears heads staring dolefully down at him.

He regretted the decision even more when the Baron himself actually entered.

Haval was a Gnome who had lived all his life among other Gnomes, certainly on occasion he would travel into market with various edible delights for sale but he was by trade a Master Garnisher not a merchant, and for the most part he dealt only with his own kind. So unlike many other more cosmopolitan members of his people he was still not used to talking upwards to people without feeling slightly daunted, and the Baron was huge, easily the largest man he had ever seen.

The Baron bent down to address him and fixed him with two dark eyes, there were things deep down in the darkness of those eyes that seemed to hold Haval to the spot and for a moment he felt like the hare before the eagle.

“I am Baron Ironfang,” the man said unnecessarily in a voice that seemed to rise up in a rumble from his barrel chest, “Welcome to Northolt.”

Haval only realized he had been holding his breath when the Baron finally broke his gaze and he found he was panting. He gulped nervously at the air; the Baron did not seem to notice but had turned to indicate the man he had entered the room with. It was Canthiss, the man who had first addressed Haval on their arrival across the border.
“Canthiss tells me you bring news from our brother tribesmen in the south,” the Baron went on and then turning back the eyes fixed Haval again, “and of your own not unwelcome, but sudden, arrival over my southern borders.”

“Indeed I do my Baron,” Haval went on hurriedly, deciding to get this over with as quickly as he could just to escape those eyes, “From my Chief I bring greetings and blessing upon you and yours,” he began, cutting his introduction speech by several minutes, “and also a request for aid,” he added coming hurriedly to the point.

Haval drew his tongue quickly over his lips which seemed suddenly dry, he found himself wishing he had poured himself a flagon of ale as he waited. Canthiss seemed to notice his distress and, as if used to it and without bothering to ask, he drew a half flagon from one of the casks and proffered it. Haval accepted it gratefully with both hands.

“Aid?” the Baron mused, “What kind of aid? Are you under attack? And if so is that not more a matter for the King?”

Haval swallowed from the large wooden flagon, having to hold the vessel with both his hands, “No Baron. It is not invaders that bring fear upon us or force some of us northwards to your lands; it is aid against the marsh itself we seek. It is rising.”

The Baron shot a quizzical glance at Canthiss, “I do not follow, you wish for manpower? To help in constructing dams, water breaks, that sort of thing?”

“No, you do not understand my Baron, the water level is rising but it is no natural act. We can find no cause. It is not seasonal nor due to excessive rains or incursions of the sea, and always it occurs in the dead of night and,” he swallowed another draft of ale nervously.

“Go on,” the Baron rumbled.

Haval risked glancing up into the Barons face, tried to hold the Barons eye, failed and then looking downwards into his mug he continued, “In the last month, on each night that the waters have risen it is to an accompaniment of a sound, a distant rumble, a roar from away in the north towards the mountains and seemingly in the earth. At that time the marsh falls into a silence, not even the insects stir. I have dwelt all my years by those waters and never have I heard the marsh silent at night, until now. You my lord have slept before now in our village, you know the sounds that fill the night hours. Even those who come from the constant bustle of the towns find they cannot sleep for the chatter of the insects; night is their time. Yet on these occasions there is nothing, not the beat of a wing. And more, ten days ago we lost four hunters, skilled and experienced; we could find no traces of them. Then that same night the fifth of their number returned, he was very near to madness and though our Shaman treated him with herbs and smokes nothing more could we get from him save that shadows walked in darkness over the waters. Shades that took the others down, screaming, into the muddy depths,” he paused and took a gulping drink and the Baron waited in silence.

“Later that night,” Haval continued, “we found him drowned. He had escaped his lodgings and in some fit or fever of the mind cast himself in among the reeds which entangled him and drew him down to his ending. Water we can take care of, but what are these Shades? What became of our hunters? If nothing is done soon all our homes will be abandoned and our livelihoods destroyed. The marshland is our life. The Barons of Northolt have long been the protectors of our people in these lands we ask, nay beg you once more for aid, and if you cannot give it then at least we seek your wisdom and advice in this. There, I have done my duty; you have heard the sum of our sorrows. Our plight I leave in your conscience.”

The Baron seemed to consider all this, sitting staring in silence at the face of Haval who was trying everything to avoid looking directly back, but the Baron was used to people responding to his presence like that. He appeared to reach a decision not least motivated by the sudden vision of an exodus of Gnomes into his land, “I will come myself to your village and see what these Shades might be made of,” he turned to Canthiss, “What say you?”

“Shades and shadows?” Canthiss said, “We need a Holy man perhaps or at the least some of their wares.”

“ It is decided, we will travel south to the Gnome village after which I have a mind to go on to the Port, to call upon my old friend Duke Grande. It is long since last I visited him,” and the Baron thought privately to himself there were matters also he had left to long for which he would need the alliance of the Duke.

He turned to Canthiss, “Make the preparations and send out a runner ahead to announce us, we ride with the sun tomorrow.”
Canthiss nodded but his look was thoughtful and he scrutinized his master’s face carefully.



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Post by azriel Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:21 pm

bounce
(600 posts, mmmm, very nearly reached my age!)
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:26 pm

I missed your 600th post Azriel but congratulations!!

:carrot: Cheerleader

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Post by azriel Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:31 pm

why thankyou! Im still reading your story,(obviously) & still liking it! looking forward to the "shades"! Nod

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:53 pm

Three days now, it had been three days since Tain crossed the tree over the river gorge and three days of wearying travel through broken tumbledown hills. The previous day he had found that the river was veering eastwards back across his path, fortunately he had come upon a road through low hills which had led him to a ford. The river was rapid but shallow now and he had crossed safely into a region of rocky hills. To his left as he moved southward he could discern flat grasslands, he could move much quicker if he veered out with the road onto the open plain but he was in no particular hurry and besides his goal lay towards the mountains foot not away from them. On his right the mountains had now fallen away, no longer towering and looming over him, it was however much rockier in that direction and cut across with clefts and ravines.

Southwards, he was beginning to realize with a sinking heart, was a lush green and brown smudge that gleamed here and there in the morning sun indicating tracts of open water: wetlands. He disliked marshes because he disliked being damp but it was at least a pointer that he was on the right path. The old man he had spoken to in the inn so long ago in Domina had said that somewhere at the mountains end, between the hard rock and a marsh lay the gates to an ancient city, untouched by generations, forgotten and abandoned. Several more rounds of ale had failed to elicit much further information save gory tales of the awfulness of the ancient tyrant who had ruled it, but having nothing better to do with his life Tain had decided on the spur of the moment, and with it had to be said a little too much alcohol, to go and seek the lost city.

Now of course the Dominian inn, the old man’s tale and the warm glow of alcohol were all fading memories whilst the prospect of a night with cold feet in a marsh was suddenly very real.

He had absolutely no idea where anything was in relation to himself save that at some point whilst crossing the mountains he must have moved east into the Kingdom of Futura, of which he knew almost nothing save the name. At least there was plenty to eat in a marsh, if something did not catch you first of course which was another reason he distrusted the dark marsh waters, they could conceal a lot beneath there placid green surface.

He adjusted his backpack slightly, moving the felt shoulder pad a little to elevate the pressure on his right collarbone. He squared up to the marshy ground ahead and headed off following a barely distinguishable path, left behind some hours before by a pygmy deer, that twisted away among the outcrops and grasses.

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Post by Orwell Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:13 pm

I think I'll bide my time with this, as I've already read Book 1 as you know. When you get this reprieve finished, I'll get you to send me it again. I have noted the improvements though -- but enough. I'll read it in Full some time.


While at it, has anything happened with "Home" lately? If you'd like to send me any Completed Chapters, I wouldn't mind having another squiz... In fact, I'd love to. My fave amongst your work! cheers

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Post by azriel Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:13 pm

Im still reading Smile

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Post by Orwell Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:25 pm

The first version was very good, Azriel. So I'm sure this one will be worth persisting with... I already know the tale, so I'm just preferring to wait to read it in one gulp and be surprised (and delighted? Suspect ) by any changes... Very Happy

{{{Maybe some completed chapters of "Home" will put a stay on my impatience? Mad }}}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:28 pm

{{{I shall forward you some Home come the end of this week Orwell, as I am editing it right now and would be very happy to get your opinion}}}}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:07 pm

Three days, three days since she had arrived in the Gnome village and she was no closer to finding anything out.

The Druid sat miserable on a small reed island by the marshes edge smoking a pipe from which clouds of heavy sweet scented grey-blue smoke streamed.

She gazed out over the water looking for inspiration. Birds were piping hidden among the green stalks; they had been uncommunicative except to one another. Their talk was of a practical nature concerned mainly with declarations of property and status, warnings of dangers and the like; however whenever the Druid interrupted them to try and probe as to the strange events the marshes were witness to they fell silent. Everything she had spoken to out here had been unresponsive, either sullen or knowing nothing more than that the water was inexplicably rising.

All she had found that was new was that some of the birds who had travelled further north into the marsh had images in their minds of a spreading darkness and of shapes, to the birds indistinguishable from any other land moving creature yet disturbing even to them, that came south with the darkness and faded away with it too. It would have been news save that she had already heard as much from the Gnomes whose hunting parties strayed far north into the marsh, even occasionally as far as the mountains, which could be easily seen from the village, blue and grey, dominating the northern horizon.

It did not seem to make any sense. The water had arisen again last night and still she was no closer to knowing why. She tossed a small pebble frustratedly into the marsh and was just pondering her next move when she heard a voice crying to her from the village; it was Aulk, one of the Warders of the Chief. The old tribesman was standing at the village edge straining to spot her among the reed stalks and shouting, waving one arm in the air. The Druid stood up and waved back, she deftly struck out her pipe on her boot and stored it safely in a padded waterproof pouch on her belt and hoisting up her robe began wading across the knee deep pool that separated the reed island from the hard land.
She greeted Aulk, who looked grim.

“The Chief would like to speak to you,” Aulk said simply in his guttural tones and turned away expecting to be followed. The Druid trailed after him finally coming to the Chiefs hall and being permitted a speedy entry.

The Chief sat as usual on his wide chair, in his lap he held a simple iron helmet, of the kind the Druid had observed the hunters wearing on their forages into the marshes. The Chief was staring despondently down at it.

He did not look up for several minutes and when he did his was voice was angry. “Five more. Gone. Nothing to be found of them save this. Mergs it was, one of our best,” he looked sadly back down at it and said softly as if to himself, “He has a wife and three children here in the village and a father, still living, in Northolt. And he is only one of five more who are now missing. Many will be mourning this night,” then suddenly he hurled the helmet in a rage to the floor where it bounced and spun to a halt at the Druids feet. “You came here offering aid Druid. What aid have you for Merg or the others?”

“It is a puzzling matter,” the Druid responded, she hoped sympathetically, but in truth she was just as frustrated as the Chief was at her own lack of progress. However she saw no reason to allow herself to become the focus for the Chiefs impotent rage.

“These are lives Druid, my peoples lives,” the Chief went on angrily, “We cannot go on sustaining such losses, in two months, two, we have lost more hunters than in twenty seasons and you have found nothing as to the cause of it. We have given you shelter, the finest food on the continent, and for what in return?”

“What would you have me do?” the Druid responded, fighting a temptation to just walk out and leave them to their watery fate.

“Anything that will explain their loss, and ours. You say that you are skilled in marshlands. That nature holds no fear for you. Then go into this one, to the north this malady lies not here and to the north are the best of my hunting grounds. Go then that way if you would serve our need. Return with a solution and we shall reward you with more than food,” the Chief finished signalling to an attendant, who stepped forward bearing a small chest which turned out the Druid noticed with a glance to be full of precious stones skilfully worked.

“Very well,” the Druid responded stiffly, “I shall consume no more of either your time nor your delicacies,” she turned to leave but paused and half turned back to the Chief, adding, “But I go for my own curiosity, not at your bidding, nor for your rocks.”

The Druid stormed out and down the halls steps. She was not used to other people commanding her and certainly as her druid order was hierarchical only in the most basic sense she was not used to being treated as someone else’s tool. She seethed as she walked that her offer of guidance and aid should now be taken as a pledge of service.

Of course she could just walk away but she was curious and there were the disturbing visions her prayers had presented her with at her first camp that she simply had to explore further and could not ignore, even if she had wanted to. In the end what her mood boiled down to was this; she wanted to go she just did not want to be ordered to go.

She made her way to the guest hut near the waters edge that the Gnomes had provided for her and gathered her belongings into her pack. It did not take long; draining and taking apart the bubbling apparatus she had set up in one corner took longer, even so within half an hour she was once more standing dressed for travel at the marshes edge.

Aulk was waiting for her. Resignedly the Druid signalled for the old tribesman to lead the way and was taken to where the hunters gathered before departing and where the pens were located at the waters edge for the live catches to be deposited in; a water beetle was wallowing in one of them now, its purple carapace shiny in the late morning sun as it breached the surface, it must have been over six foot in length.

Aulk pointed out northward saying, “The ground is firmer on the right for the first few miles, the hunting grounds are much deeper north. Do you see that little island of trees,” he pointed to a distant hint of green taller and darker than the more vivid marsh green around it, “Make for it,” he went on, “but be warned, it's further away than it looks. Days march that is. You be careful there,” he admonished, “Water beetles can rear right up out of the water on top of you, and they will, if they've eggs close by, and there are worse things under those waters than them, in the deep pools, “ he warned her.

The Druid gazed out over the thriving reeds and grasses, it suddenly appeared vast and despite all the birds, fish, insects and others it felt very empty. A sudden chill blew through her and she shivered, “Does anyone live out there?” she asked.

“Maybe,” Aulk replied with a shrug of his shoulders, “Old Grul lives out there, or did, no ones seen him for nearly a year.”

“Old Grul?” the Druid enquired.

“Sort of a hermit. Lives on the islands among the ruins, every so often someone goes out to see him or one of the hunting parties will spot him. Or sometimes he appears at evening, unlooked for, out of the marsh and tells terrible tales from the olden days, and then he’s gone again by the rising of the sun. Folk say as he’s naturally powerful, like the marshes power is in him. I don’t understand all that stuff myself, best not to meddle in what you don’t know I always say, but the Shaman, he says that's why he's like he is, that old Grul does not just live in the marsh but has become in some way a part of it, and that would make anyone a bit crazy to my mind. It’s a queer marsh. With queer moods.”

“Is he dangerous? This Grul?”

“No, not really, just keeps himself to himself. Says he's watching the marshes till there ready. Just watches it day after day.”

“Ready for what?”

“He won't say, you're best off avoiding him in my opinion. He might avoid you if he sees you coming. Gruls not keen on visitors, throws stones at them to warn them off or so I've heard.”

The Druid considered this as she gazed out over the expanse of greens and browns before her, “Well he might know what’s going on out there, if he’s observant about what he’s watching. Well, seems as good a place as any to start looking,” the Druid said splashing out down the bank. She turned north and looking back over her shoulder said to Aulk, “Well, wish me luck.”
“Oh I do,” Aulk called after her nodding, “I do, because I think you might be needing it.”

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Post by azriel Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:34 pm

Very Happy bounce

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:45 pm

Thanks for sticking with it Azriel Very Happy

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Post by azriel Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:51 pm

No thanks needed Petty, If its good,Il read, that applies to any good story. & so far, its GOOD! Laughing

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:01 pm

Embarassed

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:49 pm

Tain cursed under his breath as one foot slipped into the marshy ground sinking all the way up to the top of his right boot with a sad bubbling sound. He felt the cold green water trickling down inside the leather of his footwear. Still cursing he wrenched his leg free and finding firmer ground in front squelched onwards.

His initial plan; to skirt the mountains foot round the northern edge of the marsh had soon proved untenable. In places wide stretches of open water ran right up to the cliffs edge and there was no way forward except to swim, which he was not about to do; he had observed the pattern of ripples on the surface, the marsh teemed with life and he was certain there was at least one large predator circling beneath the brackish open pools; though he had yet to catch sight of anything.

He had stayed where possible to the shallows and the higher ground when it could be found at all, but despite his best efforts to reach the mountains foot he was slowly but surely being turned southwards.

It was occurring to him that it was one thing planning a route through a marsh and quite another putting it into practice. Your route was in the end dictated by the marsh itself, you could only go where it led you. This had left him with the decision to continue on south, hoping to find another route back to the mountains, or to go back. In the end it was the plain fact he had nothing to go back to which had made the decision for him. So South it was.

In the distance, some ten or fifteen miles southwest of him he reckoned, there was a distant smudge of high green, an island of trees or bushes silhouetted against the blue sky. It was this he was now making for with only the thought of warm feet in his mind.

To the north the mountains were beginning to recede, the air above the marshland had a hazy quality to it that made the mountains seem more distant than he knew them to be, there was no sign in the blank walls of slanting grey that met the waters edge of any city, or openings, just faceless stone.

Perhaps it was just a legend after all he mused and not for the first time wondered if following spurious tales told by drunk old men in inns was the best way of going about finding a career (his father certainly would not have approved) especially when it led to sitting in the middle of a bog with wet feet.

To the east of him the grey green line of the marsh spread out to the horizon and joined somewhere in the misty distance low hills of a yellow colour.
Directly to the south there was a large, wide expanse of open water in which beetles paddled furiously for food .

There was a sudden splash of white and the flaying of beetle limbs, accompanied by the crunching, cracking sound of its shell as something sleek and grey rose up in a flash of violent white teeth and just as suddenly disappeared under the closing water, taking the hapless beetle with it. A flock of waterfowl rose screeching from the reeds nearby.

“Not that way then,” Tain muttered to himself, he turned back to the southwest and the island of trees.

It was at least a direction to take that meant regular dry feet. It therefore immediately made it a better choice than any other direction he could see. Besides as far as he could tell there was no open water between here and there. Nevertheless it was still a fair distance away yet, and it was difficult to judge exactly how far in the marsh. Already what he had deemed in the morning light to be a few miles had turned out to be nearly twice that and the going was slow; a wrong foot out here might lead to more trouble than just wet feet.

Even some of the birds here looked dangerous. He had seen one eagle far overhead easily eating up the air with what must have been a twelve foot wingspan.

He reasoned it might take him till nightfall at his current rate before he set foot on truly firm ground again.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:58 pm

For the Druid the going was easier, at least to begin with, the route that the Gnome hunters took was naturally through the shallowest waters and where deeper pools had to be negotiated they had created walkways of wood with rope slung at waist height for extra balance. The rope was useless for the Druid because what was waist height for a tribesman was knee height to her but the walkways were a welcome addition, though they eventually petered out completely after the first few miles.

About mid-morning she found a net that had presumably been discarded by the hunters because something had torn a large hole in it. It had blown in amongst a reed bed and entrapped a mallard that was honking noisily and desperately, whilst in a futile manner that only entrapped it further it was flapping madly in fits to try to free itself.

Moving silently in amongst the reeds the Druid squatted down till she was face to face with the duck and the green of her own eyes met the yellow of its. Letting her mind flow out to meet the mallards she gently calmed it and convinced the creature that despite her appearance she was kin and no threat. The duck slowly ceased trying to flap its wings, and measure by measure the frantic beating in its chest slowed.

With careful and deliberate movements she cut the netting and untangled the bird from the tight woven mesh becoming aware as she did so, sharing the fowls mind, that there was in it a core of panic she could not quell. It was a rising terror, but not of her, it was the terror that it might have been trapped there still when the darkness returned.

Even as she freed it she felt this panic grow and become a need to escape. The desire consumed the mallard and with a loud honk that startled the Druid fully back into her own mind the duck escaped from her grasp in a flurry of whirring wings, it hit the water and began paddling desperately, it gained speed and lifted, neck fully outstretched, launching itself through the reed beds it rose clumsily up into the air, gained its balance on the currents and quickly fled away southwards calling plaintively as it went and leaving a flurry of dark feathers and broken reeds behind.

The Druid remained quite still for several minutes, the ducks panic and compulsion to escape had become overwhelming emotions and she had to fight the sudden urge it beckoned up her to flee herself. She found that her limbs wanted to run.

For the first time since she had entered the marsh she felt coldness at the prospect of the oncoming of night. Even as a child she had never feared the dark, her people had a great reverence for the stars and the star Sha, beloved of the Goddess Elhonna that burned most brightly before the dawn, had a sacred place in her peoples history and her own heart. To a druid the night was merely the reflection in the world of the natural balance they themselves strove to maintain; the light had to be equalled out by the dark and vice versa. It was the tenant on which her knowledge and belief were based.

Yet for the first time ever she had felt in the mind of a simple duck what it was like to fear that darkness and now she felt it too and she was finding it hard to shake the sensation.

She gathered herself together mentally and reaffirmed her own emotions over those imprinted on her, nevertheless when she set off it was with redoubled effort. Whatever the night might bring she was certain she would rather meet it on firmer ground and not out here in the open tracts of the wetlands.

The island turned out to be further away than she had thought.

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Post by azriel Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:36 pm

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I could feel the grey-greenness & the cold water, I can see the landscape the same dull muddy colour,

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:18 pm

The sun was setting behind Tain, for twenty minutes it turned the sky a shocking pink and the low clouds on the western horizon glowed like coals.

An unfortunate slip two hours earlier had meant that now his left foot squelched in harmony with his right. As the sun finally bowed out from view the marsh changed its character around him from the mournful and sometimes shrill cries of the birds which had dominated the day and especially the late afternoon, when the shadows were beginning to lengthen, to the sudden eruption of the insects who called in millions of chirping, rattling, hissing, ticking, clicking voices back and forth across the marshes. Bats seemed to appear out of nowhere to flit silently and ghostlike by his head, dim phosphorescent lights glimmered through the air, bobbing and weaving erratically in response to the light of the stars that sparkled in their millions, silver in the clear sky, and in reflection will ‘o’ the wisp shimmered, blazed and faded over the pools.

The green of the island ahead faded into a dark silhouette at the sudden bleeding away of the day, all its details lost, it was still at least an hour distant. The miles out here seemed to stretch even as you walked them.

With a mind firmly focused on fire, warmth and a hot meal he pushed on keeping eyes and ears open to any sound above the now constant throb of insect conversation.


Before the Druid the pinkness faded from the air as the sun sank in the distance and sudden night fled in greeted by the insects chorus, which like all insect talk was almost solely concerned with sex. Well, she had at least arrived before it got too dark. The island rose up before her a rock of granite crowned with birch trees and at the centre, towering over its companions and filling out in a dark circle of fading oranges and browns, an ancient oak atop a ruined white stone wall.

She was on the south-eastern side of the island and here the rock rose steeply up out of the water like a wall, to her left beyond a tall outcrop of stone it sloped downwards eventually slipping beneath the marsh. She skirted round the shallows to reach this lower point.

For the first time since she had left the village that morning she had the grateful feel of solid ground beneath her. It rose gently up before her onto the island proper, there was a path of sorts there in the dark, and she could feel hard smooth stone beneath her booted feet.

Her green eyes, which had adjusted quickly to the starlight, could see clearly now that once upon a time there had been a flagstone road or courtyard here. The flat, cracked stones were overgrown now, broken up by roots and shoots but nevertheless they were there. A sign of civilization where it was hard to imagine there ever having been any.

The road or court covered a broad open area that led up out of the water to the crown of trees which stood upon a higher second outcrop of rock that was in fact an old wall of thick white stone that had half collapsed. The oak tree was growing out of it, its roots embracing and slowly crumbling away the stonework. Apart from her, the trees and four nesting crows she could sense there was no-one else upon the island. It was only a small place, alone among the water and somehow bleak, yet it was still comforting.
She searched about near the edge of the trees and finding a ready supply of dead, dry wood she began to gather it up and prepare a fire against the oncoming of night.

The remarkable thing about the silence that descended around Tain was, he considered, how deafening it seemed. It occurred to him that what he was experiencing was a loud silence. One moment he was finally approaching the islands eastern edge barely making a sound that was audible above the volume of the insects and the next instant, mid-step, like someone had turned off a tap, there was a total and complete silence. A silence so absolute that the gentle noises he made in the water as his momentum carried him forward seemed to cry out into the dark like an offence.

He stopped stock-still, shocked he involuntarily held his breath, it seemed a natural reaction to this gaping emptiness. It felt as if he made a sound, even a breath, it would be to draw some things attention towards him. That out in the night something was waiting, searching for just such a noise to focus in upon.

He felt a tremor in the mud beneath his feet and the water began to ripple all around him, far away and deep, deep down the earth began to tremble with a fever.

Then the silence was broken by a bass rumble that growled it seemed up through the ground itself and the marshland shook.

The Druid had formed a pyramid of kindling and at its centre placed a scrap of rag from her tinder box that was soaked in the highly flammable secretions of a nut, several of which she kept in a pouch for just such a purpose. She was just about to take her sickle from its covering when the silence descended upon her and her heart went cold.

Everything from insects to birds had either hidden or fallen deathly still. Not a breath seemed to move over the marsh. She had never felt anything like it before, every living thing was afraid, including she suddenly realized, herself.

Slowly she put down the sickle and the tiny grating noise it made as she set it down on the stone seemed to expand out and fill the air. Every rustle of her robe as she stood seemed resented by the silence around her. As she crept cautiously towards the trees, moving slowly enough to do so without a sound, she felt the ground begin to shake beneath her. The island was trembling.

A low rumble began, from the north at first it seemed to her and then from the ground itself and the shaking increased until she had to fight for balance. Disregarding any sound she might now make she clambered quickly up the crumbled wall and scrambled up the oak tree. She moved up it with the practised ease of someone with long years of living among trees to the crown at the top where she could look out northwards over the marshes for the source of the rumbling. But by the time she got there it had faded away south over the wetlands.

Looking out from between the fading leaves under the light of the stars the open tracts of water gleamed, but as she watched it seemed to her that something darker than the night was advancing from the north. Where it passed over the open pools the reflected starlight dimmed, faded, and was eventually replaced by an impenetrable gloom that settled over water and reeds. It rolled south towards her like a storm cloud. She watched as it ate up the most distant of the island chain and it stopped just before it reached the next outcrop of tree-adorned rock. It hung there, a barrier in the night, through which her eyes could not penetrate. Here and there within it she thought she could make out shapes, forms that moved dimly pale in the black but which defied her to define clearly.

A second later there was the sound of rushing water and a loud gurgling from the reed beds and pools all around. Something like a great sigh went up into the air and then the chorus of millions of insects flooded back and the darkness was gone as suddenly as it had appeared.

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Post by azriel Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:24 pm

its getting tense man ! we're getting close to "trumping"!

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:27 pm

Very Happy Dont sit next to me if you start trumping. No

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Post by azriel Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:30 pm

I wont need to ! the way I trump you could here it from where you are ! One man orchestra all by myself !

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