The First Blight: Curse of Dumat [RP/Closed]

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Diocles dismounted with far less grace than he had when they had started the journey (Though still more than Ulrin) and rubbed the neck of the poor beast that had done so well carrying them this far. Shaking his head, he turned to offer Sul a hand down.

Thank the Creators for the creation of Ghil. Sulahn'nehn had a feeling that Thaedrin would have continued to ride until the horses collapsed. It was late and cold and while camping out wasn't desirable, it was a welcome break if it meant they could all get some sleep soon.

"Thank you." With the archer's help she got down from the horse with ease, stretching as soon as she'd placed her feet on the ground. The entirety of her back was in knots. She was ready for bed, even if it was on the ground. And how exactly were tents set up?

Diocles nodded to her, before beginning to set up the first tent. The ground was hard, so he petitioned Ghil for aid in getting poles and pegs into the ground. The two of them working together, with some elvish aid, got the job done relatively quick.

"I admit, I'm anxious for sleep. But we're not the most tired ones here. We can't keep working the horses this hard, or we'll be walking shortly."

Ghil nodded her agreement, clapping the dust from her hands. "Let us sleep, before the blood mage's mind is changed." She crawled into a tent and threw herself down onto the bedroll with a groan of exhaustion. "Much better... I am stiff as the board."

Thaedrin frowned, monitoring the others restlessly. "Quickly. Do not waste what little time you have, spare the pleasantries and shut your eyes."

The elf yawned again, covering her mouth. The chat would have to wait for another time, they spent too many hours awake and she was not quite so willing to spend one more upright. She gave a nod and an unenthusiastic wave to the others as she ducked into the same tent as Ghil. There was not a lot of room and it was too cold to change, which worked out fine for her as she was too sleepy to do so. Sulahn'nehn collapsed onto her mat as soon as it lay flat and closed her eyes, mumbling something that might have been a good night.

How he wished to cut out that man's tongue. He pulled back the flap of the second tent and crawled inside. At least in his sleep he only had to deal with the wailing torments of the Darkspawn and their master and not the constant snide demands of Theadrin. "We cannot reach the barbarian's fast enough..." He laid down on the bed roll and sighed; he'd be sore by the time this trip was over.

Diocles decided to retire as well, though his paranoia was more noticeable than ever this night. He slept in his armor, knives at hand and bow strung.

The night was quiet until about three in the morning, when it became, abruptly, very loud. With a series of sharp reports, the poles supporting the tents were hacked through, sending the heavy sheets of canvas collapsing onto their occupants. Torches alit outside, and what sounded like a hundred dogs start barking.

"What is this!" an ugly voice shouted in the Alamarri tongue. "Who walks on our lands?"

Alrik rushed out of his tent first, but without managing to recover his axe; he immediately found a knife to his throat.

"We..." he began, but the knife pressed harder, drawing blood. He grunted with displeasure.

There were five Alamarri apparent-- two female and three male, with three hounds.

"We hold the leader now," a heavily bearded man who was almost elderly crowed, watching with disdain as the other Wardens struggled out of their tents.

Thaedrin struggled free of the canvas, only to freeze like a Cone of Cold had been cast. The Alamarri before him were just as giant as the ones in their own party; even the older man seemed enormous from his place on the ground, looking up. Would they kill him on sight? He couldn't move. The dogs might take his throat.

Ghil, however, lacked the fear. She burst out of what was left of their tent, half dressed and bearing her greatsword. In her native tongue, she shouted, "What do you mean by making yourselves known in such a fashion, you had no time to sound a horn!? Damn you all, I've only slept an hour!" She eyed the group, before her blind anger became a more severe sternness. "...Ciraine? Back away. We came to talk."

Diocles awoke with a start, practiced hands whipping his knives from their resting place as he rolled to escape the tent. However, his new armor was more cumbersome than he was accustomed, and he took too long to get moving. He cut two quick perpendicular lines in the cloth instead, emerging with some difficulty. He held his knives in a fighting stance-Until he got a good look at the scene. Sighing, he lowered his weapons-But did not release them. He spoke lowly from the side of his mouth, figuring none of them spoke Tevene.

"So these are the honorable warriors, huh? Surprisingly good at ambush for all that."

Sulahn'nehn froze as soon as she was free of the cloth, it didn't take long to realize they were not in the best position. She remained still and silent while the others got to their feet. The foreign language didn't help her nerves. What was being said? There were a lot of giants with a lot of dogs. All she could think about was how angry they seemed. And that they did not have a particular like of mages. Or elves.

Ulrin fought with the canvas of their tent as it fell down around them. The elf found the hole Diocles had cut and followed him out, clutching one dagger in his hand. The rogue did not get to his feet immediately however, he was frantically looking around from where he was crouched on the ground with his dagger raised. He saw the archer standing still with his weapons clutched by his side and Ghil with her sword raised. Taking in the barbarians he slowly pushed himself to stand up cursing their luck under his breath.

Here's to hoping they were willing to listen.

The elder was clearly shocked to see Ghil, his sword dipping slightly.

"I... what are you doing here, with these boy lovers and knife ears?" he muttered, but waved away the lithe young woman with a knife to Alrik's neck. She gave him a push that was probably supposed to knock him down to his knees, but it had no apparent effect other than the low growl that was emitted from the back of Alrik's throat.

Two of the dogs continued to growl, backs arched. The third, however, trotted over to Ghil, panting happily.

"You dishonor yourself, bringing strangers here," the elder said. "Are these your pets? Or did you bring them as a peace offering? I suppose the small girl looks lively enough, but I don't know what you expect us to do with the rest."

"Don't you speak to me of dishonor." Ghil snarled, stepping forward; her eyes swept over the Alamarri the elder had brought with him threateningly, but then she knelt to give the friendlier hound a good scrubbing. "You and I need to speak, and I want to speak alone. You'll not like what I have to say, but your animals behind you will like it even less. ...And tell them not to touch anyone."

He grumbled. "Fine, out of respect for the Clayne, you can have your way. But be warned, my respect only goes so far."

He took a torch from one of the others and gestured that she should follow him a ways off the path.

The other Ciraine stayed put, glaring at the remaining Wardens. Alrik, ignoring them totally, knelt down to pet the hound. "Be careful. Yell if we should kill them," he called after Ghil in Tevene.

Ghil smirked at Alrik's words. He could be a good teammate, when he wasn't putting his knee in her ribs.

Separated from the others, Ghil stood close to the elder and spoke lowly. She expected that her firm presence, and her height, would remind him how quickly she would return to breaking necks. "The Tevinters wish to ally against the Darkspawn. I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. If you wish to keep your people alive against these monsters, then you have no choice but to agree." She shifted her weight, tilting her head to one side. "They have made Grey Wardens of us, and we are strong. Stronger than anything you've ever seen. So, I expect that you'll understand what I mean by 'no choice'."

"We have lasted this long, haven't we? What makes you think we need help? And from the Tevinters? We've heard from traders that the Darkspawn are their fault to begin with! I can't imagine how, but who knows what their foul magicks might be capable of?"

This seemed to trigger a new idea, and he took a step back from her. "They 'made' you a Grey Warden? What does that mean? What did they do to you?"

"Sul, hide behind me and blast away if they move to attack."

Diocles sheathed his knives, though only as a cover as he moved his feet to attempt to feel for his bow beneath the canvas. Needing an additional distraction, and figuring he couldn't possibly make the situation worse, he threw in a cheeky wink to the nearest tribeswoman.

There was no relief. Ghil had gone off and there were still rather large, rather scary people watching them. She did not have to be told twice, to hide. She very slowly made her way over to Diocles, not wanting to make a sudden movement. Sulahn'nehn fiddled with her fingers, nervously keeping an eye on the barbarians.

She hoped magic was unnecessary. But that hope was fading fast.

Ghil's jaw clenched tightly and her body tensed in defense of the quiet accusation. "You don't know the reasons. You don't understand--don't make assumptions. I am still of the Clayne!"

Thaedrin slowly rose to his feet, but he looked ready to run or to cast at any moment. He murmured to his Wardens, "Are we really to stand here like this? And wait for them to put those axes in us? This is insane."

Ulrin glanced at the archer's feet. He could see he was kicking around the canvas looking for his weapon. The rogue remembered hitting it on his way out. He cleared his throat and scuffed the ground between them knocking it closer to the human.

He fully expected Ghil to yell at any moment and being the battle. And he did not wish for any of them to be unprepared, no matter how he actually felt about them.

He snorted. "Fine. But why would we ally with a people weaker than us? If YOU wish to fight the Darkspawn with us, fine, but we have no use for Tevinters. We could kill your whole party without thought. They are like newborn babes."

-----

Alrik nodded. "Not smart. Should kill them. But Commander will be angry if no try to talk."

He shrugged. "Will get axe."

He began digging through the canvas of his tent.

The barbarian who Diocles winked at stumbled back a few steps in surprise, as if he'd shot an arrow at her. She muttered something to one of her companions.

"If you could see what I see every night, you would not be so stubborn. But I expected this. I know your kind, as well as I know my own. We'll do this the old-fashioned way. My Wardens will prove their worth to you, and you'll submit to their authority. I won't take no for an answer, old man. If we do not band together--all the tribes, all the kings, and the Tevinters--the Darkspawn will overrun us all."

Ghil took a step back and folded her arms, "Choose your champion."

"Thanks, Ulrin.."

Diocles blinked. He didn't think the barbarians would let him, but Alrik knew best. He dispensed with pretense and pulled out his bow and quivers, replacing the latter on his person.

"It's a shame, at a range this close, and such big easy targets, I can't really show off-They'll be too easy."

Diocles grinned confidently, following up with a slight thrust of his hips.

"I'd rather you save the showing off for when the situation is in our favor," The elf shook his head. "The quicker we can take them down, the better for us..." He looked off the direction Ghil had left.

If only they didn't have to.

"Diocles." she whispered sharply. "Is that necessary?"

Sulahn'nehn glanced back to where her tent once stood. She'd forgotten her staff and she didn't want to enter a fight without it. That was if it came to that. However, if she went to get it now, would the sight of a staff set them off?

The old man laughed "Very well! Ozur the Eldest admires your spirit, Clayne-maiden! Our champion is Ragnar; he is the tall one. And yours? If they fight like a man and not like a boy-lover, then we can talk."

He began leading her back to the campsite. "And not you or the bearded one. That would prove nothing!"

-----

The Almarri tensed as the Wardens began retrieving their weapons, but did not attack. The woman made some more comments to her companion.

"She want to... hmm, do not know Tevene word," Alrik said to Diocles, finally untangling his axe from the tent ropes. "She want to sex you, but... bad way. Sex you to death? Thaedrin, what is Tevene word?"

Ulrin looked over at Alrik and Diocles. His expression was one of, confusion, or perhaps disturbance with his mouth slightly open. He then turned away shaking his head and muttering to himself about just staying focused on the battle they had coming.

"I.. Huh. I keep my sex and murder separate, thank you. .. And -we're- the perverts. .. Which is fair, I mean, I probably am."

He had momentarily forgotten Sul's presence behind him in his shock. He realized she was after, but didn't regret it. She should know.

Thaedrin looked appalled; he turned a vicious glare on Diocles. "Is it a disease that forces you to behave like this every waking moment!?"

Ghil interrupted, rejoining her comrades. Her lips were pursed into a thin line, expression blank to hide her own uncertainty. She nodded her head toward the archer, speaking in Tevene, "Diocles. You must... You must duel, for all of us. And you must win, do you understand? Not with a bow."

"You must be joking! I could--"

"They will accept no magicking! It must be he, there is no one else they will face."

Diocles sighed, but didn't seem particularly surprised. He handed his bow and quivers to Sul.

"I understand, Ghil. What are the rules? Is it to the death, and may my opponent yield?"

"I don't think I've ever heard of a woman so forward." she looked absolutely stunned. She had heard a lot of things in Tevinter, but never someone saying they wanted to 'sex someone to death'. Must have been a human thing.

"He's to what?" She looked to the archer and back to Ghil. He was very skilled with his bow, but she expected him to fight a giant. Was that even entirely fair?

Ulrin turned his attentions to Ghil, "That is... That is..." the elf didn't want to say it out loud, but he didn't think that Diocles fighting one of these giants was in their favor. He'd be killed without his bow. And then they'd be down a man when the inevitable fight broke out. "This is the only way isn't it? There is really no one or nothing else they will consider?"

"No armor. Just your bodies and your weapons. He has a shield, so strike carefully and truly. I know you know how." She moved forward to help him out of his armor, tugging it off his frame without ceremony. In the Alamarri's tongue, she said to the Ciraine champion, "This Tevinter man will face you, and cut that smirk right off your face."

In Tevene, she told Diocles, "You must not lose. Or you will die. Go."

Diocles removed his armor with a sigh, stripping off his shirt in addition to face his opponent on truly even terms. Taking his knives in his hands, Diocles was for once glad of his habitual habit of keeping them razor sharp. He approached the barbarian calmly, shifted his knives into a reverse gripped hold, and stood side on, looking the man dead in the eye.

"I'm ready."

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