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

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"Me!? But, I've never-" Thaedrin stopped abruptly, biting his lip. Either he could protest and seem a coward to all who were gathered, or he could obey. With reluctance, he dropped his head and muttered, "Yes, Commander."

With a swift salute, he turned towards the Grey Wardens still assembled, particularly the group under his direct command.

"Those of you remaining, mount up! We will track down this breach of security before it reaches Weisshaupt, or the villages under our protection!" As the men filed off towards the stables, he turned to the gladiator called Ghil, and the two elven slaves he had come to loathe, Ulrin and Sulahn'nehn. "...You three, as well. With me." The blood mage turned on his heel and led them to the stables.

She looked about, stopping short of pointing to herself. Of course he'd meant them. "Yes, Ser!", though she was quick to obey verbally, she still hadn't moved her feet. There was no hiding her fear, not that there was much point in attempting to. A darkspawn threat would make anyone who'd seen or heard of them scared. Well, save for the seasoned Wardens and she was not certain that those ones were quite sane. Still, she would have capable people near her and that could be enough to keep her grounded, possibly even safe.

Breathe. Calm yourself. Creators, be with me.

With a gulp of air, she followed behind Thaedrin.

Ulrin nodded wordlessly and followed the group of Wardens toward the stables. He honestly did not look forward to taking commands from the blood mage, but at this time he knew to focus. His loathing for the humans could be put aside in the face of the Darkspawn. Even he was uncertain if it was by their hand he wanted to die. It would be better to take his own life than to let those monsters have it.

He glanced over at the two women. Ghil he knew would come out of this battle fine, perhaps even somewhat happy. But Sulahn'nehn he still had his doubts about their decision to bring her into combat. When they reached the stables, Ulrin hung back letting the more seasoned Wardens take their mounts before claiming one of his own and falling into line with the rest.

Have Thaedrin lead them?

Diocles swore-You could be a genius at strategy and tactics, but it was worthless if you didn't understand men. Morale was important. Thaedrin was likely to drain them for power. He made his way down from the battlements quietly, but with the skill of an acrobat, and quickly came up behind Thaedrin.

"I've been ordered to assist in baby-sitting while you focus on your magicks."

Thaedrin couldn't bring himself to deny the assistance. "Take a horse, then."

He swung into the saddle with grace. Of the group, Ghil seemed the most uncomfortable atop a horse, but she remained stoic as the beast fidgeted beneath her. These were well-bred enough that she wouldn't be at risk of being thrown, but the Constable was no less grateful that they were not riding far. Half a dozen Wardens joined Thaedrin, Diocles, and the three fresh recruits, but once they reached the watchtower, two rode north and two rode south to scout the woods for tracks.

Near the base of the tower, Thaedrin swung down from the saddle and peeled his gloves from his hands. The raw, red wounds on his hands seemed as two dark maws in the dimness of dawn.

"All of you, follow me closely. Komnenos, hold the rear and be ready to fire." He scowled up at the abandoned structure, and climbed its steps with trepidation. "We have an investigation to complete."

Sulahn'nehn would have ridden sidesaddle if it weren't for the sharp reprimand she was given before she could finish setting herself atop the horse. The short ride was still more than enough to consider each way something could go horribly wrong. As to be expected, she had trouble slowing a running horse as well as dismounting but quickly collected herself once grounded.

'Hold the rear'? What does that mean? Do I stay here or-

Once she saw the group moving, she followed their lead, staying as close to them as she could without being glued to their backs. She felt there was no investigation to make. In her mind they would either find dead Wardens or their own end with little hope for much else.

Ulrin held the reigns of his horse tightly. Whatever nervousness he held in him expressed itself through how tightly he clutched at the leather in his hands or how tightly he set his jaw. He decided dying to monster's wasn't quite right, and if thats what the Creators had intended for him, it would have to wait. He would get out of this, and die some other day.

When they arrived at the abandoned tower he couldn't tell if he was relieved or disappointed. Was it better to see the Darkspawn swarming now or see none at all? As he dismounted and followed the group into the building he kept his attentions towards shadows and nooks the group walked past. Any place something or someone could hide, mostly out of habit, but he was not looking forward to the idea of a surprise befalling this group if the last set of Wardens had already fallen victim to an ambush.

Diocles kept his bow ready, an arrow nocked. He advanced in the rear as was suggested, periodically turning to scan behind the group. His joking demeanour had completely vanished-How much of it was the danger, and how much the sleep deprivation, was arguable. In a low tone, the former sergeant began to dispense tactical advice, though only to the newest wardens.

"Ghil, if we get into combat, don't rush in too fast, we need you to block for the elves. Don't worry, if you stand between enemies and mages, they'll come to you in droves. Ulrin, hang behind her, and stab anyone that tries to get at her flanks from their's. Sul, focus on support, combine fire with Thaedrin when appropriate, otherwise hit any target engaged with your comrades. I'll handle any opposing mages and high priority targets."

Ulrin nodded to the archer. His advice was welcomed when it didn't come with his usual mockery. The elf kept one hand clutched on his knife and stayed close to the barbarian. He was still silent, partly so he could listen for orders or enemies, and partly because he couldn't bring himself to unclench his jaw to speak.

Sulahn'nehn just about thanked Diocles for the advice, but now did not seem the best time for it. Instead, she readied her staff, clutching it to her chest. She was glad to have someone instructing her, she wouldn't have had the faintest clue how to approach a battle. Provided that darkspawn ever showed, it seemed as likely to die from anticipation or fright as it would be from the hands of the spawn.

Would it be best to let the group know that she'd barely learned to use her magic on command or keep it to herself? There was the chance that this news would have some adverse side effects. So for the moment, she remained silent and close to the more experienced members of the group.

All I must do is focus. I'll be fine.

The wooden steps creaked under the weight of the party as Thaedrin ascended, one hand raised in anticipation of casting. The outpost had been hastily constructed within these last few months of Grey Warden expansion, and without the life and fervor of men working and training the sounds of settling were too pronounced. The Constable did his best to ignore the worry that the tower might collapse around them.

There was nothing to find, save for furniture and linens. There were no Wardens, no corpses and, most notably, no equipment. Either the men had left prepared for battle, or the lot had been stolen.

"I don't understand, what could have been so urgent that they would not send a rider..."

Ulrin looked around the room and over the group. He was a little less on edge, the longer they went without finding anyone, or anything for that matter. For the place to be deserted of men was one thing, but of men and their gear. Perhaps they had deserted? It seemed to be a common though among the more experienced Wardens that the recruits were likely to run at any moment anyway. Still, even if they ran, that they all agreed to it? No one thought to resist, had to be silenced?

Staying here any longer wasn't going to get them an answer, that seemed to be the only thing Thaedrin's investigation had brought them.

The absence of a struggle or even a body was eerie. By all means, it should have been a relief, but in a situation as such it seemed out of place.

"I-Is there nowhere else they would be called to?" it was optimistic at best to think that all ad just vanished somewhere, completely unscathed, and foolish at worst. "What are we to do now?"

"Stay calm, stay alert."

Diocles snapped sharply at his elven companion, the first rude words he'd spoken to her. He kept his bow at the ready, puzzled but tense. It was eerily empty, but he was certain battle would find them.

"I can't sense a damn thing.. Perhaps something else took them? .. How much blood do you think it would take a mage to control this many men?"

Thaedrin shook his head; like the archer, he was all business in regards to the task at hand. He searched the cabinets, overturned the mattresses, searching for clues, "No. It would take a considerable sacrifice to overpower half a dozen men of discipline. To influence, to spy, those are possible, but this is too... uniform..."

The barbarian woman gave a snort of annoyance. "We are learning nothing here, they will not cease to be gone by our standing and wondering."

"I thought that there must be-" The blood mage stopped abruptly, tensing. Behind his eyes, he felt the itch. The urge to kill, to rend. "They're here."

Arrows thudded into the exterior of the tower from the cover of the trees, the sudden surge of flame devouring air. Thaedrin cursed sharply, hurrying back toward the head of the stairs. "Everyone outside, now!"

Rushing five armored Wardens down a flight of spiraling stairs proved troublesome enough without the threat of death behind it. It took him a moment to realize that the door out was not orange-it was engulfed in flame. Three Darkpawn hurlocks barreled inside, and his ranged combatants were now at the head of their column.

"Get back!" A hand in the back of Sulahn'nehn's collar, and he all but threw her against the stairs, back the way they had come; he shoved Diocles behind his elbow just as forcefully, and Ghil made up for the empty space ahead by charging forward. The assault seemed insane to the blood mage, but within a moment he saw that she could never have drawn that greatsword on the stairs without taking off one of their heads in the process. "We need to fight our way out, before we burn!"

Ghil bellowed as she swung the blade in a horizontal sweep, less to damage and more to keep the bastards from advancing. All three wore mismatched leathers and armor, pilfered from the corpses they had left behind in the past. Two swords and an axe were in front of her: she chose the axe and slashed outward to strike, cleaving the monster in two.

Ulrin's hand was back on his dagger as Theadrin gave the order to move. In his own mind he was still getting used to the sudden feeling of know his foe was present before he could see them. As they rushed down the stairs and Thaedrin began ordering them back he stopped letting Sulahm'nehn and the archer be forced behind the line. Following Diocles' orders from before Ulrin followed the woman drawing his dagger. As she took on the hurlock he faced one to the right of her carrying a sword and made an upward slash at the monster striking across its chest, but his second dagger pulled through only air as it stumbled back from his first strike.

There was hardly time to register what came through the door before she found herself falling back, barely catching herself. No amount of mental preparation could calm her and who could blame her? The building was engulfing in flames and darkspawn were likely to kill them if they did not act quickly.

Sulahn'nehn thrust her staff forward at one of the creatures with a yelp. She sent so much force on it collapsed on itself, bones crunching until it was just a bloodied mass.

Seeing his allies devastate the hurlocks, Diocles drew back his bow-With Ghil and Ulrin in the melee, he couldn't get a deadly shot without risk.. But perhaps he could distract the beast to aid his allies. He loosed his arrow quickly, grazing the beast's far knee. Artfully he made his way forward, barking insults at the remaining opponent while drawing and nocking another arrow.

"Come on, you tainted, ugly, son of a magister! I'll send you to your god and beyond!"

Thaedrin whipped his hand outward; the spilled blood of the two dead Hurlocks swept up in a black torrent and spiraled into a sharp spike that pierced the monster through the breastplate. He took a shuddering breath, stunned by his first true encounter with the Darkspawn.

"Outside, quickly! Ulrin, Ghil, cover our advance!"

Ghil used her blade to strike down the kindling that was left of the flaming door and clear it out of their way; she ran forward into the woods, only to find three Genlock archers and a larger Hurlock in rusting heavy plate. The archers let loose, striking Ghil once and Ulrin twice. The arrow stuck into the meat of her shoulder, but she charged ahead to meet the Alpha in combat, regardless. She swung--and missed.

Her heart was sent racing again, she wasn't sure why, but she assumed they'd be in the clear once they were out. But they met more trouble. As soon as the first arrow collided with Ghil, Sulahn'nehn shrieked in fright, ducking as if that would protect her. Fortunately for her, none seemed to reach her. However, in her panic she'd let loose a spell unintentionally and while it seemed to be directed at a Genlock with a bow in hand, her comrades would still feel the force of her chaotic power.

It might not have been tactically sound, but Diocles charged out with the front liners anyway, pausing just outside the doorframe. He scanned the scene in an instant-three archers, one big one. No time to waste. He wheeled, pointing his bow at Ghil's back and drawing back the arrow. It looked like he was going to murder her. Then, just as she overextended, moving to the side with her swing, he fired. The arrow was zipped past her, it's fletching tickling her neck, before burying into the Hurlock an instant later, finding a chink in his armor. Unsuspecting, the monster had no chance to block.

He shouted like a madman as he readied his third shot, but kept dancing about nimbly, his side to his opponents.

"Forward! Kill these rats. On me, spawn, on me! You will not taste more of the blood of Komnenos!"

Sul's spell bruised his side, coming close to cracking a rib.

He didn't seem to notice.

Ulrin kept after Ghill moving to take down the archers that fired at the two of them. His first thrust forward with his knife missed, but as the spawn moved to dodge him he brought down his second dagger into its arm. As he pulled back his weapon, he was knocked off guard by Sulahn'nehn's wayward spell. Though he had not realized it came from her, he thought a darkspwan was about casting magic.

The blood mage struck hateful roar, his magic crushing the Genlock's insides; he flung it aside with thought, and then screamed in pain from a sudden and unexpected blow. Thaedrin was nearly knocked over by the force of Sulahn'nehn's magic. Unlike the others, he saw exactly where it came from.

"You...! Focus, you damn fool, or you'll kill us all!"

No sooner had the words come from his lips that an arrow struck the elven woman, the feathered shaft emerging from her gut.

Ghil was in the trance of battle. She saw the Hurlock's greatsword come down and nimbly twisted out of the way, the blow grazing the surface of her breastplate. If she had not been wearing it, it may have had an entirely worse result. She swung her blade down where the creature's neck met his shoulder, and took the Hurlock's head off his neck with a scream of effort.

Nimbly dodging an arrow and returning fire without even thinking, Diocles had clearly lost himself in the heat of combat.

"Ghil! Sul! Go to ground, we've got them. Come on, bastards, you'll have to shoot better 'n that. I'll show you how it's done.."

Ulrin continued his assault on the genlock archer before him. He managed to turn his body and dodge the spawn's arrows, but in turn the monster always nimbly moved out of the way of one of his daggers. Still he slashed into its chest the knife it failed to avoid.

It was not her intent to strike the Warden and she could scarcely believe she'd made that much of an impact. She stood, about to shout an apology when all the air she had escaped her. There was a sudden, sharp pain in her in her abdomen. The elf rose a hand to feel the area when she hit the wooden shaft, causing pain to erupt once more and she cried out. Perhaps looking at it was a bad idea.

She'd never been injured like this before. Stumbling backward she dropped her staff as she once again shot a spell forward. if it hit the Genlock, she didn't see it. There was only pain and fear.

Thaedrin saw the last genlock draw an arrow back and used his powers to strike the bow from its hand; Ghil finished it off with another fearsome blow, black blood splattering her face and uniform. It was wet enough as it was. At last, the assault was finished. They were left standing, while the watchtower burned behind them. The Constable cursed again, feeling a fool for having left the horses unattended.

"Get the elf. We must return to Weisshaupt and warn the Commander."

When the genlock fell to Sul's spell, Ulrin turned his head ready to give the female elf a friendly nod, probably the first genuine one he'd give since they met. However, he instead saw her falling clutching at the arrow in her gut, and he was finally able to loosen his jaw.


Diocles slung his bow over his back without a glance back at the darkspawn-He could sense the life leave them. Not wasting time, he rushed to 'the elf's' side, examining her wound. The arrows fletchings were made of uneven feathers, so it would have went in with no spin-That was good, atleast. He was more accustomed to creating arrow wounds than healing them-But..

"Constable! Can you make her blood clot as I pull this loose?"

Thaedrin only looked at the archer bitterly, "Are you saying you trust me to do so, Komnenos?"

Diocles looked up at Thaedrin, his eyes narrowing, his bow fingers tensing in the air. Perhaps not all his battle furor had left him, and he spoke through closed teeth.

"I trust you to act in the best interest of all wardens."

The unspoken threat hung in the air.

She tried to bring herself to her feet again, but each time she made the attempt her middle ached. She could not muster the strength on her own. The only bright side to it all was that she was still breathing, though it seemed like that brightness was dimming or was it just that her eyes were fluttering shut.

The small elf looked forward to her fellow Wardens, "...Help...please..."

Ulrin came to kneel beside her with Dicoles. When she tried to stir he pushed her back down. "Do not move. Just lay there..." He didn't want to promise her help from the humans. He was sure it would not come, no matter what Diocles said.

For a moment, as he advanced with careful steps toward the archer, it seemed as though his raised hand might be used to suck the life right out of him. Instead, he stood at the elven woman's side and nodded, her blood beading from the cloth of her uniform and hovering strangely in the air.

"Pull it out."

Diocles nodded at his reluctant comrade, his expression calming. He took the arrow carefully in hand, and shifted it while it was still penetrating her. He'd do less damage if he took it out at the same angle it went in. Once he was confident he had it just right, he pulled it straight out with a look of grim determination.

"You're fine, it's a fleshwound. You're a warden now. We don't die so easy."

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