Journey of the Accursed: A Dark Souls RP (closed, PM if interested)

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The clerics spoke little as they escorted the collected undead to the border, led by a knight of Astora and a paladin of Thorolund. The paladin and knights expressions were impossible to read beneath their helmets but the clerics kept a suspicious watch over their charges, occasionally muttering a prayer to Allfather Lloyd and checking that they still held their talismans close. Ahead of the group the border loomed.

The hills gave way to a flat grassland, burned and choked by a smokey haze and in the dark haze figures could occasionally be seen moving, some human in appearance many not. The road, which had decayed into disrepair the closer they got to the border, was a broken path through the haze and by some good fortune remained somewhat clear of the sickly looking smoke. The Evil Eye had laid waste to this land before it had been felled and many undead had been slain and rendered hollow in its wake, wildfires had been used to drive back the hollows and the foul beasts that had arisen in the desolate land and in this place at least they had served their purpose admirably, and had left a suffocating barrier of smoke and still burning embers to drive off whatever remained. A small bonfire sat burning alongside the road just outside of the haze, it had seen the coming of many groups such as this but never a safe return.

The knight signaled to the others and they halted, their horses moving to stand behind the motley collection of undead. The eldest of the clerics moved forward and spoke.

"We have reached the border, the object of your quest must surely lie within, you must not return without it," he said, the paladin placed a hand on his sword as a reminder of what awaited them should they return empty handed.

The knight stepped forward and spoke calmly "The records of Astora show that there is a keep ahead which was once a storehouse of knowledge, it would be wise to begin your search there, simply follow the road and you should arrive at the township surrounding it, with luck the sacred rite will be there."

The eldest cleric nodded and spoke solemnly "We will rest here at the bonfire for a time before departing, may Gwyn and the Allfather watch over you on this journey, Vereor Nox."

The others all echoed him reverently "Vereor Nox."

"Easy Sue. Eeeeasy girl." Travis cooed to his horse, reassuringly stroking her mane. The haze left them both unsettled, Sue due to her instincts, and Travis due to the fact that he knew what lay within. Growing up as an Astorian he had heard all the tales of the Great Beast, or The Evil Eye, and it's assault on his homeland. The terror's it wrought were said to be unimaginable, and the effort and resources that had been needed to fell the Beast unfathomable. Now this once idyllic landscape was a cursed land, where only those who were cursed themselves belonged.

He met the gaze of the knight of Astora that had helped escort their party here. Sir Allistar, another of the King's Knights had been a close friend of Travis and had volunteered himself for the unsavory task of escorting his group of undead to see him off. Unconsciously Travis reached for the pouch above his heart, comforted by it's presence. Seeing this, the other knight nodded, and Travis nodded in return. There was no need for words. It was a somber enough farewell as it was.

Dismounting, Travis checked his gear assuring it had fared well on the journey. Satisfied, he made his way over to the bonfire and stretched his muscles tired from hours of riding before sitting on the ground and removing his helmet, eager to take advantage of a final moment of respite before setting on his... he looked around at the other undead for a moment, no, their quest.

-Isis-

Traveling with others, particularly foreign knights and priests, was a vaguely uncomfortable experience, but Isis ignored the discomfort as she held her mothers Ivory Talisman in her left hand, while her right rested on the pommel of her parrying dagger. As she glanced around, all she could see was the shattered remains of a road, and rather barren flatland.

In truth, she hadn't heard much about the Evil Eye, though she knew of its existence. But what exactly it had done to Astora, however, was a mystery to her, though since she had a feeling that the Evil Eye was the very reason why they were traveling through blighted wastes instead of proper grassland.

Regardless, it wasn't the gaze of the Evil Eye that she was concerned about, so much as the gazes of the Thorolund Priests that carried suspicion towards them. But, she could hardly blame them. They were Undead, so they were, at best, unlikely allies.

After a few more minutes of traveling, the group stopped right at the border, with the mounted priests and knights, save one, keeping behind the group of Undead. Then, one of the Knights spoke, keeping a meaningful hand on his sword.

"We have reached the border, the object of your quest must surely lie within, you must not return without it. The records of Astora show that there is a keep ahead which was once a storehouse of knowledge, it would be wise to begin your search there, simply follow the road and you should arrive at the township surrounding it, with luck the sacred rite will be there.".

Then a Priest.

"We will rest here at the bonfire for a time before departing, may Gwyn and the Allfather watch over you on this journey, Vereor Nox.".

Isis bowed low, clasping her hands around her talisman as a sign of both respect, and prayer. "Vereor Nox. May Lord Gwyn grant us success, and you a safe journey home.", she said, smiling warmly at them as she straightened.

And, with a small nod, turned to the bonfire and sat.

Avina breathed deep, allowing the smell of the smoke and ember's. She could tell the others felt uneasy because of it. It only reminded her of home. She took one last look at the dull and stuffy clerics as she moved towards the bonfire. Yes, yes Berinor nos and all that annoyance. She thought with a roll of her eyes as she un-hooked her sword from her waist and sat at the bonfire. She opned her hand and looked at the tiny ember she held within. Such a small thing yet if she allowed. and she would at somepoint she knew, it would become something deadly. Something The Hollowed undead feared. She smiled and offered a silent prayer. Dear Mother Izaleth, guide my ember as we traverse the dark. Let my flame stay strong and defend against those who would wish to extinguish it. Let the demons who stand in my way be turned to ash under it's power. Finishing ehr prayer she looked to the rest of her companions, studying them, as she played with the ember in her hand, making it float in small circles.

Looking around at the bleak and desolate landscape, Caelius felt a chill run down his spine. No longer was he within relatively safe lands, with merely a short journey between him and his beloved church. These lands, he could tell, were forsaken.

"We have reached the border, the object of your quest must surely lie within, you must not return without it."

Shaking off the gloom which pressed on his mind, he turned to the paladin of Thorolund. "Worry not, for I shall return with the Rite of Kindling, so that the Way of White may become stronger than it is even now." As he spoke the words, he himself felt reassured about his mission. Indeed, he would succeed where countless undead had failed; he would be the servant of Gwyn who would recover the art of kindling, that the flames might once again burn brightly. Once this was done, his church would surely welcome him back with open arms, undead or not.

Again, Caelius surveyed his surroundings, but instead of despair, he felt hope. This cursed place would be his proving ground, and would provide the catalyst for his greatest accomplishment. Saying a quick prayer to Gwyn and Allfather Lloyd, he knelt by the bonfire to rest. The followers of the light were counting on him to carry out this quest, and he was confident that he would emerge victorious.

Rang was getting unsettled by the area they were in. He had traveled a lot, but never seen a place that was quite as abandoned and destroyed as this. It made him think of the journey that awaited, it would be a difficult and unpleasant one. However, there was the hope of getting his humanity back, and that gave him courage.

"We have reached the border, the object of your quest must surely lie within, you must not return without it."

As grim as it sounded, Rang understood the need for such words. It was far from comforting, but he had already acknowledged what would happen if he didn't become a human again. Even if it didn't happen soon, eventually it would happen, should they not be successful. A dreadful thought.

"The records of Astora show that there is a keep ahead which was once a storehouse of knowledge, it would be wise to begin your search there, simply follow the road and you should arrive at the township surrounding it, with luck the sacred rite will be there."

He hoped they spoke the truth, but as far as he knew, no one had ever returned from such a quest. Had they not be told the same? Rang told himself that it wasn't like that, that they would be the first ones to find the rite.

"We will rest here at the bonfire for a time before departing, may Gwyn and the Allfather watch over you on this journey, Vereor Nox."

"Vereor Nox."

That was rather unsettling, he had no idea what the last two words meant, but the way they said them sounded like a warning. He glanced over at the other people there, as he sat down, carefully. Rang didn't speak, his presence was probably enough to already make them dislike him, and he didn't want to be hated. They seemed to prepare themselves for the quest, some even prayed. He had never grown up with a faith, due to his parents telling him to never be tied to anything outside family bond. All he could do was to remember his parents and his younger sister, and hope to one day return to them.

Do these people also want to return to their families?

He didn't know, and he dared not to ask. In the light of the bonfire, they looked more intimidating then they had before. Rang found himself lacking the courage to even say hello. He would have to say something, eventually, but that could wait. Of course it could, he always thought that.

Perhaps if one of them says hello first...

Another excuse. He looked at the bonfire, and decided to just stare into the flames, clutching his knees as he curled up to make sure he wasn't in anyone's way. It was best like this, he had nothing of real value to say, nothing that could help the others.

"Worry not, for I shall return with the Rite of Kindling, so that the Way of White may become stronger than it is even now."

A slight smile found it's place on Travis' face as the Cleric made his claim. At least someone was positive about their mission. As Travis studied the cleric's face he found that the man seemed to genuinely believe his own claim as well. Good. Travis felt they would need all the faith, hope, and drive they could muster between them all. Countless undead had already been sent on this same mission from this very same spot and failed to return. The Way of White's track record was working against them in this endeavor. Still, despite the negative precedent, Travis also believed they could reach their goal. He couldn't afford not to, if not for his sake, then for their's.

His attention then turned to the women who had also taken places by the fire. The first was lithe and thin and though her armor and adornments were foreign to him he recognized her weapons as matching the preferred fighting style of the Knights of Carim. A fighting style he found little care for. Travis fought in battles, not duels, and the shield-less duel-wielding style of Carim brought little to the table in terms of fighting in formation with brothers at your side. The other woman he guessed was a pyromancer by the way she admired the flame and her raggedy adornment seemed to match the description of the pyromancers of the great swamps he had heard tales of. Travis hadn't really dealt with many pryomancers as they were treated with almost as much disdain as the undead. To him though the fire users were much akin to the more socially accepted sorcerers who had proven their worth on the battlefield. Asides from that this girl looked much more fit and muscular and Travis couldn't help but admire her choice of armament.

Then Travis noticed an odd, almost sickly looking man curled up to himself away from the others.

Poor lad. Likely having a nervous breakdown from everything that's going on.

Travis had seen similar behavior from a number of soldiers while on campaign. They would isolate themselves, too afraid or embarrassed to seek comfort in the company of others. If there's one thing Travis learned in his time in service to his Kingdom, it was that you meet all sorts in the military and some needed a little help integrating into the unit and lifestyle. While this certainly wasn't a unit they would likely be working together and Travis couldn't help but feel somewhat responsible for the well being of these people.

"Hey you there!" Travis called out to the lonely man. Getting his attention, he waved him over, "Yes, you. Come, take a seat by the fire. It'll do well to warm your spirit and body for what's ahead." Anticipating his acceptance of the invitation, Travis held out his hand, and smiled, "I am Sir MacWilliam of Astora, though that title seems to hold little meaning to me now. You may simply call me Travis."

"Hey you there!"

Rang looked around, slightly. It wasn't him, right? Of course not, yet he glanced over towards where the voice came from. It was a man who didn't look as frightening as some of the others. The man then waved at him, trying to get his attention.

"Yes, you. Come, take a seat by the fire. It'll do well to warm your spirit and body for what's ahead."

Rang froze completely. Did he want him to come closer? But he would just be in someone's way. However, if someone had told him to come over, he supposed he couldn't ignore them either. He stood up, slowly, and walked over, making sure he walked at least a meter from the rest as he passed them. The other held his hand out, waiting for Rang to take it. He didn't think that had ever happened to him.

"I am Sir MacWilliam of Astora, though that title seems to hold little meaning to me now. You may simply call me Travis."

Rang looked at the hand a short moment, before carefully taking it, trying to hide his limbs shaking, however, he couldn't really stop it. This was scary, what if he did something wrong? He was doing something wrong, wasn't he?

I should just introduce myself.

"R-r-r-ra-ang," he muttered, looking away. Rang made himself smaller. "N-n-nice to.... meet you." He was probably annoying the other already, and pulled away. Rang then sat down, closer to the fire.

-Isis-

Isis looked up from the bonfire to see the Knight of Astora that had accompanied the other Undead beckon one of the others to properly join the group, and her smile widened just a little underneath her porcelain headpiece, and she watched as the rather sickly looking man stood and slowly came over. She noticed that he carried what appeared to be a sorcery catalyst, in the form of some kind of staff. Then she looked over at the Knight as he introduced himself.

"I am Sir MacWilliam of Astora, though that title seems to hold little meaning to me now. You may simply call me Travis.".

The sorcerer looked utterly terrified, and stuttered when he finally replied.

"R-r-r-ra-ang. N-n-nice to.... meet you.".

When he sat, Isis promptly held out her own hand for him to shake. "Rang? My name is Isis, of Carim. It's a pleasure.", she said, before trying for a more reassuring smile.

"And don't be nervous, we're going to have to work together to get the Rite. We're comrades now.", she said.

Then, she glanced over to Sir MacWilliam, and then the Cleric and nodded to both. "It's good to know that at least most of us will be adherents of Lord Gwyn. There aren't many followers of The Way of White in my homeland.", she added.

"R-r-r-ra-ang. N-n-nice to.... meet you."

Oh dear. This is more than just the jitters. He seems quite terrified of people. Still, he mustered the courage to shake my hand. I just hope he can muster the courage to face hollows and whatever foul demons await us.

Travis released the trembling hand as the self-identified Isis introduced herself.

"And don't be nervous, we're going to have to work together to get the Rite. We're comrades now."

Travis felt reassured by the Carimian's statement. She seemed to be a willing team player, an improvement over many of her countrymen in his eyes. He was then surprised to hear her exclaim that she followed the way of the white.

I suppose at least some in Carim have sense.

Travis then resumed relaxing by the fire as he waited for the others to introduce themselves.

Caelius watched as the undead around the bonfire began to introduce themselves, and waited for a moment of silence so he could do the same. When the opportunity came, he finally spoke to the group of people who were to be his allies on this mission.

"I am Caelius of Thorolund," he declared. "Cleric of the Way of White, and protector of the faith." He was positively brimming with pride as he spoke, clearly thrilled to bear such a title, whether or not it was strictly official. "I am here to ensure the success of this venture, and to retrieve the Rite of Kindling."

He turned his gaze to the timid, sickly fellow who seemed to have rather quickly become the center of attention. "Do not fear what lies ahead of us, my good man, for it will prove no match against the will of the gods." Smiling, he patted the mace that hung at his side.

"Do not fear what lies ahead of us, my good man, for it will prove no match against the will of the gods."

Avina giggled then, a childish one as she looked up from the bonfire. "And whatever does I can turn to ash!" She with a smile to the group. She inclined her head pulling back her ragged hood. "Avina of the Great Swamp. Or Swamp Dweller, Swamp Rat, Fire Bug, which ever your home preferred to call my kind. Izaleth knows I've heard them all." She said not moving from her place on the ground. "Not that I ever payed those who called me those much mind. The Swamp had a way of taking care of those who refused help crossing her." Her eyes shifted between the sickly Wizard and the cleric. "Such as those from Vinheim or Thorolund." She said her smile never fading.

As soon as Rang had sat down, someone else held their hand out. It was a woman with light colored skin and hair. Rang looked around to make sure it was to him, before taking it and shaking it, quickly.

"Rang? My name is Isis, of Carim. It's a pleasure."

"H-hello."

"And don't be nervous, we're going to have to work together to get the Rite. We're comrades now."

He nodded, slowly. "Y-yes." She seemed nice, just like Travis had. However, why did she bother with saying hello to him?

Am I acting off? Perhaps my behavior is making them nervous as well?

"I-i'm s-sorry." He kept looking away. Apart from the ones where he sat, there was a couple of people, and he shrank a bit more, shaking more violently. It wasn't that he thought that they were bad people, but he couldn't help it. People terrified him, and now he was being a problem. Two of the others spoke.

"Do not fear what lies ahead of us, my good man, for it will prove no match against the will of the gods."

"And whatever does I can turn to ash!"

"I---" he thought about what to say. He had to tell them he weren't scared of the journey, else they would want to leave him behind.

"I-I won't b-b... be in the... way," he told them. He looked at them slightly, a red-haired woman and someone in a huge armor, like the clerics who had accompanied them. However, Rang was careful not to let his eyes linger, and looked away soon enough. He felt like it was too crowded there, but he didn't say anything about it, he was already being too much of a nuisance. The woman he assumed was a pyromancer spoke.

"Avina of the Great Swamp. Or Swamp Dweller, Swamp Rat, Fire Bug, which ever your home preferred to call my kind. Izaleth knows I've heard them all. Not that I ever payed those who called me those much mind. The Swamp had a way of taking care of those who refused help crossing her."

She seemed to look at Rang for a short moment as she spoke. He made sure to look even more away.

"Such as those from Vinheim or Thorolund."

The Great Swamp.

He had heard of it, but never been there. Rang couldn't find the words to say, so he kept quiet. It seemed that they got more worried if he spoke than if not, so keeping his mouth shut was probably best.

The clerics of the group stood a fair distance back from the undead, their backs to them as if they were trying to pretend they did not exist. Sir Allistar stood apart from the clerics and the paladin, keeping a watchful eye on the border and keeping the undead in the edge of his gaze, there was a sorrowful air about him seeing Travis sent out on a seemingly hopeless endeavor but he was determined to stay at least long enough to watch his old friend depart. The paladin stood with the clerics though his gaze remained vigilantly on the assorted undead, his fingers drummed against the hilt of his blade impatiently.

Clearing his throat the paladin moved forward towards the undead, "Your quest awaits you down the road, not sitting at the fire," he said, his grip tightening on his blade and his voice carrying the edge of a threat.

Sir Allistar began to move towards the paladin with a start but the paladin simply raised a hand as a silent command, and the knight halted. The paladin waited a moment then spoke again, "The clear path through the smoke will not last forever, I've seen groups less fortunate than yours have to set forth stumbling in the haze, you would be wise to take advantage of it while you still can."

From the baneful smoke the rogue knight Dagonet revealed himself as if an apparition, moving slowly, methodically through the smoke and mist of Astora that robbed Dagonet of his warmth, breaths of cold air visibly rising from the slits in his helm as his hulking mace rested neatly across his shoulder griped firmly in his steeled hands. Navigating across the broken track and dead grass, heading towards the bonfire, Dagonet could see men and horse gathered around the soothing heat of the bonfire ahead, could hear greetings, pleasantries and vapid reassurances.

The rogue knight quickly picked out the clerics and knights of Astora, even from this distance dagonet could sense their visible unease due to their current charges, and beyond them, among the nurturing flames, huddled the shapes of the cursed undead the fool clerics were shepherding. As Dagonet came within spitting distance of the assembled party a sharp voice rang out.

"Your quest awaits you down the road, not sitting at the fire,"

Dagonet vaguely recalled the owner of voice, some upstart in the Way of White, though the name escaped him, what drew his attention first and foremost was the paladins fighting arm, clasped tightly around the grip of his sword, as if attempt was being made to wear out the hilt itself.

Dagonet made a sharp bark of laughter more alike to a heavy cough than a fit of amusement, and stood at the trail, leading towards Astora proper.

"The clear path through the smoke will not last forever, I've seen groups less fortunate than yours have to set forth stumbling in the haze, you would be wise to take advantage of it while you still can."

Travis sighed as the impatient paladin pressured the group to move on. They had been traveling for hours and only just sat to rest a couple of minutes ago. It wasn't smart to go into a fight already fatigued but it was clear the paladin was being quite insistent. Travis had just replaced his helm upon his head and stood back up when a thing gave out a laugh behind the entire party. The divine blade Travis carried was out in a flash as his eyes caught sight of a dark towering beast of twisted, knotted metal. The brave knight had charged vast armies even to his death without a second thought, but the sight of the man, or at least it seemed to be a man, had even made Travis think twice.

Is it a hollow? Do hollows laugh? Was that even a laugh? If it was hollow shouldn't it have attacked by now?

"Who are you?" Travis asked the man, his free hand grabbing the shield from his back. "Why have you come here?"

-Isis-

It wasn't long after she spoke that the Cleric that accompanied them finally introduced himself.

"I am Caelius of Thorolund. Cleric of the Way of White, and protector of the faith. I am here to ensure the success of this venture, and to retrieve the Rite of Kindling. Do not fear what lies ahead of us, my good man, for it will prove no match against the will of the gods.".

Isis couldn't help but break out into a grin. "That's right. Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight will watch over us as we search for the Rite, and I have faith that even the Darksign will prove to be a blessing in disguise. For us, even death is just another obstacle to be overcome.", she told them confidently.

"And whatever does I can turn to ash!".

At that, Isis turned to the robed woman, who promptly pulled back her hood and smiled, though she wasn't sure it was entirely friendly.

"Avina of the Great Swamp. Or Swamp Dweller, Swamp Rat, Fire Bug, which ever your home preferred to call my kind. Izaleth knows I've heard them all. Not that I ever payed those who called me those much mind. The Swamp had a way of taking care of those who refused help crossing her. Such as those from Vinheim or Thorolund.".

Shaking her head, she kept silent and simply gave Avina a mild stare. There was no point, and no gain, in making enemies with one another, since they not only needed to work together, but the Clerics and Knights that brought them there were still nearby. And one of them, a paladin, seemed particularly testy, judging by the way he was tapping the hilt of his sword.

"Your quest awaits you down the road, not sitting at the fire.".

With a small sigh, she stood as he started to walk away, only for him to pause as one of the Knights approached him. Without a word between them, the paladin addressed them again.

"The clear path through the smoke will not last forever, I've seen groups less fortunate than yours have to set forth stumbling in the haze, you would be wise to take advantage of it while you still can.".

What was either a bark of laughter or a coughing fit ended up making her whirl around to face the trail towards Astora, hands on both of her weapons hilts, and a slight smile back on her face. The man she faced was massive, in thick, battered armor that was crudely cared for. And he carried a twisted iron weapon that may have once resembled a mace.

"And who might this be?", she asked pleasantly, drawing her dagger and Estoc.

Dagonet studied the aghast noble knight as he drew his sword in a single smooth motion, an impressive sight to say the least, such speed being almost alien to the rogue knight lumbering slowness. Indeed, it made the paladin to the knight's side look quite the fool, the honorable warrior of the white, had yet to to fumble the sword he clasped so tightly from its sheathe.

who are you?, Why have you come here?

The knight spoke from within his helm, it was a strong, unflinching voice. If this was the quality of the warriors accompanying Dagonet into the heart of Astora it boded well for the quests good fortune.

Before Dagonet could acknowledge the knight's questions the sound of blades being unsheathed once more rang out, behind the knight. The source of the blades was a unusual one, clad in thin, decorative armor he had never witnessed before in his years of travelling and wielding both a long rapier like weapon and a small dagger stood the physique of.. perhaps a young boy?. His eye's snapped to the talisman at the figures side, another young cleric then he thought with irritation, but Dagonet has come to terms with the face that he would have to travel in a party of sheep.

Then the voice came forth from the strange porcelain helm And who might this be?, the cordial and pleasing tone almost took him aback, it was a soft voice, a woman then..or perhaps a most feminine boy?

He turned towards the knight that had asked the initial questions

"stay your blade knight" came the craggy voice from the black helm. "Our goals our aligned, I too assist the White with their endeavors, to which the paladin can attest" Jabbing a steeled thumb in the direction of paladin in emphasis.

Dagonet spoke again, this time speaking to no one in particular. "I have been waiting well-nigh a week for your arrival in this place, my name is Ulrich Dragonet".

The black knight turned to point down the road.

"The paladin speaks the truth of it, the mist is a deceitful creature and the land beyond the track is most treacherous, if you wish to make it into the heart of Astora without a broken neck or worse we should press advantage of good fortune and set upon the open path".

"Our goals our aligned, I too assist the White with their endeavors, to which the paladin can attest"

The paladin nodded "I had heard you would be waiting for us, you took so long to appear though I had begun to wonder if you had hollowed."

He seemed unimpressed by Ulrich, though his grip never loosened from his blade and his expression was unreadable beneath his helmet. A light breeze began to blow across the plains and lingering traces of the smoke drifted into the road.

"The paladin speaks the truth of it, the mist is a deceitful creature and the land beyond the track is most treacherous, if you wish to make it into the heart of Astora without a broken neck or worse we should press advantage of good fortune and set upon the open path".

"I have heard that it is even poisonous in some spots," the paladin said almost cheerfully, one got the feeling that he was grinning underneath his helmet "If is gets thick enough it will choke you if nothing else, its not air after all."

"I have heard that it is even poisonous in some spots. If it gets thick enough it will choke you if nothing else, its not air after all."

"Then I supposed it's time to head out then." Travis sheathed his sword and stared down the man in the dark armor as he made his way over to his horse. He didn't like the looks of the man, and something about his countenance unnerved him. Still he was a impressive sight and Travis had little doubt he would be a considerable force in battle. Travis then shifted his gaze out into the haze, then to the halberd secured to the saddle. He had used a halberd as an improvised lance before, but even from horseback the smoke wouldn't allow him to see them from far enough away to make good enough speed for a worthwhile charge. Best to stick to shield and blade to better defend himself from any sudden attacks from the flanks. The mobility of being on horseback would allow him to quickly come to the aid of one of the other party members or make distance between him and a threat should he need it.

After pulling himself up on to Sue and placing his plated boots in the stirrups he once again drew his sword in preparation to move on.

"I have heard that it is even poisonous in some spots. If it gets thick enough it will choke you if nothing else, its not air after all."

Caelius had been unfazed by the giant man who had just approached, but he didn't like the sound of this. Poison wasn't something he could fight, and that almost made him nervous. He glanced around at the others, then at the path through the mist. Finally, he got to his feet and joined the rest who had begun to gather on the path.

"Let us be off, then. I will not be thwarted by some blasted fog."

-Isis-

Isis didn't relax as the black knight spoke, and in fact, his voice only put her more on edge, though her face certainly didn't show it.

"Stay your blade knight. Our goals our aligned, I too assist the White with their endeavors, to which the paladin can attest. I have been waiting well-nigh a week for your arrival in this place, my name is Ulrich Dagonet.".

The Paladin himself nodded, though he kept his hand on his sword-hilt.

"I had heard you would be waiting for us, you took so long to appear though I had begun to wonder if you had hollowed.".

At that, Isis slowly straightened. But, by no means did she sheathe her swords. She kept her guard up, since even though this Ulrich was an ally, he still rubbed her wrong, somehow. But she couldn't be sure why that was. As both Ulrich and the Paladin spoke of the mist, they mentioned that it had the added danger of patches where it was poisonous.

She took the time then to sheathe her weapons, though only to check her pack. She only had a few Purple Moss Clumps left, and not enough to go around for even one each.

"Well, I have some remedies for poison, but not much I'm afraid. It's best we avoid poison as best we can, and save the moss I have for when times are dire.", she told the others, before stuffing them back into her pack, and starting to follow Travis as he mounted his horse.

Another person appeared, a large, frightening looking man. He scared Rang, a lot, and the young man turned his head, not listening to the conversation the others had with the newcomer, so that he didn't seem rude or even just curious. From before, he had heard the people who had led them here telling them that they should leave, and someone mentioned something about the smoke around being poisonous.

It really was time to leave. With a light motion, Rang went to his feet, and started following those who had started walking, clenching his staff in his hand. It was more for the purpose of giving himself courage to join these people, than courage for the trip itself.

While he walked, he kept his eyes away from the others, scanning the surrounding area for any sort of difficulty that might appear. It was important to know what the road looked like, and to take note of anything that seemed off or problematic.

Avina turned her gaze to the new speaker and her eyes widened. This man was huge! And such strength to even be able to walk in such armor. This man was a sight indeed, and Avina wanted to know more. But there was a time and place for questions. Sadly now was not time. She cast one lost look into the bonfire before sighing and standing up, pulling her hood back over her face. It would protect her somewhat from the poisons in the mist. She pulled her shield from her back and strapped her blade to her waist once more. She left her blade in it's scabbard however instead clenching her right hand around the small ember feeding a tiny amount of her spirit into it, enough to make her hand glow. She joined the others as they began to walk the path, glancing towards the mist and scanning for any signs of danger.

The path remained thankfully clear of smoke ahead of them as they walked, though on either side it clouded their vision of the burned plains. All around them strange noises could be heard through the mist, and occasionally shapes could be seen moving. Some stood recognizably as hollows staggering through the smog, others crept low to the ground moving quickly through whatever remained of the grasses and shrubs of the plain. The path itself was in disrepair but navigable, and led invariably forward with only a rare curve to it. Soon enough the top of the keep could be seen emerging in the distance over the haze, a proud grey stone fortress that had weathered the years unchanged.

A stiff breeze blew through the air, and ahead the smog was pushed thickly into the path enriched by dying embers in the grass kindled by the passing air. As if in reaction to this a low intense buzzing could be heard from the ground to the left of the path, and at a close glance it would seem the ground was beginning to writhe. Ahead could be heard a high pitched warbling cry, like the cry of some large bird or other beast.

"Halt!" Caelius shouted to the rest of the brigade, raising his shield and readying his mace. He stared at the newly formed fog wall ahead of him, but couldn't make out the source of the noise emanating from within it. "Spread out and prepare to fight, don't stray into the fog," he barked, only hoping that the others would listen.

He had positioned himself near the front of the group, but shied away from the left side of the path when he heard the buzzing. His eyes darted between the movement to his left and the fog directly ahead of him, and he quietly murmured a prayer as he waited for an attack.

"Halt! Spread out and prepare to fight, don't stray into the fog."

Sound advice. Thought Travis to himself as Sue let out a whiny and reared slightly at the disturbances up front.

"Rang, stay behind Caelius! Use him as your shield and be ready with your sorceries!" Travis positioned himself to the left of Rang to guard his left flank from the suspicious ground but behind any others who would stand up front. Giving himself a tactical view from horseback he was able to keep track of the group's positioning and what lay in front of them unobscured. He quickly assessed the situation and came to the conclusion that the current situation was unacceptable. An unknown threat lay before obscured by a potentially deadly fog and their only flanking route was occupied by some thing in the grass. As it was they were on the defensive, merely waiting for their enemy to attack and seize the initiative. Travis wanted to attack. Travis wanted the initiative.

A smile cracked Travis' lips, "Avina, I don't much like the look of that ground to the left. I think the view would be much improved if it were on fire. Don't you agree?"

Thank the Gods for blessing me with a pyromancer on this quest. She provides a whole new range of tactical options I've never had in the wars. Shame really, the stigma against her kind.

"Everyone be ready. I think we're about to start something."

-Isis-

Isis kept at Travis' side, her eyes scanning the landscape like a hawk as she followed. She could see some vague forms in the mist, some who she could pick out as Hollows, shambling aimlessly, while the others were alien to her. The noises, on the other hand, were completely foreign to her, and made her feel like, maybe, something was out there, stalking them.

She remained on edge until a gust of wind blew the thick fog onto their path, and immediately, a low buzz could be heard in the air around them. The ground looked like it was starting to come alive, while a loud, high pitched call came from ahead of them.

"Halt! Spread out and prepare to fight, don't stray into the fog.".

Nodding, she started to move away from Travis, drawing her weapons and wishing that the fog wasn't in her way. She would much rather pull back and draw her longbow, and support the group from long range. But, that simply wasn't possible if she couldn't see what she needed to fight.

Travis, not one to waste initiative, started barking out sound orders, and Isis had to admire that, even as her eyes darted this way and that, hoping to see some kind of target to run through with her Estoc.

"Everyone be ready. I think we're about to start something.".

Avina brought her shield up to her chest turning to cover the left hand side of the path. She heard the buzz, but did not reconize it, smae with the shapes other than the Hollows in the fog. Then she heard something she liked very much.

"Avina, I don't much like the look of that ground to the left. I think the view would be much improved if it were on fire. Don't you agree?"

Someone else besides the others of the Swamp asking for the gift of flame? She didn't know weather to be annoyed of these outlanders or to hug them. She setteled for a laugh. "Gladly!" She said lowering her shield and widening her stance. she opened her palm, focusing on the ember in her hand until it grew into a fire ball the size of a child's head. She giggled as it grew, and laughed again as she threw it into the fog, turning the dry grass into a beacon.

Rogue knight Dagonet stood among the group as the shrieks and howls from beyond the haze grew and intensified and members of the party began to bring attention to their stalking foes in the mist as the knight he had spoken to earlier began to take charge with a certain flair and moxie. Dagonet wasn't wrong in his assumptions, that knight was of fine stock.

"Avina, I don't much like the look of that ground to the left. I think the view would be much improved if it were on fire. Don't you agree?"

"Glady! Came the response from the one named "Avina", a tattered individual Dagonet had only glanced at briefly. As she wielded her pyromancy within her hand, she began to giggle and laugh as she stared into the ever growing ember flames. savages was all Dagonet could think as he watched the woman lose herself within the flames in a fit of almost maniacal enjoyment before tossing the orb wrapped flame into the fog.

The young flames black smoke billowed from the grassland as it mixed in with the white smoked haze as if the old fog was trying to devour the upstart flame. It was almost poetic to behold as Dargonet watched the orb try desperately to light up the area surrounding it, the light dancing upon Dagonet's black armor.

"The land we stand upon is disadvantageous, attempt should be made for the fortress" He motioned to the party.

"Spread out and prepare to fight, don't stray into the fog,"

The man named Caelius said, and Rang looked around, unsure of how to act. He had never fought with several people before, so he hoped he wouldn't be in the way.

"Rang, stay behind Caelius! Use him as your shield and be ready with your sorceries!"

"O-okay," Rang said, and positioned himself where he had been told to. He wondered if he should tell them that he was capable of fighting as well, although with dodging and a quarterstaff, rather than using a good armor, but he decided that doing so would just bother them. He started scanning the area around them for any sort of creature or enemy, if he saw one, he would act immediately. How he would act would depend on how close it got, within hitting distance, he would use the staff itself, unless that was a bother to someone else. If not, he would use the only offensive spell he knew, homing soul mass.

As the flames struck the buzzing was momentarily silent, then intensified as a swarm of monstrous wasp-like insects burst from the ground. Their numbers were thinned by the explosive blast of fire and they seemed dizzied by the eruption of thick black smoke that followed it, but they were not eliminated and began, almost lazily at first but gaining speed as they exited the smoke, to move towards Avina as a group. Each of them was at least a foot in length covered with a black chitinous exoskeleton and armed with fearsome mandibles and an over-sized stinger.

Not to be outdone but as if in response to the newly intensified buzzing the screeching from the other side grew louder and closer, and its origin became clear as a pack of lizard-like creatures burst through the haze. They ran on their hind legs and were each the size of a large dog, their grey-black scales stained by fire and smog and their long claws extended to grab and slash what they could reach. Their mouths were open revealing row after row of pointed teeth. They were eight in number when they first struck.

One of them lept at Isis and was quickly run through the mouth by her Estoc, it trashed violently before expiring but its claws could hardly reach her armor and did little damage to it. Caelius managed to fend off another, deflecting its attack with his shield and beating it back with his mace, but not killing it. However if did not fair as well against Rang's casting of sorcery, the light blue mass of energy flew past Caelius and struck the thing dead sending its corpse rolling for another few feet.

Another two circled Ulrich, looking for a break in his armor or to get behind him while the other distracted him, one began rushing towards Avina to strike while her back was turned, another pair circled Travis and Sue looking for an opening to attack them but wary of the horses size, the final one halted its rush before Isis on seeing its compatriot run through, it hissed at her and began circling as well, its tongue moving quickly and hungrily about its mouth.

"Gladly!"
The pyromancer performed as requested, though Travis found her maniacal laughter somewhat unsettling. Ah, so maybe that's why her kind are treated as such if they all share her same... enthusiasm. Still, he couldn't argue with the results as the blast stirred up and burned down several large wasp like creatures.

"The land we stand upon is disadvantageous, attempt should be made for the fortress"

"Agreed. Though I think we're going to have to fight our way through!" Responded Travis as screaming through the fog came not one large beast as Travis had suspected, but several smaller creatures.

Travis took in the sight of the monsters assaulting the group. The lizards, while foreign and somewhat intimidating reminded him of wolves, using the their agility and the strength of the pack to flank. Two of the beasts were quickly dispatched though and seemed like they were a manageable threat when taken head on. The wasps were somewhat concerning, but they seemed quite averse to Avina's flame, and the more they grouped up the more effective her fire blasts would be. Her flank was threatened though, and if she continued to focus on the wasps, the lizard would likely pounce and maul her.

Their initial spread out formation was now a liability, allowing the lizards to circle them individually. Travis eyed the 2 that had singled him out, waiting for the right moment. As one of the lizards circling him occupied the space between him and Avina's flanking threat he kicked Sue's side spurring her into a charge. While the creatures were foreign to Sue, battle was not and she was calm and responsive to her master's commands. Travis stood in his stirrups for greater leverage and flexibility to aid in his strike as he readied his blade. He stayed his hand as he approached the first lizard, hoping it would either get confused and trampled under Sue's charge or that it would be unnerved and dodge out of the way, but keeping his shield ready to bash it away should it choose to leap up and attack. Now he approached his intended target. The creature that threatened Avina's flank. The beast was focused on it's current quarry and hopefully wouldn't notice Travis as he slashed out with his divine blade packing the added momentum of man and horse in an attempt to cleave the monster.

"Rally around Avina! They mean to take us down one by one! Get back to back and force them to take us head on! Avina, continue to burn down those wasps!"

-Isis-

Isis didn't have much time to really react as Avina's orb of fire turned the writhing ground ahead of them into a small inferno, only to cause a swarm of what looked liked monstrous wasps to burst out from what patches were free of flames. They were larger than any insects she had ever seen, and their stingers looked deadly enough even without the threat of venom.

Shortly after, a small pack of dog-lizards tore through the fog towards them, eight in all, and each with long claws and razor sharp teeth. And one headed straight for her. She pushed Avina's predicament to the back of her mind as she focused on her own enemies. As the first dog-lizard leaped for her, she quickly brought her Estoc to bear, and managed to plunge its fine point straight through the back of the beasts head. It's dying throes, while not deadly or very dangerous, still managed to catch her armor some. With a small scoff, she used a boot to push it off of her blade, and then turned to another that had its attention locked onto her.

"Rally around Avina! They mean to take us down one by one! Get back to back and force them to take us head on! Avina, continue to burn down those wasps!".

As Travis barked out sound orders, Isis had to smirk just slightly. She didn't really feel like she had her hands full with the one dog-lizard, she couldn't exactly ignore it to help Avina, though she wanted to. Instead, as it started to circle her, she carefully maneuvered herself in turn, edging closer and closer to the pyromancer to be more helpful.

Then, as soon as she felt she was close enough, she lunged towards her opponent with two quick thrusts, before stepping back again with a quick horizontal slash.

Caelius watched the lizard collapse before him, felled by Rang's sorcery. He quickly surveyed the battle, and saw the creatures attempting to flank several of his compatriots.

"Rally around Avina! They mean to take us down one by one! Get back to back and force them to take us head on!"

It was a sound plan, and Caelius did not hesitate to obey. Keeping his shield raised and his mace ready to strike, he began to slowly back toward the pyromancer. "Rang!" he called over his shoulder. "Stay close and watch my back." As he continued moving toward Avina, he kept his eyes on the lizards that were ahead of him.

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