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Author Topic: What if You Weren't Afraid?  (Read 680 times)

Caranor

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What if You Weren't Afraid?
« on: August 13, 2015, 02:06:00 PM »
He had been running for an eternity... Running for so long he was losing track of all but the road his feet brushed against, bringing him up and up in repeated bounds. Everything was threatening him with failing already, yet he kept running, intent on making an escape, intent on running away, intent on making an end to this. Intent on finding shelter and ridding himself of whatever was following him...
So far, it wasn't working.
He had been running for so, so long, and yet, his followers seemed to always catch up. He could hear them, he could feel the tremors of the earth under their feet, could see them by the corner of his eye when he cast a short glance over his shoulder, always following, always close, and he was losing his mind with the creeping nightmares, the horror of being followed depriving him of breath. Yet, he forced himself to run a little further, run a little faster, abolishing all thought and throwing everything over his head. This was what he needed to think about, his escape. His escape. Escape. Make an escape. Make an escape... Yes... Make an escape...
Every muscle in his body seemed to be burning with strain already, having had ran for what seemed like hours. The landscape was growing pale with the oncoming morning, the eastern skies beyond distant mountaintops already a progressively lightening blue. Shadows gained depth with every step, the air moist and cool as autumn air tended to be.
The earth under his feet seemed to be spinning already. He was short of breath, every single one that he drew into his lungs burning him like fire.

But if he stopped running, it would be the end of him. He didn't want to fight, not alone and against this many. For now, running away was a safer option. He didn't want to fight a dozen or two of opponents. Once, perhaps, in his youth, he could have managed; but he was old, old, sleepless, hungry, not as strong as he had once been. If there had been any fewer, and if it would have been him that had done the ambush...
No. He could not afford to take a break, to stop. If he could outrun them...
The long black garments billowed behind him like the wings of a great bat, slapping across his legs as he ran, but their motions went by unnoticed. No longer was concealment of any interest...
A sharp slope just by the side of the road. He turned to slide down the rocks, hoping it would slow his pursuers down, just about managing to keep his balance as dust clouded up around his feet, the leather of his gloves almost tearing as he held onto the stone with his hands, intent on not falling any soon. Once his feet hit straight ground, he'd break into a frantic run again, once more escaping. He wouldn't even allow himself to slow down before he'd be certain that he wasn't pursued.
But that didn't seem to be any soon. The loud roars and screams behind his back warned him of that more than audibly.

Another narrow road seemed to lead through the sharp rocks, blue and black in the twilight of very early morning. He followed it, the only option offered to him beside casting himself onto the bottom of one of the countless valleys that tore through the mountains.
However, his worries only deepened when the narrowing ledge suddenly led him between two mountainsides, growing closer and closer to each other. What a bad place to get into... No way out except for forwards... No other way to run...
His eyes widened as he sighted moving shadows ahead of him.
Waylaid.
Heart beating like a trapped songbird, he desperately searched for any way out, but there appeared to be... None at all. Orcs ahead of him, a group large enough to block out the entire road. Orcs behind him, swiftly catching up and screaming their lungs out.
And... He wasn't alone.
There was another figure, definitely not of an orc, ahead, and he would have put his hand in a brightly blazing fire when saying that that stranger was in a similar situation as him.

At long last, he stopped, just a few feet away from potential enemies. He could just thank the Valar none of them were armed with bows...
If he had to fight, he'd rather fight them straight on.

Breaths coming in ragged and shallow, he backed up against the rock. Better keep his back protected.
What about the stranger?
It appeared to be just a child...
There are many things wrong in this world. This is certainly one of them.
The cold steel screeched as Agarwaen was pulled out of her hilt, the raise of his arms that held it tight sweeping his cloak back.
"Leave me."
The sound of his voice was almost beastly to his ears. A growl, little more than a growl, eyes dangerously wild and fiery. Like pale starlight and the embers of an emerald flame. Even the mithril blade in his hands seemed to flicker with the light of the moon on its edge.
It wasn't a surprise that the orcs took no notice of the words spoken, merely cackling, their own weapons now in the open. The curtain was closing.
The curtain was closing, and he only had that much time before-

A sharp tug at his cloak, and he was swept aside, momentarily faltering, his footing failing him. Breath stuck in his lungs, he dragged himself to the other side, fingers scrambling after the brooch at his throat to force it open, stop it from suffocating him. The fabric tore at the pin, slithering off his shoulders, left in the hands of some of those creatures that seemed to fancy it.
All his senses were as sharp as they could just be.
They started the fight.
Whether they wanted him dead or alive he didn't know.
All he knew was that he would not comply.

For a mere moment, all was perfectly still.

And then, the blood of an orc upon the ground, was very, very black.

Isaac Brandywood

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Re: What if You Weren't Afraid?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2016, 04:41:00 AM »
Isaac was a terrible storyteller. Every time he spoke, it was an overcomplicated “How I Got Here” that no one cared for. This was one of the times he could not even manage that - did it really matter how he had ever ended up in the Misty Mountains of all places when he had been waylaid by tall, menacing strangers with fangs and pointed teeth? The young healer had considered for a fraction of an instant fainting, giving up, stopping in his tracks, but an unseen surge of bravery possessed him to take off running in the opposite direction of the strangers with every ounce of energy he could summon. The stinging rocks barely bothered his feet when adrenaline ran through him like lightning. It was a miracle his bag didn’t fall off his shoulder, but even consumed by fear, something reminded Isaac that everything he carried would be vital if he were to survive an injury. So the young Hobbit dashed through perilous mountain paths like a madman, with the luck of countless heroes when he did not fall off any ledge or scrape himself badly. Twenty minutes of pure running! Isaac would never be able to call up this resilience again in his life.

A group besieged him from a path above, heading directly where both roads met, and Isaac’s frenzy came to an end. The Hobbit came to a stop and fell to his feet from the terror. He almost broke his nose on the sharp rocky path, but even the dizziness wasn’t enough to end the jolt that had set Isaac running to survive. The Hobbit awkwardly came to his feet and looked about in every direction to search for an escape. The few seconds he had at his disposal told him no, there was no other way than encountering the Orcs he was to meet in less than half a minute. So some primal instinct of Isaac’s led him to grasp a rock with a firm hand, look forward, look back to the group currently chasing him, and charge back to the group that he had encountered first. But before he fully met the group of Orcs he was to fight, he stood his ground, aimed at the head of an Orc, and launched the rock with strength he never knew he had. It was a spectacular blow; while it did not kill the Orc, it was blown backwards.

Only...four more to go...not counting the new Orcs now at Isaac’s tail…

The lead Orc of the band Isaac had just attacked stared back the Isaac with malicious, amused glee. The Orc’s scimitar raised forward as Isaac charged forward without even a weapon in hand. But Isaac was clever enough to lift his satchel to intercept the blow between the Orc’s scimitar and himself. The cloth was torn, and a lot of the contents were spilled all over the ground. But it was enough of a distraction between the group to help Isaac stagger away and continue his dash away from the Orc posse. All the while, the healer cursed himself for losing all of his supplies in the struggle, but before he had much of a chance to beat himself up about it, he found a lonely soul on the road, with even more Orcs behind him, that spoke not in the throaty, animalistic growl of an Orc, but in a more cracking tone that came from a dehydrated soul.

“Leave me.”

The absurdity of the situation fell on Isaac like a thunderclap, and all the sudden, invigorating force that had taken hold of him melted away, and the healer stood dumbstruck before the new, pale stranger. “Behind you!” cried Isaac, as the Orcs cornering the stranger were almost on top of him. The stranger allowed the Orcs to rip away his cape, and the features of the stranger almost shone in the near darkness. The man - or Elf, by the pointy ears - looked even more haggard without a cloak, but this haggardness did not extended to his strength. Then the Elf drew a sword and struck down the troop all dead, leaving Isaac trembling from head to foot from the shock. The carnage at his feet made the Hobbit’s stomach swim. But this was not the time to gawk at the raven pool at his feet; instead, Isaac barely choked out, “More Orcs are ahead!”

And at Isaac’s words, sure enough, the now pack of nine Orcs that had originally cornered the Hobbit, had banded together and were now setting their sights on the Elf warrior with the blood-covered blade.

Played by Jo

Caranor

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Re: What if You Weren't Afraid?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2016, 02:55:18 PM »
Not a child. That wasn't the voice of a child, warning him of a danger, coming from behind, in shrill, high-pitched tones underlined by a hundred echoes, bounding off the rocky slopes. Nonetheless, the warning was effective enough.
When he raised his blade to protect himself from an oncoming strike, the impact of the parry was enough to numb his arm for a moment. Orcs...
The cold air stung him in the chest as he propelled himself out of the heat of the fray, narrowly avoiding a shortsword and a cudgel at once. He was fast; in fact, he was faster than fast, far outmatching the orcs in terms of agility and speed. Heat was finally beginning to fill his bloodstream, every sense honed into the perfection of a razor-sharp spearpoint. All of a sudden, the orcs seemed...
Slow.
Like a knife through butter, he sliced through the unarmored back of a knee, ducking and diving to avoid another strike, this time aimed at his head. The creature's scream reverberated through space, through his own mind. He straightened his back, blocking another oncoming attack, and slammed his foot down on the hilt of the weapon, previously belonging to the now kneeling orc. Before it would have the time to retaliate, he cleanly severed the veins and arteries in its throat, leaving a second, gaping mouth, oozing blackness in the twilight, in place. The figure collapsed.

He backed over the corpse to defend himself from two attackers at once; hard-pressed to withstand their sheer force, he found himself evading their strikes more often than not, attempting to get rid of the remaining orcs before the reinforcements reached him.
Fortune was perhaps not his greatest ally, but a good aim definitely was. The pointed tip of his blade found its way into an orc's eye, piercing it with a disgusting, wet sound, and in the following confusion, he eased the world of the burden of its existence in the self-same way that he used to kill the previous one.
The black garments clung to his body with the stickiness of orc blood. Yet, he felt something warm trickling down his leg... A distinct sting, only reminding him of his own mortality belatedly...
Yet, when the orc came charging in, it did not stop him from confidently parrying the club to the point where his sword sank into the wood, and afterwards using its surprise to make it stagger backwards with a kick into the chest. He dislodged the silver blade from the rough club again, and backed off, towards the free space behind him.
The chances of defeating nine orcs and escaping unscathed enough to survive the following journey were as slim as the crescent of the new moon.
There was no time.

The night, harrowingly lonely. He drew a deep breath, scanning his opponents. This was not the first time, he had to remind himself; he had seen this before, the charge, the ambush, the attempts to slaughter and ravage. Even the terrain was not too different from the hills of northern Beleriand, steep, harsh, unforgiving. A part of him felt young again.
But there was no glee to be had about the kill. He gripped the hilt of his sword with both hands, parried, dodged, he was dancing... Dancing between blades, spraying blood. Only, sometimes it was hard to avoid that many attacks at once; by all means, he should have been felled already.
He felt as if he had gotten a taste of his own viscera when he failed to properly block the oncoming strike of a flail, in turn staggering towards the rocks with a piercing pain in his chest. Crushed; his clothes were little protection from an impact like that. He struggled to breathe. Despite that, he kept his footing, and with the aid of adrenaline banished the sensation just enough to defend himself against the next opponent. Not quite enough to ignore it, the shortness of breath, the smell of blood, like iron wafting up his throat...
But enough. To fight. The glaive that connected with the wicked edge of Agarwaen bounced off the blade, giving him a chance to attack - and giving the orc regret that he hadn't thought of a better piece of armor. The blade bit through the skin of its upper arm, attacking, vicious. And it bit deep, oh did it.
There was no word to properly describe his sheer loathing for orcs, in the tongues of man, elf, or dwarf; even the fiercest expressions were just a faded veil over a cauldron of boiling hatred, molten iron searing and simmering in his veins. Only a spark in comparison to the true fire.

A blade flashed close enough to his face for him to feel the wind that followed its tracks. Briefly, they were too close to each other; but then, they parted, and Caranor bore no more a mark of their meeting than a hair's width of a gash on his cheek, and the orc was staggering.
Nonetheless, he had too many opponents. He was dancing, lashed by the wind, leaping from rock to rock and spinning the blade in pirouettes and arches, but he could not mask his own exhaustion or rid himself of the worsening pain in his chest. More and more often, he had to use a simple, straight-forward parry in place of a more demanding move. And yet, he was still... Fighting.
If it took everything he had, why should he regret it?
If he died on the run or in the fray, where was the difference?
Oh no, he would not die.
He stepped onto the cuirass of a carcass, like a hound following the trail of blood, blinded by it. Somewhere over the horizon, the sky began paling into shades of azure.

A sharp pressure at the back of his head. Something yanked the long strings of his hair back; he reeled backwards, immediately letting go of the blade with one hand, shrieking when the pull grew stronger. He was swept off his feet, dragged along the ground. Only then, the knife, and the fist that held him by the hair, slipped into his field of sight.
The blade flashed inches off his throat, warded off by Agarwaen's edge at the very last moment. He thrashed, struggling. Another orc was approaching from ahead.
He screamed.
In a desperate battle for his own life, he sliced the chunk of hair off, scrambling to his feet and to the side, in order to avoid the two oncoming attacks. Still he held the sword with the ardor of someone that had little, if nothing at all, to lose. They were waltzing on the thin precipice of death, and the blades met a dozen times in quick succession as he was backed against the rocks once more, only instinctively managing to keep his footing on the jagged ground, the thin-soled boots little help in this direction.
He disarmed his opponent with a strike to the lower arm, but never expected a punch to be thrown from the other side; and avoiding it meant throwing himself straight into the arms of another opponent, an unforeseen circumstance.

There was only a single orc left. He had lost the blade; their meeting had thrown it too far for him to reach. Meeting hand-to-hand with an orc was less than favorable.
The creature caught his hand, its strong, meaty fingers enveloping against his own thin bones. There was a distinct crack, followed by an agonized scream. A set of sharp teeth snapped uncomfortably close to his ear.
Caranor elbowed his opponent in the face, struggling to free his hand - even if it meant further upsetting the shattered bones. He needed to get away, out of reach, grab his sword... Another hand punched him in the chest, knocking the breath out of him even as he struggled to pull the dirk out from beneath his clothes.
It was a gleaming star, at least to his eyes. His fingers fastened around its edges, senses fully focused at the tip of the blade.
He slammed it into the orc's eye. Removed it with a squelching sound, and then, kneeling on the ground as he was, gouged it back in, letting blood trickle down into the orc's helmet. It was screaming, writhing, twisting his hand till the elf feared it would be torn off, or impossible to salvage; nonetheless, he put the dirk back in, this time targeting the other eye with an unmatched savagery.
Backed into a corner like an animal, even an elf would forgo all elegance. He knew it; he had lived it more than just a few times. They screamed almost in unison as the orc kept writhing, distorting his aim, and instead letting the knife ravage his hideous face. Blinded, it could no longer see its enemy; yet, it refused to release him, still able to feel him, hear him.

He lodged the dirk in its throat, letting it dig as deep as possible, twisting it once it dug into the flesh. The screaming turned into guttural gurgling, the choking sound of a creature breathing its own blood in.
And he did it thrice.
Then, the beast ceased to move.
He hacked the hand off, prying its fingers open to release his own mangled limb. A few sharp breaths, further accentuated by the pain in his chest, which refused to lessen. His head was spinning.
He climbed to one knee, reeled, finding that his balance had been dangerously undermined by exhaustion and injury, and fell back down. Then, he rolled over his arm, climbing back to all four.
When he smelled blood again, it took all his strength not to retch.
He spat some saliva, mixing with ichor in his mouth, onto the ground; the taste was deathly repulsive. His whole body was trembling.
But he lived.
He was betrayed by his own strength when his left arm buckled underneath him, sending him crashing onto his side in a pool of blood, mostly streaming from the carcasses of orcs. But he forced himself to sit again, using the right arm for support when its fingers crawled over the ground, searching for a protruding rock to grasp and pull himself up by.
By now, it was bright enough for him to see. The narrow valley was littered with dead orcs; a great number of them, and at the same time but a few. Far less than it was common to encounter back in Beleriand. Memory and past washed over him like the tide when he eased his back against the sheer slope, depositing the disfigured, crushed hand in his lap, finding that despite already lacking a finger, it had gotten misshapen even worse.

The strings of his hauberk and the jerkin underneath were suddenly a suffocating trap that didn't let him breathe. Quivering, his hand slipped between the layers of fabric. He was cold.
He smelled pines in the air, despite knowing that there were none nearby recognizing the distinct scent flawlessly. There was simply something about the memory that pushed itself back to his attention, something about the starless void full of jagged hills, towering tall into the night, like a mouth full of broken teeth that tried to swallow the sky. Something about standing between their peaks, knowing the sunrise is yet far away and will give you no salvation. About the chilling cold touch of snow on the back of your neck.
Something about arrowheads, burrowing themselves deep in dark flesh, spurting blood, something about the beastly cries of dying, agonized ranks of the enemy. Something about those memories, the kind that made his breath quiver. As if he had been standing between the small growth of pines with his back at the shoulder of another soldier, bow at the ready and heart beating fast with the thought of dying this soon if a single detail goes wrong.
As if he had really been young again.
As if he had been devoured by his own past, threading the narrow edge of demise. He did it again.
More pain flooded his senses when he unlaced the garments. It made his eyes open wide, and he grit his teeth to swallow a scream; quickly, he pulled the strings tight again, deciding that if nothing else, the deathly constrictive lacing would at least keep him in one piece.

He wiped the dirk against his leg, and shoved it back in its sheath. Slowly, and shaking when the adrenaline at last died down, he stood up, staggering with the first step he took. He grabbed onto the rock, regained his balance; then, he headed forwards to retrieve Agarwaen.
The childlike creature...

"We need..."
His voice failed him; he licked his dry lips and swallowed the bitterness at the back of his throat.
"We need to disappear." His voice was cracking, and rough as gravel. "Before more come."
If they were found by more orcs, he would not survive the fray.
But for now, he lived, he stood; slipping the injured hand in his hauberk to steady it, and breathing heavily, he narrowed his eyes at the horizon.
Something told him that he knew this path, that he had walked it before.
And besides, orcs hated the day.
Bitterly and with exhaustion, he smiled.

Isaac Brandywood

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Re: What if You Weren't Afraid?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2017, 12:23:16 AM »
The incoming orcs glowered at Isaac and his mystery protector, weapons at the ready. The fright electrified Isaac into scampering backwards and turning his back on the fight. His feet were ready to dash until he lept clean off the mountain, but one slip into the ground and he could not recover from the break. He spent the duration of the fight on his knees, eyes shut, and with his hands firmly pressed above his ears. Still the wails and growls of the orcs and clanging of metal weapons shook the poor Hobbit and would not allow him to escape. Every outside blow only increased the struggle within; his lungs filled with a frigid tingling that barely allowed him to breathe. Isaac panted in response, trying to keep up with the frenetic beats of his heart, but his breathing only worsened to the point of nausea and dizziness. Then his hands fell away, clutched his arms, and tried to steady him when he doubled over to retch. A scream tore through the air, at some point where he was clutching to a rock to steady his stomach.

He was caught in this whirlwind of terror and exhaustion until a voice brought him back to the mountainside. “We need…” Isaac barely caught sight of the dim blue of the sky, how the world had turned colorful as he lay on the ground in panic “ - we need to disappear.” Isaac’s head lifted, and his eyes fluttered in confusion. “Before more come.” Isaac gasped, as his body tried to slip back into the paralyzing fear that had kept him near danger. He instead tried to push the jolt to waken him, so he could stand again. By pushing himself to mountain wall and digging his hands into the rock, Isaac steadied himself enough to get back on his feet. He almost smiled until he turned himself around gingerly and looked up to face his savior full on in the sunlight. His little moment of victory was forgotten when he set eyes on the creature before him, and Isaac tripped back on his behind with a little shriek of fear.

Never had a collection of death and decay ever greeted Isaac in such a lifelike manner. A corpse’s chest, rising and falling as if the struggle were still not over for it yet. A smile, a vestige of a soul within inanimate, colorless flesh. The life in this thing was more aberration than the grotesque, black blood covering it, the injury on its hand, or the assortment of weapons at its disposal. The light of day only highlighted everything unnatural about the figure, in every manner. Now Isaac was not so sure if death was preferable to accepting the friendship of Death.

Yet, Isaac still couldn’t summon the strength to get up and run away from the apparition, as any Hobbit worth their salt would. Worse still, his chest began to tighten, as it had before under the threat of the orcs. “H - how do we do that?” The bile and leftover sick in his mouth made him grimace. He wiped his lips with the back of his hand in the absence of a handkerchief - the only ones he’d packed had fallen over the side of the mountain when he had used his belongings to defend himself against his initial attackers. Another wave of nausea assailed him, and he closed his eyes hopelessly when he remembered - he had nothing of his own anymore. At least, not anything for miles and miles away, unless what slush at the bottom of the mountains still counted as his own. “I’ve lost - all m-my b-belong-gings in the fight.”

The loss made him dizzy, but the sight of his savior’s wound straightened the world for him again, in a way. His chest still felt strangely constricted, but he could push that to the back of his mind as he sauntered over to the elf’s side to look closer at the mangled arm. The break couldn’t upset Isaac, he’d seen those at home in the peace of mind that he himself would not die from those. Weapons, on the other hand...but he focused on the injury, as it was a fixed and familiar point that could draw him out of the nightmare haze he’d gotten himself into. With that realization, Isaac frowned. He had nothing to treat that break on a longterm basis, it wasn’t as if he had prepared for the occasion. Plaster would be his preferred method, in the Shire where he had everything available, but now he had not even fresh cloth to make a sling. Still...it didn’t look terribly hard to set as of itself. He’d heard before that elf bones were lighter than even halfling bones. The real problem was the muscle.

“If there’s anyth-thing left...I could help make a sling for th-that. S-s-set it as well.”

Played by Jo

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