A Silent Coda

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UmbraSight
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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by UmbraSight » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:39 am

If there ever happened to be a time to get into a petty squabble, now wasn’t it. Laurent made no protest as the forest hermit slipped past the make his way down the tower. There was a brief exchange between Owain and the hermit, but Laurent paid it little mind. His attention was drawn outwards past the edge of the belfry towards the forest. Pinpricks of light moving between the trees skirting ever closer to the village edge. Part of him wanted to deny it, such things didn’t happen, people didn’t come from the forest, but there it was.

The outside in a place it had no right to be.

Something bitter settled onto the back of his tongue. Was that fool from the forest just going to try to walk off as if this was of no real concern to him? What, ring the bell then act as if there was not a single thing to worry left in his head? The tip’s of Laurent’s fingers found the handle of his blade, old cloth woven fine so sweat would never impact one’s grip.

“What do we do?” A light voice asked. Laurent turned. Owain and Anceliene. Priorities first, then.

“The first thing we do is ring the bell proper.” He said, stepping past the two as he walked to the Widow and took hold of the rope. If it was the end of his watch, it had to be done correctly. “Following that we will need to meet them.

One ring in warning, and one to prepare.

He drew the rope down, two crisp rings to fill the night air before a pause, two beats of the resting heart, before he drew down the rope again.

Two rings, like the end of the world had slouched its way to his doorstep.
//… under her weight the floorboards gave, and she fell into the dark...// Fall of the Aelir Isles, Vol. III

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by Arkane » Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:28 am

Lochlan had warned everyone of the dangers that were approaching their quaint little town. In his eyes, he had done his part and wanted nothing more to do with it. It’s not like they’d expect him to stick around, did they? After all, he was just the ‘crazy boy that lived in the forest’. His eyes narrowed slightly at Owain, before a small grin spread across his lips, followed with an annoyed grunt.

”That’s right. I’m really crazy. Best keep yer distance. Never know what a crazy wood hermit will do ta ya,” concluded Lochlan, leaning against the tower wall now. “And I know what I saw. I ain’t stupid enough ta mistake men for animals.” He was accustomed to hunting in all sorts of conditions, dim light being one of them. They were soldiers and they were coming to Coda.

As if on cue, several flickering torch lights began to filter out of the forest. Now everyone could see the danger that was emerging from the forest. Despite Lochlan’s attitude, even he couldn’t hide the worry furrowed on his brows. His green eyes fell onto Anceline after she had voiced her concerns, Loch shaking his head at her naïveté.

“They aren’t here to help,” he said, bluntly. He remembered the weapons they had and the intimidating flaming sword held by their leader. “...they’re here for much worse than that.” No point in sugar coating anything. Lochlan didn’t have an answer for the girl’s second question. He didn’t know what they’d do either. Coda was probably poorly equipped to defend against any sort of invaders.

Just as Laurent rang the bell a second time, Lochlan slipped past all of them, descending the stairs and into the openness of the night air. He needed to find the old man and get the hell out of Coda.

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by BanefulMelody » Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:22 am

"Where'd Mr. Wood Hermit go?" Owain asked, eyebrow furrowing. He must've slipped out when they were all fussing about the bell. It troubled the boy -- in the past day, only two things Owain knew of had come from the forest. One of them was trying to run the moment the other was approaching. Now, it wasn't that Owain didn't trust him, not that he had any job too, what with his shifty nature and the like, but it seemed a mite bit suspicious when putting all the pieces together.

Owain sighed, and turned to Laurent.

"Meet 'em, ya say? Fine be." Truth-told, he was half-aquake with fear once more, from the tips of his toes to the crown of his head, but he wasn't about to show it. They'd be fine. The men were probably just lost, was all. And if worse came to worst, they could fend 'em off while the rest of the town fled, all three with just a knife and a sword between 'em -- and one just an inn girl. He touched the knob of his dagger - it was becoming a tick of sorts, he realized with some mirth - then nodded to his compatriots.

"Lass chance ta stay back, if ya like," he said to Anceline. "Wouldn' hold it to ya if ya do."

--

By the time they reached the bottom of the tower, the armed men were visible from the ground. Not many, for an army, only a dozen count to double that at a glance, but each wore dark armor over all but their heads. The craftwork was ornate, like something from the stories his nanan used to tell. Shoulder-guards spiked like flaring flames, chestplates ornamented with swirls and dimples, and the metal gloves segmented like a row of tiny gates. Already, a few of the townsfolk had left the festival grounds, standing side to side of the soldiers with curious or suspicious stares. At the front of the line -

It made Owain think of a game he always saw the old folk play. Tamerlin, it was called. A wooden board with rows of small black discs, called soldiers, with a piece twice-tall marked by a crown called the emperor. The leader was like an emperor among soldiers. Even without his armor, he must have been near seven feet tall, but the helmet added an extra half-foot to that with a crest of needles on its top. He led the troupe with nonchalant poise.

Each soldier held a torch in one hand, and had a grip on a sheathed sword with the other.

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by illirica » Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:16 pm

"Stay back and do what?" Anceline inquired, she thought pointedly. She could stay up in the bell tower just fine all by herself, until she starved or someone with a torch decided to set it on fire - and then what would she do? She shook her head, firmly. "No, thank you. It's not going to be any safer here than it is anywhere else. Something's wrong, and I'm going to find a way to help."

Not that she had the faintest idea how that was going to work. What was she planning to do, exactly, walk up to the soldiers and ask them if they'd like stew or roast tonight? Offer to launder their smallclothes and polish their armor? Anceline had always thought that she knew everything she possibly needed to know, but this situation was making her all too aware of exactly how much more knowledge existed, and how painfully little she knew of it.

She followed along with the others, hanging back a little bit and looking at the line of soldiers, all lined up with sword and sheath. Anceline's eyes darted back towards Coda itself, a sinking feeling of oncoming doom a writhing knot in the pit of her stomach. No. She might know nothing of war, but no soldiers who were here for peace would have entered the town in full armor, their hands on their weapons. They weren't facing away from the town, to guard it, but towards it. Her head shook, wordlessly, and she pressed her hands over her mouth lest any sound escape. No, no. The town had no real defense, not to stand against soldiers like these.

Run away, she wanted to yell, to the people who had gathered to look with curiosity, Run away! But the soldiers were mounted, and even had they not been, children couldn't run very fast. Surely they wouldn't hurt the children... Anceline thought of her sister, only a month shy of a baby. She knew she was crying, but kept it silent, knowing that silence was of the utmost importance right now.

She'd never felt so helpless before.

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by UmbraSight » Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:20 pm

Time never was a kind mistress.

However much time was really needed to organize a proper defense, Coda never was equipped to provide. What use did a town with no visitors have for walls? The forest and the fool up on the belfry had been enough to feel secure had it not?

Laurent paused as a dozen men, give or take a pair of hands, broke through the tree line and trotted towards his tower. Each man armored to the toe, each with a hand resting upon the hilt of a blade. Intentions clear enough that even a man with more liquor than sense could understand them. Had that girl he had sent off found Tanner? Was the old leatherwork gathering up some young men to come supply aid?

Would it matter if he did?

He looked back over his shoulder to Anceline and Owain. “The door t’my bell tower is the sturdiest in all of Coda, an’ there’s no shame in usin’ it, if that’s your fancy.” He returned his gaze back to the riders, the tips of his fingers brushing across the handle of his own sword. “Though, I wouldn’t mind having some company.”


Before he was truly aware of his own commitment, his body was in motion. One step gave way to another as he pressed across the stretch of cleared land, his body coming to a rest only when he felt he had given himself a reasonable amount of room should the horsemen not come to a stop.

Or perhaps they would break into a gallop?

His stance was neutral, and he rested a hand just above the hilt of his blade. He could feel the tremors from the hoofbeats in the earth beneath his feet.

“Hail!” He called, “we haven’t many travelers come this way, what business do you have in Coda?”
//… under her weight the floorboards gave, and she fell into the dark...// Fall of the Aelir Isles, Vol. III

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by Arkane » Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:03 am

Lochlan didn’t venture too far from the bell tower. A quick glance over his shoulder and he could still see the dark silhouette of the tower against the evening sky. He only trekked over to where the bulk of the festivities had been taking place, Loch pushing people out of his way as he maneuvered through the crowds. It wasn’t long before he found whom he was looking for. The ‘Old Man’, as he liked to refer to Thierry, the man whom was like a father to him and had taken him in when no one else would.

Thierry was a large man, with a short, unruly beard, and wrinkles lining his face. He held a cane in one hand, his left leg sporting a heavy limp. It was an old hunting injury from many years ago. Currently, the man was helping direct young children into the safety of nearby buildings.

“Oi, Old Man, it’s time to go,” Lochlan said to Thierry, grabbing his arm and attempting to pull him away. But Thierry was quite the burly man and he nary moved an inch. “Don’t be daft, boy,” replied Thierry, shaking his head. “I ain’t leaving. Coda is mah ‘ome. I’ll defend it no matter the cost. You should defend it too. Like it or not, it is your home too and they could use a lad with your skills o’er on the front lines.”

Lochlan sighed in exasperation, giving the man a look of irritation. “Stubborn old geezer!,” Lochlan, said, shaking his head. Loch already knew Thierry wouldn’t leave, but he had to try regardless. The man held too much of an attachment to Coda and it’s people. The exact opposite of Lochlan. There was no helping it. If Thierry wasn’t leaving, Lochlan would just have to make sure that the old fart wouldn’t go and get himself killed.

Muttering under his breath, Loch shrugged off his cloak and began to rearrange his gear. No sense bringing unnecessary equipment. He positioned his long bow around his torso, a quiver of arrows behind his back. In one boot was a hidden blade he usually used for skinning animals, and hanging against one hip was a sheathed dagger. Good enough. With an approving nod from Thierry, Lochlan swiftly made his way back towards the bell tower.

But this time he took a different path, one that allowed him to stay hidden behind the buildings. As he got closer to the centre of town, he could hear the sounds of horses hooves getting closer. Stopping at the last building before the bell tower, Lochlan dextrously climbed up the rain spout and pulled himself up onto the roof. He stood up and walked to the edge of the rooftop, the high vantage point giving him a clear view of the retinue of soldiers currently entering Coda.

Reaching behind him, he pulled out an arrow from his quiver, ready to fire if the need arose.

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by BanefulMelody » Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:35 pm

Owain glanced sidelong, and - hell be to it - the girl was crying. He knew she should've stayed behind, though he didn't protest at her insistence to stay, thinking them a stronger face with numbers to back it. What impression would her crying make, then? Did the help of an extra person offset that, or did it bring the rest of them down, make them look fools?

Idiot. They already looked fools. What were they, but a nigh-unarmed farm boy, a guard that never had to guard anything, and an innkeeper's flax-spinning daughter. The soldiers were just that, soldiers, not dressed in fancies but in armor.

"Hey, uh," he whispered. "We'll be fine. An' all that. Alright?"

God be, he was hopeless at comforting girls. Only his father and him, up on the farm, and father never cried -- least, not when Owain was looking. Hoping the small words would help, but honestly doubting it, he followed them up with a reassuring smile and refocused his attention on the cohort of soldiers before them. As they drew up to Laurent, the tall one raised his hand, every man drawing to a halt behind it.

Sheep to a shepherd. No, not quite - sheep had little discipline, and little threat besides. They were like dogs. Well trained to act on command, armed at the hip with iron fangs.

"Ah, look," the tall man muttered in a voice like knives on glass, gently spurring his horse's sides with the heels of his boots. It trotted forward, bridging the gap between. "A welcoming party."

The mount made his massive height seem godlike. Laurent was no short man, but the leader towered above, a twisted carcass of a tree grown large with age, but stripped of leaves and life by some long-gone fire. Embers of it still burned behind his visor, though, an intensity that almost seemed to glow.

"A shame not all of you display the same... civility."

His burning stare swept to the rooftops, hand raising in a claw. Where once there was nothing, a bird now perched on Lochlan's drawn bow, feathers pale as a moon in gluttony. It made no motion, nor no noise, merely staring the boy down with dark, lifeless eyes. The man seemed to think this was enough, though, and returned his own gaze to Laurent. If his face were not obscured, one might have expected to see a smile.

"Where is your Prima, man?" he said. "I wish to speak with her."

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by illirica » Fri Sep 06, 2019 5:33 pm

Owain was trying to be comforting, and the oddest thing about it was that he was comforting. Not the words, because she knew perfectly well that it was not all right, but... that he had taken the time to say them. Anceline nodded slightly and dried her tears, knowing that they would come back later - but they had dried up now, deserted in the face of what was to come. There was a shadow on the rooftops - Laurent, an arrow nocked, as if one arrow would possibly do enough against so many men. The giant among them moved his horse to stare Laurent down, with words and a raised hand that implied an attack to come - but there was no attack, only a white bird that had come as from nowhere.

Anceline liked birds. Sometimes, in the summer, when the light was good, she would sit outside with the mending and watch them vie for a scattered handful of breadcrumbs. This bird, though, was like nothing she'd ever seen before. It wasn't just the pallor of the feathers, but there was something about it that made her heartbeat more timorous, as if it quailed to make a proper rhythm in the presence of such as these.

Silent now, but earlier it had drummed out a warning: the forest, the forest, the forest. A warning... or a suggestion. The stranger wanted to speak to the Prima, but there was no kindness in his tone. For a moment, hope kindled - perhaps the newcomers were there because there was some sort of ceremony, to invest a new Prima? But as soon as the hope flared it was quenched again - for he spoke of a Prima that was, not of one that had been, which meant that he expected to meet with someone living. He wasn't here to place flowers on a grave and crown a new Seer, and whatever he was here for...

The white bird perched atop the bow, a figurehead.

The forest... "We need to go," Anceline whispered, to Owain beside her, "Now. Hide in the forest. Someone has to... has to..." She broke off, faltering, swallowing back the choking fear and once again finding the timbre that was her voice:

"Someone has to tell the story."

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by UmbraSight » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:32 pm

He didn’t order his horsemen to charge, which was a good start.

Not that it particularly made him feel anything akin to safety as the leader came to a stop. A mountain of a man atop a horse are finer than those that pull the plow, and what was he in comparison? Laurent remained steady, that is however steady one could be in this situation. A neutral stance, a hand remaining not quite close enough to his sword to make it seem he was about to draw. Distance being what it was, it didn't matter much anyway, he supposed.

The man’s hand raised and Laurent’s mind was kind enough to offer up a list of regrets, the girl in the summer dance he never kissed, his younger sister he promised to teach how to use a sword, a honeyed wine he never bothered to try, small, incongruent things. But, the soldiers made no motions, there was no flash of metal to signal an end. Laurent looked back over his shoulder to where the attention seemed to be, a rooftop where the hermit crouched, a white bird perched atop his bow.

Laurent looked back, his mind searching for what he should say, but the words didn’t bother making their way to his throat. The large man seemed almost amused.

"Where is your Prima, man?" the man said. "I wish to speak with her."

Laurent drew in a breath. “I hope you haven’t traveled far, m’sorry to say you’ve missed her by nearly two weeks,” he said, “our Prima is dead.”
//… under her weight the floorboards gave, and she fell into the dark...// Fall of the Aelir Isles, Vol. III

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by Arkane » Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:23 am

Lochlan stared at the scene developing below, his jaw clenched, breath held. He didn't know what the armed riders would do, but he hoped it wasn't something akin to a blood bath. Fortunately, the unknown force didn't appear to be hostile as of yet. He let out a breath as the fearsome leader of the invaders stopped just short of Owain, Anceline and Laurent. Now those three were courageous. That, or extremely foolish. The trio looked like three baby cubs standing before a feral grizzly bear.

Loch was sure glad he wasn't down there at the moment. The soldier's leader looked liked a spawn from hell; with his unatural height, his eerie voice, and the general feeling of evil that seemed to fester around him. Yet it was his burning stare that was the most traumatic to Lochlan. Loch didn't know what a demon looked like, but he decided that the sinister being below him could be a fair depiction.

As he listened to the conversation, he felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise as the demon's eyes suddenly gazed up at him. Lochlan hadn't gone unnoticed it seemed, the bow in his hand shaking slightly as a clawed hand pointed at him. He let out a startled gasp as a ghastly pale bird materialized out of thin air, the thing now perched unmoving on his bow, it's eyes wide and pitch black; like a bottomless abyss.

Seconds passed and it was like the rest of the world faded away, Lochlan's dark green eyes staring into the bird's, as if hypnotized. A shiver ran through his spine, the sound of his own heart loud in his ears. Those eyes...there was so much emptiness.... neverending. His head tilted slightly, following the movement of the bird's smaller one. It was so hard to look away, but with sheer force of will, he managed.

Shaking his head, he lowered his bow, the young man attempting to jostle the bird off, Loch once again aware of his surroundings. The demon didn't want a bow aimed at him. Understandable. He just didn't want the creepy little bird staring at him anymore. Cautiously placing his bow around his back, he raised his hands in acquiescence. What would one measly arrow do anyway? He'd then jump from the roof and go to join the others. No sense in standing alone anymore.

For reasons unknown, the demon was looking for the Prima. But she was six feet under and Lochlan doubted they'd all just up and leave after Laurent told the demon the truth of the matter. He hoped they wouldn't be joining their departed Prima.

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