A Silent Coda

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BanefulMelody
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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by BanefulMelody » Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:24 am

"Tell -" Owain's eyes split from the spectacle, eyebrows raised in worry. "You feelin' ai'ght?"

The girl was spouting dafdoms a'plenty, talking about running into the forest, hiding away from the scary men, but - the talk almost made Owain scared, too. Almost.

Just like ya was 'almost' scared o' the bell tower, ya idiot.

No, he was downright, unquestionably, irrevocably terrified, and felt more and more inclined to do as Anceline suggested for every second he stared at the horde of soldiers in black. They were scary. There wasn't any other way to spin it. He figured it was some kind of intimidation tactic, a way to look bigger and spikier, just like hedgehogs. Maybe they were all soft as a hedgehog's tummy underneath all those spines.

Or maybe they were more like nettles, poison through and through.

The man astride the horse raised his hand once more the moment the bow was lowered, and the bird went back to wherever whence it came, leaving only the chill of its stare in wake. His gaze followed the boy as he jumped from the roof, head slowly turning as if to mark his path, before settling back on the small group before him. He paid no attention to any of the other villagers -- some had chosen to answer in Laurent's stead, while others merely continued their whispers, wondering who the men were, what they wanted, and when they were going to leave. Maybe they'd hold the festival tomorrow, after the men were gone, to have the fun uninterrupted by such a dastardly ruckus.

"A shame," the leader finally said, after a long contemplation. He pulled on his reigns, trotting the horse in a circle, until he faced the rest of his party. "Burn the place. Kill anyone who tries to leave."

The shock of the villagers outlasted the reactions of the men. There was nary a scream as the torches arced in the air, then after torches, iron, cold teeth of the wolves biting into shoulders, necks, and sides. The retinue scattered, off to better spread the fire, no doubt, and it wasn't until a horse tramped one unfortunate man that the folk began to shriek.

"Shit," Owain swore, reaching for his knife. He managed to pull it half-sheath before his shaking fingers slipped, the blade limping out the rest of the way and tumbling to the ground. He made to grab it, other arm instinctively flying up to shield his allies. The men hadn't come near them, yet - chasing down others. Not others. People. People he knew. Tanner and his boys, Mrs. Balder - she taught his schooling when he was a chitlin still - and Mr. Falstain, his neighbor farmer, who always grew an impressive patch of beets come harvest. They were falling apart. Everything was, truly, as if the slashing swords were cutting apart not flesh, but thought, leaving Owain nothing but scattered strands.

Betwixt the strands, one thought came clear, whispered to him by a nervous voice that heeded to the danger he hadn't.

The forest.

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by Quirbles » Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:07 pm

Hands were shaking again.

Always were. Always the hands, never the arms or the legs or the neck or the feet. Always when he wrote, too-- elegant characters turned protagonist to villain under his trembling digits without cause, jagged and imposing to look more like the scratchings of a frantic hen than the dejected musings of a young junior annalist. Could barely read his own damned records without a fear of accidentally summoning a demon, truthfully, which was why he preferred to let the old bastard write while he did the harder labor. The bag of bones could barely rummage himself off the damned table without a death rattle, anyway, which kept Bastien's inclination towards that of letting the man lay where he wrote-- there wasn't a God-damned way in avian hell that the dust-bin was going to kick it this early on in the apprenticeship.

All things considered, old Eddie wasn't the senile crackpot the young Gabriath had made him out to be. The senior annalist for Coda had always been accommodating-- and though their exchanges were often rife with the animosity of bitter enemies, the exchange was all but malevolent between the two. The nature of their often-loud banter was just that-- banter. Friendly, most of the time, and without overbearing ill will.

Most of the time.

Bastien had been in the midst of finishing the week's records with the shakiness of a leper's journal before the soft dancing hues of orange stirred his eyes from their defocused pagebound purgatory, little flutters of yellow light in the dimmed distance casting blurred shades upon the sill at which he sat. He'd been near-sighted as long as he could remember seeing, which bode well for reading and writing but not much else in the grand scheme of life. It'd most likely been why he'd taken to books so well.

Too lazy to retrieve his spectacles from the nearby bedstand, he merely gave a cock of his head to the open doorway and yelled.

"Wis that oot n'te toon idge, thar?"

The reply came almost immediately, as expected.

"EUH?"

He'd known his elder long enough to realize that the sound was more a grunt of confusion than the odd half-laugh that it was, so he cleared his throat to speak once more.

"AH SAY-- WIS THA-"

"HAUD YER WHEESHT, FER FUCK'S SAKE! DEH MAKE ME DEAF YEEZ FUCK--" Crash. A clatter stole away the man's words, and for a few choice seconds of utter silence, Bastien gave thought to the notion that the poor sod had right kicked it then and there in the hallway of the annalist's bureau. A delayed yell stole the thought away, sadly enough, and another moment passed with murmured curses before the near-centennial recordskeeper barged into the room.

"Fuck're yae oon aboot now, Bast?" He muttered indignantly, obviously vexed at the fact of having to walk a few feet from one office to the other. Gabraith gave a short point out the open window, looking back to his superior before narrowing his eyes at the splotched yellows and oranges which swam about at the forest's nape.

"Oot-- oo'thar, yanow, thos peedy starlike thang prancin' roond thar. Aye, y'see? By toon edge, thar, you old--"

Silence, now, once he caught wind of Eddie's expression. Warn't annoyance, now. Was something else. Concern. That, or fear, which he hadn't even seen the annalist wear before.

"Thoss airn't stars." He muttered in rapt analysis, prompting a giggle from the young one.

"Ah no that, yeh, but airn't they fehrflays--"

"THAR TORCHES, Y'DAFT WANKER! WHA'RE THEY COMEN CLOSE EFF THAR FLAYS?"

The thought was unassuming on its own, and had it not been for the frantic tone of Edward, he'd have dismissed the notion as some sort of idiotic festival routine or ritualistic self-immolation. Lot of quacks in Coda, after all, and that warn't just due to the bird obsession-- but this, no, this was different, yeah, wasn't it? Bastien removed himself from the table and stumbled over to the bedstand in time to reach his spectacles, putting them on with a small adjustment across the bridge of his nose. A blink or two adjusted the sight, and he returned back to his roost, eyes narrowing at the sight before them only to widen in terrifying realization.

Screams rang out into the night as horses whinnied in wartorn exuberance. The fireflies which one skittered across the ground and night had set sparks upon the sleepy property of Coda and drowned the town awash in a blazing inferno, soft steel pines fallen from the trees cast upon their steeds to impale the unlucky patrons which sought shade under their imposing presence. The forest had spat out metal golems to kill them all, hadn't it? That's where the brights had all surfaced from. Soft feathered breaths came from his lips at the sight, and he could not move in the paralyzing tragedy of it all. In seconds, the world had gone mad.

"Book. Prima's book-- git thar'n doon to the shelf whar it sits, aye?"

No response.

"Bast."

Nothing but the panted whispers of terror.

"BAST!"

A carriage crashed, somewhere, and the sound spurred the young Gabraith from his thoughts with enough force to whirl him about to face Edward. The senior annalist gripped him by the shoulders and shoved Bastien toward the door, ushering him forward with the contagious madness which gripped the town of Coda.

Th'Prima's book-- GIT. NOW."

So he ran, then.

What else could he do?

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by illirica » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:18 pm

They were taught not to lie, when they were children.

Anceline couldn't exactly fault Laurent, then, for telling the truth - but in that instant, she desperately wished that he would not have. A lie wouldn't have been approved of by parents or elders, but it would have bought a few minutes. "I'll go get her for you" might have won enough time to run away, or for someone to run away - but there was only the truth, and it provoked a harshness far unwarranted by its own nature.

Lochlan had joined them, from the roof, his bow tucked back away. Like a lie, it would not have won them much time, but every moment... every moment might have been a life spared. Or it might just have been prolonging the inevitable. The silence fell as her breath caught, waiting for the soldier's answer, already knowing that it would not be a kind one. It was only the nature of the horror that had yet to be determined, and after the silence, the executioner's blade fell - a word.

The mounted men moved, and the slaughter began in earnest. Run.

Her instincts screamed, but she had to put her mind above them, what little bit of her mind was not quivering in terror. Running would attract attention, bring the men closer. They had to escape, but... slowly. Owain had dropped his knife, recovered it somehow, and held his arm out as if one arm could protect them, and not just be severed from his body by already bloody blades.

The whole town had really come together, upon those blades. Anceline suppressed a giggle, at the sheer horrifying turn of her own thoughts. She was aware that it was just a reaction, like when old Uncle Matthieu had got trapped under the ice for a bit some winters below, and that evening had thought it all the funniest thing in the world.

Not run. Walk. She mastered herself, what little bit she could, a touch to Owain's arm encouraging him to lower it. "Around the building," she murmured, as quietly as she could, "Slowly. No sudden moves. If we run right now, we die." If they could get around the building where they couldn't be seen, they'd have a better chance. She stepped back, her feet finding the path her eyes could not.

She couldn't look away, after all.

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by UmbraSight » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:45 am

Attack or leave.

The world outside didn’t provide one with many options, did it? He held steady as the large man simply sat there. A dozen soldiers, did Coda even have that many who knew how to fight? Not drunken brawls, but really honestly fight? Laurent could feel acid rolling in his stomach as he awaited fate to be dictated by a whim. Finally the man turned and trotted back to his retinue. With a growing feeling of dread, Laurent’s hand fell to the hilt of his sword.

His arm moved even as his ears refused to recognize what the man had said. His left foot slid back as his body fell into a hard-learned stance. His heart fluttered in his chest, and he could taste something horribly bitter on the back of his tongue. The horsemen spurred, and the twelve beasts raced forward, each rider brandishing their own form of damnation.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he expected the soldiers to rush him, but prediction was the Prima’s gift, not his. Eleven men broke in slightly different directions, each angling for some different part of the village to begin their kravenous work. The twelfth charged towards him, and Laurent could feel the rumble of the horse’s hooves like the crash of a midsummer storm.

Intention was clear; run over the backwater fool with the sword kill the lot standing behind him.

Laurent snarled something deep as the horse thundered so close he could see the wildness in the beast’s eyes. Laurent broke left, towards the light of the horsemen’s flames, his sword flicking upwards catching the bare flesh of the horse’s leg before biting into the hard leather of the saddle. His skin prickled as the torch arched close and the beast shrieked in pain.

The horse bucked back and Laurent threw himself to the left to escape the kick of the legs. Laurent could hear the curse as the soldier slipped from his saddle.
//… 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 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:50 am

Lochlan felt like he was standing in his own grave. He could feel the animosity in the air and could almost taste the malice that radiated off the demon-like man that towered before them. His instincts were telling him to run, to leave now before it was too late. A hunter always listened to his instincts, it was something he learned at a very young age. It took everything in his being not to run at that moment. His heart pattered hard against his rib cage, hands clenched tightly at his side.

Was he a coward for wanting to flee? It was futile to even think they stood a chance against their mounted enemies. He could see that every one else thought this as well, their eyes giving away various feelings of fear. As Laurent told the man their Prima was dead, Lochlan’s hand twitched. He wished he was still holding his bow...better to be armed than standing there completely defenceless.

A few agonizing seconds passed, all of them waiting for the man’s response. When Lochlan heard the response, his face paled, a sickening feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. He should’ve ran, he should’ve forced Thierry to leave when they had the chance. Now, they would all perish in their little town.

A wave of chaotic movement happened then. Laurent took a stand and felled one horse and rider. Owain fumbled with his knife, one arm up as if to shield them, while Anceline urged them to move, albeit slowly. Lochlan had reached for his bow, his hands quick to equip an arrow and let it loose. He too, decided to target a horse, as it would slow the riders down in their quest for bloodshed.

Anceline was right. They needed to go while they still had a chance. Loch was quick to follow her, adrenaline pumping in his veins.

“We should head to the forest,” he said, to anyone that was listening. “....we might stand a chance if we hide....But the others...,” his voice tapered off.

He was talking about the other villagers. About Thierry. Could they save them? Or were they already doomed?

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by BanefulMelody » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:45 am

A motley few. Slim pickings, he must have thought, staring at the villagers left in the main street near bell and chapel square. Fires blazed about, but no one rang the Widow - not when there was no one left to ring, and not when the Widow's loft itself began to smoke from its flaming stalk below. The lone soldier raised his sword, spinning it once in hand. The end curved like the hook of some feral beast, and as it spun, it caught the fire's glow, glinting, shimmering, and for a brilliant moment, flaring like the sun itself. Then -

The man charged, on full tilt. Intent to kill, not on malice - on order alone. But! A flick of rival steel, and the horse shrieked, buckling forward past Laurent and collapsing to the dirt. The man was none the luckier. His saddle snapped in harness, and he toppled, flung headfirst on the ground by the tumbling mount, where he lay in a sprawl with his hook-sword near beside him. He did not get up again.

Owain stared at the sword.

Anceline's panicked laughs had faded to silence, and her hand now rest on his arm. She spoke of running -- and mere moments later, the wildboy did too. Running to the forest. Abandoning the town, hiding in the trees, where armored men with metal fangs wouldn't look to bite. Wolves they were, but their forests were the buildings with leaves of thatch, not the woods from whence they came.

And papa -

The watchman had a lucky strike. Any other knights would easily return the favor.

"Take this," he hissed at Anceline, pushing his knife at her. Whether she took it or not, he lunged forward, sweeping up the odd sword in one hand. It weighed like a sickle, heavier towards the tip, but still with enough balance to easily heft. Good for slashing and chopping, then, but for heads and limbs instead of grass.

"You's and wildboy's right. Forest's our best bet, innit? That'd be the safest spot to meet the others, if, er, when they get out too."

Everybody was going to die.

"Wild- wildboy, string your bow. Watchman and I will keep sides, try an' take down any horses runnin' our way."

He didn't know how to use a sword, but he could pretend - and pretending made him feel better. Easier to think he stood a chance of fighting off anyone that tried to kill them, than think their only chance was to pass unseen. Turning with the sword in what he hoped looked convincingly brave, he moved to ran - then nigh jumped out of his boots.

"Tosser, ya scared me half to death," he said to the newcomer. The young annalist boy, looked like - never met him, but he always scurried behind the ol' bookkeep like a puppy behind a master, yapping nonsense at his heels. He was holding some dusty tome in his hands. "Drop the book, now ain't the time fer stories, an' it'll weigh ya down. You's comin' with us, we're all headin' -"

A crack from behind them, sending sparks to the sky. Stones didn't much like the stress of heat, not when they fitted just fine in the cold, and the fire eating up the wooden supports didn't help the matter. The belltower began to lean. Slow at first, but it quickly built speed, tumbling down to the earth into a cairn of cobbles and flames. As it collapsed, the Widow let out one last hollow gong before the rubble made its tomb - widow-no-more.

"We gotta move. Now."

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Re: A Silent Coda

Post by illirica » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:09 pm

Take this.

Suddenly, there was a knife in her hand.

It wasn't as if Anceline had never held a knife before - but this was different. A man's knife. An image flashed into her mind, her hand on the blade, drawn across the throat of a man that was somehow at the same time the bole of a tree. Sap poured out, or blood, or water - and the blood was a river, consuming a thousand tributaries from all across the land, red-stained and heavy, for there were no tears to wash it down. The trees pulled the liquid into the roots and sprouted spindly branches, and again became men, one man, tall as the forest itself, a spindled helm upon his head, looking up to the dark sky as lightning branched down with a thunderous

CRACK

The noise jolted her back to reality, no lightning, but stone, the belltower breaking above.

Anceline shuddered, then shook her head firmly. Who was she kidding? The knife in her hand was no writhing cursed thing. It was Owain's. He probably used it to peel potatoes. She held it more tightly, tucking her hand into a fold of her skirts, concealing the blade. Her head still swam with the vision, but as horrible as it had been, reality was somehow worse.

Blood didn't run like rivers. It sprayed, like waterfalls. She was going to be sick.

Not now. She couldn't afford to be sick right now, and so just as she'd done when the Rossegarde boy had turned the plow over his leg, she swallowed and made herself go on. Look on. Move on. There would be time for sickness later. Right now they had to move.

The tower was collapsing, and all eyes would be on it soon enough. She moved.

To the forest.

All else could wait until they were safe... if there could ever be such a thing in their lives again.

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