Monday, April 1, 2013

1.4 Shield and Spell

"Just try it!" the giant man shouted, his arm protecting the fallen woman at his feet. "Your words and daggers won't help you now."

Hesitating, the men about the corner of Maj and Barrack Streets, shuffled their robes tightening the circle about the two figures. The giant man, Shield, crouched further, his eyes moving from one figure to the next. Armored in scale-mail from head to foot, his shoulders towered over the onlookers who tried desperately to not be onlooking. His bald, tanned head gleamed in the day's sun, its angles casting sharp lines on his chest. A satchel hung from those shoulders, other than that he was unarmed. Encased in thick gauntlets, his hands clenched and turned as the others encircled still tighter.

"The Canons of Ri'lun," a deep voice called out from the crowd. "dictate that weaving arcana within the city is permitted only during the Festival." The voice came from nowhere, and everywhere. The only signs that anyone had even spoken was that many people tried not to turn their heads. "These gentlemen will take the both of you to the central Monast."

"Come," Shield contested. "Try!"

A signal perhaps and the nearest to Shield charged, weaponless. Protective, the man blocked the path of the assault, resisting a blow to the arm and checking with his shoulder. The attacker appeared to bounce, colliding with another.

A gasp from under him, brought Shield to attention. "Spell, are you..." Shield spoke sternly but there was worry there.

"Recovering, slowly" the thin woman said, her light robes about her, moving about the middle of the street. Lithe exotic features trembled in pain, her long hair drenched in sweat. Amber eyes blinked in pain. "If you can hold them off, perhaps I can conjure something from the underrealms."

"And have that happen to you again? madness!" Shield growled at another attacker, the figure hesitating. "Arcana cannot happen here. All we can do is resist, its what I do best."

Three attackers looked to one another, shrugged, then suddenly seemed compelled toward Shield and Spell, faint marks appearing on their skin. Shield readied himself, his arms widening for an embrace of fists or thrashing hay-maker, his legs turning.

The crowd bulged to Shield's left, his periphery barely catching the intruder. Cruelty crashed into the circle, colliding purposely with the three men. Sharp taloned fingers dug deep into one, another backhanded back into the crowd. The third attacker to find a horned booth deep in his pelvis, throwing back into the crowd in a stream of blood. Shield, astonished, pulled his hand down protecting Spell.

Cruelty sneered scenting Spell under Shield's feet. A fallen Arcane-weaver- his favorite, damn Evil for willing this. His fevered eyes looked over the crowd, to no particularly place or person. "Not these!" he said, shaking his words. The voice of the crowd, answering, simply- "We shall hold the Tongue."

Turning to Shield with a smirk, a dare, holding it all back.

"The Milkmoon and she lives."

1.3 Cruelty Rears

Once evil entered the door the the Milkmoon, it expanded, broadly inviting those other emotions filling the chasm of thought. The streets of Rivermoon beckoned, growing louder and longer to its onslaught. There was no doubt that someone was coming. The rumble of the main tavern room muted to a dull grumbling. Anxious eyes peered the gloom, the hollow space, utterly ignoring the presence of Evil sitting at the NoName table. The warriors, the mercenaries, the thieves and other patrons looked to the Taverns side door. The area bulged under the wake of a commotion, as someone, some thing, some phenomenon, a sadistic will moved its way toward the Tavern.

"Now hold on there, you just can't..." the watchman warned, his hand on the hilt of his club. But the words tripped and fell, jumbled out of his mouth as Cruelty itself grunted and smiled, firing a fist, a clenched cannonball into the man's plexus. Ejecting the air from his lungs, the watchman bent over a moment before Cruelty's steel knee slammed into his face.

The assault had its intended purpose, the crowd gathering to watch the sailing of Cruelty along the streets of Rivermoon toward the Tavern opened, parted by the storm. Hair cascading over his shoulders, Cruelty rounded and faced the Milkmoon, heading towards it as the people opened still more. The beggars no longer opened their palms to him, stalls and shoppes avoided his gaze, watchmen moved to other districts. Men cast their eyes down, and women shivered, Cruelty's eyes on the Tavern.

But ale makes men do evil stupid things. Ale takes courage and turns it into vomit. While mead is the elixir of the Gods, sneezing forth from the Lord of Lies, Volin's, nostrils it turns inspiration into sleep. Wine the venom of Shar's beast may seduce kings' concubines but ruins the experience under the pillows. Cruelty knew this all to well, this icon of the dieties and demigods, and that pushed him forward. A dark wind at his back.

Pushing, and tossing men aside, Cruelty thrust the side-doors of the Milkmoon open. Open doors never made for a grand entrance, and Cruelty demanded a grand entrance. The better to wield fear with. The first step of Cruelty is astonishment, the pain searing hot.

Thus the men that resisted, that proved slow, Cruelty laid it on, cruelly as his name sake. A barmaid shoved, a table of scholars overturned, the gift of a lover spoiled, a neck snapped for no good reason but to hear the noise, Cruelty dealt his way toward Evil with abandon, as if proving a point. His skills honed through years, he had watched men stab their comrades in the back, torturers pull answers from their victims, the vengeful without precision.

Cruelty knew what it was doing. It watched as Evil turned toward him, a tiresome necessity. Evil noted that upon this occasion Cruelty had chosen the armor of a Crusader, his taste for irony grew more tiresome over the years. His taste for sarcasm and even puns made even Evil cringe. But it did do a good job. Cruelty being Evil unchecked, its right hand.

Kicking a beggar in the teeth, Cruelty joined Evil, their backs to the table. Evil sneered slightly, the scent of Cruelty not unlike that of a wet dog trapped in a hole.

"Don't look at me like that," Cruelty hissed. "You want this done right?"

Next: E 1.4 Sword & Shield