In Medias Res

Woah! Moving fast. O.o

It was good that the action was moving this way, even if it made less than perfect sense. A paladin of Iomedae, willing to associate with an evil figure? Didn’t that denigrate everything that made up—no. It didn’t really matter. Khiida cracked her neck to one side, watching figures stab about each other suspiciously. It made sense to be suspicious. Someone had put them here…from which faction? Why? Perhaps that accounted for the willingness of unlikely comraderie sparking up despite hostility.

Everyone was desperate and confused.

Naturally. It wasn’t in Khiida’s personality to wade forefront into the thick of things, but she watched, ready to move to the aid of the dark creature if need be. Her Lord didn’t approve of evil actions, but it didn’t approve either of presumptuous, saccharine labeling either. If someone wasn’t harming you or, to your knowledge, anyone around you…why go the extra mile to ruin them?

Existential pondering around her. Self involved conversations. She might have been interested (people were interesting) except…well, Aamir had it aright, as far as such things went. The whole thing was suspicious. Nervous.

They were stuck here. Hard. Cold. No, she didn’t much care who anyone was, as long as they personally weren’t responsible for doing—whatever had been done to bring her here. It seemed unnaturally familiar, and that made her care even less…

Oddly, it was the same gruff, familiar voice that said something of sense. No point squabbling, thrusting ourselves at each other—at least not until we know exactly how far we are from death.

Loathe as she was to speak in Common, that weak, pitiful language, it wasn’t really a good option to disengage completely.

”Maybe someone wants us to kill each other.” She smiled her sharp-tusked grin at the paladin, the rogue, and the…person they’d been verbally sparring with, though it was unsure if they’d notice.

Was there something to find? It had to be the oddness of this place that made her look more to her fellows, a hand seeking toward the weapons at her belt, just ever so casually.

A common thread? Not with any of these lot, Daius mused. Most seemed downright violent towards him, hardly a good position to be in while forced to remain with them. Casting a quick look about, he realized that the only ones who had not yet verbally attacked him were those unconcious, still dazed, and the one most recent to speak. An orcblood, it seemed. Intriguing.

"There is no reason to panic,", he said softly, gesturing towards the encompassing walls with his stave. "As we appear to be here by the arcane or occult, it means we have value to somebody. As such.. they will have to retrieve their items of value, or let them rot. On the same token, I much doubt we were brought here to fight each other, as I see no jeering crowds and debtors." Turning to regard Aamir with a slight scowl creasing his thin lips, he rasped out "You speak logically, yet dispute my claims of innocence for the fleeting wiles of appearance, young man. I offer you the same choice- attack me, or leave me be. I am, after all, someone you might be seeing for the foreseaable future." Distrust, fear, hatred- a part of life for the necromancer. Yet even as they showed their fear in their blades, he fought to tamp down his own. A man of logic knows victory, while fear knows only loss.

Rogmar Rockstomp snorted awake near the stream on the other side of the cavern, he had regained consciousness a few minutes earlier, but, thinking he was just hung over, he had gone back to sleep. Groggily looking around, Rogmar decided he was not yet ready for his surroundings, and promptly stuck his head in the nearby stream, finding it's cool relief soothing. Whipping back his now moistened hair, Rogmar burped, and tasting a familiar brew, he realized he was hung over.

The dwarf did however understand that something had happened to him in between passing out and waking up here, as he had not fallen asleep without finding a nice pillow (even if it was just straw or moss) since he was a young thing. Suddenly filled with panic, the dwarf flailed to feel his back and, realizing his trusty crossbow was still there, felt relief wash over him.

A few moments later Rogmar had gotten to his feet, and found himself face to face with a dog who was staring at him with disconcerting intention. Confused, Rogmar grumbled, "Gaway." and waived his hand at the thing, which ignored him.

Sorry to be so antagonistic. Still, Aamir has values and an inherited distrust of the undead. It's just in character for him.

"I choose the third" He said, grinning suddenly and heavily clapping a hand down on the gaunt man's shoulder. He didn't want for bloodshed, had no reason to start a bloodbath here and now, but at the same time he couldn't submit to the binary choice's offered; all or nothing.

"What I dispute or claim has yet to be decided, you see sir. But you have to understand the reason's for my, and indeed any one of these folks, suspicions of you or each other. Here we are, lost as babes in the woods, and even you've agreed that magic is the culprit. To add to this, you're of the kin of a madman and monster who bled my dear nation dry of life itself, and who in general are violent horrors that drive men to madness. The fact that we haven't slain you is a remarkable show of good faith, now that it's in that context, don't you think?" He cocked his head to the side, raised an eyebrow, emphasizing the question. With his free hand he began gesturing in a circle, as if unspooling words from some strange spindle in his chest.

"We're of law, or at least I am. I'd not face a noose for mere suspicions, let alone my own compunctions against harming men who've done no wrong. But suspicion is natural, especially when so many have been wronged. What proof is there that any of us played no part in this? I'd wager that the only reason this hasn't turned massacre already is that there was no blood drawn." He lifted his hand, and shrugged, looking around the eclectic group.

"Whilst I doubt we have much in common, we do share the same fate. But if any of you share in my distrust of first appearances, here and now, then maybe we'd best move past them." He once again looked at the deadling, pointedly. "We need to know what kind of men and women we each are. What proof do any of all of you carry that you're of noble character? Or what disproof of villainy, at least. Paleling, would you fear the attention of a kind god? Would you drink from the cup of Cayden, or would you humble yourself below the symbol of Iomedae? After all, only the darkest soul need fear such gods."

It was a comfort to know that such gods existed, to know them as protectors. To know that they cared, and would make action against those that were impure of self. Here, their sanctuary would prove if this was a man, or a devil to be banished by the righteous.

You people and your silly anti-undead party.

It's almost as if we all expected to be facing undead! A lot of them!

Daius automatically flinched back from the contact, hand raising briefly before lowering with a sigh. He turned to regard the warrior, his labored breath slight upon Aamir's breast. He would be startled to see the longing in Daius' eyes at the mentions of the good gods' reaction to him, but it was quickly covered. "Do you not see it?.. For simple matters of appearance, you have chosen that I am 'evil', and a villain. I will not deny my appearance is...hideous. Tell me. If your best friend was bitten by a werewolf, and turned into their kind- would you slay him? I do not expect, nor desire, hugs and glee at the sight of me, yet I am constantly on guard from 'good' men such as yourself."

Half-turning to regard the rest of the group, Daius shook his head, growing very tired of this group's fear. He made no move against them, yet each thought him their captor. Instead of finding a way out, they instead found conflict. "I fear not the touch of any god you may name for my actions, who have spoke more clearly of 'good' and 'peace' than yours yet have. Once, I drunk from the cup of Cayden, knelt before Iomedae to pray. I am a man such as yourself, if of an appearance you deem to be only possessed by evil ones."

Perhaps it would be easier to just tell them his story... well, most of it, perhaps. Barring the night...and his studying the whispering way. At least up until these changes had come on him. From poring over tomes to awaking to this hell, surrounded by 'good' men. Bah. What good gods' hand lay in that?

Janel Raj moaned softly as she woke up suddenly, the immense headache she had making her curl up for a moment before she opened her eyes and realized she had no clue just where she was. The last thing she could remember, she had been kneeling in prayer to the goddess Sarenrae. She sat up quickly, frantically looking around for a moment in the darkness. She could barely make out the sounds and shapes of others not far away, dimply illuminated by two small points of light, so at least she wasn't alone...

She got up into a crouch and made sure she still had her crossbow, checking her armor as well, then checked that her holy symbol was still dangling over her forehead. Satisfied, she cautiously rose to her feet, pulled the hood of her cloak up to hide her distinctive ears, and gradually moved closer to the others, listening to the conversation quietly for a few moments while she got her bearings again. She watched silently as they harassed one of the others with them, listening quietly and shaking her head at the way they were behaving.

It reminded her some of her youth, and all the accusations that had been flung at her because her appearance was different from everyone else's, her pointed ears shaped like fins and her almost pale skin with its almost sickly green cast. Finally, as she stepped into the light, she let her musical voice sound out, "Oh, leave off and let the poor man alone, already. What has he done to any of you besides look different?"

Valeria saw with worried face that hostilities could break at any moment, more worried that it was practically she that started all of this, shaking her head she thought to herself if Quentin would see me know...

In retrospect she remembered a brief time spent in Riddleport a year back... even though her commander had told her that reading auras was not a game, she couldn't help but use her new power at any moment's chance, her curiosity could just not be contained! "you're like a little girl with a new toy, stop it!" Quentin reprimanded her every time... so of course it was odd and immensely more curious when she was told to refrain from reading auras in this port city... when she foolishly did so, what she saw was frightening... never before had she seen or sensed more evil auras - even if faint - at one place... men, women, young or old it didn't matter... the city as a whole was evil...

Her blade hand quickly moved to the pommel of her sword but a quicker slap prevented it from ever reaching it "Don't be foolish young one, that is not always the way... especially when people are involved... Greater honor is gained when we turn evil hearts towards the light than just slay them outright, remember this. Besides... We can't just go around killing people!" he enden with a wink, though hard lesson earned... of course she still was unsure if this one in fact counted as 'people'...

Suddenly removed from her toughs by the rogue's questioning Valeria exclaimed "uhm oh... I... I don't know..."

Hey!!! I'm trying my best not to kill him... leave me alone!!

Viggy set about his task with the excitement and fervor typical to his kind and within moments made several interesting discoveries. The first was a series of tiny holes - natural cracks or fissures in the stone - which made him very excited. There was no surprise in this however . . whether natural or unnatural there always was a food chain.

A more pertinent discovery was what appeared to be words carved into a section of wall near the point where the stream entered the cavern. It would have been missed even by Viggy - hidden in the shadows as it was - if it were not for the fact that some of the words had obviously been etched into the stone with a fingernail. There were still traces of dried blood - and worse - where the author had written his bloody work.

The question of what possessed someone to painfully and methodically grind their flesh away nearly to the bone at first seemed impossible to answer, but as you listened to the echo of your voices, felt the chill coming from stone, stream and the darkness itself, it all seemed suddenly understandable.

There were several section of writing clear enough to read; others may as well have been gibberish.

'My soul has been weighed'

'Sarenrae forgive me'

The stitched men will come for me soon . . as they have for the others . .

It's okay, this is just my roundabout way of getting to the bit where I don't kill him. Heh. Aamir is Lawful Good, he wouldn't attack unprovoked, but as a native of Ustalav, I couldn't have him warm up to the undead TOO quickly.

Aamir just raised an eyebrow at the new interjector. His weapon was sheathed, his shield unfastened. He'd struck no blows against the undead thing, nor had he accused him of anything, just made it clear he was suspicious. It was not the warmest of actions, but it was a courtesy of sorts, too. It gave it, or him, or whatever exactly one called such a creature a chance, a chance to dispel that suspicion now, rather than leave it fester. He felt remorseful for being so untrusting when it was so much a man, that was true. He felt guilt, and self-loathing, but it had to be borne for reasons that maybe this woman failed to understand. By her looks, she might well be foreign, unaware in the common history of Ustalav.

"He's done nothing, and that is why he enjoys a civil, but cautious tongue. It's why I've not unsheathed my blade, or otherwise molested him. But his kind raped my homeland, slaying thousands of men, women and children under the rule of the Whispering Tyrant. His kind ravaged the land itself, and defiled the dead, raising up the corpses of the slaughtered to butcher survivors and push for conquest in other lands. Because of that, my country, my home is still scarred. Horrors wander from the wastes, surrounding the dark tower that is Gallowspire, where terror untold sleeps. He'd seen none of these battles, but all the same his voice choked with emotion, a lump forming in his throat.

Soldiers were men his age, or boys younger. Any one of the thousands dead was someone he could have called friend, brother, or even self. He could only imagine the sorrow of such times, but he fully understood why those young men marched and died. He knew it because he had a home, because he had family, because he understood love. Corpses knew nothing, not even true self, and their puppet-masters knew no shame or empathy for making them dance. That this man had his will did not speak well of him, because Aamir had never met nor heard of any deadling that was of good character or noble spirit. The dead risen were twisted, so said Pharasma, Iomedae and even the forgiving Cayden, when he saw how they made action.

"There is a debt owed in blood of this mans kind, and that I don't claim it is so as he may prove his lot is cast elsewhere. I hold my hand as I would from a friend afflicted similarly, and that makes him more friend than he may know I am. I'd sooner cut down a man who struck him, now, than I would strike him myself. But he owes me that debt all the same, and it will be paid. Not in blood, but in deed. He will prove himself a good man, through this trial, and I will thank him humbly. Or he will not, and I will halt him as is right. I ask no pound of flesh, just proof of virtue. My suspicions, alas, are my flaw that I will struggle to shed till then."

He was talking to the Undine, but he had made his point to her almost immediately. The words were really meant for Daius, and the rest, who seemed almost all to be foreign and lacked understanding of his mistrust and his simultaneous show of faith and goodwill. How many of them were down here, in any case? More kept coming from the dark, and Viggy had been gone some time. Probably eating something he found, mused the fighter.

Naturally, the truth was much darker.

Septima, having listened to the exchange for quite a while, stepped forward. "I think we've eliminated an enemy force bringing us together, since it is unlikely that such an enemy would leave us with our weaponry. I also think that looking for a common thread between us is going to be fruitless. Between the paladin and the unfortunate soul, between those who call upon gods and those who are free from their tyranny, between those who follow a strict regimen and those who care for few rules, I think we can rule out something in our past that brought us together."

"It might be better for us to consider that perhaps someone or something has brought us together, not for past actions, but, for future endeavors. Let us put aside the past, then. Let us consider only our future, and perhaps that we shall need each other to survive it."

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