((No sleep, I'll get toit))
((No sleep, I'll get toit))
That night, the villagers gathered in the town square to prepare. Peaches had treated her own wounds and now she stood with the assembled people, dressed in a white kimono with a silk scarf wrapped around her eyes. Many voices spoke at once, no one was sure what to do, though many demanded that Mars take charge of the situation. Suddenly the girl spoke.
"I do know one way we could fight their army. Even with Mars's sword, we won't stand much of a chance against them in a straight up fight." Mars opened his mouth to disagree but the girl cut him off, "however, the army likes to use traditional tactics. They want a stand up, charge at each other army. If we strike them in secret, again and again, retreating and hiding along the way, they'll be weakened before they can marshall an attack. If we make the village defensible enough, we should have a good chance of holding them off."
Mars was stunned, he hadn't expected the girl to make a plan that daring, and it definately wasn't his style, but it was a good plan.
"Allright," the Black Knight said, adressing his assembled forces, such as they were, "Peaches's plan is good. If she can organize your guerilla fighters together, we can send them out well before dawn. Anyone else, We'll do a bit of very quick, very fierce training. I want you semi disciplined and ready to kill before the sun rises!"
THere was a murmur among the crowd but soon, groups began splitting off. Those that were hunters in the village went with Peaches to plan the guerilla assaults. They were excellent stalkers, handy with a bow and knew the surrounding territory. The rest of the villagers were primarily farmers which made them... handy with a rake or a hoe. Polearms then, Mars decided. They wouldn;t be the best of weapons, but he could rank them up and form some sort of fighting force. And still many were decent enough with a bow, though not the skilled stalkers of the farmers. And so preparations began.
((eh last post sucked, hoping this one makes up for it))
The encampment of the Provincial forces was in chaos. The villagers had struck just before dawn. Small groups of them, just out of view in the darkness had peppered the soldiers with arrows, causing marginal losses. The real trouble came whenever a small group of soldiers would head out into the darkness to stop the archers. They were ambushed and scattered, some regrouping back at the encampment, some that wouldn't be found until the morning sun rose.
At last Captain Nocturnis was able to reign his men in. Three patrols had been scattered and one destroyed entirely before he was able to stop them from foolishly following the peasants out into the darkness. The sun would be rising soon enough and it was time to end it. He gave a sharp command to one of his under sergeants, and the order was given throughout the camp, prepare for battle.
There was one thing left to do to prepare for the village's defeat. Edward quickly turned to his other under sergeant.
"Bring me the Sorcerer."
Astrella despised being called a Sorcerer. She was a witch, or at the very least a sorcerESS. Still it was the State approved title and that stick up his ass captain Nocturnis followed the rules. She hated him as well. He was fat and arrogant but still his men respected his command. They treated him not only as a superior but as an equal, and she knew that a few of them were even dumb enough to give their life for hiim. Still there was something about him she craved. Power.
Power was the most important thing to the girl. She knew that with enough power, a person could MAKE people accept them. If she honed her craft to the fullest, she could MAKE people love her and make them appreciate her. She had been mostly ignored and sometimes picked on when she was young, but then she learned that she had the talent for magic. She revelled in the fact that she could unleash wrath upon her enemies without ever having to pick up a sword or a bow. No Astrella didn't like Captain Nocturnis one bit, but when he gave the order for her to begin bombardment of the city, she smiled as sweetly as ever.
The last guerilla unit checked into the village and quickly joined the other archers. There were two distinct units now. A unit of undisciplined footmen armed with makeshift polearms and a unit of scared archers with only their hunting bows to combat the enemy. It would have to work though, Mars thought. The guerilla tactics had been fairly successful, the campfires were being doused in the enemy camp and they were preparing too attack the village before they were really prepared. Although he had lost about seven men, the losses and effect it had on Nocturnis's forces was worse.
As the sun broke over the horizon, the Provincial army marched forward and Mars drew his zhanmadao and walked into the field to meet them. He raised his sword and brought it sweeping down. The signal for the archers to begin firing. Arrows struck out, felling the first few soldiers who marched across the fields of battle. The return fire of the Provincials failed to reach the actual village, instead spiking the ground in front of Mars's feet. It looked like the day would favor the villagers after all.
Then the real strength of Nocturnis's force showed itself.
Astrella stood on a hill, well out of firing range of the villagers and began her own assault. She traced an arcane sigil in the air and she recited the words of the spell. Mystical energies gathered about, the air practically charged with them and at last the dark haired, olive skinned witch spoke aloud the last part of her spell.
The villagers were totally unprepared. A giant glowing copy of Astrella's sigil appeared in the air above the village and chunks of flaming rock streaked out of the sigil, blasting the village. The archers were momentarily scattered, several of them charred to ash. A large house quickly caught fire and the peasants scrambled to put out the flames. Mars's plan was quickly falling apart, and the better equipped archers of the provincial army were coming into range of the village, their footmen getting ready for a charge. The Black knight had no other choice, he called a charge of his own, and so both forces rushed to meet each other in the fields outside the village.
Astrella smiled at her handiwork. It wasn't that she liked hurting people. In fact she'd rather not if she didn't have too. The effect her powers had was just to much not to smile at. Those villagers would fear her, they would respect her power and by association respect her. Still, she had to make sure the governor's troops did not take too many losses. And so she began a new spell, tracing new sigils and directing new targets. The new sign began to take shape in the sky above the village, even as houses burned below it.
Until Astrella cried out in pain and fell backward, an arrow protruding from her shoulder, and another pinning her dress to the ground. She shrieked in rage, the pain would prevent her from bringing her spells to bear. THen she felt a pang of fear. If she didn't withdraw quickly, the phantom archer could just as easily pierce her heart or head with the arrows. She tore her dress free and prepared to flee down the hill, eyes searching to find the source of her pain.
At the top of the watchtower, Peaches nodded quietly, her hand grasping another arrow from a quiver. She couldn't see. The joy of colors were closed to her now. She would never again see the faces of her family. But in the abscence of sight, a strange new sense had developed. She could tell where things were, could tell more about people than she ever could with simple sight. She had no idea where it came from, but she knew she would have to put it to use to help her people. She knocked the arrow to the bow and fired another shot, felling one of the charging footmen.
Nocturnis at last saw his opponent on the battlefield. Mars was cutting through his men and their eyes locked. The Captain gave a mock salute with his sabre, challenging the Black Knight. Their blades clashed. And for the first time, there was a pause in the chaotic battle. Archers on both sides stopped their assaults and soldier and peasant alike slowed down, pausing to watch their commanders battle it out. This is what the battle would truly be decided on now. Mars had the strength and the reach, but Nocturnis was not weakened by injury and he was deceptively fast. Seconds flew by as the battled, turning into minutes. And then the locked blades, each glaring at the other.
"If you had given yourself up," Nocturnis growled, "these people wouldn't be dying now, If you had surrounded when the army first arrived, Peaches would never have gotten hurt. And for that, you coward, I will have your head."
Mars's reply was somewhat shorter.
"Perfected Edge Cleaves The Mountain!" the darker skinned man shouted. He whipped his blade back and around, bringing it sweeping down even as Nocturnis brought his blade arcing up to block. The zhanmadao seemed to cut the air with a howling whistle as it descended, and then it struck. There was the shriek of tearing metal, and then the blade went into Nocturnis, slicing through his shoulder and almost bisecting him diagonally. There was no time for last words or looks of shock. The captain just collapsed to the ground.
There was a hush over the battlefield for a brief moment and then with a cry of victory the peasantry sought renew their assault. Bereft of their leader, the provincial forces began to withdraw, using their superior firepower to hold the peasants at bay. They had not left the immediate area yet but it was clear that for now, the governor's soldier's were defeated.
((more to come))
The villagers were busy clearing bodies, bringing their own dead in for proper burial and places the corpses of provincial soldiers aside so that they could be claimed by their comrades. Mars wanted none of it, but the villagers insisted. After all, much of the rank and file for the army was conscripted from villages just like this one and the families here would hope for the same courtesy for their own sons should this happen elsewhere. And so the Black Knight patrolled the fields of the dead, keeping a watchful eye on the enemy camp. It was then that he came across the body of Captain Nocturnis.
"Ugh, Somebody throw this trash on a dung heap where it belongs!" He commanded.
"No," Peaches once again cut him off, "He fought bravely, even if he was on the wrong side. He was a member of this community once, and we are humans, not monsters. Or do you aspire to be just like the governor someday?"
Her wounds stung, and so Mars silently allowed Nocturnis to be placed with the other dead.
Later in the day, a messenger came fro the provincial forces. Eager to negotiate for their withdrawal and the bodies of their fallen. Peaches had become the de facto leader of the village since her part in the battle, and she ended up in charge of the negotiating. In the end, the soldiers were allowed to retrieve their bodies if they left immediately. There was no argument from the soldiers. They might catch hell from the Governor down the line, if he ever got personally involved, but they had been fairly beaten, their casualties needed to be put to rest and they were certain than General Adamant would understand. And so as the sun set on the day of battle, the Provincial Army had already packed up and left.
Mars discussed his plans with Peaches later that night.
"I'm leaving," he said, matter of factly, "as long as I'm here the army will keep sending people. And I think... in a way, Thymm is right. We need support if we are going to restore freedom and honor to this province. I intend to help, but I will do it my way. Thymm is raising an army in the south, I'm sure of it. I will head north and search for the most elite warriors this province has to offer. I will convince them to join me, and we will crush the Provincial Army for good."
The girl nodded and turned her back as she spoke, changing the wrappings that covered her eyes. Mars winced, that was another reason he needed to leave. Something about what Nocturnis had said rang true. It was partially his fault.
"I understand, and I was certain that this would be your course of action. You will want to speak to the Oracles in the far north. They know a great many things, and there is a warrior among them. I am not sure... but they say the Bringer of Justice is living peacefully somewhere out here. Perhaps you can find him. And don't worry. Things will be fine here, Our guerilla tactics will hold if the army tries to attack again, and I believe we can get support from the neighboring villages."
And that was that. There was no further need of discussion, and no real reason to join the bittersweet celebration of the peasants. With the moon high in the sky, and his zhanmadao strapped to his back, Mars and Razorwind stalked across the plains to the north.
Nocturnis tried to close his eye as the bright light shone down on him. He found that he lacked the strength to even blink. After a moment however, his eye adjusted to the light. He couldn't see much, and he could feel little else other than excrutiating pain. He should be dead, that much he knew. Suddenly without warning a face appeared before him.
The man, if it was indeed male, wore an ivory mask and was clad in a blue and black checkered harlequin costume. He capered about before finally stopping to learn down at the captain. There was something pitifully comedic about him but even more, there was an underlying feeling that this was something sinister.
"Well, Well, Captain Edward Nocturnis, It seems you've had a nasty spill," the voice was high pitched with an odd musical lilt to it, ((ever see HIM on the Powerpuff girls?)) and it unnerved Nocturnis all the more, "You may call me The Lord, or My Lord, whichever you prefer. I am a personal representative of the Governor and other... interested parties. You are going to die a slow painful death. However, you have been wronged. You only wanted to protect the countryside, and that terrible Mars caused you to blind a friend, humiliated you by destroying your forces and nearly anhihilated your body. Not too nice eh? Well not too worry."
The horrible clown pranced out of Nocturnis's limited line of sight for a moment, letting the pain take hold. It was all he could do to weakly groan, it seemed as if he had no strength left at all. Then The Lord appeared again, jumping in front of his face. It was all the more unsettling not being able to flinch or jump back.
"WHen I say not to worry, Captain Ed, I mean you have a choice," The voice was nearly maddening, he wanted to reach out and crush the clown's throat, "You can agree to join the new Seekers, embracing the Shadow and restoring your body, and empowering it... or I can leave you alone and you can wallow in misery for the next two hours until my efforts to sustain you finally fail. Tell you what. I grant you leave to blink your eyes. Blink once for Yes, and twice for No! Well?"
Nocturnis sat staring wide eyed in horror for several minutes. Amazingly, the clown did not move, holding the awkward upside down position he was in as the eyeholes of the souless mask bore into the captain's soul. At last, all hope faltering, Edward Nocturnis blinked once.
"Excellent," came the now sibbilant voice from behind the mask and he laughed maniacally as Nocturnis was thankfully overcome by a loss of consciousness.
((Well... how's that for an Ending to Chapter One?))
((I know it's no PD Biography, but I still need Feedback. This is officially the end of the First Chapter... When I start up again, we'll follow Thymm and a handful or rebellious peasants as they travel into the untamed South, lemme know what y'all think of the latest work.))
Woo, me next! There needs to be some kind of cool backstory about how me, Dogar, Xion and Devil were a group of legendary warriors in the old days. Maybe even an elite squad of the government army before we became disenchanted with them or something. I dunno, SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
It's good so far.
Aw sweet, I thought I was dead. Awesome
A seamless writing style and compellingly sound plot. I love how the individual story arcs sprawl out into an epic web which entwines all the characters as they're introduced bit by bit. I think you've done well with character development, just a bit more on description of the scene and so on would really make it come to life. Really great - don't give up on this Q, and also don't try to rush it. Take your time, don't try and put all of the storyline that you've got mapped out in your head onto paper. You're at the libertyto keep people anticipating and in suspense. Can't wait to see the next chapter.
((I'll get back to this sometime... got some stuff to write, just not inspired at the moment))
Qoorl, I would like to let you know that this is officially my favorite thread on the forum right now.
*Applause* Bravo Qoorl. Such story writing could only be matched by T.H. White or Garth Nix. :yes: Much better than some of the books I have been reading. I have a suspicion that I will end up being a minor villain, yes?
((not necesarilly, but I DO have plans for you...))
I had a suspicion that with the flute you'd have me being a Pied Piper.
Thymm stopped for a moment to let his companions catch their breaths. Only two of the peasant who had fled the Imperial raid had managed to stick with Thymm and now he looked them over, to see just what he had to work with.
One was a girl, Kage. She was scrappy looking but relatively unassuming. She'd be decent in a fight, sure but nothing he could win a war with. The other was a young man, a priest of The Way, called Mazda. Thymm scowled a little. He didn't have anything personally against religion, but he saw no practicality in it. He didn't believe in it, and it was more often than not used by a tool to control the impoverished working class. Still, if religion could give hope to his soon to be burgeoning army, he'd take what he could get. He shifted the Arquebus on his shoulder and looked around.
"Well, we have a few options to us from here. These southern lands are filled with all sorts of barbaric and strange folk. It's true that most of them have little love for the Governor and his armies, but they can be a little eccentric. Do either of you have any ideas?"
"There's that philosopher that was branded a Heretic," Kage offered up, "He ws cast out by the government and I've heard that he has a small kingdom here. Maybe he could give us some aid?"
"Wait wait," Mazda spoke up, "WE can use all the help we can get, sure, but a heretic. What about the rumors of strange experiments? With...animals and things? I find it very much against, The Way to work with someone like that. What about King Sueilman?"
"SUEILIMAN?" Thymm scoffed, then quickly regained his composure, "Yes, I could probably convice the King of the Land of Fools to raise his people to our cause, but it would likely do more harm than good. I've heard of Tang. Even debated with him a few times long before he was exiled. I think we'll have a better chance of garnering immediate help from him. There are a few other prospects, though potentially more chaotic furhter south, but my sources have led me to believe that we can find Tang's "kingdom" not too far from here. Now let's go before any of the Governor's trackers come looking for us."
With finality, Thymm readjusted the Arquebus, checked his ammo and headed into the dense jungle thicket to the southwest.
(Been a while but I'm back on it.. at least for another chapter or two. Always appreciate your comments and criticisms)
Hopefully, Tim violently blows Sollys face off for being a conspiritor with the rebel faction
The trek through the jungle leading to Tang's compound was incredibly uncomfortable. Kage and Mazda were peasants, used to the open grasslands and ricefields and Thymm certainly hadn't prepared any sort of gear as he hadn't intended on heading into the wilderness to look for allies yet. Still with his leadership the three of them made good headway.
"I suppose, after some consideration, that it would be within the path of The Way for us to at least talk to this Tang. I mean, The Way is an individual path and the church, while acting as guides don't always have final say on what is right. There is sometimes corruption, though it isn't common. WE can just hope that religious disagreement isn't a problem. By fighting for the people, after all, he would be serving The Way, in a manner" Mazda went on as they hopped over the huge twisting roots and thorny brambles that blocked their every way. Thymm just smiled and said nothing, wasn't his place to argue with the boy.
"Halt!" a voice commanded from somewhere above them. Suddenly, the three were surrounded by figures clad in hooded robes. They wielded dangerous looking spears and prowled about predatorially, "Why have you entered this domain?"
"I've come to discourse with Tang, as we did in the past, about the state of the world, and how best to solve it's problems. My companions are idealists who strive with me for a better future. Can you take us to him?"
A fifth shrouded figure dropped from the trees, studied them for a moment and then at last, nodded, "Come."
The three walked with their dangerous escort as the jungle opened up around them. They were in a partial clearing that led into an impressive compound, partially constructed of bamboo, and partially carved into the cliff face. A waterfall rushed down one side, fueling a waterwheel that seemed to be generating power to certain parts of the compound. Yet another hooded and robed figure walked towards them, down the steps of the great stone zigguaraut that was partially formed from the cliffside.
"Ah, Thymmothi, my pets told me that there was a confused fool wandering about with a peasant girl and some filth. I should have known that it was you. Please join me, and make whatever discourse your hear for. Perhaps some refreshment as I give you the grand tour?"
The figure turned and headed back up the stairs, beckoning for Thymm and his cohorts to follow.
No love for Nanaki?
But really, glad you're updating again
(You'll be there eventually. Don't rush greatness)
The three followed their host, albeit somewhat reluctantly. Thymm was bold enough to move alongside the person, who seemed to be the Exiled Philosopher, Tang.
"You know what's happening with the Government, Tang," he began, "You know how the people suffer. I intend to do something about it. The only solution is an uprising of the people. The working class, the commoners. They form the real power base, and it's to them that we are beholden. I only need support to train and rally them."
Tang raised a hand to silence him, and for the first time, Thymm could see that it was discolored, a bright orange, and covered in soft, supple fur.
"I know all too well the falacies of the Old Kingdom. And I have nothing to do with them anylonger. They were fools and are bringing about their own destruction. When I was exiled, I took with me many of the brightest minds in the provinces. Talented scholars, alchemists and even sorcerers. We have worked tirelessly to build this Utopia. Using our newly intermeshed High Art, we have molded our bodies into something far more pleasing."
At this point he lowered his hood, revealing a face that had once been human. It was now some anthropomorphic cross of feline and canoid. small pointed ears rose from the top of his head, and a muzzle protruded softly from his face. At a single, the warriors that flanked them discarded their robes, now safe in the hidden places of their jungle compound, to reveal naked bodies, covered in fur of varying colors. They were all disturbing, though strangely alluring, hybrids of man and beast.
"We are the High Breed now, Thymmothi. We practice our perfect Arts here in the jungle. We discuss things RATIONALLY. We are NOT bound by the vulgar superstition and zealotry of Religion." He spat the last word, eyes narrowing at Mazda, "It was the church that brough this down. Juan Paulos was the greatest Magistrate the Empire had known, and had he been allowed to assume a position as Governor, he would have been the political savior you were looking for, Thymmothi. Juan Paulos... our Shining Light, was brought down by the filthy church of The Way. They intended to have him assasinated, but their plan backfired. Their were layers of conspiracy that the varying factions of the church only had hints of. They were intertwined with other conspiracies against members of the government, the scholars, even your precious working class, Thymmothi. In the end, the Cataclysm happened. The precious Emperor was lost, heck, we don't even know how many of the provinces have survived, and how many have dropped into foul barbarism. You can only be sure of your province, and the corrupt Governor who rules it."
Thymm was speechless for a moment. As Tang continued his speech of bile against the church, vast conspiracies and the unthinkable transformations his people had undertaken, the tour had continued. They had seen the great Bio Tanks were human flesh was remodeled into that of the High Breed. They had seen the Crucifying ground, where the barbarians to the south were put to death. They were the only real threat to the HighBreed here in the jungle. And the animal people waged a bitter war against them. At last he regained his composure.
"Then you realize the position I am in, You know how important it is to restructure our world. And with the Cataclysm, NOW is the time to put the people in power. All I need is support. Troops and funds to help rally the workers. They'll follow me if I can just get some aid. Aid you can provide."
Tang turned toward Thymm, Feline eyes searching his face. Then his lips curled into a predatory smile.
"I have decided that I will give you support. Money, The High Art, and warriors. First, I would like you to give me something. Give me the priest."
I'm starting to lose track of who some people are, like Mazda, and I think I know who Tang is, but I'm not totally certain, and also Juan Paulos, I mean if he is who I think he is, then Tang is definatly who I think he is, but it's all kinda fuzzy for me
no idea who tang is. juan paulos is red530 maybe?
(mazda is Mazda Speed... and sadly he's not long for this world. Juan Paulos is actually famed politician Ron Paul.)
I totally forgot about him, considering he made like 50 posts ever and we spent most of it making fun of him
And yeah, Tang is indeed definatly who I thought it was