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    The Abominable Bowman

    Digit
    Digit

    Player 
    Lineage : Wrath of the Wraith
    Position : None
    Posts : 156
    Guild : Errings Rising
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Mentor : Saraphina
    Experience : 12,437

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Arc of Essence
    Second Magic: Pestilence Devil Slayer
    Third Magic: Sacramentum Draconis

    The Abominable Bowman Empty The Abominable Bowman

    Post by Digit on Wed 23 Oct - 6:32

    Fiore was starting to look like a really mountainous region, what with most of Belladonna's missions being located in the highlands of this country. Weren't there missions that placed the mage in more urban settlements? That last line of thought was just her being fickle; it was somewhat preferable for her to take up missions of this sort, where interaction with natives of Fiore was reduced to a minimum of sorts. Being a dark mage, she always elicited those "dagger-looks" when anyone recognized her guild mark, and in some cases, not long after she had been identified, Rune Knights came sniffing about. In all honesty, she was more comfortable with missions that sent her to back-water places, where she could make some cash and improve on her powers without getting the attention of powerful enemies. She reasoned that, in time, she would eventually burst forth on the world scene, and opposition would attempt to crush her. In such a case, it was better for herself to be scarcely known, so that she would be an unexpected and unpredictable power.

    She had been to the Phoenix Mountains for a thing or two in the past; most of her journeys here involved missions, and this one was not an exception. This was one of those missions that many dark mages would not even consider doing, as it was looking out for the well-being of another. Truth was, the expected pay was acceptable, and so Belladonna had taken it up. Perhaps a much less important reason was that she wanted to remain empathetic to some degree, so that she would not end up being the very thing she despised. After all, oppressors and tyrants shared a common vice: apathy. If she performed some good acts every now and then, she could still stay connected to the feelings of others. And maybe when she had found a purpose to this existence of hers and had completed her work as a dark mage, someone would remember some of her acts of charity and speak up for her.

    She pushed the thoughts of the future aside and focused on the present. The path up into the mountain promised to be long, because the mission had described the location of the missing person as high up in the mountains. And such an area was the abode of winter wonders and frigid fairy tales. The only problem was that the reality of fairy tales was quite unlike what the children read in their little story books. The prospects of finding friendly wild animals in an environment that often left them half starved was completely laughable. Who knew, though, maybe she would find some talking bears that would invite her over for a bowl of stew... or was it porridge?

    First things first, she would pay a courtesy call to the person who had put up the mission, at least to let him know that someone was on the case. At least, that would give him a little hope that he might see his friend again. Her mind began to wander again, and she wondered whether if she went missing, there was anyone she had come close enough to that would instigate a search for her. Well, that was one of the disadvantages that came with the territory of being a dark mage: one was pretty much on their own. Sure, many of them could do whatever they liked, but at the same time, when they found their backs to the wall, they often ended up alone. Friends were important, even to the bad guys, though she supposed the concept of "friend" in that light was quite relative.

    For the most part, she had gone halfway up the mountain. The most dangerous creatures that she had met were snow squirrels, which somehow had adapted to the low temperatures without bothering to go for their winter nap. Some forests she had passed through had some sort of deer, but they were too bashful to reveal themselves. Much good it did them, as she was still aware of their presence. Fortunately for them, she was not out for venison, though she figured that without her magic, they would give her a serious run for her money.

    The next clearing she got to was a small town, possibly the furthest up the mountain. Beyond, she could see woods and wild lands, embraced by the white touch of snow. Her contact would be somewhere in this village, so all she had to do was ask around. She approached the first person she saw. "Hello. I'm looking for someone. Trader, or supplier of goods ought to fit his description."

    Her respondent was a middle aged man, with an old wooden smoking pipe. "Seems like Barnley is your man," he replied. "Check him over there, at that stall. He's pretty much the only supplier of goods we got in these parts."

    "Thank you very much."

    She made her way over to where Barnley was, a short man (but still taller than herself) with a nervous disposition and a thick beard. Somehow, he reminded her of a dwarf or gnome, something in one of them children tales. She approached him and waved at him to get his attention. "Mr. Barnley, I presume?"

    He paused and looked at her, obviously surprised at her 'impractical' choice of clothing, or perhaps more at her utter disregard for the cold winds that forced the warmth out of people's bodies. "Uh... yeah. That would be me. Who do I have the honor of meeting?" he asked, as he extended a hand.

    Belladonna took it and gave it a firm shake. "Belladonna. Are you the one who put up a mission to find a missing person?"

    Barnley's eyes lit up with recognition and hope. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. So glad someone got to it."

    Belladonna nodded. "Okay. Is there anything I need to know before I set out?" she asked.

    "Well, the name of the man we're looking for is Dan. A really good bow man, if there ever was one. The trails up into the mountains are not many, and most of them lead to his abode, so it shouldn't be too hard to find it." A hint of worry crept into his voice. "I hope it's just me panicking, but he comes at appointed times to get supplies from me, being a hermit and all that. However, he didn't show up to pick his latest supplies. I just need to know he is fine. And if he's not, please, save him."

    Belladonna nodded and turned to go, but sensed that Barnley seemed hesitant about something. "Is there something on your mind?"

    He shook his head, then nodded. "These mountains are dangerous much further up, and you came alone, without back up. Are you going to be alright?"

    She smiled, her expression mostly amused, but with a tinge of indulgence. "I should be. It's the cold I should be worried about, and as you can see, I am not. I suppose there are dangers up there, but if I wasn't prepared, I wouldn't be here now, would I?"

    Barnley nodded. Alright. Do be careful, okay?

    Belladonna simply waved in reply, and left the village.

    WC: 1207/3500


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    Digit
    Digit

    Player 
    Lineage : Wrath of the Wraith
    Position : None
    Posts : 156
    Guild : Errings Rising
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Mentor : Saraphina
    Experience : 12,437

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Arc of Essence
    Second Magic: Pestilence Devil Slayer
    Third Magic: Sacramentum Draconis

    The Abominable Bowman Empty Re: The Abominable Bowman

    Post by Digit on Wed 23 Oct - 7:33

    Barnley had been right; there were few road that led further up into the mountains. And it was at this point that she had to keep her wits about her, because she was heading into wild territory, and her companions in this place would be those who were not open to reasoning of any sort, save brute strength, and who had very little care for rules and honor. Already, she had formed a plan in her mind: find the bow man's house, check if he is in. If he is, and alive (hopefully), get him to return with her and rid Barnley of his fears. Mission accomplished. Unfortunately, cases like this always tended to be more complicated than was expected. Somehow, she felt that she would not find him when she arrived, and would have to look for him. At least, she had the means to do so.

    The weather was rather unforgiving at this height, but fortunately for her, Belladonna was immune to such weather effects. She noticed that the trees were becoming more and more sparse, their vitality being unable to keep up with the harsh conditions of perpetual winter. The paths were not easy to follow either, because of the thick layer of snow that covered the ground, and at this point, she was grateful for her "Verdant Miracle", which she used to "walk" just above the snow surface and prevent herself from expending too much energy on movement alone. The path led up to a narrow pass, with the wall of the mountain to her right and a dreadful fall off to her left. For some reason, her mind went to thoughts of ambush when she approached this point, but it was not likely, unless someone had been tailing her and was out to do her in. To her relief, she crossed this area without any serious difficulty, and soon emerged on a rocky plain. She could barely make out a hut, built against some rocks that offered some level of protection against the wind and snow, and she was sure that she had found the bow man's hut.

    Extending her Right Eye of the Mind, she discovered to her disappointment (although she was quite expecting this outcome) that the abode was empty. The door was ajar, however, and snow had found its way into the interior of the building. "Hmm... it looks like the man left his house in a hurry, or he was taken away without his consent." There was a dead fire in the fireplace, the fuel burnt to charcoal, though some vestigial portions of the wood remained. Looking around the hut, she noticed that there seemed to be signs of conflict, as some of the furniture had been overturned, and there was a broken arrow on the ground. Some foul play was surely afoot, that much was obvious. While she may have wanted, under other circumstances, to put her powers of deduction to work and try to piece out what happened without the use of magic, she was aware that time was of the essence here. Whoever, or whatever came for the bow man might be trying to kill him (if it hadn't done so already), and the sooner she found him, the better for both of them (if he was still alive).

    Belladonna activated the Left Eye of the Mind. From the time it took, and her psychic connection with the room, she realized that about a day had passed since the bow man was gone. Then she saw it: a large black creature, walking backwards (since everything was being viewed in reverse), entered the hut with a body on its shoulder. So, he had been abducted, as she had suspected. She ran the memory back a while longer to get the details, then closed her Left Eye of the Mind. So, if she wasn't mistaken, here was what she had discovered: the bow man, who looked to be in his middle ages, with a beard that needed grooming, was relaxing by the fire when a monster barged in, and a battle ensued. The bow man was really skilled with his bow, and put up a good fight, but the monster seemed impervious to his attacks, and smacked him against the wall, effectively knocking him out. Then, it picked him up, slung him over its shoulder like a sack of grain, and left.

    Belladonna returned outside. What she had seen presented her with a sliver of good news and hope. If the beast had wanted to kill him, it would have done so, right there in the hut. That meant that it wanted him alive, and so, perhaps she could get to them before the bow man outlived whatever usefulness he had to the creature. She activated her Left Eye of the Mind once again, following the path the creature took to the bow man's house. Instinctively, she found herself hurrying, because she was eager to get to the bow man while he still lived. Further up into the mountains her road led, but she continued undeterred, until she sensed shifting shapes ahead of her. They were wolves, and they seemed to have caught her scent. Quickly, she thought up a strategy she could use against them that would ensure she resumed the hunt as quickly as possible. Eventually, she settled on a plan, and hurried towards the pack.

    They bounded towards her, large white wolves, the smallest easily the size of a bull, snapping, slavering and snarling. She continued in her forward press, not making any moves until she was sure that as many wolves as possible were close enough for her to execute her plan. At that point, the closest wolf to her was already preparing to fling itself at her. There was not one second more to waste.

    "Imperio!" she cried, holding up a hand. All the wolves, eighteen in number, ground to a halt and looked confused for a second. Then they trotted up to her quietly, and looked up at her expectantly, waiting on her to command them. Belladonna smiled. They would prove to be useful allies, but she was aware that she could not hold onto their wills forever. She would have to make as much use of them as possible, before they reverted back to their feral states, and considered her no more as mistress, but as meat.

    "You are now my honor guard. I want seven of you to protect me and those I deem worthy of protection. Whatever you wish to do to anyone else that opposes us is up to you. The rest of you, fan out and dissuade any other creature from impeding my journey."

    With those words, she resumed her journey, and the seven wolves followed obediently, bounding through the snow quietly as they accompanied her. The others ran purposefully in various directions, most of them blending into the environment. However, she could keep a tab on them if she needed to, with her Right Eye of the Mind. Back to focusing on the mission, she opened her Left Eye of the Mind once again, tracking the monster that had carried the bow man away. Its trail led up to a cave, and Belladonna sensed that the bow man was within, and alive. While that filled her with pleasure, the feeling was tempered by the fact that there were large creatures in the cave also, larger than her wolves. She needed to employ all the help she could get.

    Her Right Eye of the Mind informed her that most of her wolves were still within her magic sensory range. That was good for what she needed to accomplish. Belladonna focused on her Azure Miracle, and let out a telepathic summons:

    "Snow wolves, to me! There is war impending, and I have need of you."

    As the wolves that heard obeyed, she motioned to the others to keep calm and wait for her signal to attack. She didn't like being the aggressor; rather she preferred that her foe instigated offense first. That way, she could have an excuse for retaliating in kind.

    WC: 1352
    TWC: 2559/3500


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    Digit
    Digit

    Player 
    Lineage : Wrath of the Wraith
    Position : None
    Posts : 156
    Guild : Errings Rising
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Mentor : Saraphina
    Experience : 12,437

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Arc of Essence
    Second Magic: Pestilence Devil Slayer
    Third Magic: Sacramentum Draconis

    The Abominable Bowman Empty Re: The Abominable Bowman

    Post by Digit on Wed 23 Oct - 10:02

    Belladonna walked into the cave, noticing with some amount of surprise that there was a fire going on in the cave. That was strange, since it was expected that non-sentient creatures alone inhabited these parts. She had to constantly remember that there was always the possibility of sentients causing trouble here and there, and many of them liked to retreat to areas where they could not be found, so that there would be no interruption to their nefarious work. A low growl up ahead informed her that her presence had been detected, but she also sensed that they were not moving to attack, yet. Obviously, a mind that could reason was at work here, and perhaps like herself, had control over some of the beasts that dwelt on the mountain.

    Stepping into a large cavern, she saw a fire merrily burning in a corner, and polar bears. No, these were not polar bears. True, polar bears were large, but these ones were as large as elephants! And there were two of them. They were facing the tunnel from which she emerged, fangs bared, ready to pounce. Beyond them were two more figures: one of them was the black beast she had seen from earlier, and the other was upside down, hanging from a low portion of the cavern ceiling by his feet. He had been held there by a strange substance that resembled ice, only it wasn't melting quickly, even in the presence of the fire. The black beast rose slowly on seeing her, obviously irritated at her intrusion. It looked like an ape, if apes had razor sharp teeth and eyes with golden irises and black sclera. At least, it had the long, gangly arms that such primates usually had.

    "You've got some nerve coming in here, human. My law for intruders is death, and nothing else..."

    "Intrusion is relative," she countered. "What would you call breaking into this poor man's house, knocking him about and carting him off? I suppose that should also be punishable by death, right?"

    The black creature snarled, then chuckled. "Well, doesn't this one have a sense of humor?" He began pacing towards her slowly. "Come to think of it, this one could make a better substitute for me, than this wrinkled old man." The creature nodded, as if he had come to a conclusion. "I don't need him anymore. Kill him!" he ordered one of the bears.

    "No!" Belladonna yelled, causing the beast to stare at her in surprise. "You mentioned something about substitute. If you kill him, I will make sure that at best, this body of mine will not be useful enough for you to use for whatever it is you're planning."

    "You're not desperate enough..."

    "I was desperate enough to find you alone, and I'm desperate enough to do what it takes to get him alive."

    The beast laughed. "Sorry, but I don't negotiate." He waved his hand dismissively, and one of the massive bears turned towards the unconscious bow man.

    "I was almost hoping you'd say that. Mal Aria!"

    As she called the command, a wave of blood red noxious mist burst out from her body, quickly enveloping the entire cavern. At once, by telepathic instruction, twelve wolves burst into the cavern, going straight for the gargantuan polar bears, which were writhing, coughing and struggling with the corrosive poison. It was obvious the beast was also affected, but he seemed to be faring better than the bears. As Belladonna ran towards the bow man, she noticed, out of the corner of her eye, that the beast was charging in her direction.

    "Die!!!" he shrieked.

    Tapping into her Arc of Essence at once, Belladonna summoned a writhing mass of tentacles in the way of the beast, to slow him down, while she ran over to the bow man and tried to get him out of the ice. The ice held him fast, and was unrelenting, but if there was anything a Pestilence Devil Slayer could boast of, it was their power of corrosion. Placing a hand on the solid restraint surrounding the man's feet, Belladonna afflicted it with her Touch of Decay, her magic eating into the ice in a matter of seconds and releasing the bow man to fall limply to the ground.

    "You blasted @#$%#! I'll get you for this!" the beast raved, as he struggled with the tendrils that held him. Belladonna ignored him, instead focusing on the bow man, who seemed to be barely clinging to life. Placing a hand on him, she released her Elixir gas on him, and could feel his breathing and heart beat return to something more acceptable. Now, all that was needed was to get him out of there.

    The wolves had done a very good job on the bears, since they had numbers on their side, and her Mal Aria had seriously tipped the battle in their favor. One bear was dead, and the other was badly injured, trying to fend off the wolves just long enough to survive. Of her wolves, two had been killed, but the others were still in fighting condition.

    "Let's get out of here," she called to her "honor guard", as she slung the bow man over her shoulder and made for the exit. She was quite stronger than the average person, and so could manage his weight. As the wolves rallied to her, she noticed the beast tear free from his restraints and rush towards her. In reply, she simply pointed at him, and fired a Venom Shock shard at him. In his rage, he failed to even see it, and it struck him in the chest, causing him to crash to the ground, howling in pain. That ought to hold him down, she reasoned, but it was not enough. The beast suddenly let out a scream, and began growing to massive proportions.

    Belladonna, under other circumstances, might have considered staying and fighting, but she had someone to protect, and so she made for the exit, led by her wolves. As they got outside, there was a, ear-splitting crack, as the beast burst through the side of the mountain, easily twenty feet in height.

    "What in the... run!"

    Summoning a wolf to her, while the others scattered in different directions, she mounted it, placing the bow man in front of her so he wouldn't fall off, and spurred her "steed" to fly. As she did so, she placed a hand on the nape of its neck, infusing it with the Battle Air and Head Wind pheromones. Expectedly, the wolf covered grounds in leaps and bounds. And a good thing, too, for the massive beast followed, hardly caring that it was causing an avalanche to pound at its heels.

    Considering the next best plan, Belladonna decided to use the environment to her advantage. She led her wolf mount to the portion of mountain road that had a wall on one side and a steep drop on the other. The wolf, being fleet footed, navigated through with ease, but the beast stopped, then realized that that was a fatal mistake. The avalanche behind smashed into him hurling him forward. the beast missed his footing, and with a scream, was plunged into the abyss, to his doom.

    With a sigh of relief, Belladonna rode the wolf back to a point just outside the village, then alighted and brought down the still unconscious bow man. She sent the wolf off, keeping her hold on its will until it was far away. For her part, she walked back the rest of the way, carrying the man. Barnley, who was, for some reason, close to the village gates, was the first to see them, and rushed over.

    "Is he...?" he asked worriedly.

    "Shaken up pretty bad, but he's alive. I'd suggest he stays with you guys. It's for his own good, but ultimately, it's his choice."

    "Thank you very much, lady. I'm very grateful."

    "Nah, you don't have to. You're paying for this, after all," she replied offhandedly.

    Belladonna only waited long enough for the issue of her payment to be sorted out, then she took her money and left. Even though she was immune to most weather effects, she was going to find herself a nice warm bath the first chance she got.

    And she would avoid mountains for a while.

    WC: 1393
    TWC: 3952/3500
    FINISHED


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      Current date/time is Wed 3 Jun - 22:04