Backstory: There is a Rite of Cleansing in the Templar Knighthood that, in order to be completed, the Knight must lead raids on undead villages or BL/Spines. Sryaen had raided Kornar by himself a few days ago and killed their leader, but during his travels to raise his standing with the Fellowship of Explorers, he stumbled across a changed Bihrkaen. He did a bit of scouting, got some intel and saw the village was too big for him to attempt solo, so he enlisted the help of a Sentinel he'd gone into battle with numerous times. The plan was to rescue any people held captive there and escort them to safety while cleansing the village of the vampires within. Sryaen has a lifetime of sins to make up for. This seemed as good a first step as any.
He is a typical Azudim of Tsol'aa heritage and is a long-limbed, feral creature standing roughly seven feet tall. Flawless skin the color of ash covers his entire slender, yet subtly muscled figure. Arcane runes zig-zag across what flesh can be seen, pulsing with a faint blue light as the edges appear to have been carved into his flesh with seemingly calculated design; the jagged markings describing the curvature of muscle or outlining solid, powerful bone structure beneath his ashen flesh. His facial features are masculine, but bearing the elegant and angled features of his Tsol'aa heritage. A large tattoo of shadowy black is set on the left side of his brow, the half-crescent arcing gracefully along the side of his face before finishing off in a sharp point that ends just below the curve of his cheekbone. There is a small, humanoid bite mark against the flesh covering his jugular vein - the dental impression fresh and a swirling mixture of purple-bluish hues. His facial hair is grown out in short stubble, but giving his jawline a more rugged, outdoorsy look. Medium-length, raven black hair adorns his head in a fresh, clean cut though a few strands rebelliously hang down in front of his face despite his best effort to pull most of the hair back in a short, masuline ponytail. His eyes are a deep, emerald green that are set beneath a slender brow, though small flecks of blood seem to be permanently set within the irises upon closer inspection. He cuts a powerful figure, seeming at once immobile and yet dangerously capable all at the same time. His wrists bear rope burns, giving a reddish, irritated tinge of color to his ashen flesh. Tendrils of inky blackness swirl haphazardly around his lithe frame to give the appearance of nearly translucent, shadowy wings that bend and refract with available light; despite this, the bits of darkness that slowly snake outwards from his body quickly dissipate into nothingness - giving the illusion of a constant motion of swirling and coalescing shadows. Shadows drape him with the blessing of Severn, the Manipulator. Suffused with a pale glow, he walks with the boon of the Unbound. Eyes piercing with an ethereal shimmer, he has been touched by the Underking's blessing. The clean scent of a refreshing sea breeze lingers around him - the aroma marking the blessing of the Maelstrom.
(worn as a wedding band) : an obsidian and steel sanguinite band
(slightly obscuring his facial features) : a hood
(slung low across his hips) : a blackened dragonhide weaponbelt
(securely worn around a middle finger) : the Aetolian bicentennial ring
(tactically and comfortably fitted) : comfortable, black leather pants
(hanging from the shoulders) : an Infernal Cloak of Shadows
(gleaming vicariously upon his right arm) : a twining armlet of jagged, blackened platinum
(comfortably fitted to his slender frame) : bronze scalemail adorned with Kerrithrim's Wrath
(his feet securely buckled within) : tall, thick-soled, black military boots
(slung across the back) : a wolf-marked mahogany leather quiver
(secured snugly on his right wrist) : a twisted, black leather bracelet
(cuffing the wrist and forearm) : a leather armband tooled with a wildcat paw print
(slung over a shoulder) : a shadowy ebonwood darkbow
She is an athletic Idreth of Tsol'aa heritage, which is apparent in the features of her face; high cheekbones and a sharp jawline, as well as the elongated ears that end in a delicately pointed tip. A dotting of freckles dusts her nose and cheeks, just barely visible on her golden-bronze skin. Hair of a fiery red color, eyecatchingly bright, has been cut short till her nape at the back, with a few longer bangs framing her face at the front. Parted more to one side, some of the silken, soft-looking locks fall every now and then into darkly-lashed eyes of a bluish-green hue which almost seem to shine in the dark. She stands with an almost stiff bearing, around five and a half feet tall with a fit, yet slightly curvaceous body. Arching gracefully over her eyebrows is a collection of perfectly aligned white dots, with the same paint in a pale blue beneath her eyes.
(clinging tightly to the legs) : a huntress' black leggings
(settled loosely about the body) : a black-hemmed teal shirt
(hanging proudly over her heart) : a cracked hematite medallion of the Pride
(on one wrist) : a flickering elemental brand
A stately marble foyer.
A sigil in the shape of a small, rectangular monolith is on the ground. Huntress Valorie is here,
You see exits leading north (open pine door), northeast (open pine door), east, west, up, and out (closed pine door).
You have emoted: Sryaen pokes his head out the door a bit and seems genuinely surprised to see Valorie. He arches his brow upwards slightly as he opens the door a bit wider and gestures into the foyer with a slender hand. "Come in, come in," the Azudim says simply. He closes the door behind her and locks it before turning on the heel of his boot to make his way towards the stairwell. "Have a look around if you want. I'm upstairs in my training area when you're ready to talk," he continues while already making his way up to the second story landing, his low, gravelly voice trailing off until he disappears from sight.
Within a sandy training pit.
Magical darkness enshrouds this area. A comforting feeling of privacy pervades the area. The
continent of Sapience unfolds in miniature across the face of a war table. An ebon-grey cabinet
filled with practice weapons is mounted here. A sigil in the shape of a small, rectangular monolith is on the ground. Looking sturdy and comfortable, a black leather-padded stool rests here. The shrunken head of Evelyn has been placed proudly atop the war table, almost as if some sort of grotesque trophy.
You see exits leading north and east (open pine door).
Valorie inhales sharply when you move to close and lock the door, looking like she's about to say something but apparently thinks better of it, giving you a curt nod at your words. She doesn't seem too interested in exploring the place, and follows you up almost immediately with silent footsteps after you've made your way up, a cautious hand on the handle of her whip. The Idreth's eyes linger for a long moment on the shrunken head placed on top of the table, her eyebrows arching up before she turns to you and takes a few steps closer, though still a respectable distance away. "What are your plans and what is expected of me?" she asks, cutting right to the chase.
You have emoted: The corners of his eyes twitching ever so slightly at some moving shadows out of his peripheral vision, Sryaen tilts his head to cast Valorie a sidelong glance. He gently pushes off the edge of the war table and his hands find their way down to rest casually atop the blackened weaponbelt slung low across his hips as his blood-flecked emerald gaze slowly appraises her. "I've been led to believe there are people being held captive in Bihrkaen, as I mentioned in my letter. I spoke with the Underking a few weeks ago and our conversation got me thinking that my hands have been idle for too long," he explains while his attention briefly flicks over to the whip in Valorie's hand. "I need someone to watch my back while we go try to get everyone in and out nice and quietly, no big brawl in the street. Once we get there, we'll resort to signing to keep as silent as possible," the Azudim continues, straightening his posture somewhat as he takes a few slow, calculated steps away from the table to gently pluck up his shirt that was draped over edge of the weapon cabinet. "We kill any guards we come across and preserve the Cycle. Does that sound agreeable?" he asks, arching a slender eyebrow towards her.
Valorie tilts her head slightly to a side, strands of hair falling into her eyes as she looks back
at you, equally as appraising even if her manner isn't quite as casual as yours. "How many people?" she asks after listening quietly, her face betraying nothing of her feelings except a faint eagerness in the way her eyes sharpen. Another few steps brings her closer to you and the war table, and she reaches out with a hand to lightly trail her fingertips over the village in question. "Will they be our responsibility once we get them out? Where will we be housing them? Are we sufficiently funded to feed and clothe all of them? Provide mind healers?" Apparently only midway through the list of questions, she pauses, a faint flush rising to her cheeks. "Just... making sure we're prepared."
You have emoted: Sryaen dexterously slips his shirt over his head and tugs it downwards so that he's a bit more dressed. Turning away from Valorie, he slides his long limbs into the suit of scalemail and he adjusts his stance slightly while shifting the armor to fit more comfortably. Finally satisfied, the Templar fastens a few loose buckles and straps to better secure the armor to his slender frame. As if to test the durability, he taps a lightly armored fist to his protected chest before he pivots once more on the heel of his blackened boots to face Valorie. "The information I have puts the number of women at five. There could possibly be children, but they're of an age where they'll be able to walk," he says in his usual low, coarse tone. Pulling a small tub of facepaint from the weapon cabinet, he dips two slender fingertips into the tub and proceeds to mark his face with a forest-green camouflage. "The captives simply want their freedom. Nothing else. Though if they require a place to stay, I have plenty of room here for them to stay temporarily," he adds while rolling his shoulders forward in a light shrug.
A thoughtful hum escapes Valorie as she watches your preparations with idle curiosity. "That sounds agreeable to me, then." the woman finally answers your question from earlier. The conversation has her looking more eager now, and her fingers close around the hilt of the dirk in her weaponbelt, just feeling its familiar weight instead of pulling out the deadly weapon just yet. A faint tapping noise fills the air as she drums her fingers againt the metal, looking deep in thought for a few moments before glances over to you once again, head tilted back slightly to meet your eyes. "If we leave now we'll make it there in time for the sun to set."
You have emoted: Sryaen finishes applying the facepaint and he wipes any remaining forest-green paint on a small rag before he turns to place the tub and cloth back into the weapon cabinet. He sucks a bit of air thoughtfully through the front of his teeth as he rummages around carefully in the cabinet, taking out a few smaller daggers and tucking one into his weaponbelt, one into his boot and another in a small sheath along his lower back. "Did you need any last minute preparations before we go?" he asks while closing the cabinet doors quietly and stepping towards the edge of the sandy training pit. He lowers himself onto both knees and clasps his hands together before him in a reverent gesture as he bows his head, a few strands of his raven black hair shifting with the motion to hang rebelliously in front of his face. The Azudim's ashen lips move slowly in a silent but brief prayer. Then, he seems to recite a mantra for himself in a low murmur, "Be swift. Be silent. Kill clean." The Templar nods once in satisfaction as he rises to his feet once more and he lifts his slender hands to pull the brim of his hood up from around the back of his neck to slightly obscure his facial features. He turns his piercing emerald irises to Valorie expectantly.
As you make your preparations, Valorie's eyes flicker over to your boots, a thoughtful look
momentarily crossing her face when you hide the dagger in it. She glances down at her own bare feet, whatever thought she had making her grimace, then shakes her head at you and reaches up a little self-consciously to run her fingers through her hair when yours fall into your face during the prayer. "I'm good." she replies out loud to your expectant look. Feeling the need to clarify for whatever reason, the woman adds, "I came prepared."
You have emoted: Sryaen makes a thoughtful, low rumbling noise that doesn't quite make it past his ashen lips. Swallowing the noise away, he offers a single nod of his head as he hisses in a sharp, sibilant voice for a swirling hole to open up in the center of the sandy pit - and streams of the fine black sand pour effortlessly over the edge and into the abyss before he jumps in without any hesitation.
[Voltda and movement to the edge of Bihrkaen]
You have emoted: Sryaen slips into the bog on nearly silent footfalls, though the occasional misstep causes the soles of his boots to stick briefly in the sucking mud and knee-high water. He casts Valorie a quick glance before gesturing towards the northwestern approach.
Valorie grimaces at the smell as she steps through the bog behind you and moves towards the
direction indicated, only the faint noise of her breathing through her mouth instead of her nose now giving away her position. Reaching down to her waist, she pulls her whip free from her weaponbelt as the leather almost dips into the murky water, and loops it around her shoulder instead before nodding at you. She slips her dirk from its sheathe and angles the blade along her forearm to hide the glint of metal under the starlight, staying alert and on guard.
You have emoted: Sryaen slips silently from building to building, making sure to stay low and out ofsight as the two of you approach the center of the village. He pauses just before the open courtyard and looks over at Valorie and begins to make quick gestures with his hands.
You sign out: We're going to take out the person to the west in the gardens.
Valorie gives you a curt nod of her head and creeps over to the west, glancing into every alleyway along the path on the way to make sure she isn't spotted by any unfortunate passerby. She pauses behind the hedge leading into the garden, signing quickly back at you before she closes her fingers around the handle of her whip, ready to uncoil it at a moment's notice.
Valorie signs I'm ready.
The center gardens of the village.
The stars glimmer down, broken only upon occasion by thin wisps of clouds. This place is rather contrasting in its layout. A large hole, surrounded by boulders and support beams, rest in the center and it seems to be leading deep down into the ground. A wide trail of gravel leads off to the south, where there seems to be an enormous deposit of rocks. In the other direction, the area has been transformed into a beautiful garden. The rocks surrounding the entrance have been carefully arranged into plateaus holding different colorful plants and flower and there are small trails to wander between planted shrubbery and well-tended small trees. Someone has even taken the time to build a small pond here, one filled with clear water as compared to the murky kind found elsewhere around the area, and lined with a careful array of rocks and minerals. A mass of moss and fur resembling a tall dwarf stands here. Huntress Valorie is here, shrouded.
You see exits leading east, south, west, and down.
You have emoted: Sryaen carefully approaches Hulin Mirefist from behind, ensuring his footfalls
alight silently upon the rough gravel covering most of the garden area. He quietly sheathes his dirk as he nears the undead man and fluidly reaches up to clasp his lightly armored palm over Hulin's mouth to muffle any startled noises. His biceps flex powerfully as he snaps the man's neck in one motion so as to not to leave any visible blood trail before hoisting the undead's corpse into the small pond. He gently lowers the body beneath the water to avoid any unnecessary splashing noises and as he turns to leave, a few lingering bubbles of air rise to break the surface of the pond water before the gardens are silent and still once more.
You have emoted: Sryaen darts quickly over towards the entrance to the hole in the ground and he slips his hand back down to curl his fingertips anxiously around the hilt of the blackened steel dirk sheathed within his low-slung weaponbelt. He nods once at you and uses his free hand to sign out quickly.
You sign out: Down this way.
Roughly carved walls surround on either side, the rock excavated and carved away to create a narrow passage extension from the nearby mineshaft. Several lanterns have been nailed into place within the walls, providing a dim light to the surroundings. The heavy scent of dirt and mold fill the air, a reminder of the lack of air that manages to reach this place. General Hovalai La'Urenz paces about here, murmuring to himself. Huntress Valorie is here, shrouded.
You see exits leading north and south.
Valorie keeps watch at the entrance to the garden, mostly focused on making sure nobody else happens to come this way while you carry out the act. Her eyebrows arch up at your choice of disposal, but she simply nods her head back at you, stepping across the area to make her way to the hole. She eyes the entrance leading down dubiously and pauses for a moment, closing her eyes and focusing. As she does, the darkness of the night seems to intensify, the bright twinkling of stars seeming almost dull as she calls upon shadows, making sure the garden is dark enough that it's impossible to make anything out in the clear waters of the pond. Then, she lowers herself into the hole, sheathing her dirk to grip at the railing of the ladder leading down.
General Hovalai La'Urenz stops his murmuring and perks up as he seems to catch some scent in the air. "Well, well.." the Consanguine says while lunging forward to wildly strike at Sryaen.
You have emoted: Sryaen thrusts forward with his dirk to stab at the General's midsection, but the Consanguine is too quick. His limbs a blur, the vampire dodges the attack and instead grips the Azudim's wrist and whirls him around against the rock wall, causing the lanterns to shake with a loud 'boom'. Bits of rock and dirt crumble from the ceiling as Hovalai's free hand pulls back to form a tight fist before he viciously pummels the Templar with a series of strikes.
A startled gasp escapes Valorie, the briefest moment of hesitation showing as you lunge forward and get thrown into a wall before the Idreth moves into action, whip in one hand and her dirk in the other. With a swishing sound in the air, the leather braid of her whip wraps around the Consanguine's forearm and she pulls with all her strength. Her build more suited to agility than brute force though, it does little to stop the General's assault on you, and instead he just uses it as a lever to pull her closer. With a swift gesture of his fingers and some incomprehensible words spoken, a rune is painted on Valorie's hand, the symbol flashing a bright red before blood starts pouring out of every visible inch of the woman's skin. She lets out a strangled scream, dropping the whip to bring her hand up to her mouth in an attempt to stifle the noise, trying not to alert the rest of the inhabitants to your presence here as she drops to her knees, but not without stabbing her dirk into the Consaguine's back on her way down.
You have emoted: As the General turns to mark you and whisper those words, Sryaen uses that moment to drive the hilt of his blackened steel dirk powerfully in a stunning motion towards the Consanguine's abdomen. The vampire doubles over slightly and releases his grip on the Azudim, giving the Templar an opening to dart past Hovalai and drive his elbow into the armored back of the General. He whips around and firmly plants his dagger hilt-deep into the skull of the staggered vampire in one swift motion, and the undead man's mouth opens in a noiseless scream before he slumps to the floor in a lifeless, mist-ridden heap. Sryaen takes half a step towards Valorie and reaches out with a lightly armored hand as his other gestures in a signed language.
You sign out: Are you alright?
Thankfully, the magically-induced bleeding seems to have only lasted a short while, though Valorie's sleeve still comes away bloody when she wipes it across her forehead, brushing away the blood from getting into her eyes. She takes a moment to compose herself, taking a deep breath before nodding and reaching for her weapons and sheathing the dirk once again before she takes your hand with her slightly trembling one and rises to her feet.
Valorie signs Yes. Good work.
You have emoted: Sryaen firmly but gently helps Valorie to her feet and he withdraws his hand from her own before turning to collect his dirk from the vampire's crumpled body. He wipes a bit of brain matter off on his trousers as he slips towards the northern doorway to peek into the dusty lobby. He tilts his head to the side to cast Valorie a sidelong glance and he forces a wry smile from beneath the brim of the shadowy hood slightly obscuring his facial features.
You sign out: There's.. lots. This could get loud. So we will need to work fast.
After giving herself a moment to take in deep breaths and recover somewhat, Valorie creeps over to the other side of the doorway, frowning as she takes count of the bodies in the next room. Her dirk gets pulled into her hand again and she nods her head, equally as willing as before if not quite as confident. Glancing over at your whip, she signs you a quick question.
Valorie signs Thralls for last. Think we can pull one or two in without alerting the others?
A dusty lobby.
A well-dressed fledgling rests here. A ritual consanguine lurks in the shadows.
You see exits leading northeast, south, and northwest.
You have emoted: Sheathing his dirk quietly, Sryaen rolls a shoulder to slip the darkbow from his back and his fingertips curl lightly inward to grip the ranged weapon. He reaches up with his free hand to silently pull an arrow from his quiver - and the Azudim levels the arrowhead against one of his metal fangs to secret an oozing viscous venom onto the sharpened point before nocking it to the bowstring. He jerks his chin towards the consanguine as if to indicate a target and his blood-flecked gaze meets Valorie's as if waiting for acknowledgement.
With a firm nod back at you, Valorie's breathing slows down as she focuses her eyes on the other Consanguine on the room. She slips a throwing knife out of her sleeve, the blade looking sharp-edged and deadly in her hand as she crouches, getting into a slightly-crouched position to stay hidden in the shadow of the doorway. Her eyes flicker between you and her chosen target, and at the moment you start to release the arrow from your bow, she flicks her wrist to send the knife flying, whizzing in the air until it sinks right into the base of the neck of the Consanguine.
You have emoted: Watching Valorie's throwing knife flick forwards with that dangerous, glinting edge, Sryaen looses his arrow the instant it leaves your palm. The arrow hisses through the air quietly before finding its mark straight through the eye of the thrall standing next to the Consanguine. The sight of Valorie's knife burying firmly into the neck of the vampire only registers for a split-second on the thrall's face and as he moves to look in the direction of where the blade came from, his body jerks back forcibly to be pinned to the wall; held up only by the shaft of the arrow through his skull as his body hangs limply and with a slack-jawed expression. The Azudim lowers his bow back down to his side while nocking another arrow to his bowstring as he darts forward to peek around the corner to make sure no other enemies were alerted.
Once she deems the way clear, Valorie pauses for a moment to make sure both of the victims are well and truly dead before she pads into the room and pulls her knife out of the Consanguine's neck with a sickening squelching noise. She wipes it off on her already blood-stained sleeve before palming it once more and moving towards the doorway leading into hall outside the Thrall housing, wrinkling up her nose at the sight of the undead moving about in there.
You have emoted: Sryaen silently slips along the edge of the hallway past the thrall's quarters as he shoulders his bow once more. Quietly unfurling the length of his whip beside him, Sryaen's chest rises in a sharp intake of breath as he peeks around the corner into the ritual chamber and sees two consanguine and two fledgling thralls inside. He glances back at Valorie with a grim expression on his face as he swallows hard, the ashen flesh upon his throat shifting visibly with the motion. He doesn't say anything, but instead just nods slowly at her as if to wordlessly express his acceptance of the situation. The Azudim returns his gaze back into the ritual chamber as he looks for an opening for attack and his fingertips flick next to him as he signs out quietly to Valorie.
You sign out: Ready on you. Blooded first. Thralls last.
A spacious ritual chamber.
A ritual consanguine lurks in the shadows. An elder consanguine stands here. There are 2 well
-dressed fledglings here. A rugged thrall stands here. Huntress Valorie is here, shrouded.
You see exits leading north, southeast, and southwest.
Valorie tilts her head in the briefest motion of acknowledgment at your sign, completely still as
she waits in the shadows. 'Shorter one's mine', she signs back to you, her knuckles turning white around the hilt of her knife with how hard she grasps at it. A sharp intake of breath from the woman is the only warning you get as the Consanguine she targeted takes a few steps towards the door behind where the two of you hide, and she sends the knife flying at his throat without hesitation. It misses by a scant few inches, embedding itself in the vampire's shoulder instead, which is all that's needed for the target to yell out loud and alert the rest of the room to your presence. "Fiddlesticks." she says breathlessly, forgetting to sign in her panic and pulling her dirk free to throw it at the Consanguine with all her strength, this time managing to embed it right into his forehead and send him collapsing to the ground with a thud.
You have emoted: Sryaen nods once and steps into the ritual chamber and his bicep flexes powerfully as he sends the tip of his dark whip out to curl around the throat of the other consanguine, causing any sort of yelp of surprise to come out as a strangled sort of wheezing noise. The Templar lowers the whip down to his side a bit as he steps forward once more - only this time he drops the full weight of his boot on that taught cordage, sending the vampire's body lurching down towards him. The Azudim is ready and waiting with his blackened steel dirk, whose perfectly sharpened needle-point effortlessly stabs into the startled, open mouth of the consanguine. He spins fluidly around, twitching his wrist to loose the whip's hold on the now-dead vampire's throat before snapping that iron-tip out to lash around the ankle of one of the thralls standing near the altar. Freeing his blade from the lifeless maw of the vampire with a hard yank, he readies himself for another strike but instead pulls the foot of the thrall out from under him to send the fledgling's face smashing down into the surface of the stone altar. Now alerted to the intruders, the two other thralls shift their attention immediately between you and Sryaen and advance aggressively while clenching their fists.
Realizing she might be slightly in trouble with both her bladed weapons now buried in the body on the ground, Valorie lunges forward, bracing herself with her foot on the dead vampire's chest to pull the dirk out of his forehead with some trouble, given that it's embedded up to the hilt. Seeing the opportunity, one of the thralls moves towards her and she fumbles, barely managing to get the dirk out before he's almost on top of her. With a yelp, she kicks the dead body into the thrall's legs, making him trip over his feet and fall chest-first onto the blade of her dirk. Using the handle of the weapon and another well-timed kick to flip them over, the Idreth sends the thrall sprawling to the ground and pulls the blade free only to stab it into his body again and again until the undead falls still.
You have emoted: Seeing you handle the other thrall with a minimal amount of difficulty, Sryaen turns his attention back to the final thrall. The undead has now risen to his feet and shaken off his daze, though his face is scrunched up in a bloody mess. As the fledgling nears the Azudim, he flicks his whip out once more to coil that length of cordage around the undead's wrist and he tugs back to send the man off balance slightly. Stepping forward once more, he places the sole of his boot firmly against the thrall's abdomen and sends the undead launching backwards out of the ritual chamber. While the body nears the northern exit, the Templar snaps two fingertips and a blazing wall of light appears over the doorway and as soon as the thrall's body passes through it, the flesh and bits of bone instantly vaporize into a heaping pile of ash. Coiling his blackened whip around his arm, he jerks his head towards the altar and the exit beyond. "We're nearly there," he finally speaks, though his words slip quietly past his ashen lips.
Valorie runs her fingers through her hair to push the strands out of her face, grimacing as the
mixture of sweat, blood and dirt that covers her hands soils her hair further with the action. With a nod of her head at you, the woman gets into position once more to scout out the next room, though the exhaustion starting to seep into her muscles is obvious in her movements. "Let's finish this." she murmurs back, not even bothering to clean the blood off her dirk now.
The General's Chambers.
The smell of blood is acrid here, flowing in from the southern direction but remaining in the air
from the large fountain of blood that rests towards the back of the area. The fountain rests nearby a small gap in the floor, the sounds of moans and other pained sounds faintly rising from it. An elegantly carved chair rests before a desk, various papers and schematics scattered about the surface of it. Lavish rugs and pillows are scattered about all over the free spaces, ranging in colors of purple and red. Encircled by a thin veil of flame-like shadows, Usham stands here. Huntress Valorie is here, shrouded.
You see exits leading south and down.
You have emoted: Sryaen doesn't seem particularly interested in being stealthy any more, as the
commotion in the ritual chamber should have alerted at least someone. Usham is standing behind the desk, his hands folded before him as he looks expectantly towards the two of you enter. The Azudim's ashen lips curl upwards in a feral sort of snarl as he darts forward to leap up onto the edge of the desk before lunging at the blood mage with his blackened steel dirk in his hand thrusting forward in a vicious stabbing motion. The mage twists out of the way easily and sends a blast of swirling, coalescing shadow energy out to slam into the Templar, sending him flying into the blood fountain in the back of the chamber. Sryaen crashes into the fountain with a sickening crack and a heavy, fractured crunching noise of crumbling stone and the blood within the basin washes over the edge to cover him entirely in a fresh coating of crimson. He strains for his dirk that had escaped his grip, trying his best to edge the weapon closer to him with two fingertips; though the blade seems to be just out of reach.
While Usham has his attentions focused on you, Valorie creeps up behind him, her whip lashing in the air to wrap around the mage's throat. As she thrusts forward with her dirk in an attempt to stab it into his spine, the shadowy tendrils surrounding the man seem to come alive, one of them snapping around her wrist and stopping it in its tracks, the sharpened point of her dirk barely making contact with Usham's robe. A shrill scream fills the air, coming from the Idreth as the tendril almost seems to suck the vitality out of her hand, making her drop the weapon to the stone floor with a clatter. Another blast of magic slams into the woman, though the mage seems more preoccupied with the leather wrapped around his throat to aim it right and the magic doesn't do anything more than make the woman let out a whimper, breathless and almost doubling over with pain. Refusing to let go of the handle of her whip in desperation, the Huntress kicks her own dirk near her feet over to you, the weapon coming to a stop near your hand with a clatter of metal against stone.
You have emoted: Rivulets of blood trailing down his angled cheekbones, Sryaen shakes his head once as if to focus himself and he leans forward with a grunt to snatch up the dirk kicked over in his direction and he rolls onto his back between Usham's legs. He curls his slender fingertips around the hilt of Valorie's dirk and slams the needle-tip upwards to hilt the blade firmly into the groin of the mage, eliciting a blood-curdling scream from the man. The blood mage lets out a monstrous roar and shifts his energies down to the Azudim once more, sending a flurry of shadow magic into Sryaen, though the bolts of coalescing darkness miss by mere inches as the Templar dexterously rolls out of the way - collecting his own blackened steel dirk as he moves. Swiftly rising to his feet, the Azudim darts behind Valorie to lash his own whip out to curl around the mage's throat to add a second length of cordage to Usham's already strangled neck. Adding a bit more tension with the additional whip, the blood mage's bones in his back start to crack audibly under the strain as he struggles to turn and flail his arms in an attempt to cast another spell towards the two Syssin.
As your whip curls around the mage's throat, Valorie stumbles over to the side opposite from you,pulling at her whip with all the weight of her body and trusting in your strength to keep him from falling on top of her. The cord of her whip pulling in one direction while yours pulls in the other, Usham's neck collapses under the strain, breaking with a sickening crunch of bones. The mage comes to a still with one last gurgling noise at the back of his throat, his arms dropping to his sides while his body is still held upright on his feet between the lengths of the whips until Valorie lets hers uncoil from around his throat, a relieved sigh escaping her. "You alright?" she asks, and instantly seems to regret it as her takes in your current state with a wince.
You have emoted: Sryaen lifts a lightly armored hand to brush his blood-soaked hair away from hisface and tucking it messily behind a pointed ear as he releases his own whip from around the throat of the lifeless mage. Now that there's no tension holding his body upright, Usham's corpse slumps down to 'thud' heavily against the edge of the desk and his crushed throat has a visible zig-zag look to it. The Azudim curls the cordage of his whip around his elbow once more as he takes a few slow, calculated steps towards the gap in the floor. "I'm fine. How's your hand?" the Templar asks, arching a slender eyebrow towards Valorie from beneath the brim of his shadowy hood while a hint of concern softens his otherwise low, gravelly voice.
Her fingertips twitch the faintest bit in response as Valorie glances down at her hand, her arm
hanging still by her side. "... it'll be fine." she decides, coiling up her whip in a similar fashion to yours before flipping the body over with her uninjured hand to pull out her dirk with a wrinkle of her nose. She moves over to you and leans over the gap to peer down into the darkness before letting out a quiet sigh and lowering herself into it. "Well, here goes."
You have emoted: Picking up the pace as the two of you slip down the hole, Sryaen quickly movesbetween the chambers, not caring whatsoever as his boots splash into puddles of refuse or crunch against the bones of decayed, piled corpses. He strides into the breeding chamber and places a hand on the Nazetu's shoulder and roughly spins him around before planting his dagger unceremoniously in the forehead of the guard - killing him instantly. He whips the blade out of the guard's skull and quickly sheathes it before bending low at the table and unfastens the shackles of the woman chained up before scooping her into his arms. Effortlessly cradling the small, scantily-clad woman against his body, he turns to face Valorie and says, "Let's get the others and leave. We're using a wormhole to get out," he says quickly.
A strangled noise gets stuck halfway out of Valorie's throat, torn somewhere between horror and outrage as she catches sight of the women in the chambers. She lets you dispose of the guard, moving towards the birthing chamber before you're even done speaking and starting to undo the straps holding down the woman closest to her. It proves to be difficult with just one hand, and she reaches for her dirk to cut into the straps, wincing when the sight of the weapon makes the woman panic. "Shhh," she whispers to the woman in a hopefully reassuring manner, murmuring something to her too low to hear in soothing tones as she slowly starts cutting into the leather. She's free soon enough and the Idreth moves on to the next woman, having all of them free of their bindings in no time and helping them up to their feet before she turns to you. "You said there were children."
You have emoted: Sryaen nods once and he gestures towards the ladder leading down even further into the darkness as he adjusts the woman's body in his arms while he carefully descends further. "Here," he says once he makes his way into the nursery. "Grab one and let's go," he says to each prengant woman. He holds the smaller woman firmly in one arm against his body as he reaches out with a hand towards the far wall and reality begins to distort and ripple as a look of concentration settles upon his facial features. The wormhole seems to stabilize and the swirling image of an edge of the highway near Esterport comes into view. Through gritted teeth, the Azudim says, "Everyone in."
You have emoted: One by one, the entire group of rescued women pops through the wormhole and Sryaen follows shortly after, still holding the woman firmly but gently against his slender frame. Once in the safety of Esterport, he lowers her down onto her feet and the woman reaches out to steady herself on the side of the bridge. The Azudim looks ragged and thoroughly exhausted, bits of blood and flesh still randomly decorating his attire while the metallic, copper scent of blood and the salty, smoky tinge of sweat and steel emanate strongly from him; though he seems less concerned with any of that and more about seeing the women off properly. He forces a genuine sort of smile that tugs at the edges of his ashen lips as he waves a lightly armored hand towards the woman and the babies they hold, then he turns on the heel of his boot to face Valorie and regards her with a silent stare.
Valorie leans against the side of the bridge, too exhausted to keep herself completely upright on her feet. Dirt, blood, sweat and grime cover her clothes and every visible inch of the woman's skin as she watches you see off the women, though her eyes are bright with a fierce sort of determination. She waits for the women to disappear out of sight before taking a step forward, tilting her head back to look you in the eye. "You won't go alone, next time." The words are definitely not a question, just the Huntress firmly informing you.
You have emoted: Sryaen seems almost too fatigued to even answer, but he simply nods his head at first. "We'll talk after we've had a chance to rest," he acknowledges faintly. As he walks past Valorie, he reaches out to lightly clasp a lightly armored hand atop her shoulder and he squeezes in silent gratitude before withdrawing the gesture and turning to head down the highway towards Enorian.