Death Comes to the Forest
Death Comes to the Forest
Location: Brentinor
Date: 6 June 2018
Summary: Constantine and Izett ride north…
Characters: Constantine, [[[Izett]
NPCs: {$npc}

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Having obtained the armor of the Black Knight, Sir Constantine manages (with the help of a certain Lady Shiona) to turn the tables upon a Brentinor Duke who kept a reign of terror over his subjects through means of a false 'lottery'. In the course of reviewing the Duke's effects, the Helm of Night is also discovered. But even then, things are not all as they appear to be.
Following the leading of a dream, Constantine heads north. But he doesn't do so without aid. While in Brentinor, he reacquaints himself with the Countess Argent of Brentinor to seek her aid. It's a quest that will require some searching, after all. And so they ride together, he in the worn armor of the Black Knight of Lyonesse astride a roan destrier named Mabel.
Riding astride a magnificent horse with fine lineage and the epitomy of all things perfect in horses is Izett. Strawberry blonde hair trailing behind her in intricate braids accented with glass and metal beads, she looks more the Lyonesse female warriors of old than a Countess. All around the two a pack of six insanely large dogs bound, the size of ponies and slicked down with a glowing blue oil they appear to have an ethereal glow about them. The leader of that pack is to put it mildly is eerie. Every time the small group passes over lands of death, or buriel grounds it appears to have just crawled out of the crypts themselves. The eerie howls of the animals announces the passage of the group.
Constantine keeps control of Mabel, the horse having been bred and trained for war after all. The assembly paces themselves, riding for a journey rather than a charge into battle. "The answer came to me in my dreams, Milady." the young knight continues, voice muffled beneath the dark helm. "T'was the spirit of Aegrin himself who told me that the Helm was never the locus of the Black Knight's power. There is a pennon adorning it; something called the Flame of Man. And it lies to the north, in the keeping of a group of wild men."
Izett rides with casual ease, watching the hounds moving around in positions around them keeping a watchful eye and yet working out some energy. "To the North is the followers of Cern. I have encountered them some time back. Very wild. Still holding with the tradition of painting themselves blue for battle, weapons of spears mostly and primative axes. Can be a bloodthirsty lot of the old ways and religions."
Constantine nods slowly to that, the armor clattering softly with his movements. "Before I found the armor, I placed little stock in dreams or legends." he replies. "That is no longer the case. I have been away from my homeland for too long, Milady. Your assistance is most welcome." Even though so little of Lyonesse remains above the waves, the lands of Brentinor are vast. A long search without someone who knows the land.
Izett seems comfortable on the land, grown up here, explored here, deeply vested in the history of her home and culture. Yet still she holds the very obvious evidence of her dual heritage as death seems to haunt her green eyed gaze, those eyes almost seeming to glow on occasion as if seeing beyond the landscape in front of her. "Some dreams of the whispers of those that have passed on into the land of the dead and the only way they can communicate with those without the blood in the visage of the living."
Constantine nods in agreement, and it's a few moments before he speaks. "We will start with these wild men, I think. Alive or dead, they will yield their secrets to the living." It's not so much a threat as a declaration, and a somewhat casual one at that. "You were raised here, Milady. What should we expect from these wild men?"
Izett glances around those green eyes appearing almost to glow again as she speaks, "Followers of Cern, the wild men of the North are the essence of the wild. They even smell of it. Primitive. Following the old gods and the old ways. Sacrifices and worship. Very set in their mindset and easily offended by those that desecrate their lands, religious mounds and altars."
"So they are the antithesis of what Lyonesse must become if the land is to prosper." Constantine replies. "We no longer sacrifice our children or our enemies upon altars. There is a difference between respecting the old ways and choosing to become animals." Hooves clop-clop along with the steady, mile-eating cadence as they ride. "I can see now that Aegrin means for me to destroy these wild men."
Izett tsks, "No, they are part of us. Part of this land. Without the wild there is no balance. A culture is nothing without its roots. Just because it is not your way, does not make it wrong. Just makes it not right for you. They are the passionate wild side of all of us, fueled by emotion, in touch with the land, the trees, the grass and the bones within the ground. You can not move forward, forgetting about the past, unless you wish to repeat the mistakes of the past." clearly a reason there is whisperings of her being a witch in the small villages of wise women.
"The past is what I seek to recover, Milady." Constantine replies. "How much of the land and its history and its culture is now lost beneath the waves? In truth, the wild may have been in balance with civilization in the past, but much has been taken from civilization since then. The balance needs to be reset."
Izett glances over, "What is currently absent beneath the waves is no more lost than the knowledge hidden within the tower in Southern Albion. Knowledge, culture, history, is never truely lost. Just missing. Forgotten. Agreed, to the north the balance is out of sorts. There are many tribes that follow Cern. Each has their own spin on it. The northern tribe we are in the process of traveling to, is but one of several. The ones I encountered before, but one of many of those that follow the old ways. One can not become so focused and intent their way is the only way and force it upon others without unbalancing the way of things."
"It is the nature of the Black Knight to tap into the dark side of man, but that does NOT mean indiscriminantly dispensing death." Constantine replies. "Independence. Freedom from authority. These are also the ways of the Black Knight. Oppression from either side… from ANY side… must be opposed."
Izett laughs softly in that lady like polite way of hers, "With all respect, M'lord, the dark side is not for man alone to possess and fighting against oppression is not necessarily dark or light. Passion, fury, righteous indignation is a response based upon a certain catalyst. Something that is pushed upon till that is the unequivocal reaction. You cannot have peace without war, you cannot have love without revulsion, you cannot have happiness without enough sadness. I have been on one of these quests before and still bear the mark of the white knight. You cannot have white without black. You cannot have life without death."
Constantine's grin may not be seen beneath the helm, but it is heard in his voice as he chuckles. "If only more people saw things as you do." he replies. "I can see now that I was wise to seek your aid." They have been riding for some time now, and the skies are darkening. A couple of the hounds react to something, hackles raising as they go on alert. It's the only warning that they have, before the arrows start to fly.
Izett turns as soon as the dogs start the alarm. That quick she is slipping from her horse grabbing ahold of a bundle on the back. It is then you see it, the stories are true. Where Izett once stood is now the visage of a banshee beneath a ghostly cloak that gives her skin a bluish hue of death. Fog is drifting off from around her, and a word is whispered in the old langauge to the dogs to swarm up and they do swirling in around in front of her teeth bared and hackles up.
Mabel rears, front hooves clawing at the air as she whinnies loudly. Constantine draws the axe from his saddlebrow and spurs the destrier forward, taking control. He glances back at the lady, catching her change. And more arrows fly while he charges towards the source as Izett changes into the very image of death.
Two of the hounds take off at a sprint with Constantine trying to charge into the frey, oddly one is trying to cut off his charge, to get him to veer off. The other is charging at a full on neopalatine mastiff war dog sprint. Behind, Izett with her four hounds standing gaurd starts to a low melodic croon, akin to the sound of a bansheee on the moors of a graveyard. Her hands, slowly raising up on either side starting to dance moving the fog around that starts to build around her. Shifting position to put the lighting behind her. The shrubs start to get bigger, wilder looking. Grasses start to get higher, growing.
RPG: Izett declares that she has the Blessing of Growth (NAT-BG) gift. Use '+gift NAT-BG' to view the gift description. Last edit: 97 months ago.
RPG: Izett used the following +declare targets: Brentinor
RPG: Izett declares that she has the Elementary War Magic (WAR-EM) gift. Use '+gift WAR-EM' to view the gift description. Last edit: 122 months ago.
RPG: Izett used the following +declare targets: Brentinor
RPG: Izett declares that she has the Artillery Magic (WAR-AM) gift. Use '+gift WAR-AM' to view the gift description. Last edit: 122 months ago.
RPG: Izett used the following +declare targets: Brentinor
RPG: Izett declares that she has the Battlefield Magic (WAR-BM) gift. Use '+gift WAR-BM' to view the gift description. Last edit: 126 months ago.
RPG: Izett used the following +declare targets: Brentinor
Constantine knows how to read when he's being directed, and the hound steers him away from the battle. He reins in Mabel, the big horse protesting more than a little. It's then that Izett's efforts start to show results, power spreading out into the underbrush. Shrubs growing and the area becoming overrun. And under her control.
RPG: Izett declares that she has the Entanglement (NAT-EN) gift. Use '+gift NAT-EN' to view the gift description. Last edit: 86 months ago.
RPG: Izett used the following +declare targets: Brentinor
The one that bolted out again is making a nuance of himself, working to draw fire, moving fast to snap, growl, howl, anything to keep those firing attention on it. Meanwhile the chanting changes slightly, as the size of the plants hits appropriate size, Izett turns to using the plants to entangle, weaving her hands around in the air as if a dance of orchestrating a symphony of snake like movement. As constantine veers off the one by him crouches down and waits, watching and ears swiveled toward Izett waiting for the command to charge.
Constantine watches and waits, letting the foliage do its work. The arrow barrage trails off sharply and begin to entangle the wild men. Mabel tosses her head and snorts, but the knight holds her in tight rein. "Easy, girl. I see what's happening, now. Very soon."
Izett as the plants do their work to level the playing field, a sharp sound is called out from Izett in the old language. All five dogs let out a howl signaling the charge while Izett draws two daggers, one looking an eerie bone that glistens in the light while another looks like a work of art. She plays to the dramatic effect of her cloak and leaps onto the back of Arawen, and joins in the charge.
Once the hounds and their mistress charge, Constantine joins in. With the wild men held in restraint by the plants, the ambushers are quickly overrun. "Keep one alive!" he calls out, the massive horse plowing through the trapped wild men while his axe swings from one side to the other.
Izett leaps off of the large animal leaving her with a parting order, capture. The other hounds leap into the frey with a blood thurst of war dogs, claws and massive teeth ripping. Izett uses both knives to great effect all too happy to let her cloak terrify with her constant battle cry strategically striking with one dagger or the other, killing without remorse or hesitation. A flick of the blade here, a strategic percision slice there. There is no showy flash, her movements more slow approach, staulking, and the blade has done its work and is gone before most would see the blade. Arawen however, is a show off drama queen. Moving along till she is in the right spot that turns her visage into that of crypt like dog, only then does she select her target. Launching herself at her prey and landing all of her massive pony like size onto one of the entangled wild men. Claws flexing into his chest, jawls curled back to show all those pointing pearly teeth at his throat, leaving him alive, but seconds shy of scaring him to death.
Constantine's approach is certainly more traditional, although no less bloody, as he cuts his way through the scattered and trapped wild men from the other side. The fighting is over quickly enough, and then the knight in black meets the death visage in the midst. Checking to see if Mabel is injured, he dismounts and raises the visor of his helm. "We need information." he declares, looking for any survivors.
Izett flicks both her wrists likely cleaning her blades of any loose blood before sheathing them not one for battle lust, cold, calculating. Turning she points a deathly skeletal finger to indicate Arawen toying with her captive. The scent of urine acrid in the air as the two approach. "Arawen has your one alive."
Constantine strides over to the one pinned beneath the hellhound. He sinks to one knee beside the man, visor down once more. "I am in search of a token held by your people." he declares, voice hollow and deep inside the helm. "Tell me where it can be found, and I will ease your passing. Otherwise, you will be permitted to linger."
Izett slowly walks over letting her cloak do a lot of the work before she sweeps down to whisper softly and melodically with a cold chill to her voice, "And because you dared to attack me and mine. I will hold you at the height of agony where death would claim you and deny you the blissful peace of your final end."
The man's eyes widen with terror at her approach, trembling uncontrollably in the large beast's claws. And he begins to talk. A lot. It's babbling at first, but then he tells of a camp and of secrets. A talisman, to be sure, although in his description it's more like a flail of some dark iron. Dark as the knight's armor.
The questioning takes some patience as well as some skill, but when the man finally stops speaking the hunters have a location as well as a rough layout of the camp. Enough to put together a battle plan to take it.
Izett is all too happy to encourage the man to speak, Arawen flexing her claws as needed and likely with the slightest movement of Izett to ensure it. She's cold about it, as if they were discussing the weather rather than encouraging with pain and fear. Finally when Constantine gets everything he needs she backs off and allows Arawen to step off her prey. Out of eyesight of the prisoner, she takes off her cloak and packs it away nicely and carefully. "That was simple enough. Gathering some supplies out of her pack on her horse starting to set up a small circle of salt and stones.
Once the questioning is complete, Constantine's interest in him wanes quickly. Including whether the man lives or dies. Instead he turns his attention to making a map of the camp in the dirt to discuss a plan. "The camp is built around a cave in the forest." he repeats, setting out stone markers. "If we draw them out into the wood where you can disable them, as you did here, that leaves the camp vulnerable and their forces immobilized. Would you agree, milady?"
Izett glances over as she prepares a ritual, not caring if the man lives or dies either. Both has merits in her mind. Instead she is more concerned with his fallen breathern nodding to the plan, "Can be accomplished, especially if we seed the area in advance." she offers gently and then begins to chant, working on opening the door and performing her Feldane duties of making certain to help the fallen with respect to the other side and through the door.
The dead are cared for, and Constantine even helps where he can. Mostly with lifting and carrying bodies of the departed. The plan is made, and then the two saddle up again to continue their ride. There's no ambush waiting for them this time, and the camp is right where the dead man said it would be. "Make your preparations then, Milady, and we will draw them out."
Izett nods her head slowly eyeing up the area. She waits till just shy of dusk, when the sun is just starting to settle into the horizon. She carefully pulls out a sack from her saddle, a small pouch the size of a bean bag. Sticking several holes in it with a mundane dagger she holds it out to one of the smaller (subjectively speaking since they are all about the size of a pony), and lets the dog off into the woods around the entrance of the cave in a good radius. Meanwhile it is certain her eyes are glowing a bit, as she whispers softly looking at something that isn't there and yet to her is.
Constantine bides his time now, rather than just charging off into the camp. The last wild men caught them unawares. It won't happen this time. Mabel is calmed and quieted while he waits, checking her tack to ensure it's tight and proper for battle.
Izett lets the large dog scatter the seeds all around the area while she whispers to this one or that unseen of spirits. She sits on the ground, with none of the evidence of her previous eerie behavior. Like that of a split personality she is very calm and lady like, genteel in nature. The large animal soon returning greeting Arawen and then Izett before going to lay down in the shade of a tree. Izett's attention focuses on the here and now starting to whisper, and then sing softly not the eerie howl of before but a soft melodic celtic tune of old. Her gaze moving over the landscape watching vines starting to grow from the seeds just scattered.
From within the camp, none seem to notice the passage of the ghostly hound. Not even when the vines begin to grow, do they react. The vines aren't -doing- anything besides growing, after all. And it IS dark. Constantine swings up into the saddle again, drawing his axe. "I will draw them out in a line from the camp, where the plants can trap them." And with that, he spurs the horse ahead.
RPG: Consumed Constantine's token FR7 'Battle Plan' for a +3 bonus.
RPG: Constantine challenges a difficulty of 11. Constantine chooses Force and the gifts FGT-CA, SKL-AR, STY-KN, and STY-UN. He expends token FR7. Constantine succeeds.
Izett nods her head slowly getting a full years worth of growth out of the fast growing seeds/vines, as if they were engineered to grow significantly faster and stronger than normal vines so a years worth of growth is pretty impressive. Softly she speaks, "Just be careful to pick your path, the vines do not know friend from foe, M'lord." before she starts to shift her tune, and her hands start doing that snake like graceful dance.
"Aye, I'll do that." he replies. Once he's out a decent way from the camp, Constantine touches the spurs and Mabel rears, whinnying loudly. With cries of surprise, the wild men rally quickly and head for the sound. Mabel is spurred to a canter, which makes plenty of noise for over a hundred stone-weight of horse. And as they head towards the commotion, they don't notice the vines until it's too late.
Izett slowly starts to change her tune to that haunting sound of the crypt, like that of the wind moving through the graveyard. Her hand reaching up to pull the hood up on her cloak letting the fog start to collect and flow around her before she stands. Now she uses the moonlight giving her that ethreal glow behind her, taking Arawen with her she starts to make her way along the path keeping the plants entangling their foes.
The cries of the wild men change as they succumb to the tangling vines, from anger to surprise… and lastly to terror. A couple make it out to Constantine, and are quickly dispatched with large hooves and the edge of his black axe. Leaving the others to Izett, Constantine canters back towards the cave. A couple more remain, but the plan has worked.
Izett travels through the forest with the entangling vines all around her using the path she'd picked. A hand flicking out this way or that as she deftly avoids their attacks, in her way a sliced throat or pierced heart, discreetly, smoothly done, with a quick dispatch and minimal blood at least on her. Making her way to follow Constantine, Arawen remains at her side her watchful protector.
By the time Izett reaches the camp, Constantine has dismounted and Mabel stands watch outside. Not that many still live who would challenge the warhorse. He emerges from within the cave, holding a crown of black metal with a train of barbs and spikes behind it. Carefully, almost delicately, he sets the crown upon his helm. A moment later the train ignites in a flash of flame, trailing down his back and spitting sparks.
Izett approaches seeing the achievement accomplished. Offering a bit of a curtsey, "Congratulations, M'lord." she offers softly and politely perhaps a little eerie coming from one that appears to be a banshee. Her hands tucking back into the lengths of her shroud, "Is there any other assistance you require?"
From behind the Helm, the chuckle is soft and almost eerie. The flames extinguish and the knight shakes his head. "Our work here is finished, at least for the moment. You have my thanks, Milady." He lets the last hang in the air for a moment, but doesn't -quite- offer a boon in return.

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