Emil set down his cup of Kaf “Very well my dear….I’ll tell you all of it”.
He looked into the flickering small fire of the candles at the table and began to recount his tale.
“It all started with a dream”
*several weeks earlier*
A fire was slowly dying down from small but alight to embers. Nearby the Emil, or sometimes known as the Black Swordsman, was leaning against a nearby tree in its shadow. In the event anyone came upon his campsite he would be at least granted some protection to wake up, being a light sleeper by habit when out in the open. Thankfully this was a rare night where he was able to sleep soundly, in full armor, with sword in hand, and his bearskin cloak covering him.
He was camped north of Tesso, on his way to Tarantia to meet up with his brother Atlis and sister in-law Keyarie. Taking this chance to also stop by a secluded, and nearly unknown grave where rested two long dead, and dearly missed souls from his past.
Still he slept soundly, as sound as to be expected. Within his slumbering mind however he was soon to receive summons.
Emil opened his eye. Already he was aware that he was not really awake, having more than a normal lifetime’s worth of nightmares, and other such terrors of the night it was easy to see that whoever called him was doing so to his sleeping mind.
“Emil…” the voice called again.
He thought, already able to tell that much. Looking around he could not see anyone but there was something about the voice that almost made him happy.
Then he heard it, the sound if leather and metal, of armor, and a woman’s laughter.
This laughter was one full of life, amusement, and spirit. Only one woman he knew made a laugh like that.
“Lleilwin?” he called out.
“Heh, took yer long enough Emil, I been calling yer for hours now. I need yer ter join me in the north, time ter put that sword arm to good use, among other parts of yer” came the voice and more laughter of Lleilwin the wolf rider.
Emil looked around for the sight of a mane of hair that was like one kissed by fire. He could not see her, the one woman he held love for in his scarred and guarded heart.
“Where?” He asked
“North of Frigard, tis where I wait for yer my beloved. I long for Yer Company once again” she said from the surrounding shadows.
Before he could say another word he was suddenly awake, jolted out of his dreams by something of the real world.
As it happened that something turned out to be night bandits, throat cutters of the small hours.
“Fire’s almost dead, where’s the marks?” One voice asked.
“By the gods shut up, don’t wake them” said another.
Despite them out of his line of sight due to the tree, he could see them already.
Five, no six from the smell and sound of boots…
“Too late” Emil said as he rose and shifted his cloak aside, drawing his sword.
The sudden appearance of an armored warrior, alert and ready took them by surprise. He drew his sword and at once the bandits sensed a ill fate upon the.
In terms of battle it was brief but the motions ended with Emil being forced a good number of paces to the east and when it was done he was in sight of the graves, the two wooden marks and the mounds already well covered by overgrowth.
Even so this spot, marked by death, horror, and pain few can understand, would never be forgotten or missed by the swordsman whose face was obscured in shadow even as the sun began to rise. For a moment there was a shine in the corner of his left eye but as the light grew nothing could be seen a moment later.
The bitter cold winds howled as he pulled up his hood to try and stave off the cold a bit. His bearskin cloak was pulled all around him and while blocking the wind it was never enough to hold off the cold of Cimmeria. It was a testing thing to live in this north, even more so if one was a wearer of armor. True the use of clothing under, even a simple few layers, would keep it from biting the skin. It was still a test of one’s endurance.
Emil had been travelling for weeks, currently on foot as his horse had to be borrowed by his sister in-law Keyarie, her own having taken an arrow to the neck a few days before he parted company with her and his brother.
He’d had a second dream of some kind of attack on Frigard, one told to him by Lleilwin again, and with the city short on fighting strength he knew those two would keep the gates secured while he continued north to find his Vanir Shield-maiden.
The sun had long since set and tonight a clear and bright full moon, along with all the stars one could see in the northern sky, shined on his path through the hills and woods.
His mind was almost literally a buzz with questions, both to himself and for the company he was soon to find.
Why call me out here…not to Frigard?
How did she call me in my dreams?
Does this involve….No her ties are severed to ‘them’
His stream of thoughts was then broken as he came upon a light after entering small patch of woods.
It was a campfire light.
He could not help but smile a little, in his own version which was usually no more than a slight curving of the corners of his mouth. It was a well-known fact that Lleilwin was the only one alive that stirred the withdrawn and introvert swordsman to more positive emotions and behavior.
Came the resounding sound of a Crossbow bolt as it punched into tree trunk less than hand span away from his head.
“Your aim is off” Emil said without even blinking at the missed shot.
“Yer steps, are too loud” Lleilwin said back with a building smile on her face as she set her crossbow down against the fallen tree she was using as a seat.
Stepping away from the trees into the very small and spare clearing he came into the light of the campfire and took in the sight of her.
She was a stunning sight. Tall, powerful, bright flaming hair, weathered and hardened features of one whose lead the path of a warrior but still she was beautiful, not to mention a punch that no man would forget if he himself forgot who they were staring at.
“Emil, my love. Yer planning ter stare all day or some join me, I’ve got a fair bottle of whiskey we can share this night” she said winking at him while returning to her seat on the fallen tree.
Emil cocked his head to the side “Whiskey, not Kaf?”
A peal of laughter resounded among the tree giving more warmth to them.
“Kaf, this late in the night? While I doubt there any sleep ter be had this night, I nay imagine it be due to needing ter drink Kaf” she said patting the spot by her.
Emil nodded and made his way towards her.
Each step was slow and measured, he kept his gaze on her.
“Going ter remove yer sword yet, tis another I’m eager ter see again” Lleilwin said as she reached for the bottle of whiskey.
“No, I still need it” Emil said and all the emotion left his voice.
The sound of steel ringing, a bottle was dropped, a cry of surprise and a body hitting the ground hard.
Emil had drawn his sword and swung hard from the right. Lleilwin had hers as well but as a reflex and thus only managed a block with one hand on the grip, the other had just released the bottle of whiskey. Thus when his greater swing made contact it sent her flying over the fire and into the ground hard.
Coughing and grunting she was slow to rise.
“What in the name of the Hel do you think you’re doing!?” she yelled in rage, rage but not surprised or shock.
“Grimface” Emil said in a calm even tone, although underneath there was an edge of cold hard rage. His eye was dark and mirror like but behind it lurked dark and dangerous fire.
“What?” she said confused raising her sword in a defensive stance finally getting to her feet and recovered from the bash.
“Lleilwin calls me Grimface, even when alone using my name during more intimate moments” he replied.
Lleilwin’s eyes widened in alarm.
“She can, has and would drink Kaf any time of any day even if would keep her awake” He continued.
Lleilwin’s foot shifted, she was preparing.
Finally Emil tapped the cross bow ahead of his left foot with his boot.
“…a crossbow? Lleilwin would throw a dagger not this I know she’s thrown a few at me before” he said and finally the dark rage entered his voice.
Lleilwin sprang forward suddenly, sword raised upward for a frontal assault.
Emil kicked the crossbow ahead of him and it was sent flying right towards Lleilwin’s face obscuring her vision for just a moment. She shifted her blade to the left side and used it to block the weapon.
That was her final mistake as Emil swung his own sword at her right flank, it struck her armor but did not bite. He didn’t have the space or time to make a full swing that would have stood a good chance of cleaving her but it was enough to send her flying again this time she struck a tree hard and was winded. Her arm caught a branch and was left mostly on her feet.
“Last…Lleilwin, the one and true Lleilwin, would never make a frontal attack if she had lost the initiative…she’s ten times better than that, if not more.. you aren’t Lleilwin but you called me here using her face…that wasn’t wise” He said and finally he gave show to the rage and darkness in his face and voice as he charged and this time his swung was a full one as he brought his sword down from above and cleaved the impostor at the shoulder and down into the chest. He would have likely cut her in two but the tree trunk prevented from going deeper. Even so the deed was done and his sword had done its task well.
However that is when his suspicions weren’t finished, if nothing they went higher.
There was no blood.
Not just that. There was no scream of pain, no gag, no deathly rattle of last breath.
Nothing. It was like the impostor he almost cleaved in two wasn’t there.
Then whatever it was he attacked just vanished, the body, and all else in front of him turned to smoke. Now he was just standing in front of a tree with his sword cutting into its bark.
He felt a chill in the air, a tickle at his neck where his Brand was along with the shiver of a threat behind.
“To attack even when wearing that face”
“He might be of use”
Three different female voices spoke behind him. All of them deep and thick with northern accents. All of them also sounded powerful.
Emil knew without looking these were not normal enemies. He gave a tug away from the tree and his sword came away easily enough then turned and charged without warning towards his ambushers.
His sword shined in the moonlight as it came from the right.
A deafening crash of steel and steel signaled the end of the battle.
His sword had struck another. This one held by one of the three, the end of it buried in the ground.
Stunned at the clash he could not help but shake his battle instincts and look up from the clashing weapons.
“Stay your blade, Black Swordsman, we did not come here to do battle” one of them spoke.
He could not see their faces the fire was behind them.
“Who are you?” Emil asked, trying to keep himself calm and focused, but already he had some idea.
“We have crossed paths before Swordsman, though not this directly, by the strings and threads of Fate” the one on the left sword.
“We have need of you” The one on the right said.
“We are the Norn’s” said the middle.
Emil’s eye went wide, as he came to realize that events were about to take a dangerous turn for him.
Jiahuo: You ho
Zihua: Who you callin' ho?
Jiahuo: Ho ho
Titus Typhorius: Yea? Best check IC section again :D
Rafine: So far no rumours to post either, hmh
Larric von Feldfir: hallo zusammen
Xeryk: I have run into a technical issue that is preventing the AoC game launcher from opening. I am trying to fix the issue, but I am running out of options on possible fixes. I will be back ASAP! I miss you guys already!
Jiahuo: This might throw the future auction events into doubt, but I will see what I can do
Jiahuo: Hey everyone, sorry I haven't been able to make it on. Dealing with changing work atm.
Snowbraid: Heya scoundrels! I've been swamped with work since last week--will try and get on tomorrow and this weekend.
Rafine: So, 4 hour long maintenance ongoing right now, I can only imagine the amount of QQ om forums right now ^^
Jiahuo: I'll say. I think I got it working, but I'm so tired I'm not going to bother tonight. Will hope to see everyone tomorrow
Snowbraid: It seems especially finicky to UI changes this patch eh?
Jiahuo: Couldn't get to the respond button on the mailbox.
Jiahuo: Broke my game trying to fix something with the custom UI XD
Jiahuo: Hello fellow lurkers
Jiahuo: Temporarily? Well, that's better than nothing
Snowbraid: GUI issue, but temporarily solved!