The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby erinhue » Fri May 04, 2018 12:15 pm

Listening to Pallando's words, Erinhue understood why the dragonharp had absented itself from this leg of their journey. Agarak's sudden appearance and its reaction to the wizard were out of character and concerning. At some point he would ask Agarak about this although he knew he could only expect the inquiry to exact the same response as all questions about the harp's long existence prior to his own. Silence.

His extensive bardic repertoire did include a few stories about the Dark Elves, those who never answered the call to move West and to the Undying Lands. Like most everyone else he had thought those stories to be just and only that, stories. Conventional wisdom said that those of the First Born who did not make the journey out of the East had been over time, transformed into a an twisted, evi,l artificially created race, the Orc. The enchanted runes were evidence that those stories, and the so called Dark Elves were real.
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Quimrill_Renctar » Fri May 04, 2018 4:38 pm

Paul moved around the perimeter of the room, idly examining the walls but really just trying to expel some of his nervous energy. He kept getting distracted by the tune in his head but all the same the features of the room they were in began to make an impression.

It was not a very large chamber. The walls were very uniform. Really too uniform for a natural cave, and Paul wondered why miners would have bothered with such fine chisel work. He ran a hand along the wall. It was very smooth with the occasional sharp groove that caught at his finger tips. He glanced up at the ceiling. The invariable stone extended up to a disproportionate height above them so that it was almost lost in the gloom at the edge of their torch lights.

What an odd room. So not just a random alcove, Paul thought, but definitely prepared with a purpose in mind. Was the purpose purely the trapping of wizards? Paul rejected that notion, if it had been as a prison cell of sorts, there should have been guards or at least the chamber should have been harder to locate. He continued his examination of the rooms walls and ceiling, noting what appeared to be fine cracks spiderwebbing hear and there across their surfaces. He found himself passing in front of the passage they had entered through. The impenetrable darkness of the tunnel was unsettling.

Paul stopped, suddenly breathing faster as evidence began to sum itself up toward an alarming conclusion. How had they found this particular chamber after all? Bright glowing runes that had traced a path? And they had just blithely followed them! A wizard as a prisoner, but not concealed, not guarded? And they had rushed in for the rescue. A grim revelation cut through his reverie. How had they managed to capture Pallando? Why leave such a valuable prize unguarded. Sure, the chances of a sympathetic elf stumbling upon him this far east were remote, but then why leave a path leading from near the only detectable entrance to this very room.

If Paul knew one thing about Elves it was that they always were thinking six steps further down the road than you were. It probably had something to do with living forever. While it made the unexpected hard for them to cope with, it also meant they did nothing without good if obscure reasons.

The music in his head kept pulling at him, but for once he was able to ignore it. Something else grabbed his attention. The air his apprehensive breathing was pulling in was laden with the typical musty, damp, and earthy smells one would expect from such an environment, but there was something else in addition, just barely detectable.

Paul closed his eyes and let his olfactories analyze the new sent. Identification was nearly instant. Months of waking up early and preparing breakfast had prepared him for this moment. As he opened his eyes again a tiny drop of something off white dripped past his shoulder and “glooped” onto the dusty ground. Paul reflexively bent down and prodded the mass with his finger then raised it to his nose. Yep, there was no mistake, fat grease.

Several disjointed thoughts snapped together at once forming a complete and ghastly picture. He spun towards the group to shout a warning, and in that same moment the music stopped. To his horror, Paul realized that the soft music had not been coming from within his head at all, but from all around. Without an obvious source, he had just assumed the ethereal and bewitching melody had been part of some memory, but now he realized the truth. Several of the others were also looking around in some bewilderment.

“Its a trap!” Paul yelled. Behind him there was a dull *thump.* “They’re in the wa- argh!” Something impacted his shoulder and spun him around, nearly toppling him. Agonizing pain blossomed across his left side. Three more black shafts buzzed into the room from the tunnel, but Paul had already thrown himself to the side. The shaft in his left shoulder wrenched painfully as he hit the ground hard.

He looked up just in time too see a large chunk of the ceiling begin to fall directly towards the group of knights huddled in the center of the room. Other sections of the ceiling and walls high up were being forced out of tight fitting, grease slicked alcoves from behind and were tumbling down towards their heads.

Merry yet sinister laughter filled the the room as the trap was sprung.
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Cock-Robin » Mon May 07, 2018 3:55 pm

Brondgast was not slow in protecting his apprentice. He rushed to him and gathered him under himself, holding Quill tight. He was better equipped to take the rocks and stuff falling from the ceiling than a human. "Keep close," he growled. Oof! OOF! he went, huffing and puffing as boulders struck him which would have killed his apprentice. He would be sore for days after this assault. "ENOUGH!" he roared. The Stone glowed brightly and vaporized the next big stone which was headed for them.

Meneldor had the same idea, but for Pallando. He gathered the wizard under him and then started flapping his wings to cause a wind which would deflect the boulders coming for the knights. He heard the laughter and berated himself for not realizing that the captor was around. "Don't be," said Pallando. "That dark elf is clever."
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby erinhue » Mon May 07, 2018 7:02 pm

A dome of fiery red light surrounded the group of Knights and Pallando, shielding from the falling boulders. The dragonharp's main mission in this world was to protect the bard. In doing its duty, Agarak saved them all.

While the Knights were not in immediate danger of being harmed by the rocks and debris, the rocks and debris still fell. The pathway behind them was completely blocked. The group ran in the only direction left to them. They all ran deeper into the cavern tunnel.
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Tempest » Wed May 09, 2018 6:44 am

After a few minutes, the Knights paused to take stock of their situation. Except for Paul, no one had been seriously injured except for a few scrapes, bruises, and a crushed finger. It took Telta some concerted effort to remove the black shaft from Paul's shoulder, and they all breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was revealed that the tip was not poisoned. Still, it was a deep wound and would take some time to mend.

"Well, so much for secrecy," one of the Knights muttered. "Whoever set up this trap now knows that it was sprung. The sound could probably be heard above ground, let alone all throughout the tunnels."

"True, but they also know that it means Pallando has been released. They are hoping he was killed in the trap, but they don't know for certain. They will be wary of a wizard, even one without his staff," Telta noted.

"That may be wishful thinking," Erinhue observed darkly. "I fear they have forced our hand by making only one available way for us to follow. We walk straight into the dragon's mouth."

Pallando nodded with a wry smile. "At least we will walk with both eyes open."

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Akara had descended into the passageway behind the imperious elf, but the darkness was so profound that she feared she had lost him within a few twists and turns of the tunnels. She had no light of her own, having muffled her torch outside, and she cursed her foolishness as she stood breathless in the darkness. But then, as her eyes adjusted, she realized that there WAS a faint glow that painted the walls in front of her. As she walked cautiously forward, she saw the flickering of light grow wider.

This gave her a chance to scan her surroundings and her heart sank as she realized that there was nowhere for her hide. If anyone came into the passageway at that moment, she would be utterly and completely exposed. She would have no choice but to attack or flee back the way she had come. Either way, she felt certain she would meet her end. And for what? She did not even know what she had gotten involved with.

The passageway widened suddenly into three different directions. She stood still before each tunnel, straining to hear anything that might give her direction. Voices, slightly muffled, came drifting from the tunnel at the right. From the middle, she could hear the clicking of boots on stone. The left was completely silent, but she felt a strange, ominous darkness radiating from it. Hearing voices coming closer from the tunnel on the right, she quickly slipped into the left tunnel, hoping for concealment.

The voices were not in a language she understood. It was different from any other tongue she had ever heard, and she had heard many. It was beautiful, in many ways, but the tone in which it was spoken made it ugly to her ears. There was anger behind every word, and a bitterness she recognized despite not understanding the words themselves. She had heard many a man speak this way in the past---the voice was speaking orders, and the click of boots that followed revealed that these orders were being carried out.

A new voice suddenly entered the conversation, and this voice lacked the anger of the first. With it's entrance, the language also changed and Akara strained to hear them, realizing she could understand.

"I think, with a little more time, it will work," the new voice said.

"It would be better if it were sooner than later. Mithril Knights have been seen in Kuw. They are nearly on our doorstep," the angry voice replied.

"They will not look for us here. And even if they did, they are too small a group to be a threat to us. We have outlived far greater dangers, for longer than the Mithril Knights have even existed," a third voice said assuredly.

"Then why even bother with the woman? We should have left her where she fell," the first voice asked.

There was a pause, and Akara imagined that the angry voice had become angrier. When he finally spoke, she could tell she had guessed correctly, for his words were traced with poison. "Those of the younger race should not question the wisdom of the Eldar. We have walked this world before your people drew breath, and we will walk it long after your bodies lay in the dust."
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Cock-Robin » Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:09 pm

Meneldor was deep in thought as he traveled with the company. He, who had declined the hope of the West to go with the Mithril Knights, now traveled underground with the rest. How he longed for the skies again, almost as he longed for his true home at Taniquetil. He looked to Pallando.

Pallando nodded with a wry smile. "At least we will walk with both eyes open."

"Indeed we shall, my friend and master," said Meneldor. He would always be grateful to Pallando for his help and counsel. They had something in common, namely a connection with Mandos, which set him apart from his brother Eagles. Where was Tempest? He wondered. Her remains were not found in the pit, nor anywhere else, so she must still be alive somewhere. But where?

Brondgast strode beside Quimrill his apprentice, hoping for some action soon. The caverns were perfect for the bear, as he chose to remain in his ursine form.
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Tempest » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:03 pm

A sound, muffled but distinct, suddenly reverberated through the caves and Akara sucked in her breath sharply and steadied herself against one of the dark walls. In her bones, she knew it was the Mithril Knights somewhere underground too, though not near her. The thought both stirred her hope and made her afraid. A booming, followed by a crashing sound that could be nothing other than the crumbling of boulders against stone. She swallowed her hope and wondered if anyone could have survived.

But her heart skipped a beat as the voices that she had been listening too broke out in shouts and a flurry of activity.

"Someone has sprung the trap!

"You had better hope that the wizard has not escaped, or you will pay for it with your life. I told you we should have killed him when we had the chance," the angry voice hissed, and then began giving orders. The sound of rushing feet coming from all sides made Akara shrink against the walls trying in vain to find a hiding place. In their mood, they would definitely kill her first and ask questions of her dead corpse after.

But the rushing feet took the middle passageway and she listened intently as they became further and further distant. Now was her chance, if only she could muster the courage. "Give me strength," she pleaded with no one in particular. "Let me find her."

Then, with her short sword in her hand, she lowered her head and went further down the left tunnel until she was completely engulphed in darkness.
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby erinhue » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:47 pm

“Everybody stop!” Erinhue called a halt to the disorganized dash through the dark tunnel. “Shh be quiet. Listen”

The company stopped running, straining their ears to pick up any sound. It was clearer to some members of the company than others but even the Knights in Training could make out the distant sound of rushing footsteps. Distant but getting closer with each breath.

What happens when a trap is sprung? Erinhue thought and cursed himself for a fool. Whoever set the trap was coming to see what was happening. From the sound he guessed that they would be outnumbered and the narrow tunnel offered little room to move.

Searching his memory, Erinhue tried to think if there was any space behind them that might be more favorable to them in the coming battle. Nothing useful came to mind. The footsteps were getting rapidly closer.

“We are going to have to fight them right here.”

There was a dismayed gasp from one of the young Knights.

“Yes, I know.” Erinhue acknowledged the truth of the situation. “This tunnel is very close quarters, but we are going to make that work for us.”

Erinhue motioned the others closer and laid out his plan.

“In this narrow space their numbers will not mean much. The blocked tunnel is behind us, so our rear is protected. Looking at the Great Eagle, Erinhue continued. “Meneldor you stay in the rear with Palandro. Telta you and the gosslings stop anything that gets within reach of your blade."

‘Brondgast” Erinhue continued, “you are with me. As the strongest fighters in the company, we will take the point.”

Brondgast’s smile became a grizzly grin as he transformed.

Feeling more confidently in control of his own transformation, Erinhue decided that they would need every option available to them if they were to stay alive.

Holding up his left hand, Erinhue spoke into the darkness.

“Clarion, to me.”
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Cock-Robin » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:30 pm

Meneldor felt the walls closing in on him. He didn't like tunnels, but he was there to protect Pallando. Brondgast was fully transformed and roared loudly. He looked back to his apprentice and growled, the Stone translating for him. "Get behind me, Paul, and get ready to defend. And do as I say to stay away from Erinhue in case the Berserker takes him. I want that order kept!" He turned and stood beside Erinhue.

Pallando patted Meneldor. "I know, my friend," he said. "You fight better out in the open. Never fear, your time is coming."
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Tempest » Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:05 pm

The clamor had left the passages strangely empty, so Akara had walked confidently forward, sensing that she was coming to a denser, more strategic part of the mines. The walls had opened up again and there were suddenly furnished rooms and torches aplenty. It contrasted so abruptly with the severity of the tunnels behind her that it took her a few minutes to take it all in.

Her reverie was shaken by a shout.

Apparently, she had walked a little too boldly forward, and now she was full visible in the torchlight. This area was NOT so deserted.

”Who are you? How did you get in here?” a soldier came aggressively toward her, sword drawn and followed by two more behind. She started to shrink back, but as the torchlight fell directly on her face, she saw the soldier’s face change from recognition, to confusion, to fear. He pulled up sharply, and she knew then that the face he recognized was Tempest’s within her own. He glanced to the side at a door with heavy chains on it, and then back to her with a look of utter confusion. His hesitation gave her the edge she needed, and she had notched an arrow and sent it sailing towards him before he could even lift his sword to defend. She followed it with two more arrows that sliced into the throats of the men standing behind him.

No time to lose now, with her chest heaving in fear and adrenaline, Akara looked toward the chained door. She knew now what it contained, and she knew her time was limited. Grabbing one of the dead soldier’s swords, she used it to hack at the chains. When that didn’t work, she wheeled around looking for something stronger.

It was then that she noticed two things: first, two of the dead soldiers were actually elven, and secondly, all of the soldiers were wearing a strange emblem on their clothing. It was not something that she understood, but it WAS something that she recognized. She had seen this emblem before when she had gone back to her home village. All the people there had been dead, though not killed in battle. A plague had cut them down, a strange plague that had also wiped out the villages around hers. They had been too remote for anyone to really notice or care, except that she had returned before the bodies had decomposed too much. She had found one of these emblems in the ashes of her village.

Akara trembled now, but not with fear. She felt as though the world had suddenly turned over and she was seeing it clearly for the first time. It wasn't a mistake that she was here. She was MEANT to see this, just as she was MEANT to find her mother. They had thought that no one would know, that no witness had been left. That no one would care about a poor tribe, in a poor village, at the edge of the world. They had assumed that the East was so shrouded in darkness that no eye could pierce its shadows. Yet, here she was. And close by, the Mithril Knights too. Whatever these wicked men had done, or planned to still do.....they would be exposed.

For the first time in her life, Akara uttered a silent prayer. She prayed that the Mithril Knights would hold off this strange enemy long enough for her to open the door. She prayed that together, they might destroy this evil that lurked beneath the ground and poisoned the Eastern lands. She trembled with an anger she did not know she could possess, an anger that had been gifted to her by the woman who languished behind the locked door in front of her.

With all her strength, Akara brought the sword down upon the chains.
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Quimrill_Renctar » Fri Feb 15, 2019 1:43 pm

With Erinhue and Brondgast blocking off the passage ahead with enough strength and resolve to stop a herd of charging bulls, the remainder of the company looked to the tunnel behind.

“Draw swords!” Telta unsheathed her daggers and waited impatiently until each knight in training also held steel. “There is no guarantee the path behind us is secure. If we have sprung some sort of trap, there are probably secret paths so they can attack from any direction.”

Telta gave orders to several knights to light torches and throw them back down the tunnel. She also moved the aged wizard and Meneldor into the center of the party, where they would be protected by bard and berserker to the front and herself and the most experienced squires to the rear. The rest made a thin ring around their supplies, eagle, and sage in the middle.

Paul was relegated to the supply pile where a younger Knight in training was trying, with shaking hands, to wrap his wound. The head and shaft itself had been torn out somewhere in the confusion of fleeing down the passages, but despite being wickedly barbed it had not at least been poisoned as well. His whole left side was sticky and glistened vermillion in the torch light. The limb itself felt weak and heavy, and every twitch of the young squire’s hands sent hot vines of agony burrowing down his arm and chest.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” the squire kept chanting every time Paul groaned.

“Just keep going,” Paul growled a little more vehemently than he intended to. Pain made everybody ungracious. He swallowed an oath, and instead said, “Your doing fine, just wrap it tight and we can sort out the rest later.”

The sounds of advancing enemies stopped suddenly.

“I can still smell them getting closer,” Brondgast snarled, “I think they were moving so loudly before to try and unnerve us.”

“Shouldn’t we extinguish the torches?” Paul managed to gasp allowed, “They make us easy to see.”

“It wouldn’t matter,” Telta searched the darkness of the tunnel behind them with penetrating eyes, “Elves can see just as well in the dark.” She reached into her belt and pulled forth the tip of the arrow that until recently had made its home in Paul’s shoulder. “It is of ancient origin, but there is no mistaking the race that crafted it.”

“They are nearly upon us!” Brongast growled.

Erinhue hefted his mighty sword and leaned forward into the darkness. The darkness on the other hand seemed to lean back, as if to escape the brilliance of the mythic blade and the starlike brightness of his eyes. “Stand courageous,” His voice flowed melodically to each ear, and gave them strength, “The metal of the Mithril Knights shall not be shattered this place, or any other.”

Paul found himself struggling to his feet despite himself, ignoring the protestations of the squire turned healer. His right hand grasped for the sword at his belt and as soon as his fingertips closed around the smoothly engraved handle, he felt the heat surge up through his arm. The pulsing radiance of strength pushed the sensation of pain out of his chest and imprisoned it at the sight of the wound, where it burned red hot but completely ignored.

Paul took his place shoulder to bandaged shoulder with the other knights in training at the rear of the group. Telta glanced over her shoulder momentarily, shot him an exasperated glare and returned to studying the shadows dancing beyond the torch lights.

“Ready shields,” She hissed. The knights (other than Paul who only had one arm at his disposal) unslung their shields and slid their arms into the straps. “On my word.”

Beyond the torch light, deep in the shadows, just before a bend, a line of twelve or so specters raised their bows and drew the strings back to their cheeks. They had moved with cunning stealth, slipping out of near undetectable nooks and crags to come up behind the group, and while their comrades made a noisy advance to the front, they prepared to scythe into the vanguard. And when all the attention shifted to the rear, their fellows, who had by now crept closer to the front, would swiftly finish the task of slaughter. This was not a new tactic. It had worked many times before down through the centuries. What they could not detect from their vantage point was how the eyes of the hooded knight in front followed their every move.

“On guard!” Telta shouted and dove to the floor. The knight’s well trained muscles reflexively brought the shields snapping up into position. There was a whine like a nest or hornets and then the sound and sensation of large hailstones smashing into the metal wall.

One arrow pierced a knight’s shield and stopped stuck, the cruel tip menacing her cheek. She flinched back involuntarily.

“Steady,” Paul whispered. He could not help bouncing on the balls of his feet. He had so much energy, thanks to the wondrous sword, and yearned to match blades with enemy, but the logical, tactical side of his brain reigned him in. “Steady,” he repeated again, this time, to himself, “Steady.”
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Re: The Mithril Knights: Shadows in the East

Postby Tempest » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:34 am

Once the chains were gone, the door was easily opened and the first thing that hit Akara as it swung open was a strong sickly smell, similar to incense. It was dark inside the room, a claustrophobic and dank darkness that seemed to seep into her pores along with the sickly smell. She coughed and backed out, coming back only when she had a torch in her hand. In the flickering light, she could now see that the room was very small and rectangular. On this side, there was a small table with a small burning pot of liquid---she assumed this was the source of the smell. Past this was a cell in which a figure lay slumped along the interior wall. She couldn't tell if the figure was breathing, but the smell of incense was beginning to make her feel dizzy. She kicked the table over and the pot went shattering over with a sizzling splash.

The figure in the cell didn't move at all, but in the torchlight, Akara could see the light flicker on open eyes.

"Are you the lady Tempest?" she whispered uneasily, though she tried to make her voice not tremble with the words.

The figure did not answer or stir.

"I...We...are here to rescue you. That is, if you are the lady Tempest."

Still nothing. Akara was beginning to wonder if she was staring at a corpse. She reached out her hand and pushed at the cell door, even though it was clear that it wasn't locked. The chains on the door outside had been sufficient to keep their prisoner. Akara bent down to get a better look at the face of the figure, and it was then that she saw the lips move gently and a hoarse laugh rose from the ground that made her hair stand on end.

"This is new. Just when I thought you were out of tricks." the figure croaked, though in a decidedly female voice.

"Tricks? This is no trick. We have been seeking for you. I have come with the Mithril Knights," Akara reassured, suddenly realizing how difficult it would be to lift the figure from the ground by herself.

"The Mithril Knights are dead."

"No."

"I saw them die."

"Lady Tempest..."

"Stop calling me that!" For the first time, the croaking voice showed emotion, though the figure did not attempt to rise. It occurred to Akara that perhaps water and food might strengthen her, so she hurriedly retrieved such things from her pack and passed them through the bars directly in front of the prone figure.

But instead, the figure waved them away angrily. "The lady Tempest is dead. The Mithril Knights are dead. They are all dead. All of them. And now my ghost comes to tell me otherwise..."

"I am not a ghost, though I am told I resemble you in your youth as the water reflects the sun." Akara protested kindly.

With evident pain, the figure slowly pushed herself into a sitting position, though the exertion from this cost her greatly. The face that now came into view was fearful to look at, for it was covered in bruises and sores. In fact, Akara now saw that one eye was swollen shut. She sucked in her breath and tried to keep the tears from welling up in her own eyes unsuccessfully.

"What have they done to you?" she couldn't help but choke out.

"What have they NOT done? This is war, child. In war, all things become possible."

"I am here to rescue you. The Mithril Knights, they are close. We can escape."

"There is no escape. You always told me that."

"I'm not one of them!" Akara pleaded. "This is no trick! Once your head clears of their poison, you will see that I speak the truth!"

"If you speak the truth or not, it does not matter. There is no rescue for me, save death itself. Go and tell your master, what secrets I have left, I carry with me to the grave."
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