Jul 28 2014

Shadow of Hope 45

Cheskith had settled back somewhat from the fire to eat, the better to allow others access to the ready meal. He wasn’t rushing to the same extent as Kurn, though, and thus had to interrupt his only partially finished dining to attend to this new question.

“The watches, they have been settled? If this is as yet undone, then I would prefer the first, I think, but can settle for any,” he spoke, addressing whomever seemed to have been drawn to the topic.

Gathering from the looks around the camp that they had not yet been settled, and not wanting it to be a long drawn-out discussion of merits — a discussion that could readily cut into everyone’s needed rest for the day ahead — Kurn nodded tersely to Cheskith’s statement and looked to everyone else, “Fine; any other preferences?” Continue reading

Jul 14 2014

Shadow of Hope 44

“The hierarchy of the Purification has yet to reveal itself,” Erellia responded, “Though I suspect their primary dealings are intertwined with one of the darker gods.  A reduction in arcane energies throughout the lands would certainly give more sway to those who wield the blessings of their deity.  Several encounters have been reported where priests have been seen among the ranks of the hunters, though whether that is coincidence or collaboration is uncertain.”

She fell silent for a moment in thought.  “The sheer potency of the hunters’ fanaticism is also quite disturbing.  Rarely have I ever seen such single minded determination.  Once an individual joins the Purification, they seem to lose something of themselves to the whole.”

Then more quietly she added, “Which is why no one has yet been able to successfully infiltrate their ranks.” Continue reading

Jul 7 2014

Shadow of Hope 43

Rôhn’s eyes widened and affixed on the glistening green jewel, appraising it.  His jaw slackened and his tongue lolled, loosening its vice on the stem of his pipe, which rested on his dried and cracking bottom lip and would have fallen to the ground had the pipe bowl not been perched upon his fingertips.

“Oooohhhhhh….” he muttered as his eyes sparkled in time with the glistening of the jade amidst a shroud of slowly rising smoke billowing from the burning leaf. Continue reading

Jun 30 2014

Shadow of Hope 42

Cheskith came through the battle unscathed, and the walking and adrenaline have limbered him up to the point that he was no longer in danger of toppling; having a fire drive back the chill didn’t hurt either, though the conversation that went back and forth caused him to reassess the purpose of it.

Since the others were engaged in mending one another or sorting through the leavings, Cheskith chose to place himself as sentry, adopting a northeasterly spot from the fire that allowed him a vantage over Haron and the horses as well as a reasonable view of the other approaches; however welcome it might have been in some regards, fire was likely to attract attention, and it might not be entirely friendly attention. Continue reading

Jun 23 2014

Shadow of Hope 41

As Kurn moved in the direction of the battle’s western edge, he was met by Zulian and Rôhn emerging from around a cluster of trees.  The Dwarf seemed fine, though Zulian appeared to have faired no better than Borlak or Kurn at the mandibles of the great insects.  Striated tears could be seen along the clothing of her midsection along with the telltale glisten of the Ankheg’s volatile saliva.  She waved off any aid that was offered at the moment in favor of discussion.

“No sign is given that any of these creatures moved away from this site overland,” she said, “Though we cannot know to what extent they have tunneled beneath us.” Continue reading

Jun 16 2014

Shadow of Hope 40

Kurn’s howl of pain as the creature clamped its mandibles with full intent of severing his leg at the knee was bitten off into his own fierce snarl of determination.  His knuckles blanched white with the force of his grip upon his embedded sword.  His neck corded as the rain pouring down his face mingled with sharp sweat; with a chitinous crack he wrested the sword free from the creature and lifted it to his full reach.  That the creature had firm hold of him had one advantage — it couldn’t dodge.  Kurn slammed his sword point-first into the creature’s back with full intent of taking its head off. Continue reading

Jun 9 2014

Shadow of Hope 39

Rôhn hefted the warhammer in his meaty hand, eyes shifting back and forth taking in the unfolding scene as if he were deciding which beast to extinguish first.  With a curt nod and a grim visage, Rôhn pounded across the ground on his stout legs, bellowing a war cry as he charged the Ankheg menacing Kurn from the south.

“My hammer will find your skull!” Continue reading

Jun 2 2014

Shadow of Hope 38

As the sun descended toward the horizon, a chill began to seep into the air amidst the lengthening shadows. The horses stamped with unease, hooves muffled only slightly by the damp underbrush of the scrubby terrain.  Haron did his best to keep the animals quiet, steaming breath pouring from flared nostrils as the boy gathered reins and patted necks in consolation.

Zulian continued her circular sweep of the area, her lithe form disappearing for brief instances behind clusters of evergreens or thick uprisings of shrubbery.  She carried the shortspear loosely in her hand and remained wary of the nearby sounds and sights of the sparse wood. Continue reading

May 26 2014

Shadow of Hope 37

Cheskith raised his voice then, albeit just enough to carry to those discussing things at the fore.  “Another route, I wonder?  Go back a short while, then circle around?  To travel in the dark is preferable to being eaten in the dark, I think.”

All the same, he still keeps alert for any signs or sounds of approach.

The barbarian replied to Kurn, “I was too far from the bodies, and they are too far rotted to see what sort of wounds they have.”

Kurn nodded.  Given Borlak’s expressed preference, and Zulian’s, and Rôhn’s absence of objection, Kurn spoke up, “If we’re to camp soon and near, if this predator or predators can be found, let’s deal with it now.  Backtracking to an alternate route may still find us in its domain when we must rest.” Continue reading

May 19 2014

Shadow of Hope 36

Rôhn nodded, a glimmer of fierce determination in his stony gray eyes, and strides forward, muttering on the word “Rôhn,” with some emphasis, as he passed Kurn.

Cheskith pushed aside his debate as to the horse as the tension rocketed skyward with some unknown discovery in the bushes and Borlak’s odd reaction.  A battle seemed imminent, and whomever was out there – assuming that this wasn’t all some horrendously false alarm – wasn’t likely to give him the time to work his words more subtly and dissuade them from their course.

He whispered words to himself, bringing power to the fore in preparation for its next unleashing, then paused; if there were indeed people or creatures hiding amidst the underbrush, then surely they were not entirely beyond detection. Continue reading