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Thread: [M] Hour Of Devastation (Kach x Namingtoohard)

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    Fantasy [M] Hour Of Devastation (Kach x Namingtoohard)

    It was like most towns in the Provence. A small church, tavern, smithy, tannery, cobbler, dairy and loose assortment of houses around a crossroad of hard packed dirt surrounded by farms. Green fields and gentle hills extended under the blue sky doted with lonely fluffy white clouds like roaming cattle. The hard packed streets had carts travelling to and from farms, riders making trips to other townships, and a small crowd of children gathered around a shabby looking person.

    There was one difference today however. Today, it was where Morgan found himself. Standing 5'2" he was only a head taller than the oldest children. With short cut black hair, brown eyes, and clad in well worn peasant's tunic and trousers he didn't stand out from the crowd, but still the children gathered around watched transfixed. He chewed a the bottom of a piece of straw as he spoke. His voice gentle, careful and deliberate, very unlike the fast talking snake oil salesmen travellers would normally cross paths with.
    "You there!" He pointed at a small child who had obviously been playing in the dirt earlier and was covered in dust. "The marvellous powers granted to me by my birth, under the light of a new star, can command even the small amount of earth on your body. Behold!"
    With a series of flourishes and some unrecognizable words the boy began to sparkle and the dirt disappeared from his clothing hands and feet. The sparkling subsided and Morgan spoke once more.
    "No bath for you today my friend!"
    The children cheered and shook their newly cleaned friend in excitement, some beginning to to push their way to the front to be next. Seeing them surge forward Morgan raised his hands.
    "Stay back as I pull fire from the very air itself."
    The crowd began to back away as Morgan made the same set of movements and strange words. Orange glowing lights appeared above the children moving like a flock of birds above them. Morgan lowered his arms, looking tired from the effort.
    "My powers have left me drained. Thank you all for watching the exploits of Morgan the Magnificent, and remember, the power to help others it the greatest of all!"
    He bows and produces a small empty sack from seemingly nowhere and holds it out. A few of the children drop in a copper coin or two before they all hurry off to share the tale of Morgan the Magnificent.

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    Several months ago, Shara had felt nothing but excitement whenever she came across a new town. Each new place she visited had been a collection of new sights, new people, and new experiences. The borders of her world had grown, and she felt that she had grown alongside them. Even more importantly, each one had been another opportunity. Another chance to complete her quest, and prove that the decision she had made was right. These days, however, her enthusiasm had shrivelled away, to be replaced by a growing seed of doubt. Still, as the small town of Cyseal came into view, Shara did her best to muster up a fraction of her former confidence.

    This is it. This town has to be the one. I can feel it.

    The sun was near its peak when Shara finally made her arrival, and she quickly set about searching for the local inn, eager for a bath and a proper meal. The young adventurer did her best to ignore the stares she was drawing from a few of the locals as she walked, fully aware that she must make for quite the sight. A woman with the toned body of a trained soldier, dressed in the boiled leathers favoured by travelling warriors and mercenaries? That was bound to draw attention in a small town like this. Her pale skin, spattered with freckles, was a stark contrast to the deep tan of those who spent their entire lives working the fields...and that was to say nothing of her coppery red hair, which was pulled into a tight braid that reached almost halfway down her back. Shara was all too aware that just about every aspect of her seemed to advertise her status as a foreigner...and that was to say nothing of the ceremonial staff she carried in one hand, like a walking stick. The less questions asked about that, the better.

    She spent several moments wandering the dusty crossroads that bisected the town, scanning the various shops and signs that bordered the road for a sign that would point her in the direct direction. She strolled past the street magician and the handful of kids that he was performing for, paying them no mind as she continued her search. That is, until the staff in her hand finally began to react. Its smoothed surface seemed to heat up under her touch, sending an unpleasant tingling feeling down the length of her arm. Shara frowned at the thing at first, until her mind registered what was going on and everything clicked into place. Her eyes grew wide in amazement, a fresh wave of excitement momentarily banishing her fatigue.

    They’re…they’re here! That has to be what it means. I was right, and I found them! But who?”

    Shara spun on the spot, her gaze sweeping about her surroundings with a new purpose, new intensity. The staff was telling her that the hero was nearby, but she would have to do the legwork. She considered and dismissed several of the other civilians she saw, before her gaze finally settled onto the street magician she had passed and ignored just moments earlier. He was the only one who had displayed so much as a shred of real power, so he seemed like the logical place to start. Even as the little kids surrounding him disbanded, Shara moved towards him.

    “H-hey there! You, magician!” she called out as she drew close, hoping to stall him. A part of her wanted to simply run towards the man at full speed, to toss the staff his way and watch for any sort of reaction. Through a great force of will, though, Shara forced herself to take things a little more slowly. It wouldn’t do to cause a scene.

    “Unless my eyes deceive me, those weren’t the simple parlour tricks that most performers use. That looked like real and legitimate magic. Where did you learn to do that?” she asked. It wasn’t the line of inquiry she truly wanted to follow, but it wasn’t hard to sound curious, considering the suspicions she was currently harbouring about his true identity.

  3. #3
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    Morgan didn't look up from what he was doing as the voice called out.

    "I am sorry, but harnessing such feats has left me quite tired. No more shows today."

    He was rolling up the sack the children had been depositing coins in. If the stranger was watching closely they would notice that it rolled tight, as if it was empty, without having the coins removed.
    Morgan had learned it wasn't wise to stick around long after a performance. Adult's seldom held the wonderment children did, especially when coin was involved.
    He replied in a polite, but practised voice, eager to keep moving lest anyone take a disliking to his activities.

    "Well that is because I am no simple performer, I am Morgan the Magnif....."

    Picking up his worn pack from the ground and throwing it onto his shoulder, Morgan finally looked up to see the source of the voice. He to trailed off as he took in the site of the warrior, standing half a head taller than he, in front of him.
    Despite the poor condition of his clothes, he wasn't filthy as one would expect of a vagabond or urchin living on the street and the hands he held the bag with were not harsh and cracked like those of a labourer.

    Where the hells did she come from?! There shouldn't be any soldiers out here.. Unless she's a mercenary?! Oh gods!

    Morgan's jaw clenched on the stalk of straw he chewed for a moment before as he fought back his panicked thoughts. He raised his hands, trying to make himself not look like a threat. His left palm had scars across it, seemly from a very old burn. There was an uncomfortable pause before he spoke again, his voice no longer smooth and fluid, but tumbling out in spurts with odd pauses.

    "Now friend.... I do not...... want any trouble. I am.... just passing through.....using my craft to entertain the...... young'ns to earn enough to..... get by..... I will be on my way........ immediately if that's....... agreeable."

    Morgan chewed the end of the straw nervously, he had done this before. With a little luck he could talk his way out of town without whatever this stranger wanted putting him too hard up. Failing that, he would have to go to plan B. He hated plan B.

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    Shara waited patiently as the mage seemingly went about packing up, undeterred by his initial statement that the show was over for the day, and unswayed by the bragging he tried to use to explain away his skills. She was interested in something much more important - and powerful - than the simple light show that he was capable of putting on to entertain small children.

    Admittedly, some small part of her mind couldn't help but wonder if the fabled hero of legend she was here to find would really stoop to such a thing, but quickly pushed the thought from her mind. It was hardly her place to question the machinations of fate, and she knew nothing of the magician's circumstances. Perhaps what she saw as desperation was really just kindness, when if viewed through the lens of a different perspective. Still, that didn't stop her from raising a questioning eyebrow at his jittery, nervous answer. That certainly answered oneof her questions, at the very least.

    "Hey now, it was just a simple question. Why are you in such a hurry to get away all of a sudden? You didn't seem to be in so much of a rush just a couple of moments ago." Shara asked, her head tilted slightly to one side. She quickly glanced back and forth, as if searching the street for some sort of threat or explanation, before turning her attention back to the mage good and proper.

    Her appearance had been at the forefront of her mind just a few moments ago, though, and after a few seconds the idea finally occurred to her. A woman who was obviously foreign, dressed in fighting leathers, and covered in a layer of dust and grime from the past few days spent marching between towns? She must have made for a strange sight. One that was hardly welcoming. Everything clicked into place, and understanding dawned on Shara all at once. She hastily spoke up again, eager to amend the situation.

    “There’s no need to be so nervous. If you don’t want to answer, then just say so. I’m harmless, I promise” Shara started, before hesitating for a brief moment. After a second of thought, a wry smile flickered across her features.

    “Well…most of the time. But at the moment I just want to chat. Promise.”

    Of course, that was exactly the sort of thing a regular mercenary likely would say to a street performer unfortunate enough to garner their attention. A hint of naivety from a girl who otherwise looked so well-travelled.

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    The warrior's reply didn't make Morgan hopeful, the woman seemed unhappy with his answer. He kept his hands up in a position that, unbeknownst to those without significant magic knowledge, favoured his defence by magical means. The irregular cadence of his voice continued.

    "It is not...... often... armoured individuals want to... chat....

    Morgan couldn't see any obvious weapons on the stranger other than the staff and found that odd. If they were some kind of mercenary, they should be armed. He had never seen anyone wield a staff as a practical weapon.

    Morgan was a bit surprised by seemingly amenable attitude of the stranger. He was no stranger to reading people's intentions but could tell she was sincere, though he felt she was still hiding something and she obviously wanted something. The stranger seemed sure of their abilities. Maybe he could use that arrogance in a pinch. Or else she was very capable and he was already in great danger. He decided to play alone and see what happened her still had options at his disposal. He kept his hands up as he spoke again, still chewing the straw in the corner of his mouth.

    "I need to ....... sit and recover ....... my energy. Perhaps if you .... are eager to speak, we could..... do so over food... and drink? That would be a fair price ....for your answers don't ...you think?

    A few of the townsfolk were stopping just out of earshot now and watching the pair conversing, waiting to see if something would happen.

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    Shara remained silent throughout the mage's initial response. The same wry grin lingered on her features throughout, accentuated by a slight tilt of her head to one side. They had only been speaking for a few brief moments, but so far the man seemed remarkably nervous and timid. Travelling mercenaries hardly boasted the most sparkling reputation, but she would have expected a true mage to be capable of defending themselves. Perhaps she had really judged it wrong, and the hero was someone else who was lingering nearby. Even so, Shara had already started down this path, and she was the type who never seemed to know when to quit.

    "That seems fair" she offered almost casually, doing her best to sound agreeable. "I just arrived in town, and was on my way to the inn before I spotted you. I still need to set myself up with a room, and could use a bite besides. A chance to eat and drink sounds like just the thing"

    Glad that they had reached some sort of agreement, she turned her attention away from the man briefly, as if she intended to head off. Her gaze swept the street, eyes flickering across the fronts of all the different buildings in sight much as they had before, searching out any sort of sign or other hint that might betray the inn's location. After a brief moment of hesitation, she turned to face the other direction and repeated the process. Once again, she came up short. Finally, she glanced back in the young mage's direction.

    "Uh...you know, now that I think about it, I haven't actually found the inn yet. Tell you what - you show me the way there, and our meal is on me. Sound good?"

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    She is smiling, why is she smiling? What is she thinking?
    "...Very well...."
    Morgan couldn't figure what this stranger wanted but he had a feeling it wasn't anything good. Why wasn't she leaving, why was she so interested in him? As the woman looked around, he did as well, noticing the growing number of eyes on them.

    "Yesyesyes..... good... quickly now...."
    Morgan gestured her in the direction he was facing before he awkwardly began gently pushing her backward, paying more attention to the onlookers than the armored figure of the woman.
    He kept pushing as they moved toward the side of the dusty street, continuing on the path Shara had originally been walking.
    "Driinnkss.... we-need-drinks-too..."
    They stopped in front of the nicest looking structure on the road, a wide, tall building with clean stone walls, the smell of cooking meat wafted from inside. The sounds of conversation could be heard from the road. Morgan stood beside the stranger, watching her expectantly and ushered her forward.
    "Gogogogo... food awaits!"
    As they entered, the door opened with a groan, conversation halted and the patrons turned to scrutinize the newcomers. Most didn't seem like peasants, they were relatively well dressed. Possibly merchants and skilled workers. The tavern was well it with lamps and windows along the wall. A dozen round tables filled the interior and a bar took up the far wall. Most had plates of meats with vegetables and all had mugs in hand. The smell of cooking food was entrancing, underpinned by stale beer. Morgan was following close on Shara's tail as he crowded behind her pushing her forward as he whispered.
    "Go... forward.... find seats..."

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    The fighter in Shara recoiled when the strange man reached for her out of nowhere. Her instincts urged her to step away, or try to grab his wrists, or do just about anything else to defend herself from the unexpected grab. Had the situation been any more tense, her companion seemed anything other than timid, she likely would have. As it was, she squashed the urge, reminding herself that a mage likely had much less risky ways to harm her if they truly wished to do so. As it was, she stumbled lightly when he began to push her, but regained her footing quickly enough to avoid any sort of significant stumble or fall.

    Thankfully, it proved a relatively short trip to the inn. Shara threw a questioning look back at the man who had brought her here, but otherwise obeyed his strangely-given request. She headed into the inn, only to pause in the doorway as just about every occupant turned their attention towards the newcomers. Once again, Shara felt all too aware of just how inconspicuous she was. Still, she did her best to ignore it, putting on a confident air as she strode into the building, making her way towards the bar and the barkeeper.

    “Afternoon, friend. I’m looking for a room, a bath, and a good amount of food and drink. Not necessarily in that order”

    Their chatter faded into the background noise of the tavern for a few moments as the two of them made arrangements and haggled over price, before it ended with Shara pulling out her coin purse from within one of her pockets and dumping a handful of coppers on the countertop. When the short yet animated discussion came to an end, the barkeeper stomped off to go attend to his work, whilst Shara turned to face the rest of the room.

    She scanned the building’s interior with more intent this time, until her gaze settled onto an empty booth set against the far wall. She had hoped for something more private for the conversation she truly wished to have with the mage, but this seemed the best she was likely to get, and it would serve for the moment. With the same confident air she had adopted before, the girl made her way over and shrugged off her bag, which she stuffed under the table casually, before unceremoniously plopping herself down on one side of the table. After a moment of debate she left the staff resting against the wall, within easy reach. Provided her new mage friend hadn’t disappeared in the interim, she’d turn her attention his way once more.

    “Shouldn’t be too long before the barkeeper manages to find something to fill our bellies. In the meantime, I suppose we should start at the beginning. I’m Shara” she offered, accompanied by a lopsided grin.

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    Morgan followed Shara closely, scanning the faces in the room. He didn't like being in such close quarters with so many people; he could never be sure who was watching. He listened to the conversation the warrior was having as he observed the room, but didn't notice anyone paying them special attention. He was mad that he missed seeing what pocket Shara pulled the coins from as she dumped the handful onto the counter. Morgan's eyes shot to the gleaming pile.
    Maybe she will be useful after all...

    Morgan followed on Shara's heels to the table and quickly sat in the chair. His eyes darted between the door they entered and the door the bartender had gone through into the kitchen. He didn't turn his attention to her when she spoke, he seemed to be keeping watch for something.

    She didn't give a title, must be hiding something...
    He didn't trust this armoured woman, but she didn't seem to mean him any harm.
    His voice was soft, but still maintained an odd cadence as he spoke without making eye contact.
    "You know I am.... Morgan. Shara.... what do .... you want with me? I entertain little... ones, cause no trouble.."

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    The two of them had finally found some small modicum of privacy, and were seated in more comfort than the dusty roads outside could offer. With food on the way, it felt that most of the necessities had been taken care of, and they could finally turn their minds towards conversation in earnest. Even so, Shara couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at Morgan's response. The jittery tone seemed to have persisted despite all her attempts to reassure him, and was starting to get on her nerves a little. Even beyond that, she had hoped that the two of them could at least act civil. The fact that he failed to return so much as a proper introduction served to disabuse her of that notion, however.

    Still, Shara did her best to squash her annoyance and discomfort. If this really was him, she needed to try her hardest to make things work. Even so, in all her time spent wondering, she had never considered that the hero might be...well, someone like this.

    "Its...kind of a long story" Shara started, a wry smile flickering across her features. She looked up briefly as the bartender returned, and set down a mug of ale in front of each of them, before stomping away again. Shara helped herself to a generous sip from the wooden tankard, and spent a few moments enjoying the burn of it, before she set her mug down and turned her attention back towards Morgan once again.

    "To put it in the most simple of terms, I've been looking for someone with magical abilities to help me out with something. And I think that person might just be you" she answered, giving the man a discerning look.

    It was true, technically speaking. Even if the reality of the situation paled in comparison to that meagre little description.

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