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A Land of Salt and Tears

Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Mosher, Jul 17, 2016.

  1. Mosher

    Mosher Mushroom dad

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    Steven, son of Gilmore. Rightful lord of Acadia, the Northeastern Kingdom. Rightful heir of Gilmore, the Last Gun, as the people call him - because of the Red Man, he who interrupted twenty uninterrupted generations of rule. He who ended the Way of the Gun with a cowardly, horrifically effective attack on the royal palace.

    Before he died, Gilmore passed along the ancient guns of their House. The heavy revolver, plated in beautiful nickel, with inlaid ivory grips, worn and smooth by centuries of use, and the black iron long rifle, set in deeply oiled cherry wood, rumored to be older than the Kingdom itself.

    Along with the guns, your father passed along one final item - a quest. As he drew his final, bloody breaths, you held him in your arms, and you leaned in close as he attempted to speak. "West," he croaked. A single rivulet of blood ran from his lips. "Past the great city on that great lake. Speak... To Lady Cheyenne, in the mountains, for she holds our vengeance." He grew so still, you thought he had moved on to that clearing at the end of the path.

    "My son," he whispered, so low as to be nearly inaudible. "You come from a line of proud kings and gunslingers. Never... Never forget that." You nodded, letting tears roll freely into the wild stubble on your chin. It was time to leave. The Red Man would be here soon.



    One month. It had been one month since the fall of the palace, and you had begun your journey. Your father's revolver sat deeply in your peasant's clothes, hidden, and your rifle was hidden, wrapped in an oilskin in your large rucksack. The travel had been easy, in the mild summer client of your homeland, but you now stood at the border - beyond was hundreds of miles hinterlands and independent towns, with hostile kingdoms beyond those. Though many of these towns follow the Way of the Gun, and would house and feed any who carried one on their hips, the Red Man's spies could be anywhere.

    You can see one such independent town beneath you, as you observe the terrain atop a tall hill. The town is well known to you - Valbrook - and you're running low on supplies. The sigil painted on the palisade indicated it was still independent - it was not the Red Man's crimson falcon - but it could be a trap. You have your two guns, a long hunting knife, three days worth of food, and various odds and ends in your bag. You are dressed in rough, dirty peasant clothes, and a cowl hides your face in deep shadow. You have piercing blue eyes, an inescapable sign of royalty, and a rough tangle of black hair, with heavy stubble, quickly growing into a proper beard.

    What do you do?

    Suggestions close when I get home from work at 2100

    I'll pick suggestions by assigning each a number and rolling. If you support someone's suggestion, just say "I support suggestion <post number>"
     
  2. Nuka-sama

    Nuka-sama :)

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    Sneak into the town and try to steal some supplies. No sense of taking the risk of someone sending word to the Red Man
     
  3. SamSniped

    SamSniped DJ Goodboye

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    Keep the hood low and quickly buy some rations before leaving. Don't risk anyone grabbing your attention, just keep walking.
     
  4. Mosher

    Mosher Mushroom dad

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    You proceed down the hill, drawing the hood further over your face. Even in the bright, late afternoon sun, shadows danced across your face, making your features indistinguishable. Your mind went back to the young, formative years of your youth; of the many, many long, hot hours spent in the training yard, being bruised over and over again by the marshal of the keep's guard. From the age of seven, til you had reached manhood, you had spent your days in the courtyard, or in the classroom, learning the intricacies of diplomacy and intrigue. As you traipsed down the hill towards the town, still some miles off, you slip comfortably into an old memory.

    "Keep your guard up, boy, or I swear I'll start using a real sword and slice you in two," shouted Marshal Long. His face was flush with effort (and more than a little anger), and bulging veins seemed to erupt out of the thin, stretched skin on his neck and arms. A simple, blunted training sword and a pine shield bearing the sigil of Acadia were on his arms, and across from him, dressed in fine leather armor, was you, perhaps only thirteen years old. A training spear gripped in one hand, and an identical pine shield in the other, you leapt at the angry old Marshal, only for him to sidestep and cruelly bring his sword down your back, slamming you into the dirt.

    "Pathetic," spat Long. "Get up, maggot. I barely tapped you. We'll try again." You felt scarlet anger creeping into your veins, flushing into your cheeks. You would show hi- "Yes, maggot, give in to the anger you feel. That will only make you make more mistakes; every warrior who has died by the sword, or gun, or lance, has died because he gave into the bloodthirst." The anger had left Marshal Long's voice, replaced by a soothing calm. "Your mind must be as sharp as your weapon, gunslinger, or have you forgotten just how deadly that soft flesh you call a body is?"

    "You know as well as I do, my lord, that I am no gunslinger," you spoke through clenched teeth. Even as a young buck, you were ever a prideful bastard. You clenched your spear once more, and then relaxed. The Marshal, as much as you loathed him, was right. His mind must be as razor sharp as his blade. You readied yourself once more, attacking with a quick thrust, aimed at the marshal's throat. As he brought his shield up to block your attack, you quickly thrust downwards, towards his feet, bring your spear around in a wide sweeping motion. You got him!

    Or not. The Marshal laughed, bringing his sword down in a masterful parry, before bringing it back upside your head. "Not bad, maggot. Not bad at all. I'll make a warrior out of you yet."


    Yes, fond memories. Your mind comes back into reality, as you approach the palisade of Valbrook. It had certainly seen better days - the civil war in your homeland must not be treating this poor town well - but it was still solid, and the sigil on it was clear as day. The day was beginning to fade now, the otherworldly colors of dusk slowly bleeding into the horizon.

    You came upon the palisade, and bellowed a question that had been asked a thousand times before at this gate.

    "Open your gates, ye of Valbrook, if you would have my coin and my stories, and that I may have a taste of your hospitality." It hardly crossed your mind until after you asked the ritual question that those on the outer edges of these lands might find the question archaic, and, possibly, a sign of nobility. No matter. It was too late for such thoughts, now. A guard has appeared atop the palisade, dressed in simple canvas clothing, and wielding a simple wooden club.

    "State yer business, and name, friend, or ye'll find no hospitality in Valkbrook," shouted the guard. "Many a bandit has made their way south, from those once-prosperous lands you seem to have wandered from, and we needn't any of your ilk in our fine town." Exasperation quickly fought its way to the forefront of your mind, but you fought it back. Pulling your cowl over your face further, as if you could hide your features any more than they already were, you shouted your response.

    "All I wish to do is purchase supplies in your fine town, and you can trust that I am not a bandit, but just a weary traveler. My name is Isaiah, son of Zachariah and of the city of Neyark, and I would do naught but spend my coin in your town." The names came to you quickly, those of an old friend - the son of an advisor to your father, back when the world was simple. He had died two years ago, at the hands of the Red Man's armies, attempting to flee the burning city that had once been his home.

    The guard seemed to consider him for a long time, before nodding. "Aye, you look like an honest sort, even with the cowl. I heard about the burnin' of Neyark. May the souls of its citizens find peace along the eternal path." His face had turned somber as he intoned those last few words, before shouting a command down below. The gate of the palisade began to lift. "Thank you, sir," you called upwards, as you walked through the gate.


    It was not long before you found the inn, though the last vestiges of light had, by now, left the sky. You found yourself surprised that an old sparklamp - an electric light, a survivor of the Old Age - was in a town as rural as this. Even in the Northeast, they were rare, found only in the banquet halls of keeps and palaces. A well maintained sign - reading The Murky Water - hung above the inn; it looked freshly painted. Ensuring that your face is still concealed behind your hood, you open the door of the Murky Water Inn. The room was lit by firelight, a cozy kind of warm illumination lapping at the walls. Around you were men playing foolish old card games and women whispering secrets into each others ears, and the playful, aromatic scent of roasted hog wafted out of the kitchen to your left.

    You walk up to the bar, where a grey haired, mean looking woman was aggressively scrubbing a mug that looked as though was held together by, rather than marred, dirt. "Long days and pleasant nights," you greet her warmly, raised your right hand in a casual salute. "Silver for sustenance, if you will, my lady." You pulled out three silver coins, each emblazoned with a bull, and placed them on the counter. The woman eyed them suspiciously. "Ah only have enuf stock ta give ye' for one of them silver bulls, sirree, an Ah don' take charity, no sah," squawked the woman, her voice both heavily accented and shrill. You give her a brief, toothy smile.

    "The other two bulls are for a draught of your ale and a bit of information, my friend," you say cheerily to her. "I need to know a couple things. I seek to go past the City on the Lake, and I need to know which road to take; my map only reaches so far."

    "The City on the Lake? They don' take kahndly to outsidahs, friend, no sirree. Tha's no' what old Matilda 'ears... But, if ye've got a death wish, Ah will oh-blige. Tha Great Eassern/Wessern Road is jus'a few miles south'a 'ear... it itself leads to the City on the Lake, oh yes it does, though it be a perilous journey. Tha road be marked by a mighty blue shield, emblazoned with this sigil on it..." She looked around for a moment, before finding a stub of charcoal beneath the counter, and a strip of paper to scribble on. She wrote something quickly, hesitated, and then showed it to you.

    90 it said.

    You raise your eyebrows in confusion. "Ninety?" you ask her, quizzically. She only shrugged, crumpling the scrap of paper up.

    "Ah've nevah learned no numbahs or lettahs, so foh-give me, sirree. But thas what it says - I been down there not so long ago, 'bout four or five years." You consider her answer for a moment - a great blue shield, emblazoned with that strange sigil? - but you suppose she has no reason to tell such an outlandish tale.

    "One more question, my lady, and I'll take my provisions and leave you." You lower your voice, and motion for her to learn in. "The Red Man," you whisper in her ear. "How far does his influence reach in this town, and yonder towns down the road?"

    You could almost see old Matilda visibly stiffen up, a single spark of fear crossing her otherwise cocky, steely eyes, before anger filled them. "We'll not talk of such in mah bar, wanderer, ye'd bes' believe it. Ah won' bring that evil ta' mah house," Matilda whispered fiercely back to you. She pushed a package of dried meat and jerky across the table to you. "Ah reckon ye'd best be on your way, wanderer." You figure about the same thing, stowing the pack of meats in your rucksack, standing up off the stool you had been sat on, and walking out the door.

    Just then, you hear a commotion: two town guards, chasing after a youthful young woman, garbed in commoner's dress but with the Red Man's sigil sewn onto the side of her arm.


    What do you do?
     
  5. Double A

    Double A wak

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    a barrel roll
     
  6. Nuka-sama

    Nuka-sama :)

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    Do not intervene. Simply observe for now
     
  7. Mosher

    Mosher Mushroom dad

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    The girl sprints past you, her scarlet robes seeming to shimmer in the warm night air. As she looks over her shoulder at the pursuing guards, your eyes briefly meet; her warm, deep green eyes meet your piercing blue ones for a brief moment. You can almost hear the message she's trying to broadcast to you. Help me, she seemed to cry. You turn away instantly, reaffirming that your hood still hid your features, and looked towards the guards. The mysterious girl disappeared moments later, turning a corner and vanishing into the night.

    The two guards chasing her come up to you a few moments later, both obviously out of breath. They're both pudgy, and obviously haven't seen combat - nor a sparring partnre - in many years. The older one, his cheeks flushed red, spoke inbetween pants to you.

    "Hile, friend... Did you... see where that... cursed Red girl went to?" asked the guard, obviously trying to compose himself in front of you, and failing miserably. Each of his wheezing breaths sounds like the death cries of a mortally wounded animal, and moonlight reflected in the rivulets of sweat dripping from his forehead.

    You shook your head in a firm negative. "No, sir, I'm afraid she whipped by me before I could get a good look at her," you posit. You shift your rucksack uncomfortably across your back; it was a decent weight again, and you had been standing still for too long. "If you'll excuse me, I'll be on my way, sir." You stalked off past the guard, obviously too exhausted to give chase, and call over your shoulder. "Many pleasant nights to you, fair guards."

    * * * *

    You set up camp outside Valbrook, as the moon reached its apex in the night sky, and constructed a small fire. Even in the warm night, the fire's heat was almost intoxicating to you - as was the delicious smell of the rabbit you had snared a few moments ago. Though not a luxurious meal by any means, you would rather save the food stock you had just purchased.

    Despite the strange events in town, you felt a sort of exhilaration bubbling up inside of you; your journey, as it were, had truly begun, with your first steps outside of your homeland finally taken. From here, it would be your wits, knowledge, and skill with the gun that would carry you through the long days to come, until you could meet Lady Cheyenne. You recline against an ancient log, listening to the crackle and pops of your fire; a hypnotizing sound, if there ever was one. Darkness began to fall upon the eaves of your mind, and sleep had nearly overtaken you, when you heard the sound of a twig snap, somewhere amongst the treeline around your camp. In a blur of motion, the big revolver of your father was in your hand, aimed in the direction of the noise.

    "Come forward, trespasser, or you'll meet your ancestors sooner rather than later," you bark into the darkness. "I may not be one of the legendary gunslingers of yore, but I'm good enough to blast you off your feet," you continued. In truth, you had no idea where exactly the intruder was, let alone would you be able to hit them. You just hoped they wouldn't call your bluff, and run off and report a man with a gunslinger's weapon roaming the countryside.

    Thankfully, your bluff worked. A shadow emerged from the trees, quickly revealing itself to be a woman, dressed in a scarlet robe; the girl from earlier. She was looking down at her feet, almost sheepishly; her hands were raised above her head in a symbol of surrender. "Please, sir, I wish you no harm... I just smelled the roasting rabbit. I haven't eaten in three days." She looked up at you with those same deep, soothing green eyes you saw earlier, in Valbrook.

    You didn't take your revolver off of her. "I'm afraid that to break bread with a servant of the Red would make my poor father roll in his grave, girl. Move on before my tolerance runs out," you spat at her. She recoiled slightly at your raised voice, but otherwise stood her ground.

    "No, no. I'm no servant of the Red... I wore this only to break through the guard posts, to the Northeast, and have nothing else to wear. Please, sir, I am starving... I can off you my services for some of it. I am a magician by trade, if just an apprentice one. The Red Ones drove me out of my home, and I've nowhere else to go; I know enough of magic and alchemy to be useful to you."

    You consider her offer, and decide to...

    * * *

    Thanks to anyone who's actually reading this. I know it's probably not very good; I'm trying to write what comes to my mind as I write it, without a whole lot of editing, and I know it probably comes out a little rough.
     
  8. Nuka-sama

    Nuka-sama :)

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    Shoot her. She is clearly lying. If a servant of the Red found out our identity, all would be lost.

    -----

    OOC I'm enjoying it alot :)
     
  9. SamSniped

    SamSniped DJ Goodboye

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    Find out more about her before any decisions are made.
     
  10. arya126

    arya126 Squad Leader

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    I support Nuka-Sama's suggestion post #8.

    Also just one suggestion, love the writing but maybe shorten each update just a tad.
     
  11. Mosher

    Mosher Mushroom dad

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    You make your decision in a flash. The act of killing brings you no great pleasure, but it is the creed by which you have pledged yourself. You fan the hammer of your father's gun twice, and the girl - along with her hauntingly beautiful eyes - is blown away by the thunder. Her form collapses, dark crimson pooling on the dirt underneath her body; a stark contrast to the bright scarlet of her robes.

    You quickly empty the chambers containing the spent shells, reloading them with deft practice. You did what you had to do. Your hand, previously as steady as any veteran gunslinger's, starts to shake uncontrollably. You had no choice. You holster your revolver, hiding it beneath your clothes again, and look at the body of the girl. Her eyes are still upon you, though their previous luster was long gone; her mouth lay agape, in a permanent expression of shock. It almost seemed as though she was asking you a question - "Why?"

    "May you find peace on the other side," you murmur, before moving to extinguish your campfire. You have to move from here, and soon - the gunshots would have been heard for miles around, and you most certainly did not need the attention. Bounding over to where your rucksack lay, leaning against the log you were sitting against, you heave it over your shoulder and take off to the south west, keeping a light jogging pace.

    You don't quite know how long you ran, but your breath now comes in great heaves, and the straps of your rucksack feel like bands of fire, digging into your shoulders. As the moon began its descent from its apex in the sky, you come across a great, sturdy oak - as good a camp site as anywhere, and you quickly drop your ruck and catch your breath. Finding a good spot in the crook between two of its mighty roots, you quickly fall asleep, exhausted.

    Why? the girl whispered in your ear. I meant you no harm, she whispered again. Over and over again, you saw those green eyes of her, as though they were right in front of you, instead of sitting in the skull of a dead girl, miles behind you. Wake up, murderer, she whispered against, her voice like the soft caress of a lover in your ear.

    WAKE UP she screeched at you.

    You wake with a start, though the fog of sleep is slow to leave your vision. You wake up, and, to your horror, realize you aren't where you fell asleep.

    Nor do you think you are still of this world. Around you grow massive, noxious purple trees, who sport tumors blasting off sickly, toxic looking yellow gas. The grass beneath your feet has long since withered and died; whatever disease killed it turned it gray and stiff, as though it were made of stone. Above you was the night sky, though the stars were not in any order you recognized; though it was impossible to tell from this distance, you had a horrifying niggling sensation that they were not stars, but, in fact, demons, or life forms of some sort.

    Crunch. You look around, trying to identify the sound, but there's nothing; just the toxic trees, the dead grass, and the horrifying sky.

    Crunch. Crunch You hear the sound again; but there's nothing around you.

    Crunch. You feel cold, dead hands reach onto your shoulder, and you are paralyzed; not by fear, but by some outside force. You realize with dismay that, even if you could move, your revolver was not on your hip. You feel the cold mist of a dead thing's breath on your neck. You wish, oh by the Gun and your Father do you wish, that you could turn around. Just to see, even though you already know what's holding you.

    "Why did you shoot, gunslinger?" the thing behind you hissed. "We could have helped each other, oh yes, we could have helped each other. We could have been the best... of... friends." With each word, her hands moved closer to your neck, eventually resting on it.

    "A little bit of trust goes a long way, gunslinger." Her hands tighten around your neck, and the first warning signs of panic start to flood your body. "I suppose we'll meet again, though, gunslinger, in the afterlife," she hissed again, her hands tightening around your neck. Splotches of black had started to find themselves in your eyes; as it became harder to breathe, it became harder to see, until everything went black.

    * * *

    You wake with a start, still nestled in the crook of the oak's two roots. Your hands instantly go to your throat, checking for bruises. When you don't find any, you drop your hand to where your revolver rests underneath your clothes; you feel it's familiar outline underneath your jacket. You breath a sigh of relief at that, though your mind instantly went back to the girl. Perhaps you should have given her a chance. Regardless, you know which direction you must travel in - southwest, to find the shield with the runes "9 0" inscribed on it. You know that there is a town to your southwest, called Ingred's Landing, which may have more information on the route itself, though entering any town is a risk that might not be worth it.

    What do you do?
     
  12. Nuka-sama

    Nuka-sama :)

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    Aww now I feel a bit sad :( Oh well!

    It's generally preferable to leave towns alone but it might be useful to see what's here. Scout it out to see if it follows the Way of the Gun or the Crimson Falcon and we can go from there
     
  13. SamSniped

    SamSniped DJ Goodboye

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    Agreed with Nuka. Approaching carefully is our best bet.
     
  14. arya126

    arya126 Squad Leader

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    Skip the town and give i9t a wide berth in your journey. Take provisions from outlying farms or homesteads.
     
  15. Mosher

    Mosher Mushroom dad

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    Just a heads up. I've eaten myself into a food coma at the moment (ribs and potato salad birthday dinner woo!) and I work all this weekend, so don't expect an update until Sunday night, or Monday.
     

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