Broken Things 7.02 – Erik

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Sometimes the lineage of our demons goes back many generations.   

— VILHELM ITO, TO ERIK

White tendrils rose from the torches that adorned the walls of the Great Hall, drifting past the faded war banners that swayed from a frayed robe until they pooled under the vaulted, soot-stained ceiling. Below, the hard stone of the chamber was ice cold beneath Erik’s knees, cold enough to make him gasp if his world were not collapsing in around him. Looking at Viscount Baldur leering visage, his time sense began to stretch until the man appeared to slow as he spoke. The wisps of smoke now rose in languorous swirls, like impossibly thin leaves falling in reverse. Continue reading “Broken Things 7.02 – Erik”

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Broken Things 7.01 – Cecilia

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The paths are endless, but the tracks to victory are limited.   

—  ANCIENT PROVERB

The view outside the window would have been pitch black but for the torches carried by the plate-armored soldiers marching alongside the carriage. Overhead, an endless expanse of smoothed stone stretched, and a strong breeze fed by unseen vents flared cloaks, made the red and blue Phoenix Banner of the Royal House of Ito snap and crack like a whip. The Lightbenders kept mostly to their own, moving along the column in small knots while looking around uneasily. For once, their disquiet seemed warranted. This far under the Rin Mountains any number of monstrosities might lurk in some darken warren. The tunnel connecting Hjörtur to the other side of the mountain range was patrolled only rarely, and for a good reason. Continue reading “Broken Things 7.01 – Cecilia”

The Hills are Shadows 6.09 – Erik

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‘Tis the business of fools to wilt beneath failure, but the wise recognize it as the source of their strength.   

—  VILHELM ITO, TO ERIK

Erik awoke confused, gasping, struggling to separate the real from the imagined. His head rang, thick with torment pitched screams of the Dark One and the enchanted notes of a plucked instrument. He blinked watery eyes and caught sight of Hanna. She sat etched in the light of golden coals, a gilded zither draped across her lap, a haunting vision of feminine divinity. Her hands faltered, and notes turned sharp and piercing. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.09 – Erik”

The Hills are Shadows 6.07 – Hanna

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Don’t cry because you’re dying, smile because you lived.   

— MATANGI, TO LEON

Ascending the mountain trail, Hanna used one hand to steady Erik and the other to grip her shortsword as she peered back at the furious Nætstalkers creeping behind them. The hilt felt like a piece of ice in her hand, and the breeze that whipped her gore-stained dress was cold enough to make her teeth chatter. Mounds of gray-skinned corpses littered the slope, pregnant with the rank odor of decomposing flesh; the darkness obscured her vision somewhat and made her doubly conscious of the danger. Yet the hint of brightness in the sky promised the approach of dawn. It had been dusk when her ordeal began, hours earlier, and it only seemed right it should finish as the sun once again rose to bless the earth. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.07 – Hanna”

The Hills are Shadows 6.06 – Leon

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We are, as Fat Ned would say, “Fucked-fucked-fucked!”  

— MORGAN, TO LEON

Unclenching his hand from Ypse’s shoulder, Leon patted his own thigh with his palm but did not allow himself to relax. Ypse was still staring into the flickering jewel, his yellow eyes vacant. The Sorcerer’s obsession with the gem unnerved Leon; Ypse never parted with it, not even for a moment. The eerie crimson light that flashed within it cast everything it touched in a sinister tint. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.06 – Leon”

The Hills are Shadows 6.05 – Leon

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The very act of fighting shoulder to shoulder as we have night after night, day after day, binds us together with bonds not even the fear of death could extinguish. We’re brothers now, for good or ill. Brothers.   

— YPSE, TO LEON

Above an ancient temple, three White Cranes stretched out, ivory-colored plumage streaming back in the twilight as they whirled in long loops, wings beating a steady rhythm whenever they turned. Morgan led the way, giant crane and blue-clad rider all too visible in the fading light. Nóel’s bird followed closely behind Morgan’s own, in a tight line, matching its sorcery created brethren flap for flap. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.05 – Leon”

The Hills are Shadows 6.04 – Erik

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I find myself looking with fondness on those harrowing days spent in the wilderness. Horror and danger waited at every turn, but I think we were better for it. Everything since feels like a pale shadow in comparison.   

— HANNA ITO, TO ERIK

Erik stood in almost total shock and stared at the behemoth trying to comprehend what lay before him. A sense of otherness oozed from the globs of foul goop that covered and splashed from the unnatural monster’s form every time it moved. Rank, like something dead a year in stagnant mud, the smell of it choked him, the stench growing stronger by the moment. He felt his body gag, but the disgust seemed to belong to someone else. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.04 – Erik”