Chapter 3. The Neverending Masquerade.   Posted by Guildmaster.Group: 0
 GM, 120 posts
Mon 23 Feb 2009
at 04:55
3. The Neverending Masquerade

Holed up in the Duke's Mansion, the scant group of survivors were huddled in the corners of the room, keeping clear of windows and doors. A few priests and clerics had found their way into the mansion and were giving the best possible aid to the wounded. Discarded weapons, blood, broken furniture and party wares lay strewn about the floor.

After the soldiers had retaken control of the mansion, they gathered all the survivors and barricaded doors leading upstairs. They couldn't afford to guard the entire Mansion, it was too huge and too difficult to manage.

"People, we don't know how long we can hold out here but we will try, all we ask is for everyone to stay calm and help those if you're able. We have a few extra weapons here, any person who is able to join us in defending this place are most welcome."

The girl had ceased her screaming and was lying peacefully in Brax's lap. Her eyes had been badly scratched were now protected by a ragged bandage. Looking up at the window, Brax realised that dawn was approaching. The reddish purple sky signalled a new day but it a hazy grey overlapped the brillant colour, a grim reminder of what had happened the night before, or was happening.

Yorgorov had seated himself beside the Enigma and was examining his wounds could overheard a guard and his captain's conversation, "Sir, there is no sign of the Duke. Perhaps he managed to get away safely. What are your orders?"

"We need to leave this place. There is a way through the sewers, but we need to make sure it is safe before we lead these people through there."

Emeric, who was seated at the order end of the room pondered over his options. He had this "package" that he was told to get rid off... but why should he, after all this was getting him into more trouble than anything else. Just then, a familiar face caught his eye, it was the blue eyed guard. The man had made his way over to Brax and Yorgorov.

* * * * * *

Lily didn't realise that she had closed her eyes and fallen asleep. Jolted awake, she sucked in a breath when she realised she was drenched from head to toe and freezing. Her teeth chattered and as she examined her fingers and toes, she realised how wrinkled they were from prolonged exposure to water.

She was still half submerged in the barrel and feeling cramped and her limbs yearned to stretch and relax. In her hands, she was still clutching onto the package that she had been told to protect. In the darkness, she could feel the paper packaging falling apart and what it protected was something the size of her palm, hard and had a certain weight to it.

The creature's shrieks and screams had stopped, they were no longer attacking the barrel she was in.. But did she dare go out?

* * * * * *

"Excuse me sir," a guard said to Brax, "How is she doing?"

The man knelt down beside Brax and said, "You must have saved her life... Thank you for saving my sister's life," he added gratefully. Turning to look over his shoulder, he said quietly, "We need to leave this place as soon as we can. My father sent us to find you... to find all of you. But now we're trapped."

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:56, Mon 23 Feb 2009.

 player, 107 posts
 A bold highwayman
Thu 26 Feb 2009
at 00:35
Questions . . .
Brax was tempted to stand and arm himself in response the officer of the Guards saying that weapons were available to any who were willing to help secure the mansion, but he hesitated to disturb the young acrobat whose head was cradled against his arm. And so he remained sitting in his cross-legged position on the floor as the guard who announced that the girl was his sister made his way over to them and began speaking.

”I am pleased to have been able to assist your sister in her time of need, sir,” he replied to the man who knelt beside him.

”And in answer to your question regarding how she is doing, I do believe that she is suffering some pain by reason of her eyes having been scratched by several of those damned creatures, but she seems to be resting peacefully enough at the moment.”

It did not escape the highwayman’s notice (being one who was well-versed in the various subterfuges and cautionary mannerisms of those who lived outside the bounds of the Duke's law) that the man glanced furtively over his shoulder to make certain that none of the other guards were within earshot before continuing to speak in a much quieter tone of voice. ”We need to leave this place as soon as we can. My father sent us to find you . . . to find all of you. But now we’re trapped.”

Brax chuckled, then responded in a quiet voice, ”Well, sir, considering the alternative – having free run of the greensward and courtyard outside this building, albeit in the company of those swarms of devilish flying fiends – I do not believe that I shall quibble o’ermuch about being ‘trapped’ inside these walls.”

Lowering his voice to a whisper, his smile faded as he continued, ”But do tell me, sir – who are you, who is she,” he asked, nodding his chin towards the girl whose head he cradled, ”and who is your father? And – although I do not wish to give offense, sir – please explain to me, I prithee, why should I pay the slightest bit of attention to you when you tell me that I should leave this place, presumably in your company?”

“Oh, and who are the rest of the ‘all of you’ whom you just now mentioned – and why do you presume to count me as one of that number?”

This message was last edited by the player at 03:13, Sat 28 Feb 2009.

Yorgorov Varakzy
 player, 82 posts
 Dark eyed poet
Sat 28 Feb 2009
at 01:26
Re: Questions . . .
And so an enigma becomes part of a greater riddle

Yorgorov cradled his various cuts and bruises, his pride wounded more than anything else. his had been a less than lordly escape in to the apparent safety of the dukes mansion. It was moments like this, when Yorgorov found himself cowering silently that he realised how far he had fallen from grace, and how close he had come to death in his greed. Yorgorov put aside such sobering and melancholy musings and instead began to take in the current situation.

Where was, and more importantly, where is the duke in all this? Either he is safe somewhere inside the mansion or else has some pasage by which to escape. Tell me friend, who exactly do you mean by "all of you", and who is your father? After tonight's most delightful and entertaining distractions I don't think either of us is in the mood for any more mysterious invitations or anonymous meetings.

As if reaqding Yorgorov's mind the man known only as Enigma spoke to the kneeling guard, the supposed brother of the injured girl Enigma had rescued. The torches began to flicker and cast leering shadows over her face.
 GM, 123 posts
Mon 2 Mar 2009
at 06:07
Re: Questions . . .
Looking over his shoulder warily, the soldier looked firmly at Brax and began explaining quietly. "You have been marked. Like all the others," he tapped the side of his eye and said, "I can see it... here". The soldier reaches out and points to Brax's  and Yorgorov's foreheads briefly.

"Just like the men seated from across of us. They too..." the soldier reveals indicating Emeric and Moerdyn. "bear the mark. I would like to explain more about myself, but not here. The walls have ears."

"But what I can say is that whatever that mark means, it indicates that is my duty, as is my sister's and my father's to protect you and the others."

The soldier paused, watching Brax's and Yorgorov's expression before continuing, "You see, you, your families, your ancestors, your predecessors or whoever it is that has handed you your mark, have always been protected by us. Your role in this world are important enough to dictate the making of history. Thus your us."

"I can't tell you what exactly is this role you and the others have to fulfill in this whole grand scheme of things. But my duty and my sister's for now, is to bring you back to my father. And I am determined to do just that," the soldier concludes.

This message was last edited by the GM at 06:09, Mon 02 Mar 2009.

 player, 39 posts
Mon 2 Mar 2009
at 13:31
Re: Questions . . .
Emeric watched the guard as he talked quietly with two others in the room, and he wondered what was going on.  He held the sword, but would have preferred a dagger or his bow, but kept it none the less.  His hands felt funny where they had squeezed the life out of the small flying creatures, and he was loathe to have to rely on them again.

Spotting the glance from the guard, he again wondered what was going on, and although tempted to move over, he was unsure if the guard would want their previous contact to be acknowledged.  Checking on the others in the room he began to wonder what his life was leading him into.
 player, 111 posts
 A bold highwayman
Wed 4 Mar 2009
at 00:41
Not Entirely Convinced . . .
Marked? Me?

The young guard’s answer came as an absolute surprise to Brax, and undoubtedly it showed on his face. The highwayman wasn’t entirely sure what sort of a response he had expected, but he was sure that the one he got was entirely unexpected.

His eyes flitted over to Varakzy’s face – and also to the faces of the seated men whom the guard had indicated with a nod of his head – but there was no mark to be seen on any of their foreheads.

By now Brax had recovered his mental equilibrium, and he found himself questioning the young man’s story. He had learned the hard way that for those outside the law – like him – being too trustful of others was a swift way to end up on the sharp end of a patrol-leader’s sword, or mayhaps hanging from a gibbet.

”An invisible mark – or one that is visible only to you and a few others? Come, come, sir – do you think to play me for a fool?” he whispered.

The highwayman pursed his lips, then continued. ”I do, however, understand that this is neither the time nor the place for a full explanation. The walls, as you say, do indeed have ears.”

Taking a deep breath, Brax nodded towards the young female acrobat. ”You are correct that I most likely saved her from a painful death, and – whatever and whomever you are – by way of recompense I shall expect a certain amount of loyalty from you. This is separate and apart from the mysterious ‘mark’ that you mention – something that we both know may be nothing more than a glib invention of yours.”

The man known as "Lord Enigma" paused for a moment, then fairly growled, ”Know, too, that if I put my trust in you and you play me false, I shall gut you like a fish before they take me down. You may count on it, sir.”

He glanced over at the heavyset Korskhan poet. ”What’s your take on all this, Master Varakzy?”

This message was last edited by the player at 01:50, Wed 04 Mar 2009.

Yorgorov Varakzy
 player, 83 posts
 Dark eyed poet
Fri 6 Mar 2009
at 14:00
Re: Not Entirely Convinced . . .
Yorgorov's hand reflexifly went to touch his forehead. His eyes darted around and found nothing out of place on Enigma's face, nor that of either of the men that the young guard had motioned towards. Nothing.

The young man's story on any other night would have been laughable but considering the night's previous events and Yorgorov's own troubled past, it seemed folly to dismiss it all together. Yorgorov was reminded of his brother's last words to him.

What you have done shall forever stain you Yorgorov, your are marked and anyone who truly looks shall see you for what you have become.

Dropping his voice to the slightest whisper Yorgorov spoke to Enigma, his eyes full of deep regret and dark forboding.

I have seen to much to discount this man's words entirely, especially given what has transpired here already. Surely if this were a trap then there has been ample opportunity to close the teeth of it around our throats already. thik of it, I assume you recieved the letter and feather as I did, we could have been lured aside at any point during the party tonight and once the chaos began it would have been easy to have been taken by an unknown hand and who would have noticed one more falling behind?

I agree though that we have no reason to trust this man and should keep our wits about us, indeed I do not trust anyone here, considering the aforementioned circumstances. Perhaps we could all do with being as honest as the situation will allow. Don't you agree MILORD ENIGMA?

Yorgorov raised his voice slightly when adressing the man beside him. The extra stress on his "name" accompanied by Yorgorov's sceptical and scornful penetrating gaze.
 GM, 125 posts
Wed 18 Mar 2009
at 04:08
Re: Not Entirely Convinced . . .
The guard looks on as the men exchanged words. The air of suspicion and suspense hanging heavily in the air, the man can only nod in agreement, "I understand how what I am saying is suspicious and in light of the situation, everyone is not in the mood for tales woven from nothingness."

The guard turned to Brax and asked, "But did you not come here to Aberhaven on blind faith as well? You were curious about the letter that found it's way to your hands to have come here."

"So why is it that you trust the writing in the letter and not the words that come from me?" The guard asked. He turned to Yorgorov, "What about you, sir?"

Chancing a glance over his shoulder, he saw Emeric staring at them. He then beckoned to Emeric with a slight tilt of his head. "Just like that man over there, and over..." The guard continued as he searched the room for Moerdyn, who was suddenly no where to be found. "Where did he go..."

A brief look of frustration flashed across the guard's features before he looked squarely at Brax & Yorgorov and said, "In any case, I do not ask for your trust but I do believe that you can all agree with me that we all want to leave this place - alive."

Just then, the girl who had been lying in Brax's arms stirred. A weak hand reached up to touch her bandaged eyes and her lips moved. After a few moments, she found her voice and managed a whispered, "Another one is lost...She's... she's alone. Trapped in water. Death is"