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Post by DoS Archive » Wed Mar 02, 2005 5:15 pm

From: (Sarah The Stick)
Date: 17 Nov 2002 05:35:38 EST

"Charlie Jericho is dead."
Allow yourself to be whisked back through memory, forty-eight hours of stunning pain and the dark pleasure of intended vengeance.
Start with today, early evening. Follow the movements, clumsy at first, as she attempts to don thick rings of interlocking metal, backed by heavy leather pads. Listen to voluminous curses as the chain mail falls upon black hair, violently pulling her head back until the man in the room, through his snickers and chortles, frees her with a lift of the armor's shoulders. Watch the strong, feminine hands remove chain leggings, glinting with lantern-light, from atop the bed's clean, white linen. Look closely as your fingertips feel a ghostly rough surface, and you can see the minmal flaws in her shining new protective wear. Observe- he crouches and pulls the belts tight around her legs, adjusting them to perfect straightness. This armor is strapped to the torso, holding the set firmly in place. As she finishes buckling guards over wrists and forearms, he places a crown of ringlets atop the straight black locks, and guides the girl to a mirror.
Stand invisibly with her; watch the image before you. You may see a burning light arise unbidden within the gem hovering a sliver above the chainmail's neckline, and you may see the same light flash through her eyes- perhaps both at once, if you are a keen observer- but what you will see, what you cannot help but see, is the assured smile of a well-kept secret.
She removes the jingling armor pieces, one by one, and sets them carefully on the bed. The man steps away as a legging rattles in her firm grip, and looks towards the door as she tightens it around a muscular thigh. Resting there is a sturdy shaft of wood, topped by wickedly sharp, slightly curved metal. He wonders if she would have ever known this weapon existed had it not been for Aya. He decides it would not have mattered, that she would have taken up a regular blade were that the only option, and although he will never find out for certain, he is correct.

You float above a nameless RhyDin street, tethered to a rear view of two people walking through the mild yesterday. It would be more correct to say she is walking, and he is trying to keep up. It is obvious she knows precisely where she wants to go. His weary questions suggest he does not. If you recognize the smell of fresh leather and metalwork, you may be able to discern her intent before she comes within sight of an old sign which reads "McCracken" and "Metalsmithing" on separate, hanging pieces. This rests over the door of an old, broken-down shop, its only sign of life a billowing smokestack protruding through a ratty wooden roof.
The smith is a balding, stocky man, thick with muscle and too much haggis. He wears a filthy apron, soot-black (like his fingers), a grubby, sleeveless white shirt, and lime-green cutoff pants. He is of equal height to the somewhat familiar girl speaking now. Step close enough to hear their conversation. They have met; he knows of her disdain for deadly weaponry, and something she said has him wracked with concern. He questions; the reply is patient silence and a lingering stare.
He hustles, shaken, towards the unscrubbed wall to his left. The metalworker removes a long shaft of wood, ending in a length of curved, gleaming metal, from its hooks with a caution bordering on reverence. The weapon is brought to the counter and laid down, knobby hands holding it securely in place as expense is mentioned, though it seems he is as inclined towards not selling as profit. The girl does not attempt to haggle. Instead, she reaches into her front pocket and removes a portion of gold brick, six inches by two, and a full inch thick. She lays it down and grips the wood tightly, making mention of his finest armor.
This man, McCracken, drips with sweat. His is an honorable business. He lectures anyone who will listen on the importance of battle in self-defense only. A promise is demanded from every customer that a blade forged by his hand shall not be drawn in anger. He is a pious man, standing by morality over profit, turning away liars and cheats for the greater good at the expense of his business and home (though never his belly).
The girl with the fiery eyes knows this.
She also knows he is the finest smith for miles, and now, she has forced him to make a decision.
Left hand reaches for gold. Right hand points to a mannequin in the corner.
She hefts the naginata and walks towards it.
Left hand pockets the gold. Right hand makes the sign of the cross.
The man who accompanied her stands idly by, watching the approach with blank curiosity. A muttered command sends him walking around towards the counter, frowning, still curious. The weapon, light and balanced, is raised and brought crashing down upon three vertical slats of wood, secured to horizontal ones top and bottom; an unused weapon stand. It explodes, covering all three present in a dusty, splintered rain, though only the men flinch at the deafening crash. She moves on to a wooden ex-marionette, jointed limbs and all, protected head to lifeless toe by links of metal. The naginata is brought to bear and swung viciously, again and again, until each section of the shop's strongest armor has felt its sting.
Inspect the damage with her. There are no breaks, only nicks and grooves where McCracken's favored steel- Neo-Damascus, he called it- bit hard.
She sets the bladed staff against the shop wall. One by one, the buckles are undone, the set removed and brought to the smith for wrapping. He finishes the sale properly, permanently settling into a path of presumed eternal damnation for his sin. Both the girl and her companion take their share of the plainly-wrapped bundles under each arm. He exits; she retrieves her newest piece of armament and follows.
After they leave, the metalsmith stands slack-jawed at his counter, watching the doorway, unmoving, until his wife comes by some six hours later and slaps the sense back into him, most literally. She storms out of the shop, openly questioning what the hell that man must be thinking, and for the first time in many years, he has cause to question it, too.

You felt the ache, yes? Deep in your belly? The girl sits on a bar stool in the legendary Arena, shirt torn sternum-to-waist by a drunken knight's slashing longsword, soaked in blood from a wound moments healed, muttering to her companion about repaying a favor. The elven woman responsible for this saved life, herself suffering from a bleeding rib injury, stands alone by the dueling rings. Magic runs from her fingertips into a rock no larger than the average fist. She weakens, stumbling, caught by an athletic fighter with a near-completely silent name, and in the same breath claims to have created a secondary Ward. The stone is rested on a pedestal of decoration erected in honor of some past Overlord or another; it is, however, kept far away from anything involving the Blindfold's proxy duelist, now blamed for every unhealed wound and blood spilled since his ascension as supreme dueler.
The girl sets her feet on the floor, running a hand along her again-whole belly in mild amazement as she approaches the stone. The elf moves into her path; she stops, and the healer takes the opportunity to produce a knife and make a slash upon her forearm.
It does not bleed.
This does not matter to the girl, who reacts with an immediate right-left combination. The right hook is ducked; her left-handed open palm strike, however, finds the elf's nose and bloodies it. Both are distracted, then, by a sound to their left; the girl's companion has chosen to test this new Ward in a much more violent manner, impaling the taller fighter upon his own blade.
This, too, does not bleed, though a man with half a sword protruding from his abdomen will, as one might expect, acknowledge a great deal of pain.
In this time, the elven woman's nose has healed considerably; the flow of blood stopped near-instantaneously, leaving nothing but a bruise. The test wounds have begun to close. The woman- Silphion- warns that the effects are temporary, good for perhaps a month, but deems the enchanted stone a success. Those present are, by and large, content to leave the stone undisturbed and revel in the renewed safety of their favored bloodsport.
The general consensus is not unanimous. Chaos met chaos, and a bizarre order formed; the girl in the ragged black t-shirt lost her wild-mind and became cunning to the extremes of her imagination. Subjugating the Ward of Gondar required a depth of thought she would have never fathomed on her own; now, she could see the ways of her newfound enemy, one sleuthed out by the (almost) silent-named fighter, one who would frighten away the Arena's patrons, and improve his business, by taking her- or anyone else- to an early grave.
She decides upon two goals. She must find the proxy Overlord and bring him into a ring, and kill him by his own methods; this requires disposal of the newly formed Ward stone. She must also not let anyone fall victim to his plot; this requires leaving it be.
She steps over to the stone and takes it in hand, idly observing that this valuable piece of magic would be searched for once its effects were discovered, and removed at the first opportunity by those responsible for the initial Ward's failure. It must be hidden. The elf woman suggests placing it beneath the caller's couch, but that will never do. The girl points to a floorboard, and the fighter (who has now removed his sword from his gullet) pries it up. The stone is laid upon the earth beneath, the board is reset, and none but the four know this secret which will thwart the Blindfold's scheme.
Only one, however, knows the extent of the plan's perfection. The newly enchanted stone is hidden well. It need remain that way for two days, a mere forty-eight hours, at which time the girl will return to spirit it away from this place. Rumors of this new Ward should reach the Blindfold, who will immediately send their proxy to investigate the following week. She will wait for him, and offer a duel. Upon acceptance, a weapon and armor of the finest Neo-Damascus steel purchased from McCracken Metalsmithing will be retrieved and used to strike at the Overlord with bloody vengeance. If he is not killed outright, then he shall be grievously wounded- she will not allow for less- and subject to the whims of the Arena at large. He will die, a victim of his own plot, and take no others with him thanks to the temporary Ward.
Sink into the earth. Gaze upon the blue-white glow of the Ward stone. Bathe in its arcane light. Feel its strength flowing out, protecting all who step foot beneath the Red Dragon Inn.
Look, carefully, to see what the others did not, hidden within the enchantments.
Chaotic red swirls send the healing power's constant force into ebb and flow.
"Charlie Jericho is dead."
And Firestar claims its first victim under the reign of Sarah Allian.