RP Echoes from Skellbrieg [CLOSED]


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The wound still burned like whitefire.

He flawlessly remembered the moment when it happened, when he lost his left arm. The misshapen stump left behind reminded him each and every day of what he lost when he stormed the Hells. Men and women who made their oaths to him did so out of comradery. Some died, others were injured similarly to him. Yet they pursued his dream all the same, standing beside him and fighting the same demons that gnawed away at their number. Friendship held them together. Friendship determined that their bodies be recovered, so that they would be buried in realspace. Gaiseric honored the fallen with a speech and hot tears, knowing nothing could bring them back.

That was over a year ago. The legendary Band of the Ivory Skull diminished into a splinter of its former glory. Gaiseric himself had his aspirations dulled by time and pain. He was getting older. Time would see him dead eventually, as it did all things. Reckless drink ate away at his organs. He could feel it sitting in his stomach when he tried to erase his conscience and embrace temporary bliss. He despised the sensation, wanting no less than to rip out his own heart and wring it dry from the stench of ale.

He called himself a fool each and every day. Those nights not spent in transit between partying and intoxicated slumber were the ones he feared the most. When the candles died and all he was left with creaked and moaned in the dark, he felt truly alone. The only solace he possessed was the sword at his side. He trained with it relentlessly, perhaps only in a pathetic attempt to secure some new glory despite his new impairment - he did not know. All he focused on was that he could still swing it effectively enough to fight with.

It was at the Tavern of the Merry Ogre that he found refuge one particular day, the last few Ivory Skull members still willing to put up with his nonsense drifting away to the corners of the small village of Ram's Horn for bartering or other business. He confided in his first drink of the day after a long journey to the base of the Wild Mountain, an untamed wilderness he had hoped would produce some adventure worth breaking himself out of his self-medicated pattern. The innkeeper, the "Merry Ogre" it seemed, pinched a tankard and gave Gaiseric his desired ale.

The beast stood taller than three men, her natural musculature barely concealed by her layered dress. She had her thick, wiry black hair tied back in a simply ponytail and her powder-blue face wrinkled in a fanged smile.

"You're a new face! Have any tales to tell?"

Gaiseric leaned his cheek into his hand, staring into the golden-brown liquid placed before him. His eye twitched with the scars almost splitting it from his head, his fiery-red hair concealing his furrowed brow. He gave her a warm smile and downed most of the beverage in one go, cold foam sticking to his stubble.

"I could talk your ear off, my friend, so long as you keep this fantastic brew coming!"

He laughed, trying to drown out the knot twisting in his guts.
The Merry Ogre's doorbell jingled. A pair of small yet burly hands pushed the door open. The pitter patter of small yet strong feet within small boots reverberated off the floor. Pitter, patter. Pitter, patter.

The smell of booze, sweat, and drunken disillusionment did little to dissuade the small traveler from wading around the legs and hips of many patrons. A sword with a wing-crested hilt and diamond-shaped shield with a swirl pattern remained strapped to his back and offered him a little more space. No one wanted to bump a shin against solid steel.

Adjusting the propped up collar of his green tunic and black underclothes, the young half-gnome kicked up with his brown boots and scurried atop a seat. Peering around with blue eyes, the warrior settled on running a hand through his dirty red hair, tied up into a short and messy ponytail. Settling his hands on the wood countertop, only the occasional impatient tick of adjusting his bracelet followed, rolling it one way and another on his wrist.

A sudden laugh twisted his head towards the source of the noise. A large man sitting next to him and chatting up the innkeeper. The stranger could talk an ear off?

"Fucking hell, what happened to your arm? My condolences," the half-gnome Mettle spoke, "But it looks like a dragon took it off for a snack."

A warrior he may be, but a craftsman of finer words and conversation he was not. A series of intertwining scars over the right side of his face were the only distracting feature from his piercing gaze as he kept staring at the missing limb, not thinking of much else or caring for his bluntness.
Life in the surface was never quite the same as to what Ilmryn had been accustomed to, the starry lights from beyond the veil illuminating the night as opposed to the eventual fluorescent mushroom, the idle chatter of distant voices rather than some baneful silence of vigilant eyes. He may as well have stepped from an outer plane into another upon leaving his homeland and stepping into Sun-bathed roads. It proved most beneficial, however, for a man looking for utmost discretion the fact Drow were some mythical form of being to your average peasant meant the right words on the right ears could change an entire orchestra to play to his tune. Poor fools were mostly terrified or utterly enthralled by his exotic presence, it made travelling quite the experience.

Tonight was no different, while the ale poured on his mug - this week from the Merry Ogre's reserves - the intrepid adventurer found himself in the company of a quite lively bunch. A town festival, he'd wager, surface folk certainly seemed to love those.

The lonesome counter quickly filled up with all manner of adventurers, shiny armored novices and rugged veterans. By chance the ones directly by his side were quite the distinct duo, an one-armed drunk and an inquisitive pint-sized wanderer. "I know yours is quite the life from such a privileged point of view, but a dragon would consider a single arm an entree. You might be thinking of a pseudodragon, but I would never hold it against you to get them confused, my friend." The underelf added with a sly smile.
Gaiseric nodded and chuckled at the two new companions he acquired just from the lack of an arm and the promise of a good story. He lifted his mug into the air and cheered, turning on his stool to face both of them with his chest out towards the main floor.

"Of course I can tell you about my arm! But I'd have to start from the beginning, of course. You see, I used to be part of a mercenary band. They were all my friends, and we adventured around Skellbrieg looking for treasure and impossible battles to win!"

He drank half of his ale and set the rest down on the counter. He continued with his recollection of events, spinning a vivid tapestry of trial and tribulation. He even remembered the songs they would sing around the campfires at night, turning the entire battalion into a troupe of dancers and bards without hesitation. He told the two, and whoever else would listen, about the woman in silver armor and the soldier with black eyes, about the purple half-elf and the tiefling paladin who slew hordes of undead in the north. There was a burned man with a heart of gold, a half-troll who protected his people from demons in the southern jungles, and of course a brush with the legendary Great Necromancer - no story would be worth its salt without a powerful evil wizard such as that!

But no story he told ever came close to the bond and friendship he shared with an orc named Vor'zhul. That creature, more than anyone, knew of Gaiseric's tales the best because he lived them as well. When the red-haired man finally reached the end, his voice trailed off.

"We lost her in the Hells. She became a prisoner of a powerful demon lord, and we were pitted against his legions in exchange for her freedom. Many of the band lost their lives. It is where I lost my arm, hacked away by one of the monstrous elite vanguards. But we were victorious, and managed to carry off our dead... mostly because of Vor'zhul. I know not if he yet lives, but last I saw he became a raging juggernaut one last time and flung himself away from the portal as it closed, straight at the encroaching demon hordes,"

Gaiseric leaned back against the countertop, drumming his fingers along the underside.

"So, I'm sorry to say that I have yet to face a dragon - pseudo or otherwise!" he chuckled.

The doors to the tavern swung open, but this time without the intentional bravado of a friendly patron or two. These men were ugly in spirit and sauntered directly towards Gaiseric, their clothing similar enough to be a uniform without any respect to its origin.

"Hey, old man, we need more money. Did you spend it all on booze again?" one of the men grumbled, thumbs hooked under his waist sash.

They were not paying mind to the drow or the half-gnome, ignoring them and the conversation they were having with Gaiseric.

"Ah, boys! So good to see you two again!"

Gaiseric didn't seem afraid of them at all, despite their dismissive demeanor.

"Make with the money, old bastard," the other one chimed in, gripping a handful of Gaiseric's unbuttoned shirt.

"Right, right, you two caught me on my first drink, so I have plenty,"

He reached into his pocket and gave each of them a sack of coins.

"There, how's that?" he asked with a polite smile.

"Ain't enough," one of them mumbled. Neither of them even so much as opened the bags. "You're pathetic,"

The larger of the two reached for Gaiseric's mug and poured the remainder of the drink over his red hair, saturating his scalp and upper torso. He then threw the mug against the nearest wall and shattered it to pieces on impact.

"Hey! You two, leave!" the ogre lady pointed at them, but Gaiseric waved her off.

"It's fine, ma'am, I'll pay for it," he stood up from his seat and walked over to the mug to pick up the pieces.

"So you have more?" the smaller of the two thugs followed him, grinding his dirty boot into Gaiseric's hair and neck as he cleaned up the mess.

"Not right now, but I'll make sure to come back here after another adventure," the red-haired man kept smiling.

"Right, like all your dumb stories? You have a nasty habit of lying, old freak," the thugs backed off, leaving the tavern without saying another word.

Gaiseric stood up with a grunt and set the pieces on the countertop.
The armless man spoke from a place deep within, were it a voice born of delusions or born of experience? Only he could tell. Ilmryn found the line between both seemed to thin the more you meet seasoned travellers. Regardless, his tales had a touch of sentimentality and tones of absurdity only the most eccentric of liars would concoct for a trifle interaction over a mug or two. They were filled with wondrous descriptions of the most diverse biomes throughout the planes, sprinkled with a rather unique cast of outcasts a bard might have had difficulty wrapping their head around, there was something genuine about every word, perhaps some embellishments hither and tither, such the nature of tavern stories go, still quite enjoyable to wash down with mead.

It seemed, though, that not all participants of the jolly festivities of the night embraced the concept of a shared pint amongst story-weavers, even less so those coming from the boisterous center of attention of the inn. There were no words in Drow vocabulary to describe the man's nonchalant lack of response, his determination to not scale a conflict so clearly humiliating. There were plenty of terms, however, for the plethora of manners they would have been flayed alive for pulling anything similar on one of Lolth's children. Ilmryn observed it quietly, left hand hovering by his waist on the off-chance their attentions shifted from one irresponsive target to another considerably less so.

"Tax collectors." The elf added in jest, smoothing the atmosphere as the men left the inn. "Joy's greatest foe. Which one's wife did you bed for such a warm recepetion?"
The appearance of a drow sitting and spitting his . . . words of wisdom only gave the half-gnome pause for a brief moment. Bringing his gloved hand up to rub the bridge of his nose in mild annoyance, Mettle could only wonder what form of misfortune brought him the pleasure of meeting with the sly elf.

"I guess they let anyone in here nowadays," Mettle sighed under his breath, "Bloody scholars."

Turning around in his seat, Mettle turned his attention towards the storyweaver and planted on arm on the counter to rest his head in hand. The band of warriors traveling through the lands for adventure. How the greatest of their number sacrificed himself to help their escape from certain doom in the nine Hells. And, finally, that the man had never faced a dragon before.

His arm had been lost simply because of the circumstances of his adventuring days and more likely due to flaming demon than fire-breathing lizard.

The bell to the bar rang once more as a pair of humans stalked their way towards the storyweaver. Ugly and crude, Mettle paid little mind to them besides keeping a peripheral eye on them. His eyebrows raised and eyes widened by a hair as he watched the pair of thugs not only take the man's money but also waste his drink.


As soon as the two vile humans took their leave, Mettle paid little head to anymore words as he hopped off his seat and followed after. Slowly at first as he removed his sword from his back--sheathe and all--before tying a wire around the hilt and handle. Best not to have the sheathe flying off the sword for what he had to do.

As soon as he was outside and placed the goons within his sights, Mettle began jogging up from behind before taking the sword in both hands and using the butt of his hilt to slam into the side of the larger thug's knee. The next attack would see that, once the crook's torso and head had lowered itself, the sheathe-covered flat side of the blade would strike upwards from under the man's chin.

Wasting booze was an insult and a waste of the highest caliber. And Mettle had been itching to hurt something or someone today. Two birds, one stone.
Gaiseric did nothing to stop the half-gnome from accomplishing his own personal goals. Whatever he had in mind perhaps served the greater purpose of the world.

He did, however, turn his attentions back towards the drow. The ogre bartender threw him a towel to dry off with and he nodded with gratitude on his lips.

"Tax collectors? Aye, you can say that. It's a sad time when a mercenary has to hire mercenaries just to fill out the ranks of his band. Though, the banner of the Ivory Skull has seen better days,"


The men were chattering amongst themselves, counting coins one by one. Yet for all their greed, they were not prepared to lose it in such a way as what came their way.

"AGH!!" One of them cried out, immediately buckling under the weight of his bruised shin.

"Huh?" The other gestured away, backing off as the half-gnome from before appeared and clocked his partner in the chin.

Of course, they hadn't bothered with a name or memorizing the face. He only knew of him from before because of the sheer lack of size or definition to a certain shape in his peripheral vision. Had they not been in a bar, he'd have mistaken the wretch for a child.

"Looks like someone wants to die!!" The standing thug revealed a short dagger as gold coins scattered from his partner's hands.

Gaiseric seemed to melt away into his memories again. He almost laughed.

"But that's all in the past," he set the towel down, hearing the commotion outside and motioning for the drow to follow.

"It sounds like the future is knocking,"

By the time Gaiseric and Ilmryn joined the growing circle of people, the thugs were both standing again with knives at the ready. They took to either side of Mettle, jabbing at him threateningly from his blind spots.

"Wanna play with blades, little bastard? Come closer, then!"

The thug that hadn't been mauled already lunged forward, but caught a heavy kick to the face. Gaiseric stood over him, tilting his head in disappointment.

"Stop it, lads, we're gonna have to skip town again,"

"Shut up! You act like we're friends, but you're just a cheap drunk and a liar! No one would actually be stupid enough to go into battle with someone as pathetic as you! Unless you imagine them to be that stupid… then their deaths would be twice as hilarious!" The thug snarled, spitting blood on the ground.

Gaiseric's teeth clenched and he immediately removed his sword from its scabbard. "You think my life is funny, then?"

The air around the old mercenary suddenly became thick with a danger unlike anything these men could muster. It clung to his shoulders like a haze, and suddenly there could be no doubt in any of those old stories.

His eyes were blades of their own, slicing and freezing what they cut down to the marrow.

"Talk shit about me all you want, but I have comrades waiting for me when I die. Don't insult them!"

The thug lunged at Gaiseric while the other one, the larger and dimmer one, went for Mettle with a slash at the half-gnome's throat.

Gaiseric caught the dagger on the flat of his sword and crushed the man's nose with a soul-shattering headbutt. As soon as he fell back, he grunted and howled only to stand up again in a rush and retreat into the alleyway.

"Fucker! Horace, run you idiot!"

Horace, meanwhile, would have to deal with whatever Mettle had in store for him.
Mettle felt the sheathe surrounding the flat-side of his blade strike the larger thug's chin. The reverberation and strain of the weapon against bone sent nothing but a jolly thrill up and down Mettle's spine. The coins slipping from the thug's grasp only drew Mettle's attention for a split second before focusing on the meatsack of disappointment before him. Taking a step back, Mettle watched as the two got their bearings.

He let them. No fun in this if it was too easy. Besides, he had a crowd to entertain with these two chops of liver. Instead, he adjusted his grip on the sword and wrapping his hands around the covered blade. No time to use this as a regular blade.

A make-shift hammer would do nicely. Mettle's attention remained on the two, waiting to see if either would go first or approach at the same time. The skinnier one made his move. Mettle smirked before taking a backstep and swapping his attention to the larger of the two. Catching the blur of movement stepping between him and the thug, Mettle watched as someone thought to provide a little assistance. Mettle peered out the corner of his eye to see the old man handling the skinny one.

Which meant the big one was all his.

They both charged at the same time. The knife went for Mettle's throat. But one of them was smaller than the other. A duck and a step forward followed, and the bigger thug would be forced to over-reach or simply miss.

Mettle would not let him get the change. Swinging the hilt of his blade once more, Mettle charged and leapt off the ground while he sought to strike the large man on the side of his temple. Whether it killed the man or left him with the worst headache ever, Mettle cared little. These men sought to kill him. Pigs and thugs, the lot of them. Mettle held no mercy for their plight or cries of annoyance.

Mettle may have been small, but these men may as well have been smaller than gnats with their incessant whining.

Horace, was it?

That's what the skinnier one had been calling out.

"You're going to die here, Horace. All over some coin and a spilled drink."

Mettle readied for another swing, ready to fight or finish off the piece of filth. A certain anger yet sense of pleasure only tightened his grip on his weapon.

"You really shouldn't have wasted that booze."
Two fools had gone out of their way to provoke who seemed to be a rather seasoned veteran and perhaps the tiniest drunkard this side of Menzoberranzan, it was quite unsurprising that despite the man's initial reservations about fighting his fellow mercenaries, their lack of respect for the fallen - man or booze - had gotten under the skin of some folk they could never possibly stand up against. Maybe if their eyes were so distracted by the clinking of coins, they could not witness the truth the bodies spoke. The capabilities of far superior men doning the guise of common drinkers and dreamers.

It wasn't long before they found themselves in a quite one-sided scuffle, alcohol and herbs riling up the spirits around them. Ilmryn Dyrr observed it quietly, lips pursing into a sly smirk. Perhaps it was his Drow nature speaking, but the sight of the lesser being put into their place pleased him. They would always shove around those with shackles unable to fight back. Horace's face, the shit-eating grin of a man who truly believed an easy pay would come to someone as insignificant as him, it mirrorred those malicious eyes Ilmryn saw on so many priestesses when the monastery walls were still his limits, it's despicable teachings his roof.

It might have been fate, it might have been instinct, or it might even have been luck, but before the underelf could gather his thoughts, a dark mist whiffed from amidst the crowd, a shapeless cloud of pitch-black disrupted by the crackling of green veins. A thick volume of formless arcane energy chasing the lively runner, the closer it got to him, the more the unidentifiable mass unwound into a claw-like shape, seeking to sink it's talons deep within the man's chest and drag him back to where he stood before, mere feet away from it's origin point - an outstretched purple hand poking out of the crowd.