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 Among the Embers

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Aeir / Number III

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PostSubject: Among the Embers   2014-12-05, 8:17 pm

CRASH.


The sound of steel striking steel echoed throughout the parish like a monumental force, ringing throughout all quarters and drowning out everything else. Catching the heavy swing of his fallen comrade's mace, Ethel countered with a startlingly swift thrust of his greatsword that would have removed his opponent's arm entirely had it not been caught on his own shield. The mace came about again, and Ethel charged into it with his steel, knocking his heavyset opponent off balance. Pulling his shield back, Ethel stepped back and to the right, bringing his sword low across the ground and sweeping his opponent's now-exposed feet aside. The undead knight fell, and Ethel's sword returned on a different arc, finding a new home within his foe's neck. The cursed knight's hand twitched around his mace, and then stilled; he was dead, again.

The air shifted, and he turned about with startling alacrity despite his immense frame, just in time to catch the enraged swing of another comrade - this one notably weaponless aside from his shield. The blow was terrifying in strength, as expected, and Ethel was not fully prepared for it, so he stumbled back. Rolling heavily aside just in time to avoid the mammoth's follow-up leap, Ethel wearily recalled that the swordless giant had been dead for the past three hours and only chosen now, of all times, to get back up. For the dozenth time.

At least the third knight was still dead. For the moment.

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2014-12-13, 5:38 am

Cyra picked at the smoking corpse of an undead knight, nudging it this way and that with her hatchet. She had been surprised at the size of the Hollow; this one had been a full head taller than herself, and stout. It was a small blessing that the man had not forsaken his cape along with his sanity, as Cyra was not confident in her fencing skill with a hatchet, especially against such a large opponent. She had but to set the fabric aflame and watch the aging flesh crumble in the fire.

She examined the armor with some disappointment. It was well maintained, somehow, and would have offered much more protection than her simple robes, but it was much too large. The hollow's shield was the opposite; the fire had consumed it's handles and large sections had been eaten away by rust. It was useless. Finally she turned to inspect the sword, a long, thin blade with a golden crossguard. 

Without a thought, Cyra dropped her hatchet on the cobbles and hefted the sword. A memory came to her, unbidden. Her mother had taught her how to wield swords like this. She remembered playing at swords with a boy from her village and losing almost every match. One day, her mother had had enough and taught Cyra proper sword technique; fencing, parrying, how to set one's opponent off balance and more. Cyra took to it naturally. 

She fell into the stance her mother had taught her and took a few practice swings. The sword felt natural in her hand, though she could barely remember her mother's lessons. Apparently even in death the body remembered. She focused on the boy in the memory, but his face refused to show itself. Sorrow slivered its way into her heart. They had fancied one another, she remembered, up until the day he drowned. She could not recall his name. 

And then the memory was gone and she was in the Parish, a dead knight at her feet. She continued forward, hatchet and memory all but forgotten. The cathedral loomed above her on her left. The path she was on would bring her directly to a trio of hollow soldiers, and past them was the cathedral proper. 

As she continued forward the clamor of battle met her ears. It was a strange sound to hear; the hollows, as a rule, did not squabble among themselves. As the path brought her in front of the cathedral's door, she caught a glimpse of two giants locked in combat. There was a streak of healthy flesh, the face of one of the combatants. An echo of excitement found its way into Cyra's heart. 

She rushed for the cathedral. The three hollows at its door were but husks and paid no attention to their fellows. Cyra cut them down, one by one. Her sword was as quicksilver, sparkling in Lordran's ever-lasting sunlight. The hollows dispatched, Cyra edged her way into the cathedral. She kept far and away from the dueling giants and observed the room. Two others lay sprawled across the floor, both hollow by their faces, but otherwise the cathedral appeared empty. 

The man whose humanity was still intact was flagging, Cyra could see. And it was no small wonder, his adversaries had been great indeed. If she did not assist him immediately it was very possible that he would fail. The men were too large for her to engage in swordplay, so Cyra turned to her flame instead. In her right hand, hovering above the handle of her wooden shield, a flame manifested itself. She waited until the hollow and the knight had disentangled themselves and then hurled a fireball at the hollow, which exploded and poured over the creature's shoulders, enveloping the hollow's entire head in fire. 

For the first time in a long time, Cyra found her voice. "Flag not, sir knight! Aid has come!" The effect was not as heroic as Cyra had hoped, she had forgotten just how young she sounded.
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2014-12-15, 3:59 am

When his foe's cranium was suddenly encased in vibrant flames, Ethel paused only a moment to register what was happening, before he recognized the opportunity and took it. With a single, swift thrust of his blade the hollows head was neatly severed from its shoulders and the gargantuan knight fell, dead once more. Safe, for the moment, Ethel turned to regard the girl - or woman with the voice of a girl - who had assisted him, "My thanks for the assistance, m'lady." He said gratefully, before giving a heartful laugh, "But so you might know, and not worry, it would take many more swings for my arms to 'flag' - even against such foes, for such a time as they've already been in use."

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2014-12-23, 4:29 am

Cyra looked on in subdued wonder at the three gigantic corpses sprawled about the floor, and then back to the giant man standing before her. She pulled back the hood of her tattered, grey robe and inclined her head in a slight bow to the knight. "We apologize, ser knight. We have fought the Berenike little, and know them only as implacable foes. To best two and then disarm a third... we assumed that thee must have been reaching the limit of thy exertion; it seemed only sensible. Please forgive us of any offense." Cyra's tone was static throughout her apology, though sincere. Her movements were stiff as she slipped her newly acquired sword through her belt and put her left hand forward in greeting. "Our name is Cyra of the Great Swamp," she said, hand hanging in the air. "We are happy to meet another sane undead such as thyself, friendly faces are so rare in Lordran."
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2014-12-23, 12:57 pm

"Oh no, don't worry m'lady - there is no offense made. It was hardly easy, fighting these good men. They simply won't accept their loss and rest, thus I have had no break, despite dispatching them many times." Ethel responded mirthfully. In truth, he had been feeling somewhat weary, but not to the point he could no longer lift his sword. Now that the battle had, at last, ended - if only for a small time - he was put at ease. When she sheathed her sword - from Balder, if he was any guess - and introduced herself, he listened with polite attention. "Ah, it is a pleasure to meet a friendly undead, indeed, I would say," He spoke joyfully, gesturing to the fallen knights around him, "Friendly faces these may have been, at a time, but 'friendly' is hardly what I would call their current inclination."

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"Some things are worth preserving, even if they'll one day fade."



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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2015-01-03, 4:23 am

Cyra's expression flattened. "Many times?" She turned to look at the three giant corpses. They laid motionless on the cold stone floor of the cathedral. She looked back to the giant knight. "We have never seen a hollow rise from fatal wounds," she mused quietly, more to herself than the man. 

Cyra thought of her path to the cathedral, the ways in which she had dispatched the hollows before her. Her hatchet had been unreliable on her most robust foes, they were too large, and the hatchet's weight had been too little, it's blade too dull. She had been forced to resort to her very limited pyromancy. The hollows, for all their armor and strength, often caught the flame as hanging moss catches an ember. She looked to the fallen Berenike knights.

"Hast thou attempted cremation?" she asked, looking to the friendly knight. "Our last weapon was often inadequate against foes such as the knights, and so we turned to fire. We find it destroys them utterly." To punctuate her statement, Cyra lifted her left hand, placing her upturned palm level with her chin. A ball of flame coalesced into being less than a thumb's width from her hand, waving merrily in the cathedral's dust-choked air. Cyra's fingers twitched inward once, numbed and dying flesh seeking the heat as a starving man seeks food. It's light distracted her, and for a blissful moment, Cyra was lost from the cathedral, knowing only the light and love of a merry fire.
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2015-01-12, 6:13 pm

"The thought might have crossed my mind," Ethel explained, seemingly unaware of Cyra's distraction, "but I have no way of generating such heat, nor would they have given me time to seek it. In that regard, your appearance was a blessing m'lady."

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"Some things are worth preserving, even if they'll one day fade."



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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2015-10-03, 4:13 pm

Cyra snapped from her reverie only soon enough to catch the latter half the Berenike's words. He voice croaked as she hurried her answer, flustered by her lack of concentration "Ah... So thou wouldst wish us to see to thy compatriots?" She looked on blankly at the three corpses.

Cyra had not used her pyromancy for purposes outside of combat or training before. The possibility of using her flames to administer an undead's last rites (such as they could be considered) was... odd. Or perhaps simply different. It was not a path of thought she had ever expected to pursue, even as she had posed the possibility herself. "We must speak truthfully, ser Berenike, we have not used our flames for such purposes before but if it is thy wish, we would be honored to lay thine brothers to rest."
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2015-10-03, 4:25 pm

"Please," He intoned solemnly.

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2015-10-04, 10:09 pm

With a quick nod, Cyra turned and approached the nearest inert Berenike knight. She knelt so that she could place her flame close to the giant's exposed face. As Cyra prepared her spell, she reminded herself that she was not preparing an attack destined to set an assailant alight, she was setting fire to an inert corpse and so did not need to put her full strength into producing the flame.

Unfortunately, even with her extra care, the gout of flame from Cyra's spell was larger than she had intended, and washed over most of the corpse's upper torso in an unfocused splash. Luckily, the lining of the armor and the dry flesh still caught and in moments the entire corpse was smouldering within its armored shell.

A cloud of white wisps rose among the embers released by the corpse's flames. They swirled through the air like lazy gnats towards Cyra and passed into the space above her heart. Cyra felt the souls of the now deceased hollow diffuse through her body, bringing her a short-lived feeling of warmth and strength.

As Cyra stood, the comfortable sensation brought on by a new infusion of souls had already faded and she moved on to the second corpse. On her second attempt her flame was marginally more controlled and by the third she had managed a passably focused jet instead of a completely uncontrolled blast of fire. Each time the knights caught and each time Cyra was met with a fresh infusion of souls.

Her task complete, Cyra rose from the final knight and offered the still standing Berenike a proper curtsy. "The task is complete, Ser Berenike. Thy comrades lay at rest."
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2015-10-05, 7:16 pm

During the process, Ethelwyn simply continued to watch with an indiscernible expression. Did he say a prayer for his comrades? If it was so, he kept it within his heart, for no words were heard aloud until the last fallen soldier's remains were turned to ash.

"You have my thanks," He spoke, the clear sincerity of his tone putting it at odds with the graveness of his prior demeanor as he smiled pleasantly, "I am Ethelwyn, though I would prefer you address me simply as 'Ethel.' A bit shorter if you get into danger, you see." He paused momentarily before continuing, "I have been indebted to you. If you would have me, I would offer you my shield to protect you and my sword to smite your foes."

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-02-12, 12:20 pm

Cyra curtsied again. "It would be an honor if thou would accompany us on our travels, Ser Ethel," she said as she rose. "Even if we were not faced with the hollows, Lordran is so dreadfully quiet. Thy company is very welcome." Her smile widened just a little. "Though we are loathe to say that there shall be little smiting at present. Our immediate objective is only the Parish bell. Unless the old priests packed the attic with their followers, I doubt there will be much to stand between the two of us and the bell tower." And with that Cyra started towards the stairs, a flame still burning merrily above her upturned palm.
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-02-12, 4:44 pm

"Do not be too swift in your assumptions, m'lady," Ethel returned as he followed, "if you listen for the groans of the damned, this area is not silent. Of perhaps more import than a few forsaken hollows, however, will your flame not catch this dusty old wood and spread?" The doors were not designed with his bulk in mind. He had to stoop and step sideways to fit through.

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-02-13, 7:23 am

Cyra giggled, turning to address Ethelwyn as she continued up the stairs. "A skilled pyromancer only sets flame to that which she intends to. Even if we were so rash, hardwood is very hard to set alight. 'Twould require much more than a simple flash of our flames to-" Cyra was cut off as a hollowed knight of Balder barreled into her side, driving his rapier clear through the right side of her torso. 

Panicked, Cyra flailed at the knight, sending a ball of flame into his exposed face. The knight recoiled howling like wounded beast as it shoved Cyra back, sending her tumbling down the stairs into Ethel, rapier lodged in her ribs. Her head slammed against the protruding chest of his armor, dazing her. Her vision swam as the smoldering knight renewed its advance.
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-02-13, 9:19 am

Reacting swiftly, Ethel dropped his sword and grabbed his petite comrade with that arm, spinning about in place and using himself as a living bulwark. There was a clang and a mild thump, followed by a bizarre scratching sound as the hollow tried to find a gap in his armor. However, Ethel's armor was very comprehensive, and the knowledge the hollow could not brute force its way through was more invigorating than the concern of it finding a weakness. Dropping Cyra, he spun back around and slammed his tower shield into the hollowed knight's face, sending the hollow flying backward into the stairs, where it lay in a broken, incapable mess.

It was fortunate the hallways themselves were more accommodating than the portals leading into them.

Glancing about the hallway with a discerning eye to spot any new enemies, Ethel found none. However, when he turned to administer to Cyra he frowned pensively. She was Undead. He knew of nothing he could do to aid in her recovery, only that the wound she'd received would likely not do lasting harm.

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-02-20, 2:21 am

Cyra's breathing was rapid and halting. She wrapped her fingers around the hilt of the rapier gingerly, careful to avoid jostling it. She took in a sharp breath and pulled. Her eyes grew to the size of dinner plates as the blade ground against one of her ribs, sending vibrations through her entire skeleton. 

The rapier fell against the stairs with a loud rattle, slick with blood. Cyra was reaching for the Estus Flask at her side as soon as her grip on the blade had loosened. She took a deep, greedy draught from it. Her neck and chest radiated golden light for moment and her breathing slowly began to return to normal. 

"Thank you, Ethel," Cyra began, breathless. "Perhaps," she gasped for another breath, "Perhaps it is thou who should take the lead. It seems we are too easily distracted," she said, sheepish as she pulled her sword from her belt.
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-02-22, 5:35 am

"If you wish, though it is not likely you will be able to see or reach anything ahead of me." He advised.

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-02-22, 1:10 pm

"It is a hallway," Cyra said with a shrug.  "One of us must lead and the other must follow, it is simply the nature of engaging foes in such a confining space." She allowed herself a smirk. "Unless thou intends to swing above our head into the melee, we suppose. But to us that sounds, at best, quite foolhardy." 
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-03-05, 2:30 am

"While certainly I am capable of reaching over such a fair lady as yourself," Ethel returned, taking the lead as she had asked, "I was merely observing that you are primarily a ranged combatant, and that the length of my blade allows me to wield it as one might a spear. Rather than swing it over your head, I would thrust it beyond your side... Of course, the decision not to trust in my dexterity is understandable, as wounding as your lack of faith may be."

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-03-13, 6:23 pm

"As a spear?" Cyra echoed with a skeptical look to Ethel's back. "Does thou refer to the technique of halfswording? But then thou would be forced to lean over us and we would remain a significant obstacle." She tilted her head slightly. "Further, these hollows are not able to pierce the armor of Berenike. Is it not simply safer for you to take the lead position? Surely they are not a match for the strength thou possesses."
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2016-04-03, 4:44 pm

"No, my lady. I mean to say that the blade is long enough, even held in one hand," he lifted his arm casually as a demonstration of the ease with which he could wield the massive sword, "to service as a spear against beings of... average stature." He corrected, "and equally, my taking the lead exposes your back to potential danger while minimizing the amount of strength we can bring to bear against the enemies ahead of us. But if it is to your preference, I will be your shield."

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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2017-08-14, 11:15 am

"I- We- No. Forgive us, we did not mean to imply you must shield us." Even with her lack of life, Cyra still managed a faint shade of pink in her embarrassment.  "We shall lead, as is your preference." and with a stiff curtsy and smart heel-turn, she was off and up the stairs. 

Not one to be taken unawares twice, Cyra's blade was at the ready this time as she rounded the corner, only to be met with an empty hallway. A soft 'oh' left her lips as she let her sword dip. Somehow she had expected more. The stone wall on her right promptly exploded in a blue flash. Blinking the dots from her eyes, Cyra spied moving shapes in the doorway down the hall. A hollow- hollows- many hollows. And a whistling? A sorcerer! the thought exploded in her head as another section of wall flashed alight with blue fire. But where? It didn't matter, Cyra decided as she tossed a whirling fireball into the cluster of hollows now half-shambling, half-scrambling down the corridor towards her.


Cyra didn't waste time to see her effect on the hollows. Her mad scrabble for retreat was so sudden that her first steps skidded off the stones as her cloth shoes sought purchase. "Ethel! A sorcerer! And hollows!" she shouted as the rounded back around the corner.
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PostSubject: Re: Among the Embers   2017-08-14, 10:23 pm

Ethel made to protest that he had been in any way insulted by the notion - it made perfect sense, after all, for he was nigh-impossible to topple and she... wasn't - but the pyromancer was already moving ahead so he had little to do but shrug, sigh, and follow with his sword at the ready.

Then she turned a corner, a sorcery chipped the wall to their right, and there came the pitter-patter of a dozen hollow feet followed by an explosion he attributed to the startled pyromancer flinging a ball of flame somewhere into the room. As she came rushing toward him, he barely faced his back to the wall in time for her to miss colliding with his large frame. Stepping around the corner himself, he caught several hollows on his shield - some burning - and with a heave, he ploughed through them.

Leaving their broken corpses in his wake, Ethel, assured Cyra was behind him, swept the room with his greatsword. The immense slab of hardened steel severed several hollows as if they were but stalks of grass, and he repeated the maneuver a few times, stepping forward after each swing.

The sorcerer [because what else could it be?] was not idle, however, and as he cleaved through the last of the chaff and rounded on it, intent to push it from the ledge with his shield, a golden glow enveloped it and it vanished from sight. Swiftly surveying the room and the floor below, the armored man could find no trace of it. Irritated, he pronounced the room as clear. For now.

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