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18+ An Era of Dusk

Discussion in 'Active Stories' started by Madrar, Feb 28, 2020.

  1. Rafen

    Rafen Well-Known Member

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    Dren offered a thin lipped smile "no offense, but I don't trust any of you, yet. Except-" he stopped himself, about to mention Zarr, the companion that he'd travel with, who he'd met in prison, then remembered he didn't know much about the khajiit. He didn't know anything about her, really. "No. I don't trust anyone here." He reiterated, his voice much more subdued now. He nodded, as if confirming it to himself. The inn was in sight now, so he left the argonian in the street, pushing the door open and seeing the man known as Merric, and the nord, Argus. He approached them, "so have we any hints on the location of the villagers? I could not find anyone willing to speak."
     
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  2. Andre Marek

    Andre Marek You can run, but you'll only die tired...

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    Grabbing Lorkas by the shoulder, Falion pulled him further inside his house and slammed the door closed, sliding the bolt on the lock quickly afterwards. Stepping to a window nearby, Falion cast a furtive look out onto the street before pulling a curtain across the glass.

    "Lorkas my friend, you should be more careful revealing things like that in public." He walked over to the table with Lorkas close behind and cleared a spot so that the tell Nord could set the gem down. Almost immediately Lorkas felt somewhat refreshed, as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders and his breathing became easier. He was perplexed for only a moment as he glanced at Falion before the two of them turned back to the small gem glowing softly on the table. The gem has been draining me... Lorkas realized with some surprise, I can't believe I didn't see it!

    Falion took a cautious step towards the stone inspecting it closely but didn't lift a hand to touch it. He muttered to himself for a moment before spinning on his heel and striding towards a tall bookcase overflowing with tombs of all shapes and sizes, "Where did you find this Lorkas? You couldn't have bought such a thing that's for sure." He paused as he rifled through the books and looked back at Lorkas, "You touched it didn't you?" He grabbed a thick tomb wrapped in some kind of weathered leather. It took Lorkas a moment to realize that the heavy text was bound in human skin; ancient human skin, but human all the same.

    "I did," Lorkas mentally kicked himself for not being more careful and taking the time to properly stow the gem in a way that would have shielded him from whatever effects the gem was having on him; not that he knew how to do that, "I found it in a farmstead near Dragonsbridge... I'm helping a group of... er," He struggled to find a word to describe their strange group, "...mercenaries. We're trying to find the missing villagers that lived there. I was searching the house when I found that." He indicated the gem as Falion set the morbidly bound tomb on the table beside the gem and began to flip through the pages.

    "Hmm, so you're doing charity work now eh? I only wish you hadn't touched it." The Redguard mage said in a tone that made Lorkas wonder just how badly he had screwed up. Before he could reply, Falion made a triumphant exclamation as he found the pages he was looking for. Lorkas leaned over to get a closer look.

    "What you have isn't a gem at all," Falion said glancing at Lorkas as he read, "I can't quite explain it but it is directly tied to the life draining and corrupted magicka of necromancy." He looked at Lorkas seriously, "Thats why you felt relieved when you set it down. It was draining your energy the whole time you carried it. I suspect not much of your energy though, else you wouldn't be here but still, over time it could possibly prove far more serious." He was pensive for a moment before heading to a chest near a wall and began looking for something else.

    Lorkas was a little perplexed but couldn't say he was overly surprised. When thought of in the context of missing villagers and especially the living dead they had been assaulted by in the road it made perfect sense he supposed. But that didn't tell him who, or what had lost the gem in the first place.
    "Yes well, I did notice the drain but only slightly. Is there any way to tell who this belonged to? I doubt many people would know how to create such a thing."

    Standing, Falion shook his head, "I'm sorry to disappoint my friend but I can't tell you who this particular item was created by, only that they are going to want it back. And I'm sure I don't have to tell you that anyone who would create such an evil thing is not someone to be taken lightly." The swarthy man held out his hand to Lorkas, revealing a small gemstone. This one, Lorkas did recognize as a soul gem. "What's this for?" He asked, taking the gem from Falion.

    "Well I may not have been much help in finding who made it but I have an idea for how to help protect you from it." He said nodding to Lorkas, "It draws energy from the living; or so I assume. I think it draws from whatever living thing is closest to it and has touched it. If you were to place that soulgem beside it and wrap them up together, it would begin to draw from the soul trapped inside instead of you. At least in theory anyway" He shrugged and gave Lorkas a wry grin.

    Taking his advice, Lorkas wound the two gems together and hefted the small bundles. Almost immediately he noticed that he felt no weight or drain on his energy and he let a small smile creep across his face.

    After he thanked Falion and bade his farewell, with a promise to return in the future, Lorkas began the short walk back towards the inn with the malicious gem-like artifact stowed safely in his bag.
     
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  3. Rell

    Rell Champion of Malacath!

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    Balgur nodded in agreement with the dunmer woman. The sun was beginning to set and he noticed more and more people heading to their homes or to the local inn. He walked with her at a casual pace, keeping an eye out for trouble makers. Morthal was a quiet place, but people tended to get stupid in groups or when they drank. He wondered again whether he would have had more luck questioning the woman if he'd been out of legion armour. Or if he'd been a nord. Speculation was pointless. He wasn't a sorcerer that could change his appearance, and like he'd said before, he was too damn stubborn to pretend to be someone he wasn't.

    They walked inside to see the breton in tattered robes, Dren, he thought his name was, mentioning that he'd been unsuccessful in finding any information from the locals. Seemingly the tale was the same for the other two men inside, the nord, Argus, and the other man, who was either an imperial or breton. Merric, or something like that. "I'd say the people here don't trust outsiders too much. But we'd already figured that out. What's our plan if we can't get them to talk? Waiting around for the locals to warm up to us doesn't seem like an option to me." He leaned against one of the wide wooden pillars, setting his spear down within easy reach.
     
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  4. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    Thoras hesitated, but only for a moment. If there really was someone with hostile intent inside the town, the people were in danger. Perhaps in as much danger of being 'disappeared' as the farmers at Dragons Bridge had been. After all, Morthal was not that far from the town and with the dead ambushing anyone entering and probably leaving the swamps, it was extremely unlikely any call for help would reach someone in a position to do something about it. Except us the dunmer reminded himself as he stalked down the side alongside his belligerent khajiit companion. He kept a good grip on his glaive, though he didn't really expect whoever had been watching them, if anyone had, to leap out and attack a pair of readied opponents.

    "Anything?" He murmured, guessing her keen ears would catch his words even if he should whisper. An advantage they'd have over a human opponent, not to mention her sense of smell could probably pick up on any unique scents. Or perhaps he was overestimating khajiit sensibilities. Either way, the greatsword she carried was a welcome addition. Ideally, he wanted to talk with whoever had been watching them, curious as he was about their motives. A guard watching their movements was understandable. Even a random civilian, but the cloaked figures sudden disappearance suggested whoever it had been had far more sinister motivations. Or at least didn't want to be found.
     
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  5. TheShadedOne

    TheShadedOne The Angry One

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    As they entered the street that lead off away from the center of town, Kaliir slung the sheathe of her greatsword off her back and drew the blade. If what Thoras seen was in fact a person and not a figment of an exhausted mind, there were good odds the person they were tracking wasn't looking to be on friendly terms with them. The word 'ambush' floated into her mind as she threw her sheathe back over her shoulder and tightened the straps. Of course, it was unlikely they'd be caught off guard more than once in one day, but she wasn't discounting anything. Her ears swivelled as they walked, attentive to the slightest sounds. She was doing her best to ignore the chatter of folk coming off a days work behind them. Luckily, the sounds of wildlife from outside the town walls were few and far between, allowing her to seek out the noise of a boot on packed earth, or the swish of a cloak. Or, the clink of armour and weapons.

    She shook her head at the dark elfs' question. If the street hadn't lead in a single direction, she would have guessed that their prey had shaken them along the way. "He must be ahead. Making for the wall, I bet." She replied, lengthening her pace to take the lead. She didn't care that their watcher had slipped into town- she'd done the same a few times in her life, but she didn't like the unexplained. Catching the man and asking him a few questions might help her survive a little while longer. If he slipped over the wall and disappeared into the swamps, there was no way they'd catch him.
     
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  6. Harkatti

    Harkatti Sorceress Supreme!

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    Zarr had planned to make her way back to the inn with the others and hopefully score a hot meal before bedding down. She was winding her way through a crowd of nords headed the same way she was when she spotted a pair of familiar faces. The nosy dunmer man and the other khajiit of their group. She watched first the elf, then the khajiit stop, have a brief conversation, then head down a side street away from the inn. Her curiosity piqued, the khajiit thief started after them, before she hesitated. She knew neither of them very well and there was a chance they would not welcome her presence. Which did nothing to quench her curiousity...

    with a muttered curse, she slipped into the alleyway after them, then, after waiting a few moments for them to slip ahead, she sought finger and toe holds on the wall of the nearest building. With skills honed over years of practice, she scrambled to the roof and flattened herself. Hidden from view- at least as far as she knew, she crept after the pair in a low crouch, her keen ears angled towards them. From what she could hear, they were tracking or attempting to track, someone towards the walls. This, predictably, made her even more curious, and she quietly tracked them from above.
     
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  7. Thesius

    Thesius The Imperial Paladin

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    Argus remained quiet as the other member of the group, Merric, who seemed to have both some breton and imperial blood in him, went about speaking to the innkeeper. Or perhaps she was merely the barkeep. Perhaps both. It didn't really matter, he knew, so long as she was willing to have a company of mercenaries staying under her roof. He had noted that the guard captain of Morthal had seemed considerably more happy to have them than the stormcloaks stationed at Dragon Bridge. Though, to be fair, the risen dead weren't stalking the outskirts of the town like they were here. Which lead to Argus wondering whether the two were connected in some way. Disappearing townsfolk and undead lurking the swamps. Were necromancers somehow snatching folk from their homes, only to murder them and reanimate them elsewhere? It made little sense to him. But then, few things connected to necromancy made much sense.

    "Why am I here?" He repeated the question to the seeming empty air, just as he had when he'd first arrived at Dragon Bridge. There was a drawn out silence, as if the...creature, the source of his arcane powers, was disappointed he hadn't figured it out for himself. Then, as if an icy claw had settled around his head, he felt his gaze turned towards the door. Only...not quite. In a direction, rather. In the back of his mind, he heard the now familiar voice, 'Seek...knowledge. Use...knowledge. Grow. Become powerful'. The chill that had gripped his head traveled down his spine before spreading to his extremities and he found himself shivering. He didn't want to become powerful. After all, he had gone into the adventuring life to help others, not lord over them. Disturbed, he fell quiet, only looking up as the breton entered, followed by the orc and the dunmer woman. None of them had had any success in questioning the townsfolk.

    Annoyed by their lack of progress, Argus slumped against the wall his chair was set against before waving over a serving girl and ordering a meal for himself. It, along with a tankard of ale, arrived quickly. As he sat, pondering their lack of leads, he replayed the battle in his head, remembering the sudden change that had come over the tattooed dunmer when they had realized they were facing undead. Perhaps Thoras had some insights about their encounter. He made a not to speak with him when he returned from his outing.
     
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  8. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    The side road continued for another few meters before it opened up into one of the larger pathways, lined with boards and sturdy pillars that held it above the frigid, swampy water below. The boardwalk curved to the right in one direction, up against a row of houses. The other lead to the gates, where Thoras could see a pair of guards on duty. No way would they allow a stranger to simply pass them by without question. Nearby, there was some solid ground, right up against the tall, pointed wooden palisades. Frustrated, the dunmer turned his khajiit companion "what now? Do we split up or pick a direction and hope it's the right one. Letting this man wander about town doesn't sit well with me. If only for the fact that people don't usually run unless they have something to hide." Noise from a nearby rooftop drew his attention, but when he glanced up there, nothing caught his eye.
     
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  9. TheArgonianDrell

    TheArgonianDrell Well-Known Member

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    Sothas watched the breton head inside, before heaving a sigh and leaning against the wall of the inn.He'd hoped the man would be willing to cooperate, especially after the battle in the swamps, but it seemed paranoia had sunk it's claws deep into him. The argonian wondered what had happened to make the man so distrustful, though he doubted he would be hearing about it anytime soon. He paid little attention to the crowd of people headed towards the inn or passing it by on their way home. His mind was on the missing villagers that may or may not have passed through Morthal. If they hadn't been slain and turned into shambling corpses somewhere else in the swamps. He shuddered at the memory of cleaving through the waterlogged, rotting flesh of what had once been townsfolk, soldiers, and mercenaries like himself and his comrades. A horrible fate, to be sure. Out of the crowd, he picked out the lean figure of Lorkas, making his way towards the inn, satchel at his side. The warrior lifted a hand in greeting to his companion.

    Inside, Aylira crossed her arms and leaned against one of the wide pillars in the tavern. She listened to Balgurs' recollection of events, nodding her agreement, all while keeping an eye on the strange faces that were quickly filling the inn. When the orc had finished speaking, she added, "these defences are recent. And improvised. If I had to guess, I'd say the locals aren't getting support from anyone, so they make do with what they've got."
     
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  10. TheShadedOne

    TheShadedOne The Angry One

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    Kaliir scowled, annoyed that whoever they'd been chasing had so easily avoided them. Morthal, as far as she could tell, was not a big town. Barely even qualified, compared to some of the places she'd been. At least some of the townsfolk must have noticed the man watching her and Thoras. The problem was, they were so distrustful it was extremely unlikely that Kaliir, or anyone else in their group, for that matter, she doubted they'd so much as give them the time of day. She took a few more steps, eyes scanning the ground for any sign of disturbance. Along the main path, the passage of so many booted feet made getting a good track impossible. But, she did see a pair of imprints that diverged from the others, heading towards the wooden palisade. She pointed them out to the dark elf. "We might not need to do either. Looks like our friend jumped the fence."
     
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  11. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    Instead of answering, Kaliir went to the base of the palisade, which stood at least ten feet in height. The sharpened tips of the logs discouraged any attempt to scale it, but the khajiit was claiming he'd gone and done just that. He joined her at the base of the wall, "surely he couldn't have made that jump. Even if I were to boost you, it'd be quite the trick to avoid snagging oneself on the tips." He glanced down to see the same boot prints that must have lead her to the spot, then he glanced back up at the top of the palisade. "Unless he has help out in the swamps." Which was far from a comforting thought. Thoras hadn't enjoyed dealing with the walking dead that'd stumbled out of the muck, but though thought of a group actively summoning and sending the beasts against a town was so much worse. It also made sense; the dead didn't typically come back by themselves. "Seems we've found our necromancer." He murmured to Kaliir, "or rather, they've found us."
     
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  12. Aethalia

    Aethalia Well-Known Member

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    Ysane slunk through streets that grew ever more crowded the later the hour got. With more nords spilling into the streets, she found herself growing more and more uncomfortable. She wasn't exactly comfortable with her companions, but at least they had fought with her. The people of Morthal she didn't know and so much time spent as a captive of the stormcloaks meant that she was eyeing every guard that walked past with more than a little concern. Realizing that the cocky dunmer she'd spoken to earlier was right in pointing out that she wouldn't learn anything by skulking around town and dodging patrols. With a sigh, the altmer woman turned towards where she thought the inn might be. Taking a parallel street to the one the main crowd was walking down, she tracked their progress.

    Once the inn, the Moorside, was in view, she leaned against the wall of a nearby house and immediately hissed in pain as her bruised shoulder came into contact with the house. Pain throbbed into her upper back and down from shoulder to elbow. Experimentally, she flexed her fingers and bent the arm. Nothing seemed broken but she was starting to regret not having the nord wizard take a look at it. Considering she'd been punched by a troll, it was a minor miracle she still had a shoulder. Even the armour piece was still intact, if slightly dented and scratched.

    As the crowd thinned out, she moved to the steps, offering a slight nod to the armoured argonian outside before pushing the door open. She considered joining the quiet conversation the others were having but with nothing concrete to add, she avoided them, instead going to the redguard barkeep and requesting a tub of hot water and soap be brought to one of the rooms. She dropped a handful of septims on the bar between them as the woman instructed a pair of young men to fill a tub and have soap and a towel ready.

    It did not take long for the bath to be ready and Ysane quietly slipped away to the room, closing the door behind her and disrobing. It took some time to undo all the buckles and straps, made harder by her injured shoulder. Eventually, after much struggling and cursing, she succeeded in removing the last of her clothing. She left her swords and veil within easy reach, but discarded the rest of her gear atop one of the nearby beds. Gingerly, she slipped one leg into the tub, scowling as she spotted a fresh bruise on the outside of her left thigh, the side she'd fallen on when struck.

    It was an unpleasant yellow-green, overlaying the old scars and burn marks she'd acquired over the years. With a moan of relief she swung her other leg over the edge of the tub and sank down until the water was at mid-chest level. She reached for the soap but found she lacked the energy to do more than lean her head back and enjoy the hot water.
     
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  13. TheShadedOne

    TheShadedOne The Angry One

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    Kaliir straightened up as her annoying companion noted it would be near impossible to make it over the wooden stakes that made up the wall of Morthal without help. She nodded, "that's what I was thinking. Whoever it was that was watching us could have friends out in the swamp with a grapple and rope." She gestured to the ten foot tall palisade, "or they can fly." The idea of chasing someone back out into the swamps, with night approaching and dead lurking about didn't appeal to her. A quick glance at Thoras told her that he shared her lack of enthusiasm. He brought up the subject of a necromancer, something she'd heard him mention once before, during the ambush. "You think we drew some attention when we fought our way here?" She considered the idea. It wasn't unlikely- they hadn't exactly been subtle about it. Whether the master of the dead had come to spy on the group that had killed his minions or not, didn't matter. It was starting to get dark and they would have to hurry to make it back to the inn on time for their meeting.

    She was about to suggest just that when her sensitive ears picked up on something. Not out in the swamps, or back in the alley, but above, on the roofs. "Hang on" she murmured, glancing up to see a pair of pointed ears hastily withdrawing from the edge of the roof. Kaliir scowled up at where she thought their follower might be. "Come down here!" She called out. "If I have to come and get you, you're going to have a bad time." She crossed her arms over her chest as she waited for the one other khajiit of their group to make her way to the ground.
     
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  14. Harkatti

    Harkatti Sorceress Supreme!

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    Against her better judgement, Zarr scooched closer to the edge of the roof she had sprawled out on, straining her ears to pick up on whatever it was the dunmer and khajiit pair below her were saying. Her boot dislodged a bit of roofing and she saw the other khajiits' head snap up towards her. The theif hissed a curse and slunk back, wondering what they'd think to know she'd been spying on them. She was beginning to think that they hadn't seen her after all, when she heard the khajiit on the ground demand that she leave the roof. Grimacing, she nimbly obeyed, landing lightly with a good meter between them. "Sorry" she shrugged, "I saw the pair of you lurking off on your own and was curious. No hard feelings, I hope?" She was aware that being outnumbered by a pair of obviously capable fighters after just having given up her only advantage was not the best situation.
     
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  15. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    Thoras followed the Kaliir's gaze as she urged him to wait. He didn't see anything but evidently she did, as she shouted for whoever was up there to come down. To his mild surprise, the other khajiit of their group, Zarr, clambered down from the roof, excusing her actions as being urious. "You ought to be proud" the dunmer said, "you were trailing us the whole time and managed to avoid detection." Then a thought came to him as he examined the town wall once again. "I don't suppose you managed to see anyone unusual while you were up there, did you?" It was a long shot, he knew. If they hadn't seen the robe figure, it was just as likely Zarr hadn't either. Thoras started making his way back towards the inn. "Either way, we should get back and report. The others are going to want to hear what we saw."
     
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  16. TheShadedOne

    TheShadedOne The Angry One

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    Kaliir shot an annoyed glance at the dunmer. She was sure she would have heard, or at least smelt the other khajiit, if she hadn't been so focused on hunting their mysterious observer. "Curiousity can be dangerous" she told the other woman, "but no, no hard feelings. Just maybe announce yourself next time. We could have used the extra set of eyes." Thoras suggested heading back to the inn where they were supposed to meet up with the rest of their group. "You're probably right. I don't like that whoever it was that decided to watch us waited until it was just the two of us." It reminded her too much of a predator, picking off single members of a herd. Despite the fact that they'd chased off the hooded man or woman, she had a feeling this wouldn't be the last they saw of it. With one last lingering glance over her shoulder, she started back towards the inn.
     
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  17. TheArgonianDrell

    TheArgonianDrell Well-Known Member

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    Aylira glanced impatiently at the door, wondering what was taking her big, dumb friend so long. He hadn't mentioned exactly what he was getting up to. She wasn't worried about his safety- a warrior like Sothas could take care of himself. Which didn't explain why he was taking his sweet time getting inside so they could get on with the meeting. Those present couldn't be the only ones who had found out a little of something. Or considering what little they had discovered, maybe they were. Whatever the case, the assassin looked to the companions inside the tavern. The handsome nord, the withdrawn breton, and the quiet swordsman who seemed to have a mixture of imperial and breton blood in him. She approached the third of the group, "you're awfully quiet. Are you brooding or are you just as lost as the rest of us?"
     
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  18. Rell

    Rell Champion of Malacath!

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    Balgur sighed, annoyed with their lack of progress. They'd come to Morthal trying to find a lead on the missing farmers from Dragonbridge. So far, no one was saying anything. Remembering the woman he'd encountered and her frightened reaction, he scowled. He wasn't the most approachable looking fellow, true, but he also hadn't done anything to cause such behavior. He remembered she'd been suspicious but not outright frightened until he mentioned people going missing. Maybe she'd known some of those people. Or maybe someone had told her to keep her mouth shut. "Somebody has to know something" he said in a low, frustrated growl.

    He noticed the female dark elf had wandered over to the imperial and was talking with him. The man had been mostly quiet since they'd headed out from Dragonbridge. Balgur wasn't sure what to make of him. He definitely knew how to handle himself in a fight, but hadn't made any real attempt to get to know the rest of the group. The old soldier wondered if the swordsman was one of those lone wolf types, or if he had something in his past he'd rather the others not know about. Both things were dangerous, for different reasons. Either the man would get himself or someone else killed trying to go off on his own, or his past would come back to haunt him. He decided to keep a closer eye on him, then turned to the nord, Argus. "Have the pair of you had any luck in here?"
     
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  19. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    "If there had been more of us, we may have caught him" Thoras proposed. "I'm guessing our mage friend has some spells up his sleeve that would slow down a fleeing man." He saw no sign of their hooded observer as they walked back towards the inn. The crowds had dispersed, either inside or to their own homes. Sothas stood out on the inns' covered porch, the heavily armoured argonian waving towards a robed figure Thoras recognized as Lorkas. "I'd hurry inside, were I you, master mage. We've quite the tale to tell." Without another word he passed Sothas and headed inside, where the others had already assembled. Frustration seemed to be the prevailing emotion, though if they'd had as little success in finding any information on the missing villagers as Thoras had in tracking the hooded figure, that was understandable. He claimed a seat for himself, near the rest of the group. He got a few suspicious glances from the townsfolk, but most ignored the gathering of sellswords in their tavern.
     
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  20. Thesius

    Thesius The Imperial Paladin

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    Argus glanced up as some of the others arrived at the appointed time, among a rush of locals, all eager to relax from the days labour with their friends and ale. More than a glanced towards the group of strangers currently occupying a section of the tavern. Argus wasn't surprised or particularly offended. He wouldn't have been overly pleased if some strangers had taken up residence, however temporary, in their town.

    The orc, Balgur, was one of the first inside, with the dark elf woman, Aylira. Neither of them reported much, save that the defences were fairly new, if workable. "Aye", he said, nodding to the elf, "I suspected as much. At least it's held the dead back for now."

    When the orc asked if he and Merric had learned anything, he sighed. "Nothing about the villagers. On a somewhat related note, they don't have enough rooms for all of us. We're going to have to double up."
     
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