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18+ The Ruins

Discussion in 'Active Stories' started by Signus, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. Signus

    Signus Well-Known Member

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    The civil war in Skyrim is over, the dragons are gone, and the Dragonborn has gone into seclusion, though nobody really knows where. However, this has very little do to with our story. In the realm of High Rock, a noble lord, of low standing but high wealth, has put out a summons to able bodied adventurers. They are to travel, by land or sea, to the city of Northpoint. From there, they are to make their way to an abandoned castle, a ruin, really, and retreive an ancient artifact and family heirloom. However, not everything is as it seems, and the adventurers may soon see themselves beset by threats from within the ruins....and without.
     
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  2. Signus

    Signus Well-Known Member

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    Sea spray, blown by a chill wind splashed into Cassius Brantius' face as the merchant ship made its' way towards the harbour of the breton city of Northpoint. He wiped the droplets of water away and noticed that he was no longer alone at the railing. The merchant captain, a bearded nord, with a heavy brow and pockmarked cheeks, nodded towards the harbour. "There it is. Northpoint." He glanced over at Cassius, "you haven't said why you want to be here so badly, friend." The imperial worked to keep from sighing in exasperation. He was doing nothing illegal, and High Rock was part of the Empire.

    "I paid you a lot of coin for passage to Northpoint, captain. And to mind your own business."

    The captain held his hands out placatingly. "Alright, alright. No need to get testy" he said gruffly, "it's just...not many imperials get out this way, and usually not by ship."

    The former legionarry shrugged "it beat walking. Or wagon."

    "Aye, sure enough. Heard about a lot of bandit activity in the wilds around here. Roads are getting unsafe." The captain explained, watching Cassius out of the corner of his eye. When the imperial didn't react in any outside way to the news, he shrugged. "Whatever your reason, the crew and I thank you for the drinks your coins' bought us. And good travels to you."

    Cassius was only half listening. His attention had fastened on a ship that was already docked, not too far from the merchant vessel he was currently on. Black sails rippled in the breeze, and a flag with some sigil that Cassius did not recognize flew from the main mast. He pointed; "what ship is that?"

    "Eh?" The captain followed his finger to the black sailed ship, and scowled. "Can't say I know. Doesn't look like a merchant vessel." He scratched at his beard, "at least, none that I've ever seen." They were close enough now that figures on the ship could be seen, moving about the deck or standing at the quarter deck. The overcast sky threatened rain, or perhaps snow, Cassius amended as another blast of frigid ocean air hit him.

    As the ship he stood on came alongside, Cassius looked across to the mysterious vessel. The captain of the other vessel didn't so much as glance at them. Yet...something was strange about the man. He was pale, the flesh around his mouth an almost bluish tint. Cassius shook his head, dismissing the appearance as the poor light. Even in the middle of the day, the clouds above were dark grey, almost black.

    The merchant captain turned away from the rail and started shouting orders, preparing to dock and start offloading cargo. That was when the unbelievable happened. Smoke, faint at first, but steadily growing in volume, began to billow from the hold of the black sailed ship. Shouts, from the dock workers of Northpoint and from crews of other ships, rang out. Cassius watched, wide eyed, as flames started to climb up from below decks.

    "Drop anchor!" The merchant man bellowed, "if that fire spreads..." he never finished the sentence, as the fire roared ravenously, beginning to climb up the ships' mast, igniting the sails as they went. Yet...there were no screams from the doomed vessel. In fact, the crew seemed to have stopped where they were, watching the flames as if enthralled. Horrified, Cassius tracked the progression of the flames up to the quarter deck, where they began to consume that area as well. It was then that the captain moved, his head turning, and his eyes, sunken deeply into his face, seemed to lock onto Cassius' own. Then the man mouthed a word, but the smoke and flames made it difficult to make out what he'd said.

    Less than an hour later, the mysterious vessel was little more than a smoking wreck, and the merchant vessel cautiously docked while vessels from Northpoint approached the wreck to rescue survivors and determine what, exactly, had happened. Cassius said his farewells to the captain, and started walking down the streets of Northpoint, stunned by the recent disaster. It was only then, that he realized what the captain of the doomed vessel had mouthed to him: "run".
     
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  3. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    The icy wind promised rain, or perhaps snow sometime later in the day. The steel grey clouds above were more than a little forboding, hanging low over the city of Northpoint. Firior Gaerathion, an altmer bloodhunter, kept his hood up and face masked. Northpoint wasn't quite as populated or 'civilized' as some of the other cities he'd been in, but taking the chance that his...unique abilities would be welcomed, was a fools game. Already, the crowded streets made him uncomfortable, but he did his best to hide it. Instead, he scanned the crowd, watching and listening for any news.

    His subtle eavesdropping paid of quickly. A group of excited merchants, headed in the opposite direction he was, were speaking loudly. Apparently, a ship that had caught fire in the harbour, less than an hour ago. From what he'd heard, there were no survivors, though the authorities were still combing the waters. The lack of survivors surprised Firior. The ship hadn't been on the open sea, and there must have been a few ships docked nearby, not to mention any patrolling ships in the vicinity. Sabotage, then. Someone either from Northpoint itself or onboard the ship, had decided to commit murder on a grand scale.

    The blood hunter narrowed his eyes as he sidestepped a pair of guards, their armour clanking as they marched through the main street. It seemed a fortunate coincidence that he had been asked to Northpoint. He was suddenly much more eager to meet the mysterious lord who'd called for help. Of course, there had been no mention of the city itself, but Firior had questions. Questions that needed answering. If the lord didn't know aout the goings on, he surely had an idea of someone who did.

    He returned to scanning the crowd, looking for any who seemed out of place, and was once again resorted for his vigilance. A man, walking from the direction of harbour, towards Firior, stood out from the citizens. The leather and steel mixture was different than the gear of the guard, and he had a slightly disturbed look about him. "'Scuse me." He said, deftly stepping into the mans' path. "I don't suppose you'd be one of those summoned by a certain lord, would you?"
     
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  4. TheArgonianDrell

    TheArgonianDrell Well-Known Member

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    Argonians were not very common, Aurem-Dei had discovered early on. Most of the stares he received were curious rather than hostile, but there were plenty of those, as well. The navy blue scaled argonian made his way through the streets, feeling the cold creeping under his scales. He had never been to the breton homeland before, and certainly never this far north. He found himself wishing he'd brought a warmer cloak. The wagon wide to the city of Northpoint had been quiet, and more than a little boring. Still, if what he had heard was correct, his help was needed.

    He was no stranger to clearing ruins of dark and dangerous creatures. He was by no means a paladin or cleric, but that didn't mean he could ignore the existence of darkness. Whether it be supernatural, or the darkness that dwelt in the hearts of men and mer. And beast races, of course. The warrior had seen more than a few of his own kind fall to corruption. Aurem-Deis' lack of tolerance for such foolishness had gotten him in trouble more than once, and often seen him chased out of a city with angry guardsmen on his tail.

    Here, at least, no one seemed to recognize him. Most of them seemed much more concerned with their own issues, as they made their way through the streets. Above, the clouds were a steely grey, promising at least a little snow. As he moved closer into the city, he noted a commotion near the docks. The scent of smoke on the wind met his nostrils. Not just wood smoke, but burning meat and pitch as well. The argonian lengthened his pace, noting that more than a few people were speaking in urgent, hushed tones.

    The flow of people, mostly richly dressed merchants, became so thick that he had to start pushing his way through, trying not to jostle anyone too much. This still earned him more than a few dirty looks and muttered curses, but that was the extent of it. He was nearly to the water when he saw it. The ruin of a once mighty ship, only a few pieces of decking, mast and tattered, charred sail sticking out of the water. "By the hist" he murmured, eyes wide with shock, "what happened here?"
     
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  5. fellowknight

    fellowknight Devil Of The Details

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    The waters at the harbor of Northpoint swirled darkly and bits of charred wood, singed cloth, and melted skin washed ashore. Hints of rain and possibly snow were carried on the wind, true, but were easily overwhelmed by notes of smoky, burnt wood and rubble. What had been a fine, sturdy ship was now a blackened, ruined husk among the choppy waves. Its crew, numbering around a dozen or so, had apparently perished in the flames, as rescuers could find none alive.

    For the old knight helping salvage teams recover cargo, if only to quench his curiosity, the fire wasn't the strangest part of the “accident”. Several witnesses, including dock-workers and neighboring ships, repeated the same thing: none of the onboard crew attempted to flee or extinguish the flames, not even the captain. Had it been planned, and was the crew put under some sort of spell? More than likely. But the question of who, what, and how would go unanswered, as clues were either charred with the ship itself, or washed out to sea.

    Loyalty to a vessel was common, especially for port cities like Northpoint where it was a fact of living. Facing death on a coin’s toss without struggle, was not. An unmistakable glimmer of euphoria creased Baroth's features, if only for a fleeting moment. High Rock just got more interesting.

    Not long after he shook hands with a team leader, pocketed some compensation, and made his way back into Northpoint, he spotted what was definitely a tourist. A blue-speckled Argonian in heavy plate was, as Baroth figured, the closest thing to an outsider that the city could conjure up. And outsiders didn't often venture in without the promise of coin, or blind virtue judging by the great blade clasped to the warrior's back.

    Slipping from the crowd and to the reptile's flank, Baroth watched him for a few seconds, an intense and primal silence, before speaking pointedly. "Not often a sight one expects in faraway lands, hm? High Rock always struck me as a 'burn-flags-not-ships' province, but.." As the plated man noticed Baroth, he tipped his head to the wreckage in question, still swarming with rescue boats, searching for survivors the sea had already buried.

    "Bit of an accident I'd imagine, oil lamp or candle gone rouge, just after they arrived. Such a shame too, it was a fine ship.. Hjarksson,"
    He extended a hand out nonchalantly, that glimmer still lingering in his eyes as he propped up a sideways smile. "Baroth Hjarksson, at your service. Or, the lord who summoned us here, eh?"
     
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  6. Drahkma

    Drahkma Dashing Imperial Officer.

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    Norvos stalked the streets of Northpoint, his deep crimson cloak swirling in the frigid wind. His order had sent him to join whatever group come to the city answering the lords' summons. The masters of the Vermillion Shroud were concerned they hadn't heard of this wealthy lord in northern high rock. Information was just as useful as a blade, any assassin worthy of the title knew. So they had dispatched Norvos with orders to find out what he could, both of the lord, and these 'ruins' that needed clearing. The vampire had arrived the previous night, sweeping in like the stormclouds above.

    He had contacts in the city, but very few of them knew anything of value. It was vexing, to be sure. So, Norvos had lurked about the city for most of the day, grateful for the dark clouds above. He had noticed a clear outside, wearing a long coat, and taking pains to keep his face hidden. Northpoint knew its fair amount of strangers, but most of those had come from the docks, traders and merchants. Sometimes mercenaries. This man, if he was a man, the vampire corrected himself, had entered from the gates at the southern end of the city.

    Following the newcomer, he watched as they met up with a rugged looking imperial man. The man had the look of a blade for hire, and was obviously well armed, with at least two blades on his person. His armour was reminiscent of the imperial legion, but pieces of it were clearly from other gear. The hooded man spoke to him, but it was clear they didn't know each other. Wondering if these two were the start of the group he had been ordered to link up with and monitor, he slipped closer.

    Norvos wasn't exactly sure how he would gain their trust, but the guise of a wandering blade for hire was clearly not far fetched. He shoved through a group of excited merchants, ignoring their protests, and joined the pair of mercenaries. "Good day" he said, inclining his head very slightly. "I suppose you are here on the same business as myself. This lord that no one seems to know anything about, yet can afford mercenaries to clear out a mouldering ruin. Strange, is it not?"
     
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  7. TheArgonianDrell

    TheArgonianDrell Well-Known Member

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    Aurem-Deis' musings were interrupted by a human man, breton, perhaps with dirty blonde hair and wearing armour similar to his. The man seemed amicable enough, and introduced himself as Baroth Hjarksson. The argonian turned back to watching the remnants of the ship, and the rescue ships pulling corpses from the water. He had heard of shipwrecks, of course. Many times vessels were destroyed at sea, or run aground, either through an honest miscalculation or sabotage. But for a ship to have no survivors whatsoever? "Some accident" he murmured, scanning the waterline. A few dockworkers not out on the water searching for survivors had stopped to watch, but were quickly whipped back into working at the harsh words of their supervisors.

    "Aurem-Dei. I suppose we are both at the service of this lord you mentioned." The lord in question, the argonian knight noted, was nowhere to be seen. Of course, from what he'd heard of breton nobles throughout his travels, they didn't tend to stick around docks and their workers. "Do you have any idea of where we are to go? I imagine we won't be found anywhere near the docks themselves." Aurem-Dei turned on his heel, wondering if any besides the two of them had been summoned into the service of this lord.
     
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  8. Screeching Spasmodically

    Screeching Spasmodically Spasmodic Screecher

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    The woman in a worn brown traveling cloak would not have normally stood out in a crowd. She was not particularly curvy, tall, or astonishingly good looking. The only thing that made her unique was her race. Redguards, or at least redguards who weren't looting and pillaging the coastlines, were fairly rare in High Rock. A commotion at the docks further reduced her odds of being noticed. She slipped and pushed her way through the merchants, guardsmen, and dock workers that had crowded around the water to take a look. Normally, she wasn't the most curious type, preferring to keep to herself unless specifically tasked with hunting someone or something down. Of course, there was always exceptions to the rule.

    The muttered exchanges between locals and traveling merchants told her whatever had happened was neither usual nor expected. She finally cleared the crowd, and her eyes widened slightly. A ship, or more accurately, the remnants of a ship, were sinking beneath the gentle waves of the harbour. Here and there, flames still burned persistently, and she could see bodies bobbing up and down. A few ships circled the wreckage like sharks, their crews scanning the water for survivors, or calling out to one another.

    Seren wondered who or what had caused the vessel to come apart. From what pieces of boat she could still see, it had not been small. Though she'd only arrived in Northpoint recently, she hadn't heard of any storms or raiders. Certainly not so close to the city. Sabotage, then. Or a catastrophic accident. Neither of which answered why there were no survivors. Had the accident been sudden, with no chance to abandon ship? Or had the sabateurs made sure to leave no witnesses? More importantly, how did this tie into the job she'd come to do? She had seen no sign of this supposedly wealthy lord.

    Scanning the crowd at the waters' edge, she did notice two unusual individuals. An argonian and a human male,both wearing steel armour and armed with weapons that suggested they were no strangers to battle. Deciding at least one of them would know this lord, or at least have some idea where to find him, she made her way over. Wasting no time on introductions, she said "gentlemen. I assume we're all here because of this job posting. I don't think standing around gawking at a sinking ship will get us our pay any faster."
     
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  9. Signus

    Signus Well-Known Member

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    Cassius restrained himself from reaching for his weapons when the hooded figure walked up to him, bold as day. Of course, neither Cassius nor the stranger had any reason to sneak around the city. Whoever had set the ship on fire was doubtless long gone. The stranger, an elf by the look of him, revealed that he was looking for a certain breton lord. More than likely, both he and Cassius were looking for the same man. Before he could answer, a second man joined them in the street. This one looked more like a local, but there was something about him that put the veteran imperial on edge. His armour reminded Cassius of the knightly orders that were said to be sworn to the petty kings of High Rock, though he saw no insignia to give away an allegiance. A wandering blade then, in the garb of a knight. Coincidentially or purposefully, he wasn't sure. "I'm willing to wager we're all waiting on the same lord. But it's not a good idea to stand out in the open. Especially not in this weather" He nodded towards a nearby building where a small stream of locals were entering and exiting. Some, less steady on their feet than others.

    Leading his new acquaintances inside, he looked around, noticing that more than a few of the patrons were staring back at him. The interior of the tavern was dimly lit, and stank of smoke and stale ale. The noise was loud but not overwhelmingly so.Most of the tables were occupied by dock workers, off duty guardsmen, or the type of individuals that one tried to avoid. Especially at night, or in dark streets. The latter category eyed the three men warily as they entered the place and made their way to one of the unoccupied tables. Once they were all seated, Cassius looked at each of them. "Yes, I am here to enter the service of this lord we've all heard about but not yet seen. But stranger things are happening here. When my ship came into the harbour, another vessel burst into flames. Sabotage or an accident, I'm not sure. It seemed as though the captain was trying to tell me something, shortly before he burned alive."
     
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    #9 Signus, May 15, 2020
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
  10. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    Sitting down at the table with the breton and the imperial, aware of the rough looking types, dock workers...or perhaps not, watching them from the shadows of the smoky taverns. Firior wasn't sure if they had any quarrel with him and his companions, but he knew better than to let his guard down. People in taverns like this were seldomly friendly, and they usually were hungry for gold, and ready to do some unsavoury things for it. Looking to the imperial, he said " so, there has been no sign of this lord, but you said a ship burned down in the harbour as you arrived?" He paused to glance at the door, "are we sure this lord wasn't aboard the ship?" Then he frowned, "you said the ships' captain was trying to speak to you- what was it he was saying, do you think?"
     
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