Lightholder Crossroads - Interdistrict Carriage Hub <Palace District>
- A small village has sprouted on the edge of the Lightholder River where the cobblestone roads from Fastheld's other prominent districts intersect, in the shadow of Caryas Hill and the majestic gray silhouette of Fastheld Keep - the seat of power for the entire realm.
- Sutlers, traveling performers and other small-time merchants ply their trades along this main crossroads - competing for space with carriages hauling passengers, couriers rushing important communiques from one district to another, and the soldiers of the Emperor's Blades who regularly patrol the area.
- On the northwest corner of the intersection, next to the road that twists north toward Lightholder Bridge and the palace, sits a large tavern and inn where weary travelers can refresh themselves. It is a terribly cold and frigid night. The slightest breeze stirs over the land infrequently.
The sounds of the crisp, chill breeze mingle with a distant scream, and the sound of beating wings as a creature blots out the light of the stars, black as the night.
The walk home from the Tavern was always a lonely one, by home of course that means the Shrine that Moira has taken to filling. Shivering against the cold bite of the winter's night, watching her breath mist before her much goes unnoticed by the young Scourge as she focuses more on warming her arms than anything else. Only the shuffle nearby of another person making their way home from the Tavern grabs her attention enough to cause her to smile and offer a friendly nod.
Slithering through the sky, the reptilian gargoyle reaches Lightholder Crossing. Its muzzle turns to the side, and its cracked stone maw opens wide to release a death's head scream. What was once a straight path turns into a buzzard's circle as the gargoyle peers down upon the wintry passersby.
As flighty as she is, even Moira takes note of the cry overhead and her eyes dart to the sky instantly. A hand reaches to her back to find that her longbow is actually in the Shrine... A frown spreads quickly across her face and is even more quickly replaced with concern. Looking up at the person she saw earlier she points and speaks firmly, "Seek shelter, quickly, go now!" She states and then begins looking to the sky to hone in on the creature, making sure the straps of her armor are securely fastened.
People scatter as people do, the dozen or so wanderers making beelines for the taverns and shops. When something is so obviously awry, it doesn't take much thought to make decisions. The call from a Scourge only hastens the process. But the creature has found its target, and its target is not of the skittering lemmings...it is the one left behind. The circle tightens, like the boas of ancient lore, slowly lowering until it is less than thirty feet above the ground, its stony body seemingly tensed.
Moira tracks it's flight with her eyes and takes a very deep breath. Eyes slide shut with concentration then nothing. A slight yelp comes from her throat as she looks to the sky. "Not now!" She half cries to herself in a near whiny voice. But she doesn't flee for cover from the creature instead focuses further on it and takes deep calming breaths.
Snakes pull their center of gravity into a single point before striking, driving out from this center like the solarplexus punch they teach in the Blades. With nothing to drive against, it is difficult to see how the gargoyle could snap into a strike, but then again, it's difficult to see how thousands of pounds of stone can fly. The creature increases its speed fivefold, its alabaster foreclaws glimmering as they are presented and stabbed towards Moira Oak.
As the creature comes diving downwards towards her, stabbing with it's claw Moira's eyes widen and in a snap reaction she attempts to get out of the way by doing a backwards somersault. The attack came so sudden she only has time to barely react and if not for the armor she wears with it's flexibility she'd most likely be dead. Instead the claw digs in to her sides as she has felt once before, bringing a cry of pain as her side is rended and another gasped shock at the ground giving way beneath her.
Beating its wings with great vigor, the gargoyle hooks its claws deep under the Scourge's steel carapace, its aft claws moving to cinch around her calves. Thus secured, the creature begins an upward ascent, towards the southwest.
Moira tries to flail about, to impact the creature but is unable to reach, being completely secured. In a last desperate act though she shakes her left arm, the last piece of her armor she was checking, attempting to drop the bracer on it to the ground below... it's so dark that none could see her if they hadn't all fled, but a clue, something..
The creature ascends higher and higher, oblivious to the girl's machinations, simply concentrating on keeping the two in flight. The bracer hits the cobblestones with a low, bell-like tone, eventually clattering to a halt on the southwest edge of the Crossroads, the creature taking Moira high over a small birch forest.
At this height, even Moira's not dumb enough to try and escape. Instead she watches below her and tries to keep track of where she's being taken... as well as examing the creature as much as she can from underneath. Now all the Scourge can do is watch... and wait, fighting to keep the fear from consuming her.
The creature is covered in cracks, most articulating the muscle, bone, and sinew this creature should have if it were flesh, and it's a marvel that it hasn't fallen into a million pieces. Whatever the reason, the ebon stone shifts and creaks as the creature continues its ascent, the winding muddiness of 5 Root Creek passing under the two. The creature banks, pointed towards <edit>.
Moira is little more than a speck in the sky at this point, and the Crossroads is mysteriously barren of people.
A speck in the sky, far beyond anything and in the clutches of a Gargoyle. That is Moira. Groans of pain are muffled aside quickly by quiet gasps of awe as she watches what occurs beneath her, sights that no human has ever seen before really although she would not wish to endure them again at the hands of the beast. But the sight of <edit> as she saw it first hand and a new quiet whimper begins.
The creature begins its descent as it reaches the edge of the mesa, and thank the Light, the Ravager is currently unseen. The gargoyle angles down towards the <edit>, circling lower and lower. Finally, Moira's back clangs against a large, flat stone as the reptiloid lands, pinning her beneath it. Its head moves about suddenly, peering at the broken and scattered remains of East Bluff for several long moments, its movements becoming more and more agitated.
Moira's eyes follow the movements and she frowns. Finally she tries, "<edit>" She frowns and looks around noting the agitated movements of the Gargoyle and wanting to believe it's trying to tell her something.
Reaching to each side, the creature grabs several helmet-sized stones from the rubble nearby, and begins placing them atop Moira's chest, removing its foreclaws from her armor in compensation. It seems to only be placing them where they won't crush the girl, but perhaps it's just a lucky fluke.
The girl's eyes widen a bit at the movements and she does squirm a bit while still trying to comprehend what's going on. She can try to escape or at least gain control of the situation from the creature as it places chunks about her, as if... "Burying!"
The creature places more than fifteen stones of this sort over the cuirass of the woman, even breaking up larger stones to fit. Seemingly satisfied, the gargoyle releases its grip on her completely, its glowing blue eyes pulsating rapidly. Turning away from Moira, the creature begins to dig at the <edit>, pulling many large stones aside, screeching loudly in plaintive frustration.
The entire time Moira is struggling as the concept of being buried and left strikes fear in to her heart, but as the creature moves off she's forced to watch it move about in awed fear. "<edit>..." She mutters a bit to herself in questioning not that it matters.
The gargoyle attempts several angles of attack at the stone, shifting to a new angle every time a stone larger than it blocks the way. It screams more and more loudly as it approaches its seventh, then eighth try. By the ninth try, the creature echoes a bloodcurdling cry at the night above, and begins to fly back towards the Scourge.
Having continued to try and struggle free to no avail, Moira cringes as the creature approaches. Biting her lower lip she watches it warily and is readying within herself an attempt to shield off the Shadow... anything to save her own life at this point but curiousity still keeps her at bay.
The gargoyle lands a foot or two away from the captive girl, and bends down to scream in frustration, the noise deafening, even with nonexistant lungs. It screams once more, opening its maw wide, then flaps its wings twice, heading quickly towards the south. Moira turns her head, eyes squinting closed as it screeches in her face before whimpering to an end and watches the creature move off towards the south, trying as best she can to follow it's movements.
The creature disappears over the southern horizon, and time begins to slowly drain by. Ten minutes passes, then twenty.
As the time passes, Moira struggles to get free from her rock 'tomb' in order to well, escape from the place. The effort is mighty as she attempts to get free but with blood soaking through her side and the cold weakening her with every passing minute it is questionable...
After more than thirty minutes have passed, the gargoyle can be seen in the southern sky. As it nears, it becomes more clear what it holds in its claws. In its foreclaws are held the bloodied corpse of a deer. In a rear claw is held an entire small chitterberry sapling, rich with fruit, and in the other rear claw trails a clothesline, on which hang three or four articles of clothing. The gargoyle lands a few feet from the girl, grabbing the dead deer by the neck, and dragging it towards her entrapped body.
Eyes growing heavy, Moira blinks and tries to keep them open and focused as the creature returns. She sees the deer... and.. berries and clothing? A surprised grunt comes from her as she tries to put her attention more fully upon what's going on and struggles a bit more in vain.
Dragging the deer up to the Scourge, the creature carefully lays the bloodied mess over the girl's legs. It then goes back for the sapling and the clothesline, laying each of these things atop the girl's prostrate form. It then takes a few steps back, and deep within the cyan core of the gargoyle's twin eyes, something glows a deep, deep violet. It's not long before both eyes glow an intense violet.
As the items are dropped over her Moira can't help being even more confused as it could mean so much. Supplies? Or she is the start of a junk heap? Or an offering? The girl just watches, shaking her head to keep from passing out as the creature's eyes begin to glow to violet, frowning even more deeply.
Moving towards the Scourge, the gargoyle nudges a few of the stones off of the girl's chest, and touches its muzzle to her cuirass. It quickly pulls back, taking a few steps backward as a violet half-sphere begins to form around the girl, increasing in size until it is more than eight feet in diameter. The creature touches its muzzle to the bubble and it stops growing, but begins to lightly glow. With the stones moved Moira attempts once more to get up but this time is merely to weak. Instead she watches the bubble and shivers, knowing... at least in her mind... what is making it and fighting the urge to simply purge it out of existance.
As it finishes entombing the Scourge in the translucent violet sphere, the creature stares at her animal and plant-covered form for a long moment. It then turns, and a few wingbeats lift it into the sky.
Lifting her hand, Moira takes grasp of a pair of the pants and pulling it to her, applies it against her side to where she's lost blood in an attempt to lessen it. Her tired body continues to give out to her as things begin to blur then slip in to double as she struggles against the sucumbing of passing out.
It isn't long before the creature disappears over the horizon once more towards the east this time, and Moira is left alone once more, within the bubble.
Return to Season 3 (2005)