Light's Reach <Forest District>

The first township established by House Mikin outside of the old city (now known as the Shadow District), Light's Reach was founded by Fahral Mikin atop a mound of grassy earth called Eastwatch Hill some six centuries ago, as the mortar still dried on the uppermost battlements of the Aegis surrounding the Imperial realm.
The buildings are of quarried gray Nillu stone, their walls kept clean of crawling vines that might otherwise encroach and give them a greater sense of antiquity. Wooden shutters angle out from many open windows when weather permits.
The township derives its name rather literally from the fact that it has become a beacon in the heart of the Forest District: Four high stone towers rise at the four corners of Light's Reach, with great lanterns kept blazing throughout the night, to stave off the evils of the Shadow. Fahral Mikin was rather obsessed with the defeat of darkness, particularly after the death of his youngest son, Allal. That son fought in the first Wildling War in service to Emperor Talus Kahar I, and died in the bloody betrayal at the Valley of Blades, where Zahir treachery let the Wildlings overwhelm the Bladesmen.
The town center includes the Warm Shining Tavern, a Church of True Light temple, Light's Reach Mercantile, and the local constabulary. Shadowcull Keep, the legendary home of Surector Gell Mikin - direct descendant of Fahral Mikin - looms on a hill to the northeast. Other Mikin nobility hold keeps along the road the proceeds away from town. Most notable among these keeps are West Bluff and East Bluff - the torch tower guardians and practically mirror images of each other in design.

Sophia Mikin looks about and sighs softly as the weight of responsibility bears upon her shoulders. "The Marquis and I will be moving to East Bluff soon Steward. I will need to take inventory of items at both East Bluff and Wedgecrest to make sure I do not forget anything." SHe seems rather meloncholy with the thought of moving from the beautiful keep of Wedgecrest. "Within the next few weeks I believe."

Gell Mikin walks out of the Warm Shining Tavern wrapped in his robes, the hood drawn up over his fire-puckered face and the black eye patch. But he is fairly recognizable just the same, what with the necklace of mummified digits shifting back and forth against his chest as he moves.

Through night's shadows, from the western bluff of the mesa that is home to Light's Reach, come the skulking forms of about a dozen Wildlings. The mottled green creatures with their bulbous, sloped heads and glittering sharp claws move with fluid grace, pit black eyes gleaming in the moonlight and the glow of the town's tenacious torch towers as the Wildlings skitter out of the swaying high grass along the fringe of the crossroads. "Where isssss *She*?" one of the Wildlings hisses, leaping onto a bench in front of the constabulary.

"I understand, my Lady," Vhramis says with a bow of his head to Sophia. "I keep an inventory of Wedgecrest Falls, so most of the effort will be in doing East Bluff. But I'm sure there must be ledgers there to look at." His back stiffens at a quite unpleasantly familiar sound, and he slowly turns to look towards the constabularity. He pulls the bow from his shoulder and draws an arrow from the quiver at his waist, though makes no move to attack just yet.

Firstly, Raven halts in his tracks at the sight of Gell Mikin emerging from the tavern. His brows raise in surprise and slight paranoid, pulling the hood of his cloak up and clasping the front of his cloak over his chest as he turns back into the direction of the Constabulary. Another unfortunate happening is the very, very recognizable form of a wildling on the bench. His face blanches at the sheer unfortunate consequences, deciding to turn immediately torward the temple and move in that direction, hurriedly.

Ashlynn sucks in a sharp breath at the familiar hiss, turning less carefully to search out the misshapen source as her hand unconsciously tightens on her empty mug. "Light," she whispers. "Now now..."

Fael Mikin nods his head. "It would probably be best for everyone to have a presence in the township as soon as possible", he says, "The people will need strong leadership in the wake of recent events." Only then does he notice that something is out of sorts, shifting where he stands to spot the first of the Wildlings as it hops up on the bench near the Constabulary. Releasing Sophia's arm he reaches for the long sword sheathed at his waist and moves to pull it with a faint ring from its sheath. Glancing around him quickly he says, "We need to find somewhere defensible for the Marchioness and those who cannot fight." His eyes fall on the tavern building.

From Cad's saddle, Corriden Lomasa is looking forward to kicking up his feet and leaving Cad in the hands of the stables for a bucket of hot oat mash. It looks like those plans were just interrupted, however-- The horse rears somewhat, eyes rolling wildly, and the bladesman unlimbers the pike from the side of his saddle, reigns held tightly in one of his gauntlets. "Sweet Light on a stick!" He bellows, green eyes narrowing beneath his helm.

Sophia Mikin pales...noticably into a sickly shade of pasty white. "Light save us...not now..not again." The Marchioness whispers as she digs her fingers into Fael's arm. Her blue eyes widen as realization that further doom again plagues Light's Reach. Her gaze drifts towards her kinsman with the mummified digits then up to Fael and winces as if in pain. "I am healer.." She whispers. "Light save us."

A slender figure in rustling yellow silk steps out of the church, her head bowed. Her demeaner is as modest as the flowing drape of her mourning clothes, and she slips out, her hands demurely clasped together before her. She is surrounded by several guards, and as she steps out, alarmed by the hiss, several more guards who hitherto have been scattered around the square, step towards the entrance of the temple, before her. She looks in surprise at the hurrying Raven, not having herself heard the hiss. She looks up at the guard nearest to her, and asks, "What's wrong?" he shrugs, also having been with her in the temple.

Luna Grey turns her head curiously when she hears the strange hissing, her eyes widening as she recognizing the grotesque forms of the wildlings. She freezes in place, her eyes darting around for a hiding place as she finds herself alone and vulnerable away from the crowd.

Gell Mikin draws a bronze katar from a sheath under his robes with his good hand, growling as his attention fixes on the Wildlings pouring into the crossroads. Then another handful of the creatures can be seen caroming over the roof of the Warm Shining Tavern, bounding over the edge and leaping onto the street. Others creep around the mercantile. The creatures are quickly forming a perimeter around anyone lingering in the crossroads. All of them are hissing, in unison, "Where isssss *She*?" The former Surrector scowls, his brow knitting as he replies, "Gone where all Shadow aberrations go! Let me send you to greet her!" He takes two steps toward one of the Wildlings in front of the tavern - and then the ground begins to tremble and shift. At this, his eyes widen - and the Wildlings themselves cease their sibilant ranting about 'She' and start trading mortified glances.

Vhramis nods his head to Fael. "The tavern would be good, I think, my Lord," he says quietly, swallowing a large lump in his throat. He puts arrow to bowstring, preparing to draw, when the ground begins it's violent shaking. "Light..." he whispers, face paling as he looks about, dropping his arrow as he reaches to Ashlynn for his support as much as hers.

Fael Mikin nearly loses his balance as the earth shifts, reaching for Sophia's arm and looking around him with a suddenly concerned expression. Wildlings are one thing, unexplained groundshaking is entirely more disturbing. His original plans forgotten he begins to look around the cause.

From Cad's saddle, Corriden Lomasa continues to hold his pike at the ready-- He'd charge into the attack, but he's mortified himself by the sudden, er, abundance of evil nasties. He hisses over to Fael and Vhramis, "They're distracted, but still too many." Then, he's struggling to control Cad, the animal rearing again with the earthsaking. "Shades!"

As Wildlings start to surround the crossroads, Raven merely grimaces further as he backpedals into the center of the township, taking his quarterstaff in both his hands in a defensive posture trying to keep steady on the shaking ground. "I highly regret coming here to reclaim my gambling dues," he mutters to himself, trying to keep near the group.

Thrown off-balance by the sudden trembling of the ground, Lillymere's arms fly out to steady herself. One of the guards steps forward and seizes her forearm, holding it tightly to keep her from falling. She shrieks, clinging to him, her eyes widening with fright, and as her gaze whips around it lands upon the wildlings, and her shriek mounts into a high-pitched scream of sheer terror.

Sophia Mikin squares her shoulders back still looking pale though a tinge of color slowly creeps upon her cheeks. "Pray tell what is this evil happening now?" The Marchioness murmurs in a trembling voice as she looks to Fael then to Gell then back to Fael inwardly praying...

"We haven't had enough time..." Ashlynn begins to mutter sharply to herself before the earth's trembling has her bracing herself against the hitching post. Reflexively grabbing for the reins when Cleo's half-rear of alarm untangles the loosely tied leading rope, she throws a wild look toward Vhramis and gasps, "I didn't do it!" As nonsensical and ridiculous as the claim may seem, there seems to be a form of denial at work there nevertheless.

The quake grows in ferocity, bringing down bits of decrepit roofing and a couple of Wildlings that managed to get the slates underfoot. The creatures tumble off the mercantile roof and hit the ground with hissing grunts before struggling to their feet, fighting the tremors. To the east, however, matters appear much worse: The torch towers of East Bluff apparently are rattled so hard that their structural integrity collapses. The blazing towers collapse, their flaming wreckage spilling downhill toward the tinder-dry Mikin Wood.

Ground trembling without reason, Luna has experienced before, and the memory of the previous event flashes in her eyes, her face paling as she looks for cover even more desperately, breaking into a run away from the tavern and toward the crafters square.

Vhramis casts a nonunderstanding look to Ashlynn, unable to comprehend the meaning of her words at the current time, what with all hell breaking loose. His attention is grabbed by the catacylsmic sight of the grand East Bluff towers collapsing, and his jaw drops slightly for a moment before he shakes his head. "If those towers are going, this tavern could easily be next," he shouts to Fael, Sophia, Ash, or anyone else who may be listening. "We need to get away from it before we're buried!"

At last, Rowena breaks free of the grip of her fearful guard in the temple, the ground's tremor causing the man to stumble. Wanting to see for herself what new mishap is befalling her home, the woman carefully picks her way to the doors and opens them with a creak. A cautious peep into the evening air brings her head into view. Her gaze follows the frightened shouts and points of the people outside. Umbrus's shrill whinny of terror reaches her ears froma his struggle in the stables. Before she, too, can release a cry, the sudden sound of explosion booms to the east and ground violently disturbs her footing. She topples outside.

The sound of the collapsing Torch towers draws Fael's attention like a flame attracts insects. His eyes widen at the sight that awaits him. "By the Light", he gasps as the towers collapse spilling fire around them. Collecting his wits he nods to the Steward, and reaches instinctively for Sophia's hand as he moves away from the buildings, looking for solid ground.

Sophia Mikin gasps then cries out as the towers of East Bluff begin to tremble then collaspe. This can't be! Sophia cries out in anquish. "NO!..." She lets loose the grip upon Fael's arm moving on shaking ground swaying in the process towards the distance and East Bluff. "NO!" Again the Heir to Light's Reach cries out in anquish. "Not this...NOT THIS!" She is oblivious to anyone or anything as her mind closes the door to the present. "Light No NOT THIS."

From Cad's saddle, Corriden Lomasa flings himself off of his mount to free himself of the unreliable animal, leaving the reigns behind as he digs the buttspike of his pike into the ground to steady himself. Of course, he'd love to take advantage of the chance of a distracted enemy-- But his eyes widen at the collapse of towers built to stand for millenia. Yes, that's something knew to him. His attention returns quickly to the here and now, and he bellows out, "Shades, Luna, stop! Go the other way, out of town! Anyone that can, go!"

From Hopeful's saddle, "What in the Light...!" A disjointed grunt, perplexed and spaced, as Laeria Mikin stumbles out of the Temple, nearly losing her balance if not for grasping onto the edge of the stone entry. The sight of East Bluff's towers actually collapsing, however, causes the teen paladin to go agape... and then... Wildlings? She makes a clumsy grab at her weapons. If only it weren't shaking so much.

The tall guard tightens his grip on the screaming Lillymere's arm, and pulls her into the open street. Her hysterical cries are cut short by the sound of the explosion, and she turns to look at the falling tower, standing perfectly still like stone or marble, the flickering light from the flames dancing over her yellow garments. Her stillness does not last long as the trembling earth makes her lurch forward, stumbling, nearly falling down.

At the thunderous collapse of East Bluff, the Wildlings shriek collectively - a high-pitched, terrified noise, of the sort rarely if ever heard by the inhabitants of Fastheld that have confronted these creatures before. "HE!" they cry as one. They break in a panic, scattering in all directions to get away from the crossroads and, if possible, off the mesa. To the west, the towers of West Bluff are shaken into oblivion - both towers fall into piles of crushed rock and burning timber. For the first time in centuries, Light's Reach is touched primarily by moonlight rather than the incessant glow of the torch towers. And once that has happened, once darkness has fallen on the town, the trembling stops and the Wildlings are nowhere in sight. But fires appear to be blazing in the mercantile and the Warm Shining Tavern - miniature torches seeking to match their fallen betters.

Ashlynn's frozen contemplation of the towers' crumbling is only broken when Cleo gives another buck and rear with a shrill whinny, nearly dragging her mistress over the hitching rail. Cursing, the courier turns the majority of her attention by necessity to controlling the river trotter, rounding the post to grab a hold of the bridle itself, forcefully dragging the horse's head down. "He," she whispers to herself, holding the trembling mare close as she looks around with wild eyes.

Gell Mikin stares into the fire-flickered shadows of night, katar in hand, looking around for the Wildlings. He struggles to his feet, from where he had fallen to a knee in the tremors, and shouts: "The Shadow take all of you! Fear the quaking of the ground, do you?!"

"I'd rather not take my chances with the wildlings!" Raven calls out in reply to Corriden's attempt at a solution, merely backing himself in an area as far away from the surrounding buildings of Light's Reach as he can manage, frown touching his lips as he watches the torch-towers fall down into the woods, and the wildlings starts to fade. "Well," Raven begins, settling a bit taller as his posture relaxes.

"Yes, MOVE!" One of the Ducal guard escorts barks to Rowena's petrified form. A firm hand grasps her arm and hefts her up to her unsteady feet while another presses against her shoulder. The shock upon her face is an understatement as she looks around to Laeria who has been shaken to join them. And then the Western torch falls. "NYNETTE!" She shrieks in fear for her lady servant that kept watch over the keep in her place.

And what of Sophia? Squinting into the chaotic darkness, she finally puts motion into her form and staggers in step with her guards into the street, towards the stables.

Vhramis has no time for contemplation on Wildling talk, or on the sudden darkening of of the town from the absence of the large overlooking towers. "We have to put out these fires," he calls to Fael, attention focused on the task at hand. He runs forward, gently and quickly putting an arm around Sophia to help move her along in the direction the newly made Marquis took.

Corriden Lomasa slashes at the empty air with his pike, an expression of raw fury and grief painted across his face. "Shades! Bucket brigade!" He bellows, leaving the pike stuck into the ground and ripping off his helm, tossing it to the side like so much offal. Looking at Gell, he calls, "Where's the water supply here? We need to put those out before we can start looking for survivors, else it'll take the town!"

Lillymere shrieks, "It's dark! It's dark!" she whimpers slightly, and quiets, not the calmness of sudden bravery, but rather the terrified quiet of pure fear, as she asks, "Who's that next to me?" to the shadows beside her.

Fael Mikin gapes after Sophia for a moment as she pulls away from him and rushes towards East Bluff. His sword returns to its sheath and as the ground stops shaking he runs over to Sophia to help keep her from making her way up the hillside towards the Keep. The town watchmen are well-trained and most have already righted themselves and are moving towards the well to begin dealing with the fires.

Sophia Mikin fights tooth and nail to be freed from Vharmis and Fael. "No...let me go..the people..there are people injured in the debris. Let me go!" Sophia cries out in a pathetic tone of shocked anquish. "Light no..Light" She keeps repeating as tears fall down her cheeks. "There are people out there. There are people in both towers!"

Fionnlagh stumbles out of the tavern, a splatter or two of what was supposed to be a quiet meal of stew presently decorating his armored jerkin as he emerges. He takes Seaorin's Fall into his hands as he steps out of the doorway, proving route for others to escape the building while he surveys the scene.

A malevolent whooooshing sound can be heard from the east, from the direction of the tumbled ruin of East Bluff. The flapping of broad, leathery wings moving through the grim night. Massive wingspan, whatever it is. The noise grows closer. Gell Mikin steps out into the middle of the crossroads, his good eye peering into the eastern sky just as three moons are suddenly blotted out by the silhouette of the creature descending on Light's Reach. Dust and pebbles still spill off the creature's skeletal form, from the sunken sockets of its dead eyes and off the dried husk of its wings. It banks over the crossroads, creating a turbulent crosswind that kicks up dust and parchment strewn in the street - and fans the flames of the mercantile and the tavern. The former Surrector's mouth hangs open in astonishment at the sight of the beast, which must be at least one hundred feet long. It unleashes a hideous squeal that causes windows not already broken by the quake to explode - and then it banks off into the darkness. Breaking out of his frozen rictus, Gell Mikin mutters to those around him: "Run. Run now."

Just barely calming Cleo enough to be manageable, Ashlynn hurriedly ties a more secure knot in the lead rope for now, not trusting any further surprises not to spook the river trotter again. Just as she is about to follow after Vhramis and Fael, however, the beasts loom high in the sky - and she too pauses as Gell does, gazing upwards with a blank look of awe and primitive fear. Shaking her head slowly, she can only stumble back one step at a time, unconsciously tracking the serpentine movements swimming so effortlessly above.

Vhramis pulls back against the struggling Sophia. "No! Sophia! Not now! We need to get organized! We need" The words die in his throat at the sudden shape appearing on the horizion. Again his mouth drops open. "Light help us..." he gasps, grip unconciously tightening on Sophia in a protective manner.

Corriden Lomasa gapes, openmouthed.. Perhaps a loyal serviceman shouldn't stand around gawping, but that's mightily hard when a flying lizard thing decices to shriek at you. Unable to run as this is part of his patrol and thus his responsibility, the bladesman kneels to pick up his forgotten helm, replacing it with a careful adjustment. Yes, fires aren't that important, at this very moment. He places a hand on the haft of his weapon, pulling it from the ground with a low, throaty growl. He might be more afraid, of course, if he wasn't very secure in the fact that anything moving is living, and thus can be stabbity-stabbed until it dies... Right?

Sister Laeria moves to where the last visible sign of people were, before the darkness and unsettling quiet sank in. Quiet so much as in the lack of quaking and Wildling screaming, that is. "Wildlings..." She murmurs with bitterness, drawing her weapons from her hips along the way. Silver and obsidian katars twirl rapid circles in the blonde teen's hands, catching with their blades pointed at the ground. However, this trip and personal spite against the talking Touched beasts is tipped wayside as the large shadow is called attention to - namely by an unholy scream. "The same one from last night?" She says aloud.

Fael Mikin is easily stronger than the Marchioness. After fighting her for a couple of moments, he gives up on that approach and just scoops her up in his arms, taking whatever injury she might dish out in order to pull her away from the burning keep and the strange and very disturbing creature that has suddenly appeared from the ruins. Once he has her, he turns and begins to run towards the each of town, shouting breathlessly for those townfolk who can to run as well.

"Faster!" Rowena breathlessly urges to the armored men that clank alongside of her, although *they* seem to actually be tugging *her* along. Squeals of frightened horses, shouts of frantic people, a blur of bodies...The Duchess is failing in her ability to single out individuals from the panicked crowd. They've nearly reached the stable, when a vast shadow suddenly casts them further into darkness. What was that sound?

A slow, upward peep curses her with a sight she's liable to never forget. The color now pales from her cheeks, blood pounding furiously in her ears. Oh, Light. "I've never...never..." She stammers in failure to convey a thought. No more thinking. "YOUR Grace!" Her men shout into her ear and continue to haul her along towards the stables. Umbrus remains just inside, struggling wildly against his tethers, hooves lashing into the air. His flared nostrils froth, catching the smell of death.

Orell Mikin steps out from the Temple, evidently on his way back to the market district. He looks into the sky where everyone appears to be staring and fleeing from. His deep blue eyes chills as he sees the creatures and quickly draws his weapon from the sheath on his hips, running towards the stable to retrieve his horse.

Lillymere fumbles in the dark for the nearest guard's hand, and seizes onto it, her other hand flying up to cover her ear from the shriek of the beast. "What is it?" she asks no one in particular, "What is it?" The guard drags her, and they begin running... he half dragging her in Fael's direction, as she cannot run fast enough to keep up with him. Lillymere falls onto the ground, and is dragged a few feet before the guard lets go of her hand and screams at her, "GEt up, get UP!!!"

Luna Grey's stunned shock at the torch-towers falling shifts into abject horror when she sees the huge, looming form of the winged creature. Her hand claps over her mouth for a brief instant, and then she begins running as well, following the group headed away from the center of Light's Reach.

"Sweet Light," Raven states in awe of the winged beast ascending from the heavens, eyes wide in fear at the sight of it. "I believe my visit here has just expired," Raven states aloud, more to himself as he taps his staff once on the ground, turning to move off hastily torward the nearest slope down the hill as he can find.

Sophia Mikin is dumbfounded with fear as the evil creature swoops over head just as Fael sweeps her up into her arms. "What new evil is this?" She murmurs in a shakey voice. "What new evil is this?" She demands as her voice rises in volume just a bit.

The former Surrector grimaces as he turns in a slow circle, katar in hand, watching the night sky. Waiting. Then comes that whoooooshing again, from the southwest this time, and he turns sharply to glare balefully at the monstrosity as it swoops down once more on Light's Reach. The single, dead-looking reptiloid creature opens its cavernous jaws and unleashes another shriek - but this one possesses a sort of cavitating echo, accompanied by a rippling wave of greenish-blue energy that expands in a cone toward the street below. Gell Mikin only has a moment to puzzle at what he's seeing, and then the energy strikes him: His robes tatter and fall to dust, his flesh rots, dries, flakes away, and within seconds, his ashen remnants are swirling

Lately, eating in Light's Reach hasn't been a good choice for the forester. He stares up at the beast in the sky as do others, then looks to the mace in his hand, then back up. "Light help us...." Deciding the mace, no matter how ancient or holy, is unlikely to deter the creature, he puts it back on his belt and runs for the stables along with others, shouting out. "Wagons! If you've a wagon, take the old and the wounded aboard...better a rough ride then left behind!" And then the Surrector falls, and Fionnlagh is caught off guard yet again, stumbling in his run as he gapes. He picks himself up, darting for the stables to draw Firelight out with his wagon to carry out his own recommendation.

Vhramis' stupor isn't broken by the's broken by the demise of the former Surrector. His eyes bug as he watches him melt away, and he suddenly begins to backpetal, before turning about and running away as fast as his legs can carry him.

A stableboy leads Firelight out from the stables and around to the front, handing the reins to Fionnlagh.

Ashlynn watches Gell Mikin's transformation with a calmness borne of shock, only the need for air prompting her to remember to breath - and then, to run, following the screaming crowds toward the nearest shelter possible. Her eyes search busily between the sky and the ground, looking for familiar faces even as she tries to keep tabs upon all the creatures circling overhead.

The earth had finally stopped trembling enough for Moira to grab her armor and pull the pieces of brass on over her tunic and skirts. Sounds of screaming permeated through the air and assaulted her ears as something ravaged outside. Her own voice had fallen silent as she had yelled after Laeria to wait for her but the other Scourge was already out and gone before she had a chance to follow suit. The last piece of armor strapped on, grabbing her longbow after fastening her whip to her waist the Scourge charged out of the temple ready to face whatever was going on.

Her first steps out of the Temple are met with a sight that causes great fear within her to billow like a turmoiled sea, catching in full shocking view the man she had just shared a drink with but days ago vanishing before her eyes. Silence is her cry and her plea as she blinks her eyes then averts focus to where the creature that did the act is. Thought is lost as she drops to a knee and grabs the lone arrow that is kept with her, nocked but yet not pulled back to fire. The girls' green eyes display shock at the large creature's shadowy outline, shock so deep that Moira is afraid to let loose the arrow.

What was a mass of screaming panic now lives briefly in a horrified hush. Some of the civilians around her stop to gawk at what they'd just witnessed. It wasn't possible. Rowena, however, is not taking the time to indulge her morbid curiosity. She and her men spill into the stable, hands nearly knotting one another as they fight to free their beasts. Umbrus swoops his head around to send a blast of moist air into her cheek with an impatient snort. Two legs were always slower than four. Bloody humans.

"Hurry..hurry...hurry..." She pants to herself and gives a final tug on Umbrus's reins. Free. Placing all dignity aside, she climbs into the saddle, hiking her gown nearly to her hips so that she may straddle the saddle properly. Only then are her garments allowed to fall back into place. The glint of her knife at her hip is little comfort, as is the shine of her rapier hitched to the saddlebags. They could pierce the flesh of wildlings, yes. But this creature? "WE RIDE" She shouts and whips Umbrus's reins fiercely down onto his if the horse really needed encouragement to flee.

Corriden Lomasa is paralyzed, positively paralyzed for precious seconds, eyes bugging out. He makes a small, strangling noise as his shoulders literally shudder. Someone's yelling, but it sounds like something through water, a sound heard but not making any sense. It takes him a moment to realize that it's himself, bellowing at the top of his lungs, voice cracking and raw at the abuse. "RUN! RUN! Get out NOW! RUN!" He screams, continuing his litany to all who can hear and are uninjured enough to move. S

weat running down his face, he stands his ground still. His responsibility. But he's powerless, isn't he, to do anything? Corriden doesn't want to die like Gell, he knows that for certain. The pike in his hands seems ridiculous and flimsy compared to the creature, and the iron armor he thought was solid barely seems to exist to his mind. Eyes closing for a moment, against the terror and chaos and the vibration of his own voice ripping free of his frame, the cavalryman experiences a moment of quiet, the serenity that can creep into a man's mind in his darkest hour.

Fael Mikin doesn't even see the demise of the former Surrector, his attention is focused entirely on getting his new wife and as many townpeople as he can out of the town. Leaving those who wish to fight the creature to it, he has more important things to take care of at the moment. The shriek sends shivers down his spine and causes him to stumble for a second before he regains his balance.

Orell Mikin retrieves his mount from the stableboy, his illness forgotten as the adrenaline rushes at the scene of the murder. He hitches the wagon to his mount quickly with the help of his guards, and immediately notices Lillymere and the rest of his guards near him. He mounts Sprinter and kicks back on its flank, bringing his mount next to Lillymere to tug her onto his mount, "Get on, Lilly! The rest, jump onto my wagon! Let's get out of here!" He picks up his longbow from his mount and prepares an arrow from his quiver.

A stableboy leads Sprinter out from the stables and around to the front, handing the reins to Orell Mikin.

That's more than enough for Sister Laeria. It's one thing to know when to choose and pick your battles, but what does she possibly have that could stand up to such a tainted monstrosity? As if the Light's Kiss in her blood would be enough to combat this. So, what she does is 'live to fight another day': she leans forward and sprints the remainder of the way toward the stables. "Moira! Move your feet!" She yanks Hopeful's reigns, leading the horse to the street.

Orell Mikin mounts Sprinter and settles into the saddle.

Laeria mounts Hopeful and settles into the saddle.

A stableboy leads Umbrus out from the stables and around to the front, handing the reins to Rowena Mikin.

Rowena Mikin mounts Umbrus and settles into the saddle.

The whoooooooshing sound can be heard again - this time from the northeast. The echoey shriek returns as the creature flaps down over the Warm Shining Tavern, unleashing more of that withering energy, and the timbers supporting the burning building collapse and fall into ash, extinguishing the blaze before the wind of the monster's passage sends the cloud of ash from the ruins swirling in a maelstrom that engulfs pretty much anyone lurking near the crossroads. The winged monster than disappears into the night, possibly to prepare for another deadly strafing run.

Lillymere struggles to her feet, with some difficulty as she is stepping on her skirt in a wierd way. The guard grabs her by the first thing he can - her hair- and yanks her to her feet. He picks her up, lifting her in the air and practically shoving her at Orell, "Take her, quick!" he says, not wasting any words.

Lillymere mounts Sprinter and settles into the saddle.

"Fael put me down! People need help. These are /my/ people!" The young Marchioness finally breaks the silence of shock. She hasn't seen the former Surrector's demise which is good in itself. "Where is Rowena???" Sophia asks as Fael runs holding on to his wife. "Light help us all."

Luna Grey slows to tug on Corriden's arm. "Ye must GO," she insists, though she doesn't stay long enough to force him to do so as she follows the panicked crowd out of town, her eyes drawn to the falling tavern with a stunned shake of her head.

Vhramis casts a brief look behind him at the sound of the tavern's downfall. "I need to get to the forest..." he mutters, as he runs, though he slows slightly as he catches sight of Fael and Sophia amist the chaos. He faulters, before he swallows sharply and changes direction to move after them in pursuit.

Raven glances off momentarily of his horse in the stables, weighing the option of going back to fetch him before deciding, "I never liked that horse, much, anyway." With that, the rogue turns once more to make off for a run out of Light's Reach, staff remaining in his hands.

"Your people need you alive", is Fael's response to Sophia's pleas as he makes his way towards the crossroads to the northeast of town and Light's Watch beyond that. The watchmen have taken their lead from their commander and have abandoned whatever fight there might be in favour of herding the confused townfolk away from the centre of town.

Corriden Lomasa glances over at Luna as if in slow motion, the faintest of smiles crossing his expression, perhaps carrying with it a hint of hysteria and irony. He moves at last, but not away-- Rather he goes to dig at the burning timbers with his pike, shouting out in an attempt to locate survivors and free them from the ruins. This is part of his patrol his route. He will not abandon it.

Hearing her named called out draws Moira's attention and blinking the girl turns and gazes to where Laeria is already mounted and riding Hopeful in her direction. She does have a good idea, getting out of there before things get worst. Feeling her legs move before the thought comes, Moira is running towards the horse and the rider before feeling herself tumbling to the ground and rolling forward to cover her head with both arms, the sound of wooshing from the flying creature overhead. From the corner of her vision she sees the tavern go up in flames then vanish, leaving a ghastly afterimage in her mind's eye of the building that had been there. A gasp catches in her throat then she clambers to her feet once more.

Continuing her run towards Hopeful, getting to the horse and rider, she hops up but sits back to back with Laeria. Unhooking her whip as she lays the longbow across her lap, she threads the whip around the other Scourge then ties it to her, essentially tying the pair of them together before lifting and nocking the longbow again. "I'll watch our retreat."

"Load people in the wagons! Come on, we've got to move!" cries the forester, assisting such elders and children as come his way into the wagon hitched to Firelight. He looks around him once sufficient people are loaded, and calls out. "Who can guide a horse and wagon? I need an extra hand here!"

"Cleo...!" Ashlynn gasps as the tavern collapses, the mare tied just before it shrieking and fighting the lead rope. Holding up an arm against the great bellow of ash, she casts one last look upwards before she sprints toward the horse. A flash of the long knife cuts unceremoniously through the rope, and she barely has enough time to swing into the saddle before the mare gives a last buck and starts galloping through the square. Foregoing the reins for the moment, the courier grabs a fistful of mane and directs the horse with a sharp kick of one heel toward the forests the steward and marqis had been headed in at the beginning of the dreadful events.

From Hopeful's saddle, "Nnh!" Laeria grimaces as pieces of debris whip this way and that, plinking off her brass armor. It doesn't deter her from climbing onto the horse's saddle and extending a hand for Moira, ready to help pull her onto the steed without needlessly stopping. Once she's on board, and apparently tethering them together so the other Scourge can shoot off arrows, the paladin spurs Hopeful into full trot. "Hya! Lightswift, Hopeful!"

From Umbrus's saddle, A hoarse oath better fitting a riverrat than nobility lifts high into the air from Rowena's throat as the entire building is suddenly reduced to ashes...much like her brother. As the choking substance billows into the air, she clamps her lips tightly closed and leans forward upon her mount. She and her ducal guard of West Bluff burst outwards from the stable in a flurry of silver and black...and green. Where to go? They gallop in a crazed circle before coming to a decision. This creature wished to destroy Light's Reach? Then it would not cease until it had finished. Thus, safer grounds may lie elsewhere. To the northeast they would go. Like a pack of wolves on the hunt, they drive eagerly forward.

Moira Oak mounts Hopeful and settles into the saddle.

Ashlynn mounts Cleo and settles into the saddle.

From Sprinter's saddle, Orell Mikin shouts out to the guards surrounding his mount and Lillymere's, almost a full hundred of the silver armored guards gathering, "Bowmen!! Ready your bows! When the beast comes again, shoot! Got it? Swordsmen, form up!" He notices his family members near and points towards them, "Protect them!" he hands his rein to Lillymere, "Guide the horse, Lillymere, let's get as many people safely out of here as possible! Bring the mount towards Sophia and Fael!" He clutches his longbow while he sees to the deployment of his guards.

Fionnlagh hears Orell shouting, and shouts back to him as he helps a few stragglers into the wagon. "Flame arrows, Orell! Flame arrows! If you're going to fire, burn the beast!"

From Hopeful's saddle, Now securely on Hopeful with Laeria, Moira pulls back her arrow with steady hands and lifts it to aim at the sky, eyes tracking and the bow tracking as well in to the darkness above. "Where to?" She asks quietly over her shoulder after a moment to Laeria, tightening her legs about Hopeful to endure the uncomfortable movement of the animal moving while backwards upon it.

From Sprinter's saddle, Lillymere nods in silent obedience of Orell's command, not able to make even the slightest squeak of a sound. She takes the rein, guiding the horse towards Fael and Sophia. Throngs of civilians are in the streat, making their way towards the east, and the going is slow as Sprinter picks his way around them. The mass of bodies moves away from the crossroads, and ash flies through the air, swirling around the people, the wind seizing the loose ends of their clothing and whipping it around. Finally, the horse painstakingly reaches Sophia and Fael. A few guards manage to force their way through the crowd as well, and they quickly surround the royal couple.

Through Raven's run, his face nearly quirks into a burst of laughter as he spots a number of others planning to /shoot/ the unholy beast, surely from the fires of the underworld, with /arrows/. Raven shakes his head quickly, not concerning himself as he mutters, "Fools. May as well try throwing rocks at it," before continuing on his run to the northeast.

Corriden Lomasa continues to dig through the wreckage for the wounded and dying, but thus far only comes upon the dead. He spears the bodies with his pike and drags him out of his way, continuing to dig and call for any survivors to make noise so he can find them. But jeez, he always thought he'd die in a brothel with a jug of wine in hand. This wasn't exactly what he'd envisioned.

The telltale whoooooshing of the beast's wings can be heard again, and then comes the cavitated shriek as its elongated skeletal form moves in over town, illuminated by the moonlight as it unleashes its decaying energies on the temple building - the stone, wood and banners crumble to dust, which then swirls through the streets as the creature banks to the northwest.

Vhramis turns back for another amazed look to search for anyone as he runs, backpedaling instead. He gawks as he sees people still around the town and not leaving. "Run, halfwits!" he shouts to them, not caring for station or propriety at this point. "Run!"

From Cleo's saddle, "Vhramis!" Ashlynn calls as soon as she hears his voice over the crowd, glancing around wildly before she knees Cleo in the steward's direction, reaching out with the intent to pull him up behind her if he would take her arm.

Sophia Mikin nods her head knowing Fael is right. "FInd someone safe so we can regroup. We must muster all our the ducal guard and send for aid to the Emperor. We must do this and at once."

Fael Mikin smirks slightly as Vhramis' voice rises over the din around him. With a shake of his head he reaches the edge of the town and pauses there, his breath coming in gasps from the exertion and terror of the situation. Turning slightly to survey the remains of the town he sighs. As the wagon pulls abreast of him, Fael turns towards them and moves to hand Sophia into the arms of her uncle for safe keeping.

"Ash!" Vhramis calls back, turning to the side to run with the horse, extending a hand to clasp onto hers and be pulled up onto the saddle. "Light, Ash!" He wraps an arm around her middle as he leans forward to point his arm past her shoulder, indicating Sophia and Fael. "They're over there," he calls over the general din.

Fionnlagh leaps for the saddle of his mount as the beasts comes in again, judging that the chance of a few more stragglers isn't worth the risk to those already aboard, and it's getting hard to see and breathe with the swirling ashes. "To Forestwatch, Firelight! Head for the woods!" He moves the horse and cart into action, threading a path of his own through the crowds that are fleeing.

From Hopeful's saddle, "Anywhere from here that has ample coverage." Laeria Mikin tosses over her shoulder with but a split-second glance given to the other Shadowscourge. The beat of Hopeful's hooves upon the ground is rhythmic, passing by stragglers, fleeing citizens and nobles in a blur. Thud-du-dum, thud-du-dum. To the woods it would seem.

Another whooooosh, another cavitated shriek, and the cone of withering energy just misses Luna Grey as it creeps along and collides with the damaged mercantile. Such contact, of course, puts an end to that building, reducing it to swirling dust that dances into shadowed oblivion in the street before the beast flaps off into the darkness again.

From Umbrus's saddle, Throwing up her cloak to ward off another plume of ash as the temple is sent to dust, Rowena jerks firmly on Umbrus's reins to keep him focused. The horse screams in fear once more, his nimble legs carrying between two of the escorting mounts, trying to get as far away from the suffocating ash as possible. "Sophia!" She shouts as they near her kin. "The woods! We'll tend to the wounded on safer ground! The Palace perhaps!" She doesn't slow.

From Sprinter's saddle, Orell Mikin helps Sophia onto the wagon, "Fael, come on too! Sophia needs you and you can help keep her on the wagon!" Then the beast flies overhead again and the well-trained ducal archers are assessing the range and firing if they have a chance. "Lillymere, let's ride out! Follow Rowena and Fionnlagh!" he hefts his longbow though and readies the arrow he has on his hand, preparing to shoot if necessary.

From Cleo's saddle, As soon as Vhramis has settled safely behind her, Ashlynn finally reaches for the flapping reins, paying only enough mind to the drastically shortened lead rope to make sure it won't entangle the horse's legs before she is turning Cleo toward Fael and Sophia. "Should we alert the nearest guardhouses, or just hope it goes away?" she gasps, pulling the mare to a skidding stop by the couple.

Luna Grey falls to the ground from the residual force of the energy, shrieking with horror as she realizes her close call. She pulls herself to her feet again, her satchel laying forgotten on the ground, and continues as fast as she can on foot, limping a bit now.

From Hopeful's saddle, Riding that way, Moira is able to watch the carnage unfold wincing deeply as she witnesses the acts. "It just destroyed the Temple..." A few moments later, "And the Mercantile..." Silence ensues then from the red-headed Scourge, her hair blowing in the wind caused by the ride across her face, but the bow remains lifted up just in case anything proceeds in there direction, the girl desperately trying to recognize its attack patterns.

From Firelight's saddle, Fionnlagh guides Firelight through the press of bodies, and changes angle as he spots the limping Luna Gray, horse and wagon moving towards her. "Miss Gray! Swing up!" He offers an arm down, hand extended to catch her hand and swing her up behind him if she grasps for it.

Corriden Lomasa chases after moans and cries, or what few there are at this point, trying to get the wounded out. It's probably a fool's task and he knows it, but it doesn't stop him from his task. Light's Reach is a town he was never actually very fond of, although moreso than Vozdya. However, in death it means more than it did in life-- The large (if rather stupid and unlikely to ever survive to see thirty) bladesman works as a man posessed, his movements automatic, in the hopes of saving any lives at all.

Luna Grey grabs for Fionnlagh's hand desperately, scrambling to climb into the saddle behind him. She oofs from the exertion, hanging on for dear life as the horse begins to move again. She watches wide-eyed with horror, terrified that the winged beast will swoop toward her again.

Raven sprints off to the northeast, not really caring about the illogical idea of staying behind and fighting off the beast as his cloak waves out behind him, leather boots falling quickly as he descends the hill.

Fael Mikin hesitates for a moment as his dark eyes search for something he can do to help the people fleeing from the township. He then turns to run next to the wagon, motioning for everyone to keep moving as he randomly grabs a couple of people who are moving more slowly than the rest and helps them up into the wagon.

WHOOOOOOOSH! The beast swoops in once more, shrieking its cavitated cry, and the smithy falls into ashen ruin.

From Cleo's saddle, Vhramis doesn't seem to know what to say, as he keeps looking behind him in shock as the town continues to fall.

From Cleo's saddle, Ashlynn struggles to hold the mare to the same pace as the wagon bearing the marchioness and marquis as they leave the town's perimeter, occasionally casting disbelieving glances over her shoulder.

Corriden Lomasa finds himself alone in the ruined ghost town that used to be Light's Reach - the beacon at the heart of Fastheld - and his lonely stand is against an unspeakable winged evil that can be heard flapping those leathery wings again - whoooooosh....whoooooooosh - and then the moons are blotted out once again by the skeletal silhouette as it dives on the city, unleashing a cavitated shriek of withering blue-green energy that brushes Corriden's cheek - the skin dries, withers and husks in one spot about two inches across so that it looks mummified and black, like something one might find dangling from the dead Surrector's necklace. The energy just misses the horse, Cad, and then it strikes the glorious majesty of Mikin Hall - the white marble goes black and then crumbles to ashen dust.

Corriden Lomasa is stupid, but he's not that stupid. Giving up his post (finally!) the large man literally bounds towards Cad, leaping on.. To say he's a little panicky would maybe be the least of it. The horse, in spite of it's size, rears at the sudden weight and takes off in a gallop. This suits Corriden fine. Is that him shrieking? Why yes, yes it is.

Return to Season 2 (2004)

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