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About Yeoldebard

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    Awesome Member

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    Bisexual, leaning male
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    My interests are reading, writing, the violin, and video games.

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  1. Yeoldebard

    The Full Moon

    Thanks I took a bit if a break to work on some things, and I feel my writing is better for it.
  2. Yeoldebard

    The Full Moon

    The car pulled up to the house, Jordan looking up at the sky in concern. They had thirty minutes at best before the moon would rise. Damian stopped the two before they got out of the car. "I'm sorry for putting you both through this," he said quietly. "You put us through nothing Damian. It's not your fault mei esul's mate is a bigoted akerasel," Lysander replied. "You're taking Dylan on our walk tonight, right?" "You want me to go with you?" "I'm not leaving either of you alone," Jordan said. "I don't care how far we are from Astara, I'm not taking the chance of anything happening to either of you." Damian lifted Dylan's bassinet, the tiny neko bubbling at him happily. Jordan envied him, the carefree life he had right now. No one murdering his friends, nothing to worry about except for a dirty nappy and when food was coming. The front door opened as they approached, Lysander's mother standing just inside. "Leim san fer mei areula," she said. "Esul, eighel fer tel," Lysander replied, stepping past her with Damian's hand in his. Jordan followed them silently through the house and into a small room. He wasn't sure what to say, and so he said nothing. "Okay, clothes off Jordan." Lysander closed the door, plunging them into darkness before flicking on a light. "We're shifting all together?" Jordan asked in surprise. "Damian needs to see a shift. Now's as good a time as any," the elf replied, pulling his shirt over his head. Jordan sighed before removing his clothes. "When is the moon supposed to rise?" he asked. "Five minutes." Lysander seemed calmer, sitting naked on the ground. The elf patted his leg, looking up at Damian. "Sit," he said. Jordan sat beside his mate, the carpeted floor surprisingly warm under him. Damian sank onto Lysander's leg, leaning back against the elf as his tail brushed over Lysander's stomach. "That tickles Kalael…" the elf breathed, nestling his nose in the neko's hair. "If it makes you smile, it's good, right?" Damian asked. "Please smile. I don't… it feels too tense right now." "Leim me san," Lysander smiled slightly, gently rubbing the neko's back. "I love you, kitten." Jordan added his hand to Lysander's attentions, scratching Damian's ear. A tremor gripped his body, and he and Lysander both let out a grunt. Lysander tapped Damian, the neko crawling off of him. "It's time?" "Yeah…" Jordan winced, trying to hold back the wolf tearing to get out of him. Lysander didn't have the same concern. He melted into his wolf effortlessly, shaking the change off as he stood up. Letting out a whine, he nudged Jordan's shoulder. "Why aren't you changing?" Damian asked uncertainly. "Give… give me a moment…" Jordan grimaced, his body rippling. Lysander suddenly knocked the man over, Jordan toppling heavily as he lost control over his wolf. With a meaty crunch, the man shifted, climbing back to his feet unsteadily. He let out a small howl, before clamping his mouth shut. "That… that looked painful. Are you okay?" Damian asked, picking up Dylan's bassinet. Jordan bounced around, his wolf bursting to escape the room. At Damian's question, he paused, nodding. Lysander scratched at the door, looking at Damian. "Oh, right, I suppose I can't just stay here with two wolves and a baby…" the neko muttered. He opened the door, frowning at the sight of a stroller sitting in the hall. Jordan pushed past the neko, sniffing the stroller. It smelled like mothballs and dust. And Lysander. But a younger Lysander… "Uh… Sander? Did your mum leave this out here?" The white wolf sniffed the stroller, nudging it toward Damian. "Oh, is it for Dylan?" Lysander nodded. Damian lifted the neko out of his seat, Dylan grabbing at his face. His dad smiled as the baby's hand touched his cheek, then yowled as sharp baby nails dug into said cheek. "Okay, let go… you can let go… please let go…" Damian pried Dylan's hand away, setting him gingerly in the stroller before rubbing his cheek. "Ow…" Jordan laughed, nuzzling Damian's leg. The neko ran his hand through the wolf's fur, smiling down at him. "You wanna go for a walk?" he asked in a high pitched voice. Lysander let out a bark of laughter as Jordan huffed. The brown wolf turned away, slapping the neko with his tail. "Hey, it was a joke!" Jordan just shook his head, sitting down with his back turned. A white wolf stepped into the hall, tail tucked between her legs. Her green eyes flashed in the light, taking in the wolves and the neko. Jordan and Lysander stepped between the wolf and Damian, watching her warily. She turned away, walking through the wolf door set into the front door. "So… should we follow her?" Damian asked uncertainly. Lysander let out a loud huff, tail held straight out. Still, the wolf began walking toward the door, Jordan gently nudging Damian after him. It would do no good to stay inside. Jordan shivered as the mountain wind cut straight through his fur. He always thought the north was supposed to be warmer than the south. Apparently that rule didn't hold true for the mountains. The wolf watched Damian and Lysander closely as the group entered a park. It claimed to be a wolf park, one of the first Jordan had ever seen. Supposedly built to give wolves a place to run every month, the parks had always been an issue of much contention. Some believed it would merely set up the wolves to be attacked, while others believed the wolves shouldn't have separate parks. Jordan honestly had no idea where he stood in the debate. But being in a wolf park did make him feel like he had a target on his back. Especially with what was happening in Astara. "So…" Damian said slowly as they stopped next to a large grassy field. Wolves roamed over the field, some in packs, others in pairs. It seemed no one was left without a partner. "Do I get to throw a ball for you to chase now?" the neko asked. He pulled a ball out of his pants, waving it at Lysander. Jordan rolled his eyes as Lysander snorted. The white wolf shoved his nose against Damian's hand, trying to get the cat to drop the ball. "Uh uh, no way," Damian teased. "If you want the ball, you'll have to go get it." He threw the ball across the field, Lysander racing away after it. The wolf leapt into the air, his jaws snapping shut around the ball before he fell back to the ground with a loud oof. Standing up again, Lysander shook off his fall, trotting back to the others triumphantly. "You want a go Jordan?" Jordan shook his head with a huff, but Damian threw the ball anyway. Lysander nudged the other wolf, a grin plastered in his face, and Jordan relented. He trotted after the ball, picking it up in his jaws. Running back to his mates, the wolf was bowled over by another wolf. Jordan rolled to his feet, growling at the wolf. The wolf whined, dropping low. She nearly rolled over, and Jordan huffed, pleased he had made his point. Trotting back to the others, Jordan dropped the ball. He laid next to Dylan with a sigh, and Damian leaned down to pet his head. "Are you okay Jordan?" Jordan huffed at the neko as Lysander dropped next to him. The white wolf licked Jordan gently, making sure he was okay. Dylan let out a sudden whine, Damian frowning down at the infant. "What? I changed you an hour ago," he said. "Are you hungry?" The neko looked at Lysander. "We just got here. I don't want to leave you two here," he said. Jordan rose to his feet with a small grunt, nudging the stroller gently. Damian sighed, pushing toward Lysander's home. "I'm sorry. I guess I should have fed him before you shifted." He frowned, looking over at Lysander as they walked. "What are we going to do when all three of us are shifting every month?" The wolf rubbed against Damian's leg soothingly. He and Jordan stepped on either side of the nekos, an honour guard solely devoted to keeping them protected. They approached Lysander's mother's house, Damian fitting a key into the lock. Dylan was crying loudly now, his wails echoing in the entrance of the house. Damian picked up his son, frowning. "Okay, that's a squishy diaper," he grimaced. "Uh… dang." He looked down at the wolves, Jordan rolling his eyes. It had a more subtle effect in wolf form, and he gave up on the attempt, moving toward the changing room. Sniffling through their clothes, Jordan dragged his pants out, throwing them at Damian. The cat caught them, his face showing his confusion. "Wait… keys?" He pulled the car keys out, his eyes lighting up. "Oh, got it! Here, watch Dylan for a moment," the neko said, hurrying out to grab Dylan's diaper bag from the car. Jordan sighed, laying next to the stroller. Lysander wandered away, leaving the werewolf alone for a moment. A pair of underwear suddenly dropped on Jordan's nose, the wolf woofing in alarm. He inhaled the musk of his mate, Lysander grinning wolfishly at him. Scoffing, the werewolf settled down again, his nose buried in Lysander's pants. "Oh come on, he isn't stinking that bad!" Damian protested as he saw Jordan laying under the underwear. Lysander's tail wagged as he chuffed, his nose nuzzling into Damian's crotch. The neko blushed deeply, his knees crossing as he tried to avoid Lysander's nose. "Okay! Okay! Just let me get Dylan changed! Pervert…" Lysander grinned at the neko as Damian changed their son. "There, all better. Maybe some dinner too? In one end and out the other, right?" Lysander led Damian to the kitchen, the beep of a microwave sounding a minute later. They returned with a surprisingly foul smelling bottle, and this time, Jordan buried his nose to escape the smell. Who knew formula smelled that awful? No wonder Dylan tried to avoid drinking most of the time. Damian lifted Dylan out of the stroller, cradling him in his arms as he sat. Jordan stood up, padding silently over to the nekos so the wolf could sniff them. "Our child." He hadn't heard the wolf's voice in weeks. But hearing that the wolf was claiming Dylan as their offspring reassured Jordan slightly. Maybe the wolf would get along with the neko and not try to eat him. Lysander whined slightly, nuzzling Jordan with his nose. The dark wolf returned the nuzzle, a content smile on his face. Things might not be so bad after all.
  3. I always loved this genre of story, and ti have one with presumably LGBT protagonists is awesome! Here's hoping no one dies... too fast...
  4. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 2

    In my experience as a pathfinder player, elves absolutely do. At least these elves have a reason, misguided though they are.
  5. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 2

    Gwin kept a hand on the pommel of one of her swords, looking around nervously. This place was out of her league. The gnome was used to the woods, to hunting animals, not trying to navigate through the slums. "'Ey, why the stern looks?" a drunk man slurred, stumbling in front of the group. Gwin fidgeted slightly, but Orain stepped up first. "Temple business," she said sharply, tossing a coin at the man. "By the gods…" The man held up the gold coin, sobering nearly instantly. "Of course yer Majesty. I'll be out of yer way at once!" The group stopped in front of the orphanage. Gwin knocked on the door, wrinkling her nose at the smell around them. They couldn't get out of the city soon enough, but Mathira had insisted on visiting this dump one more time before they left. The door opened, a cloaked man sticking his head out. "Althair- oh… uh, hello?" he asked suspiciously. "Oh!" Mathira gasped, as if a puzzle piece had just fallen into place. "We… well, I came to warn you of disaster." The man frowned in his shadowy cowl, staring darkly at the mage. "Whatever you're plotting with this place, I will stop it." The man grunted, chin tipping up slightly. "Why must you send these people to me…?" He turned away, closing the door. Gwin frowned at Mathira, shaking her head. "I have no idea what that was about…" "Personal project. I hope it worked. Let's deal with this werewolf quickly so I can come back here." The group began walking again, most of the denizens of the slums staying distant from the armed adventurers. Finally, they reached the stables, Gwin accepting her horse from the stablegirl. "Uh, Gwin?" Hera stood at her side, a nervous look on her face. "I wasn't given enough to pay for a mount-" "Oh, no worries. Mira can carry us both, no problem," Gwin smiled. She climbed onto the horse, Hera pulling herself up behind her. The halfling's arms wrapped around her as she steadied herself, then fell to rest on Gwin's thighs. The gnome frowned at the sight of their cloaked fighter still standing without a mount. "Hey, mount up," she snapped at him. Nyaran? Niaran? She couldn't remember what his whispered name was. He was quiet, though he had assured them that he could do his job well. A hooked lance was held upright in his hand, thin metal tip certainly looking lethal enough. Gwin had assumed he had a mount with a weapon like that. There was a sharp whistle, and the air beside the fighter shimmered. Gwin's jaw dropped as a giant panther appeared out of thin air, a specialised saddle on her back. The fighter leapt onto the cat's back, his lance sliding into a rest beside him. Peeling her jaw out of her lap, Gwin shook her head, before making sure Mathira and Orain didn't have any surprises for her. The others were waiting patiently on their horses. Gwin clicked quietly, balancing as Mira stepped forward. They made their way to the South Gate, and were soon on the road. A knock on the door woke Elluin from an uneasy slumber. Rolling over, the elf stood and moved to the door, pulling a shirt over his head. The village elder, an elf nearly five hundred years old, stood on the other side, long silver hanging down to his waist. His face was aged for an elf, his eyes starting to blind. Elluin had much respect for the elf; he had been the one to convince the village to keep him until his eighteenth year. "How can I help you, Elder Xara?" "Oh…" the old elf chuckled quietly. "I forgot you young ones like to get right to the root of a conversation. Might I come in for a moment?" Nodding, Elluin stepped aside to allow Xara into his house. The older elf hummed thoughtfully as he failed to find a place to sit. "I'm pleased to see you continued your arcane studies after Arien's death. He saw a lot in you." Elluin nodded. He already knew that; Arien wouldn't train anyone who wasn't motivated to learn. And his motivation was clear. He needed to make someone in the village happy or he would have been exiled. The fact that he was still allowed into the village was testament to his success. "I would make you some tea, but I am out of water," he said. "That is alright," Xara said. "I know you have had a rocky past with the village. I would like to apologise for that." "Thank you. I know you tried to help me." "I could have done more. I am ashamed to admit I chose not to. It is clear you do not see this as your home, and I understand why." Xara let out an uncomfortable sigh, closing his eyes. "We received a message, on the night before the full moon. Addressed to you. Naturally, it was opened, and read." The elf handed Elluin a scroll made of what appeared to be hide. It seemed a waste to use such material for a simple message, but perhaps it was all the sender had on hand. A hole ran through the top, an arrow hole from the look of it. "It was delivered by arrow. I believe the sender did not want us to see them, and they have been alarmingly successful in that respect," Xara added. Elluin studied the letter with a frown. 'Elluin, meet me at the rapids of Etaru'laqueel. I will wait for two weeks. Come alone.' "Naturally, our scouts have been combing that area since before you arrived. We have found nothing, save for a large pack of wolves in a nearby den. They have been left alone." Elluin nodded slowly. "I will have to go then." "We have questions. How did this person know to find you?" "Your guess is as good as mine. The tiefling who came through the forest last month would know nothing of this village. This person, from the timing of the letter, seems to know of my curse. No one knows of my curse except for the village," Elluin frowned. "We thought of that. It is unlikely any in the village would wish to fight what you have become. And I trust you enough to know you would never turn on us. "However, there are some in the village that believe it would be better for you to leave until this matter is dealt with." Elluin nodded slowly. "I wasn't planning on staying around very long anyway," he said. "I'll pack up and be gone within the hour. Will I be allowed to return eventually?" Xara shook his head. "I'm sorry." "I knew the day was coming. You say I do not see this as my home. I never have." The words seemed to cut into the elf, his pain showing on his face. Elluin couldn't deny he felt some satisfaction at that. A life of feeling unwelcome made it hard for him to feel sorry for the elves. He didn't belong here, and he had been reminded of that every day as a child. Gathering his sword and cloak, Elluin began filling a bag with what was left of his berries and mushrooms. "Thank you for allowing me to remain as long as I have." Setting a hand on the elder's shoulder, Elluin stepped out of the building for the last time. Hope looked around as he approached the guildhall. Maybe it was the warning, maybe it was Althair's absence, but the tiefling had a feeling of doom, as though something was waiting to happen. Tyrivan was waiting at the guildhall door, a book in his hand. "Good morning Hope," the gnome smiled, holding the book out. "I found this book on casting spells through weapons, and I thought you might like to look it over." "Oh, thanks," Hope smiled, accepting the book. "I'm not sure I'm ready for this stuff though." "So copy it and learn later," the gnome said. "I wanted to say thank you. Your advice really helped with the dwarf song." "I'm glad I could help," Hope said. His hair stood up on the back of his neck, and Hope hurried Tyrivan into the guildhall. The tiefling was unsure what was happening, but he knew he didn't want to be around to find out. "I need to keep practicing my writing," he said nonchalantly, trying to distract the gnome from the fact that he had just rushed him into the building. "Yeah, I should practice my drumming," Tyrivan shrugged. They parted, Hope heading for the universal study room. He was stopped by Barin before he could reach the door. "Hope, I've let it go for a while, but Elluin told me you have some inherent magical spells, namely your ability to charm people. Have you looked into this ability at all while you've been here?" Hope shook his head. "To be honest, I am unsure of where to look. Is it illusion, the illusion of trust?" "No, no. Your spell enchants the target, making them more susceptible to your suggestions," Barin explained. "Why don't you follow me to the enchanting hall, and we can find some times that will help you learn to control the spell better." The tiefling followed the dwarf upstairs and through a door. He blinked in amazement at the sheer volume of parchment, scrolls, and books inside the room. Walking down a row, Barin pulled out a scroll, checking it before returning the vellum to the shelf. He examined another one, handing it to the tiefling with a smile. "You can add these both to your book, and it will help you learn the spell more effectively," he said. "Thank you, but I can't afford new spells-" "They're a part of your training, and thus are covered by your fee for joining," Barin waved off. "Besides, you're learning to create scrolls. If you replace these, we'll consider it even." "Deal. But I'm still learning to write, so it may take some time." "These things take time. You are not going to become a mage overnight. Take your time, and be careful," Barin smiled. Hope returned the smile, before carrying the scroll over to a desk. He pulled out his book with a quiet sigh, and began writing. Mathira swayed on his horse, his body tight and stiff. He followed the others in the group of adventurers through the streets of Kalen, sighing in relief as they finally stopped in front of a tavern. He could use a drink. The mage slid off his horse, landing on wobbly legs. A stable boy came out to help them with their horses, and Mathira handed him the reins. Beside him, Nyaran snapped his fingers, dropping to the ground as his mount vanished. It was slightly unnerving; Mathira had never seen a conjuration spell last a full nine hours. Clearly there was more to the spearman than met the eye. Shaking his head slightly, Mathira entered the tavern, approaching the young human behind the bar. "Do you have mead?" he asked. The man dipped a mug under a keg, filling it with a light, golden liquid. "Five copper." Mathira pulled a few coins out, sliding a silver over. The man behind the bar handed back five coppers as a woman entered the tavern, a life on her back. "About time you showed up Keyleth. It's afternoon, time to get playing," the man said. "I'm only a couple minutes behind," the woman shrugged, pulling off her instrument. Mathira carried his mug to a table, sitting as Keyleth strummed a couple chords. He watched Nyaran enter the tavern, frowning slightly. Just who was their fighter? The mage pulled out his cards, shuffling them slowly as he pondered a question. He rarely did personal readings unless asked. It felt like an invasion of Nyaran's privacy. Still, there was one question he could ask safely. Is Nyaran dangerous? His cards were laid out, only three of them for a simple answer. The Big Sky, the Snakebite reversed, and the Teamster. The fighter was forward, a good person who was driven by an unstoppable force… Useless. The cards didn't tell him anything that could answer the question. But of course Nyaran was dangerous. He was supposed to be a killer. That made him dangerous. To Mathira, and to others. "Mathira." The mage looked up in surprise, scooping his cards back into his deck. Orain sat at the table, joined by Gwin and Heira. Nyaran was nowhere in sight. "We're here, so we need to figure out what comes next. I asked the stable boy, and there's a tribe of elves in the woods," Heira said. Gwin chuckled quietly. "Yes, everyone knows about the elves," she said. "They are notoriously against shapeshifters. Perhaps we could enlist their aid in tracking down this elf." "I will ask my cards what we should do," Mathira said, shuffling the deck. "They've been a little vague though." "Eh, don't bother. We'll find the elf who fled Cadara, and ask him about the werewolf," Gwin said, gulping down an ale. "He has to know something." "I doubt it will be that easy," Mathira muttered. Still, he stowed his deck. One reading a day was plenty.
  6. Yeoldebard


    Yeah, I kinda agree. The idea was to have a fade to black moment and pick up at the start of the next story.
  7. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 9

    Sometimes it helps to have a friend to smack you in the head. Looks like Stratos could've had a V8 😛
  8. The fox was gay. He was almost certain of it. Jacob wasn't sure how to handle that information. Should he call Gaius out? Pretend the kitsune hadn't popped wood while laying on him? Maybe he wasn't gay. Maybe it was just the fact there was a body under him. Jacob had to admit it had felt kind of nice having a body covering him. He let out a quiet sigh, running a cloth over his sword. Laura- no, Elliot, he reminded himself- had agreed to meet him here twenty minutes ago. Jacob had already run through most of his solo drills waiting for him. Sure, Elliot broke up with him, but that didn't mean they weren't friends, right? A gate opened, and Jacob looked up as two people entered the tennis courts. One bounced a ball at the other, and Jacob glanced away. They were just here to play tennis. His phone rang suddenly, Elliot's picture flashing. Jacob frowned as he answered the phone. He really needed to change Elliot's name in his contacts. "Hello?" "Hey, I kind of got a little busy and forgot I was supposed to meet you tonight," Elliot said through the phone. "Yeah, I figured." "Sorry. Do you still want to meet?" Jacob shrugged, looking at the sinking sun. There was maybe an hour of light left. They could still spar. But at this point, he wasn't sure he wanted to. 'Nah. You and Bethany hanging out tonight?" "We were," Elliot admitted. "Okay. I'm probably going to head home and grab some dinner before heading into Lankin. Do you want to meet up there?" "Sure. In front of the book store?" Jacob chuckled. "I figured you'd find that pretty easy," he said. "Sure. I'll see you there." Jacob hung up, standing with a quiet sigh. He sheathed his blade, carrying it back to his car, a red Subaru Impreza. The sword went into the trunk, Jacob pausing as he saw a fox sticker on the car next to his. Strange, if it had been crimson instead of orange, it would have looked like Gaius. Gaius was better looking though. Yeah, better looking than a stylized fox on a random car window. Not very hard to beat. Jacob got in his car, shutting the door firmly, as though it could shut out the unsettling turn his mind suddenly took. It didn't. Thirty minutes later, he was sitting in front of his computer, staring at the screen morosely. What was he even looking for? Kitsune? He knew what kitsune were. But he didn't know why he was suddenly thinking about one. Kitsune were a type of Japanese creature. Maybe he could figure out exactly what drew him to Gaius. One thing was for sure, he would not be getting to Lankin early that night. Kyle stared at the scroll in dismay. For the spell to be successful, he had to tie himself to a type of magic. Now the kitsune had a hard decision to make. Fire or necromancy? He'd still be able to cast spells of either type, but his summoning spells would focus on the type he chose, and his other spells would be cast at a slightly higher rate of stamina consumption. On the plus side, this spell would make a spirit that would follow him whenever he summoned it, with the ability to change form as needed, with strict limits. Kyle pulled another scroll out of his bag, a red flame drawn on the end. His first fire spell, not as versatile as the necromancy spell he wanted to learn, but good for a light if he needed one. Fire or death? Honestly, he wasn't that comfortable with summoning undead. With a sigh, the kitsune set his necromancy scroll back into his bag. Fire first. It was a simple gesture, the flick of a thumb. Kyle was surprised the gesture wasn't a finger snap. But he supposed not everyone could snap their fingers. His thumb flicked upward, Kyle focusing on warmth and fire. A flame appeared over his thumb, hovering as he felt energy leave him. A second spell added to his repertoire. He would write it into his spellbook after he figured out the next spell. Kyle was grateful he hadn't entered Lankin the night before. Practising his spells would be a little difficult in the town. Especially this next one. "Step one: Determine the type of element used to make your familiar. Done," he read from the summoning scroll. Perhaps the spell shouldn't be done in the middle of the road, but the kitsune didn't really have a good alternative. He was sure it wouldn't really matter; he hadn't seen any traffic entering Lankin. "Step two, determine your familiar's natural form. An animal works best. Fox? Wolf? Wolf... Definitely wolf. Okay, then pick a name for your familiar..." This was cool, if a little complicated. It was like character customization for the familiars. "Cast your elemental spell while calling your familiar..." The kitsune set his scroll against his bag, stretching for a moment. He flicked his thumb, summoning a flame, and spoke slowly. "Balthazar of the Fire, Wolf among Flames, your master calls to you." Why not spice up a summoning, the kitsune grinned. Add a little role-playing to the whole thing. The flame hovering over his thumb suddenly grew in size, falling from his hand. Kyle scrambled back as it took on the shape of a fiery wolf, solidifying as he watched. The fire died down, almost as though it was sucked into the wolf. A drained feeling rushed through Kyle, his stamina bar dropping by half. The kitsune winced at the steep price of the spell. But he had a familiar now. One that hopefully knew a few tricks. "Balthazar, sit." "I ain't a dog for you to boss around," the wolf grumbled, standing tall. Kyle yelped in shock at the voice. He could have sworn he saw the wolf's eyes roll at his reaction. "Come on, you're a visitor from another world. Is it so difficult to understand that a familiar is a different form of spirit?" "I... uh, no. It's not hard to understand. Just unexpected..." Kyle muttered. "So... If you're my familiar, why do I have to maintain the spell to keep you by my side?" The wolf yawned. "Oh, I don't know. It might have something to do with the fact that every fibre of my being longs to return to my home." "Being here doesn't hurt, does it?" Balthazar chuckled at the thought. "Could you imagine how sadistic the creator of the world would have to be for my presence to hurt? No, I just itch. It's not the most pleasant sensation, but it is bearable." "If I sent you back to your... plane... would you return when I call you?" "Of course. I am bound to your will. But I will not be bossed." Kyle took a deep breath, picking up the summoning scroll again. He read through it quickly, trying to figure out how to unsummon the wolf. "I release you to your plane?" he said uncertainly. "That works." Balthazar burst into a blazing ball of fire and vanished as the flame was extinguished. Almost immediately, Kyle felt his stamina fill again. slowly but surely. He would have to be careful when he summoned the wolf, but considering Balthazar was supposed to help him in combat, it seemed balanced enough. A ringing started in his ear, Kyle spotting a picture of Garyn in the corner of his vision. The kitsune held his hand up to his ear. "Yello." "Hey, I got my friend here with a tank build if you want to try hunting goblins again," Garyn said through the connection. "A tank build? I thought the idea was to avoid taking damage." "Oh, don't worry, s... he is good at avoiding hits." "Well, we couldn't do much worse than we did yesterday. I'll just make sure I don't push you down another hill." "Yeah, I'd rather not get beaten by the ground again." "I'll meet you by the wayshrine outside of Lankin." "Okay, see you there then." The connection ended, Kyle turning to the east. It was only a short walk to the shrine. He would be there before Garyn and whoever his friend was. The kitsune just wondered exactly how close Garyn was to this friend. He was ashamed at the thought though. The elf had just lost his girlfriend. But maybe he could use some support? Kyle would totally be there for him. "You know, when you said foxes, I imagined cartoon foxes prancing around, but this is pretty fucking amazing..." "Yeah, the graphics are actually in your head or something. I think it has to do with, like, the way dreams work or something," Jacob shrugged, leading Elliot out of the city. A kitsune wandered past, sharpening a longsword, and Jacob shook his head in disgust. "Should we help her or let her chop her fingers off?" Elliot asked. "Fuck it, I don't want to fight with people. She'll figure it out," Jacob muttered. "I just hope I can figure out how to use a mace," Elliot said, fingering the club at his waist. "I figure it's like a blade, but with a different weight to it," Jacob shrugged. He pointed at a shrine, Gaius already leaning against a post in wait. "That's the mage. He's just learning, but his shield is pretty good," the elf said. "And he's pretty cute," Elliot said. "For a guy..." "Really? I hadn't noticed." Elliot laughed. "Sure you haven't. You always said it was cool I was such a tomboy. If you don't find that fox cute, there's something wrong with you." "He's gay though. And a fox." "So? You can still think he's cute," Elliot shrugged, as Gaius started walking toward them. "I mean, I do. Besides, somewhere in the real world, he isn't a fox." Jacob shook his head slowly. He noted the small frown on Gaius' face. What was the kitsune upset about? "Hey, this is Elliot," he introduced. "He'll be getting smacked by goblins for us." "Hi Elliot," Gaius mumbled awkwardly. "I'm Gaius." To his credit, Elliot brushed off the awkward introduction. "Hey. Do you know how to use that bow?" he asked. "Yeah. At least, I survived the gnolls," Gaius shrugged. "Good enough. Right?" the elf asked Jacob. "Huh? Oh, yeah, that's good," Jacob said, tearing his eyes away from Gaius. His mind was stuck on what Elliot had said. The fox was kind of cute, almost feminine in his build. And he liked Jacob. Well, Garyn, at any rate. Jacob just couldn’t figure out if he was okay with that. "Let's get going. I figure we have about two hours to hunt the goblins. We should be able to get some decent silver in that time," he said, trying to shake the thoughts from his mind. Kyle loosed his last arrow from his bow, narrowly missing Elliot as the elf blocked a goblin’s strike. Not that he had been trying to hit Elliot. Kyle wouldn’t stoop that low. He just sucked with a bow. He wasn’t jealous of Elliot, of how conversation seemed to flow easily between him and Garyn. He wasn’t even upset that he’d felt like a third wheel on the walk out here. Well, maybe he was a little upset. “Hey, you want to watch your fire when I’m blocking?” Elliot asked as the goblin exploded into a shower of sparks. “Sorry dude. I’ll wait until you let him past next time.” “I had a shield up around you,” Garyn said. “If Gaius hit you, it wouldn’t have done much.” “Still,” Elliot muttered, turning to where the next three goblins in their rotation had spawned. “I’m out of arrows,” Kyle said before the fighter could move. “We’re in a party together, right? You should still get the xp from us killing them.” “There’s no xp. And besides, I don’t really like our chances of attacking three goblins with only two of us,” Garyn shrugged. “I mean, I do have one thing that could work,” Kyle said, glancing at his stamina bar. Nearly half full. If he waited just a little longer… As his stamina reached the halfway point, the kitsune called, “Balthazar of the Fire, I require your aid!” Nothing happened. Kyle frowned, reaching for the scroll in his bag. Reading through it quickly as Elliot and Garyn looked on, the fox shook his head with a sigh. He flicked out a flame, before trying again. “Balthazar of the Fire, I require your aid!” This time, the spell took, the flame increasing to become a fiery wolf. Kyle heard Elliot gasp, the elf taking rapid steps backwards. The fox fell to his knees as his stamina dropped, hovering just above zero. For a moment, the wolf flickered, “You better not have summoned me just to show off,” the wolf growled as he solidified. “He talks!” Elliot yelped. “Yeah, he’s a spirit summoned in the form of a dire wolf,” Garyn shrugged. “No,” Kyle shook his head at Balthazar’s words. “I need you to help me kill goblins.” “Goblins, eh? And the elves?” “Friends of mine. Keep them safe.” “Shame,” the wolf muttered. “Well, when you’re ready, lead the way.” “Wait… You have been able to summon this wolf this whole time, and you waited until now to do so?” Elliot demanded. The elf rolled his eyes, looking at Garyn. “Uh, maybe try to lead with the familiar next time, Gaius,” Garyn said. Kyle frowned, looking down. “Got it,” he sighed. "Should we carry on then?" "We have, what, about twenty silver each from this?" Garyn asked. "Yeah, let's do one more circuit." His eyes kept following the kitsune. There was something happening here, and Jacob wasn't sure he liked it. The wolf spirit charged ahead of them, pinning down a goblin as Elliot held the other two goblins back. Gaius was staring at his familiar, tail flicking in worry. It was almost adorable. The elf spotted motion coming from a tree. There wasn't supposed to be a fourth goblin hiding here… An arrow flew out from the tree suddenly and Jacob sprinted at Gaius, knocking the kitsune aside right as the arrow struck his side. "JACOB!" "Garyn?" Gaius looked up at the elf, their faces inches apart. "Heh, I'll be riding the comet again after all," Jacob chuckled as his vision started to darken. "Wait for me by the library?" He swore he felt the slightest touch of fur on his lips right before everything faded to black. YOU ARE DEAD. The words floated past his vision, before he appeared back in the Spirits of Mithzara starting hall. "Please allow twelve hours before creating a new character," the holographic woman from the start of the game said. He might need a bit longer than that. Jacob was pretty sure Gaius had just kissed him.
  9. Yeoldebard


    A gnome with a racial hatred. A guild with an axe to grind. Separated by circumstance, Elluin and Hope must deal with their issues alone. But perhaps new friends can even the odds. Their lives may very well hang in the balance.
  10. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 8

    Hmm, playing two angles at once without realising it? I'm surprised, usually Stratos seems very in tune with Gemini's emotions.
  11. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 7

    Sounds like someone needs a new career. And a new obsession. Why mess with someone who is so obviously not meant for you? Leon should just quit while he's still ahead. Sort of...
  12. Yeoldebard


    For once the Adventurers Guild was nearly empty. Hope stood before the quest board, taking in the numerous problems people around the town were facing. Anything from another request to find a ring, to a tribe of gnolls encroaching on the town. There was even a post asking for workers to help with a tavern that was going up a couple hours out of Cadara. The tiefling shook his head with a sigh. The only job that seemed to pay somewhat well was a hunt for a werewolf that had been seen near the Whispering Mermaid tavern. What a werewolf was doing in the middle of a busy city was beyond him. It seemed more like a job Elluin would take on. He certainly couldn't hunt down a beast like that. "He's already looking for the wolf, isn't he?" the tiefling muttered. "Well fine then. I guess there's nothing for me here." He turned on his heel, stepping around a rowdy group of adventurers who were arguing about the gnolls and the werewolf. Leaving the guildhall, the tiefling tried to recall the way to the Mages Guild. Had he been there before? "Better check your notes," he snorted at the sky. "The ruler of the world can't even remember basic locations. Allow me to help. I have not been to the Guild yet." He wasn't sure what he was doing, taunting the writer like this. She controlled the world, could make things happen with naught but a word. Maybe he had a deathwish. Or maybe taunting her gave him some semblance of control over his life. Hope stared at a half-elf as they passed, frowning slightly. "Hey, Samuel, right?" he asked nonchalantly. "Yeah. I never caught your name. Not that I really care to," the half-elf shrugged. "You were nicer in bed," Hope frowned. "That's my job. You want me to be nice, you know my price." The half-elf strode away, Hope sighing as he took in Samuel's body from behind. So much for making a friend. An hour of wandering through the guilded part of Cadara, the tiefling finally found his destination. A tall stone building with several signs around the door. Hope could only read the Rellanic lettering, announcing the place as the Mages Guild. He could feel a strange energy running throughout the building, one that seemed similar to the tiny vibrations in the spell book hidden under his cloak. Was it magic that he felt? Yet another strange ability he had… Walking up a short flight of stone stairs, the tiefling knocked on the door uncertainly. The sound echoed on the other side, as though magnified. The door opened with a surprising quietness, startling Hope. A dwarf stood before him, his long grey beard stained with ink, and his green robes keeping the shape of his body a formless secret. "Ah, you must be the charmer," the dwarf smiled widely. "Great. Does the whole city know about me?" "Most likely not. Your… friend, Elluin, is in the Universal room, working on a spell." "Of course he is. Actually, he told me I could join the Guild," Hope said. "Hmm. Do you have any magical prowess?" Hope held up his hand, creating a gold coin that shined in the candlelight of the hall. "A cheap trick," the dwarf waved off. "Well, what do you want me to do then?" Hope grumbled. "Elluin mentioned you cast a spell on him. Can you do the same to me?" Hope felt a bit of pressure as the dwarf watched him. Performance anxiety? The thought made him chuckle slightly. "Relax. Just do what you did to the elf." "Okay…" The tiefling closed his eyes, thinking. He barely remembered how he had cast the spell. But when he cast the spell Elluin had given him, he had to reach for energy. Maybe it was something like that? No, he had used confusion to cast the charm. "Are you sure you need me to cast a spell?" he asked. "I don't know if I can just cast one out of hand." It worked, the strange arcane energy pushing through his words. The dwarf blinked, shaking his head slightly. "That is an adequate demonstration. I see Elluin was correct about you. A tiefling who can cast spells without a book. I don't suppose you knew your parents?" "I did not." The dwarf nods. "That is not an uncommon situation with tieflings. You are likely a sorcerer. We do not have much that can help you here, but you are still welcome to join the Guild." "I do have a spellbook," Hope said, pulling it out. "Hmm. Perhaps you might find a way to combine innate magic with study… But for now, allow me to show you around. Oh, where are my manners? My name is Barin. I am the steward of this guildhall." "I'm Hope. It is nice to meet you," the tiefling said as they walked together down a long hall. The elf wiped the liquid off his blade carefully, looking at the finished result. A tiny blade with a whip-like tip was now etched painstakingly into Elluin's sword, beside a tiny sword in the shape of a shield. The two runes that had been on the scroll, recreated in an Elven style. Elluin let out a quiet sigh, stretching his fingers. Four hours of research followed by another four hours of etching… he was mentally exhausted. The door to the room opened, Barin stepping inside. "This is where we keep some of our scrolls. As a novice of the Guild, you won't have access to them yet, unless you pay for them." Elluin looked up from the table, spotting a cloaked figure walk in behind the dwarf. A figure in his old cloak, to be specific… So, the tiefling had taken his advice. Their eyes met, Hope looking rather startled to see him there. Sheathing his blade, Elluin approached the two, handing a few gold to Barin. "Thanks, that scroll was rather interesting," he said. "Anytime," Barin nodded, tucking the coins away. "I'm surprised you're here," Hope said. "Shouldn't you be out hunting the evil werewolf everyone is talking about?" Elluin's blood froze at the words. "A werewolf? Where did they see it?" he questioned casually. "The Whispering Mermaid. And there is no way I'm hunting it down with you," Hope shrugged. "I don't care how much gold they're offering." "Well, there's no way it would still be here. Probably ran off to the woods." "Okay. Why don't you go chase it across the land like a puppy running after its mother, save it from death, threaten to kill it when it shows affection, and then abandon it," Hope shrugged. Elluin scolded at the tiefling. "Excuse you, you threw a charm at me. What the fuck did you think would happen?" "I certainly didn't expect you to stalk me." "Ugh… why do you insist on fighting with me every time we talk?" "Oh, like you don't start arguments at all," Hope scoffed. "I don't have time for this…" Elluin sighed. He pushed past Hope, ignoring the tingle as their arms brushed against each other. The skinwalker needed to escape the city before he was discovered. "You know, I wouldn't be surprised if you had something to do with this werewolf. Why else would your people call you a skinwalker?" He couldn't stop himself. The skinwalker lunged at Hope, pinning the tiefling to the wall. His fingers tightened around Hope's throat, a low growl escaping him. "H...harder…" Hope breathed. "ENOUGH!" Brain's voice snapped at them both. "Ugh…" Elluin threw the tiefling to the ground, storming away. Things had just gotten much worse. He might never be able to return now that Barin knew he was a skinwalker. Hope rubbed his neck, watching Elluin hurry away. Messing with the elf was so much fun. Even when Elluin was trying to strangle him. "He's a skinwalker? Barin asked. "You are certain of this?" "I heard an elf refer to him as a skinwalker," Hope shrugged. "He's never shown any furry side in front of me." Barin hummed thoughtfully. "Well, there is no concrete proof as of yet. I'll get some people to look into it. A skinwalker magus would be a terrible thing." Hope shrugged. Honestly, he didn't really care, as long as Elluin didn't try to eat him. He should probably stop antagonizing the elf then. But it was so fun… "Anyway, that is basically the end of the tour," Barin continued. "You should go find Keeper Maris, and she will aid you in creating a better spell book. The one you have is really only good for travelling." Hope nodded, swallowing heavily. His throat ached with the sweet pain of Elluin's touch. He had never expected to enjoy that kind of treatment. But his body certainly seemed to like it. Walking out of the room, the tiefling sighed quietly. "So, is this the part where we cut to black and come back with me fully trained?" he asked. "Or are you actually going to show my efforts?"
  13. The wolf rolled around on the bed, his fur leaving trails that fell from the mattress. It was childish, he knew, but he had been stuck inside for the last three days. With the full moon finally ending, his body was reverting back to his elf form. Elluin was free once more. Panting in a pile of fur, the skinwalker shivered in the cold room. He rolled out of bed and began dressing, looking at the leftover fur in disgust. The wolf's mind always seemed so malevolent. The only reason he had been able to keep the wolf cooped up in the room was because the wolf was smart enough to know if he was seen, he'd be dead. He'd paid for his room by slipping a few gold coins outside the door the first night. The tavern owner hadn't come complaining, so Elluin figured his room was paid. Grabbing his blade, the elf strapped it to his back. Briefly, he considered heading to the orphanage to see if it was still standing. Then again, Hope hadn't managed to burn it down before now. With a quiet grumble, Elluin finally let himself realize the truth. The only charm Hope put on him was to get away. The rest of it, the feelings of pixies in his gut, the ceaseless thoughts about the tiefling, they were all just a crush. And threatening to gut the tiefling if he ever kissed him again was probably uncalled for. But that was a whole different issue. The elf had been hunting fiends for years, and having one kiss him turned his stomach. Even if it also made his body more excited than it had ever been before. Not that it was a challenge to do that. Elluin's life was devoted to sword and wizardry. He had no time for any other pursuits, let alone pursuits of the flesh. And he had no time for it now. With that thought, the skinwalker grabbed the rest of his things and moved swiftly out of the tavern. His feet turned in the direction of the Mages Guild. Maybe he could find a spell to add to his repertoire. The guildhall stood tall and proud, bold letters painted over the doorway in various languages, each announcing the same thing. Barin the dwarf steward stood in the entrance hall with a smile on his face, nodding as Elluin stepped inside. "Hello again. I was hoping you would stop by here again," the dwarf said. "Did you have any luck with your friend?" "Yes. Unfortunately, it seems you were correct in your assessment." Barin nodded sagely. "I am rarely wrong about such things. What brings you to the Guild today?" "I was hoping to take a look at some spellbooks," Elluin said, grateful for the change of subject. "Ah. I am glad to hear you say that. You study the runic tradition, correct?" Barin chuckled at Elluin's look of surprise. "You have to store your spells somewhere. I just guessed it was your blade, which suggests runes. Based on your appearance, I say I got it spot on. I have a scroll with a pair of runes on them. None here can use them. You are free to have them for only five gold." "Will you permit me to see the spells before I purchase them?" "Of course," Barin nodded. The dwarf led him through the hall, pointing him toward a flight of stairs. On the second floor were eight doors around a circular hall, each with a different symbol over it. "You store all your scrolls up here?" Elluin asked as they walked around the floor. "Isn't that dangerous?" "Perhaps, but with the number of wards over each door, it is unlikely any would be able to steal anything within." Barin unlocked a ninth door, one with no symbol over it. They entered into a narrow hall lit with a chandelier, two other doors on the other end of the hall. As the two approached, Elluin heard a quiet voice beyond the door on the right, discussing the effects of some spell. From the sound of it, he was speaking of an arcane mark. The dwarf led him through the door on the left, however, and into a large room full of tomes and scrolls, each apparently separated by language. "The scroll is in the Dathric section, on the first level shelf. We figured that was the best place for it," Barin said. "If there are any other spells that interest you, let me know. I'm sure an arrangement could be made between us." Nodding, Elluin made his way toward the section marked by the Dwarven tongue. It was entirely likely that the runes on the scroll weren't even of the Dathric language. Still, he wouldn't know if he didn't look around. He moved past a gnome who was thumbing through a book of what appeared to be Dwarven songs. Finding a selection of scrolls, the elf began searching through them, easily finding the one he was looking for. As he thought, the two runes on the page were not Dathric in origin. The elf actually had no idea what the language was. It almost looked like they had been sketched onto the velum with a claw in charcoal… Dragon speech? Elluin had only seen one sample of dragon writing before, in the Ajirin jungle. But this looked similar to it, spells that had been coded in magic, then transcribed into a rune that would only make sense to a mage knowledgeable about dragons. At least, that was how Elluin made his runes. Maybe there was a dragon dictionary somewhere. He would have to ask Barin. Hope stared at the brothel door silently. His time with Samuel had been so fulfilling, and his heart ached for it. He wanted, no, needed to feel loved again. To have someone care for him. Ten gold coins clinked quietly in a pocket within his cloak, all he had left to spend. The rest had gone to the orphanage. Hope smiled silently as he recalled the looks of wonder on the orphans' faces. Arran had stared at him slack-jawed until the tiefling told him to close his mouth. They were set for at least three months, as far as food went. Of course, Hope would have to bring the food to them. Arran was unable to leave the building due to a curse that made him weak in sunlight. A gift from a witch he had taken a copper from when he was a kid. It was a good lesson in being stealthy; unfortunately it made things a little harder for Hope and Jeanne. When Jeanne had still been there. "Why do you do this to us?" he sighed. "Giving us a taste of success? You're just going to tear it away again." And he couldn't throw money away on what would easily become an addiction. If it wasn't already. Turning around, Hope let his feet wander back through the city. Briefly, he thought about going to the Adventurers Guild. The gold wasn't going to last forever after all. But the last time he had gone there had almost ended with his death. Hope wanted to wait a bit longer before repeating that experience. He shivered, remembering the halfling's eyes as she fell to his arrow. "Okay, new topic!" An elf jumped nearby, startled by his sudden exclamation. The tiefling barely noticed, feeling up the coins in his pocket. He knew how to read. And he had money to be trained in a scribe's work now. Maybe he should take Elluin's advice and join the Mages Guild. It might end badly, but it beat running around scrounging for coins. He had to talk to Arran about it first though. And that was not a conversation he was looking forward to. The elf was not doing well since Jeanne had been taken by that halfling. Losing Hope might push him over the edge. Still, he made his way back to the slums, slipping once more into the shadowy world he called home. There was a discussion to be had. Opening the door to the orphanage, Hope frowned at the sight of a man sitting across from Arran at their table. "Um, Arran, who is this?" The man rose to his feet, towering nearly a foot over Hope. The tiefling took a deep breath, calling the slightest bit of heat to his hand. Just in case. He had the look of an adventurer to him, a strong one at that. His dark arms were branches of corded muscle, his face bore a scar that ran across his left cheek, and his hair was a tangled nest. "Althair Naris, adventurer," he said with a voice that rumbled through Hope's chest. A hand was offered, one that Hope shook firmly. "I'm here to right a wrong that was committed against a tiefling that lives here." "Ah. I am familiar with the tiefling in question," Hope said. There was no way in the Nine Hells he was going to remove his cowl in front of a stranger. "I am supposed to offer my… not inconsiderable skills in service to this orphanage. And a most sincere apology for the fate of the woman who used to live here. The one who requested her abduction had grossly overstepped her boundaries." "Have you seen the children yet?" Hope questioned, letting the spell fade away uncast. "They were sewing when he came in. I thought it best to send them to the sleeping hall while we talked," Arran said. "They seemed hesitant around him." "I tend to make even seasoned adventurers nervous," Althair chuckled quietly. "It is a skill that is useful in a struggle, though less so when around children." "You said you are an adventurer? What do you usually do in a party?" "I am a healer. Not a cleric; the gods have never done good by me. But I am very handy with a bandage, and I know my way around healing herbs." "Ah. I must say I almost took you for a barbarian." "A simple misdirection. Smart foes always go for the healer first. If I make myself big and scary, they tend to keep their distance." "Any particular reason the guild chose you to come here?" Hope asked. Althair smirked slightly. "I do not believe that I mentioned a guild, Hope the Tiefling." "Shit…" Hope sighed, removing his cowl. Althair stared at him openly, with not a small amount of interest. "I have met many tieflings in my travels. But you are the first with this appearance." "Many find me disturbing, so I tend to hide my appearance," Hope shrugged. "My question still stands." "And, unfortunately, I am not in a position to respond. I will say that I do care for children, and have a soft spot for orphans." "What do you think Arran?" The elf shrugged slightly. "He isn't as good looking as Jeanne." "I'm still a catch in bed," Althair said. Hope chuckled quietly. "Unfortunately, Arran does not enjoy male company in bed. And I am not inclined to let my nether regions make decisions for me." "Shame." "You understand that we are poor. There isn't anything here that would interest your… friends," Hope mentioned. "You have no reason to fear my friends. My presence here guarantees they will stay away. And I heard of your fight with Marie. I can assure you that I bear you no ill will over that." Hope nodded shortly. "What exactly can you do to help the children?" Arran asked. "You say you are poor. I can secure funds for you." "We do not condone stealing," Hope warned. "Save for in the most dire straits." "There are other ways that I can obtain gold. And I would can take the children out to learn trades during the daytime. No offence, Arran Detoire." Arran stiffened in his seat, his eyes wide. "I have contacts. We can make this a place to be proud of, even if the location is less than perfect." "Well, considering the conversation I intended to have with Arran when I arrived, I would say welcome to the group Althair," Hope said. "You do seem like a good person. And we could use another pair of hands around here, as long as you can pull your own weight,"Arran said sharply. "No worries there. I will not eat you out of home." "Nagiri! Aiden! Jace! Come out here please!" The door opened, Aiden the first to walk through. Jace and Nagiri followed closely, confirming Hope's suspicions that they had been listening the whole time. "First of all, it is rude to eavesdrop," the tiefling frowned. "Second, say hello to Althair. He'll be helping out around here." Jace and Nagiri said, "Hello," while Aiden waved. "Jace and Aiden are brothers. I found them hiding out when they were ten," Hope explained. "Aiden-" "- Is deaf," Althair nodded. "I've been wondering where these two vanished to. No one would tell me." "Really?" Hope frowned slightly at the news. Had he picked up recruits of the Thieves Guild without knowing it? "Don't look so concerned. They were free to roam until adulthood. We do not claim those who are underage,"Althair chuckled. "Honestly, I am overjoyed to find you two here. And of course I know young Nagiri." The half-orc smiled shyly, hiding behind Hope. "Oh, that sounded bad. I'm sorry. My friends and I have been keeping an eye on your home, trying to keep you safe," Althair said. "You don't have to worry about him," Hope smiled reassuringly. "I'm sure once we get to know him, Althair will be as much a part of our family as Arran is." "And if not, you'll convince him to leave, right?" Jace said. "Right," the tiefling nodded. "I hope I can hold up to your expectations," Althair said. "Why don't you all tell me a bit about yourselves?" As the large man sat down to talk with the kids, Hope beckoned Arran into the bedhall. "I'm not sure I trust him," Arran said quietly, eyeing their new guest through the open door. "If he causes any issues, he's out of here. Listen, I need to fill you in on some things that have happened. You know I got the gold." Hope took a deep breath, looking through the door to make sure the others couldn't hear him. This was not a conversation they should be privy to. "I'm not sure how much to tell you without getting you in trouble-" "I know he's a thief, if that helps." Hope nodded slightly. "I was… instrumental in the deaths of two of his acquaintances, as much as I try to deny the one. We got the gold, apparently because when I killed a halfling who tried to have me killed, I did the guild a favour. I do not know how, and I doubt I ever will. Nor do I want to know." Arran nodded slowly. "That explains your absences." "Yes. I was sent to Four Pines. Along the way, I stumbled into some sort of monster house that tried to eat me. While I was fighting my way out, I accidentally cast a spell." Arran sucked in a quiet breath. "So it is magic then? The things you can do?" "There's more to it than that. You are familiar with an elf by the name of Elluin?" "There was an elf who gave me a silver for information on you," Arran admitted quietly. "I am glad you took it," Hope said. "He saved my life. He also gave me a book with a spell in it. The same book in the chest. I can cast that spell." "And you want to go to the Mages Guild for training?" Hope nodded. "You know our situation. I can get in for ten gold, out of my own pocket. But I will be gone, I don't know how long. If I don't do this, we will run out of gold eventually and be right back where we started, destitute and starving." "Fine. Go." Hope blinked at the sudden caving. He hadn't even had to fight. "You're right. Besides, you want this. I know you do. You might even figure out what it is that gave you your powers," Arran said. "I do not want to take that away from you, and with Althair here, as much as I don't really trust him, I have little reason to ask you to remain." "You'll be okay with this?" "I've dealt with worse," Arran shrugged. Hope embraced the elf with a quiet sigh. "I… I think I'll stop by the Adventurers Guild first," he said. "Maybe I can get a couple more gold for you." "Do as you will. And be safe," Arran said quietly. "I will return as soon as I can," Hope promised.
  14. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 1

    I absolutely cannot wait to see where this story goes already. Here's hoping that demon called writer's block stays far away
  15. Elluin sat at a table, a mug of ale in front of him. Supposedly the tavern special. He doubted it was that special. You drink one watered down city tavern ale, you’ve drunk them all. His finger circled over the cup idly as he stared at Hope from across the room. A small beam of frost cooled the mug for him, a magic hand of force stirring the contents. The elf's ribs still burned, a simple injury, but one that was still painful. Hope still seemed rather shocked as he carried a mug toward the table. The elf scoffed quietly. He deserved it. The tiefling kissed him. And not just a chaste kiss, no. He had tried to shove his tongue into Elluin’s mouth. The elf shuddered thinking about it. He was under a charm, he didn’t actually want the tiefling. It didn’t matter that Hope never seemed to use spells unless he was burning that stupid arrow. Hope was clutching his spellbook like it was one of the most precious things in the world. It almost made Elluin laugh. Prestidigitation was one of the simplest spells to cast, a cantrip that a baby could use. Still, he remembered his first spellbook. The elf had been overly protective of that book too. He still was protective of his spells, even if he did swing them around occasionally. The tiefling sat across from him, his mug shaking slightly. His hood was down, and Hope’s ears were twitching, swivelling nervously to listen to everything around him. “To your good fortune,” Elluin said, raising his own mug. Hope grunted something, going to take a sip of his ale. Elluin laughed as the tiefling made a face and spat it back into the mug. “What, have you never had ale before?” “I live in an orphanage. Do you really think I could afford ale before today?” Hope snapped. It was a fair point. “Okay, you’re a mage, right? You’re smart,” the tiefling sighed, taking a big gulp of the ale before grimacing again. “I’d like to think I’m smart,” Elluin shrugged. “Explain to me what the fuck just happened.” “Are you talking about the halfling, or you kissing me?” “Figure it out.” “Well, you put a charm on me, I followed you to get it removed, and you kissed me, in short. By the way, if you ever do that again, I will strangle you.” “Don’t worry, I will be over you by morning,” Hope growled. “The halfling problem… well, that’s a little more complicated. Either she was impersonating someone, she stole money, or… well, either way, I’m thinking you were rewarded for her demise. And the rather generous offering you left behind. So, it seems your plan worked. I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. It might bite,” Elluin shrugged, taking another drink. “Fine. Well, thanks for your help.” Hope drained his ale in a trio of large gulps, standing. “Whoa, hold on. You still need to remove this charm you put on me,” Elluin said sharply. “I can’t. Looks like you’ll be the one going to the Mages’ Guild.” Elluin growled as Hope walked away, spellbook in hand and purse of gold tucked securely within his cloak. Gods he hated that tiefling. Hope dove back into the slums, mind still whirling from the events of the morning. He moved through the alleys, swiftly, silently, feeling like he had finally come home. And now that the Guild had called his debt paid, his heart should feel free. Yet it didn’t. He had killed someone, murdered that halfling in cold blood. He could still hear the click of her crossbow, hear Elluin’s grunt as he was speared by the bolt. Feel the icy grip of fear as he watched the elf fall again. “Enough!” the tiefling screamed. “Get out of my head!” “Hey dude, you might want to see a cleric about that…” a woman said, sitting against a wall with a wineskin in her hands. “Never good when you start talking to yourself.” Growling in frustration, Hope continued his journey through the dark alleys. It wasn’t long before he stopped outside the orphanage again. He took a deep breath, before opening the doors. Arran stood up from the small table where three children were hard at work, needles and thread in their hands. “Excuse me, can I help you, sir?” the elf asked. Hope slid his hood off, frowning slightly. “Hope! You’re back?” “Yeah. Where is Jeanne?” the tiefling asked, looking around. Arran mirrored Hope’s frown. “Uh, perhaps this would be best discussed away from certain ears,” he suggested, nodding toward the sleeping hall. Hope followed the elf with a feeling of trepidation. He’d only been gone for just over a week if that. What could have happened in that time? “Stupid question,” he mumbled quietly. The tiefling was honestly surprised the orphanage was still standing, given how often bad things seemed to happen around him. “So, uh… Jeanne…” Arran frowned, crossing his arms nervously. “Uh, about three days ago, a wealthy halfling decided to pay a visit. Said he was looking for a housegirl, and he had his eyes on Nagiri.” “Oh fuck…” Hope sighed, already filling in the blanks. Even worse, he had a guess who the halfling worked for. “So Jeanne took the fall for Nagiri, and is now stuck as some sort of servant for a halfling, probably a sex slave.” “It gets worse. I had some of my old contacts ask around. The halfling took her to the port. Their ship left yesterday. There is no way to find out where she is.” Hope sighed, turning away from the elf. He kicked out suddenly, sending a cot flying. “FUCK!” “I… I, uh, kept the kids inside since she left. We’re taking on sewing for the rats around here.” “And food?” Arran shrugged helplessly. “I’m sorry. I failed,” he whispered. “Yeah, well, at least you didn’t pay for your own execution,” Hope sighed, shaking his head. “I’m going out. Keep the kids busy for a bit longer, okay? “I should be able to manage that,” Arran shrugged. The tiefling left the building, taking a moment to let the grief of losing Jeanne wash over him. The woman had lived in the orphanage almost as long as Arran had, and had been great with the kids, helping Hope feed everyone and keep them safe. With her gone off to be some pleasure slave… He shuddered, a tear squeezing from his eyes. This was pointless. He would achieve nothing from sitting here crying. The tiefling still had five hungry mouths to feed. Moving swiftly, Hope made his way to the marketplace, already knowing exactly where the cheapest food in the city was. Skipping past the Adventurer’s Shoppe, the tiefling paused outside a simple stall, fingering the sack that was still hidden in his cloak. “Ah, Hope, what can I do for you?” the half-elf in the stall smiled. “Love the new cloak, by the way. Green gives you a mysterious air.” “Thanks, Elyra,” Hope smiled slightly. “I finally got a bit of coin, and I was hoping you might have something for me and the others.” “Hmm, let me see… The fruits haven’t been selling that well. I could give you a discount on ten. Oh, and there’s some old bread that’s close to turning.” “How much for each?” “A copper per loaf of bread, and five for ten apples. They really are not selling well. I think it’s because someone forgot to dry them.” “Okay, I’ll take ten loaves of bread and twenty apples,” Hope said, pulling a coin out. Elyra whistled. “Oh kitty, don’t tell me you’ve taken up stealing from the rich?” she said. “Not exactly. There was a thing with a crown-” “That was you? Man, the guards were all over town looking for you. They finally gave up the search a few days ago.” “They never saw my face,” Hope sighed. “And I gave it back. Can we drop the subject, please? It was a mistake.” “Of course.” The half-elf handed the tiefling a large sack of food, taking the gold form him. She bit the coin, testing it, before handing him a handful of silver. “Listen, you tell that silver-haired beauty that lives by you that I’ve been waiting for him to come around and see me.” “I haven’t seen him in a while,” Hope shrugged apologetically. “Ah shit. The good ones never stick around,” Elyra sighed. “Well, do me a favour and get yourself something nice with that coin of yours. You deserve it.” “Thanks, Elyra,” Hope said, taking his food. He had an orphanage in need of feeding. He kissed him. Elluin didn't know why that thought kept running through his head. Maybe because that was the first time anyone had kissed him. Maybe because his first kiss had come from a fiend. He felt defiled. And he wanted more. The elf cast an icy cantrip on a bandage, wrapping it around his slender torso. It cooled his injury, relieving some of the pain, and Elluin took a deep breath. Removing his sword from its scabbard, the mage sank onto the bed of the private tavern room, seeking out another cantrip. His gambeson had a hole in it, not a big deal, but Elluin did not want to run around with broken gear. His mail had a few parted links from the only striking it. Those would be relatively cheap to fix at a smith. Besides, this would give him a chance to talk to a smith, discuss an apprenticeship. A nice source of possible income, and maybe he'd find a way to enchant the metals he worked. Not that he'd be doing anything until he got his ribs taken care of. The icy wrap felt nice around his torso, but moving still caused some pain. He could handle it, but he felt certain that swinging a hammer would not help the healing process. It was a shame he didn't have the money for a trip to a cleric. Wincing slightly, Elluin sank onto the straw filled mattress. He felt exhausted, from the trip, the fight, and all the shit Hope had put him through. The fiend had kissed him… all because he wanted a kiss before he died. And then the tiefling didn't even have the decency to actually die. It would have made things so much easier if he had… Just thinking of the tiefling made his entire body tingle with nerves. Like he needed to see Hope, even though it was the last thing he wanted. An itch grew in his gut, the elf sitting up in horror. The moon… he had lost track of the moon. Standing, Elluin moved as fast as he could to the window, craving his head to see the sky. Just as he thought, the moon was full. "Shit… fucking shit…" the elf muttered, yanking off his pants as the itch grew. He took a deep breath, trying to settle into a calmer state of mind, but there was no way it was happening. There was no fighting what was coming. Grunting in pain as black fur sprouted from his body, Elluin began pulling at his wrap, baring his gut. His body grew taller and wider, his legs forming into digitigrade paws that made standing still such a pain, even if they aided immensely in running. Elluin was never in a city for his transformations. People who knew him tended to shun him after they knew his secret. People who didn't know him ran, assuming he was a werewolf. As they should. If he had his way, he would chase them, bite them, destroy them and revel in the hunt. It had been so long since he'd last had a good hunt. Elluin tensed up, his face exploding outward into a wolfish muzzle. He wanted to claw at the fur that sprouted from his skin, but he held his claws in check, remembering the one and only time he had done so, the agony his razor sharp claws had caused on his face. He wanted to run, to hunt, but he was cooped up in the room for the night. There was no way he could go out on the town. Not like this. No, his hunt would have to wait until tomorrow. And then he would feast on the flesh of the city's fiends. Hope stared at the building, fingers twitching nervously. He had never been here before, had never wanted to come here before. The tiefling was at his wit's end though. He couldn't sleep. He kept thinking about the halfling dying by his hand, of Jeanne being stolen away, of Elluin nearly being killed. He needed a distraction. So here he stood with a rush candle burning in his hand, too nervous to go forward, too scared to go back. His candle was burning quick, and he needed to make a decision if he didn't want to be accosted by a guard on his way home for not having a light. The building before him was tucked in a discrete corner of the city, the city wall rising high above it. The full moon shone down into a window on the second floor, giving a glimpse of a richly appointed room. "You're really going to make me do this," the tiefling growled. "Does it give you joy, seeing me uncomfortable?" No voice answered his question, the sounds of the city at night his only response. "Fine! I'm going!" Pinching his candle, the tiefling stepped up to the door, knocking on it gently. Almost immediately, he turned around. No one was there. He would just go home and deal with his mind. How hard could it be? The door opened with a soft creak, a young woman peeking outside. "Hello," she smiled at him. "Hi… uh, hello," Hope frowned slightly, turning back toward the door. "You… are you closed?" "Not for another hour," the woman smiled. "Is this your first time?" "Yeah." His voice missed much of its usual snark. It was all the tiefling could do to keep a nervous tremble from his voice. "Welcome then. Unfortunately, we do not have time to show you around." The door was held open, invitingly, and Hope hurried inside. His hood remained on his head, his cat-like tail tucked within his cloak. The tiefling found himself in an extravagant entrance hall. Candles lit the hall, flickering light filling the room. He felt out of place. Nine Hells, the cushions just in the entrance hall were the most comfortable he had ever laid eyes upon. "Do you know what you are looking for?" "Something for the night?" It came out uncertainly, as though he was asking permission. "That is rather expensive." "How expensive?" "Depending, between two and ten gold. What kind of person are you looking for?" Hope's shoulders shrugged helplessly. "Hmm. Well, why don't you step into this room over here and I will send someone in to speak with you." The tiefling followed the woman's gesture, moving through a door into a small, comfortable room. A loveseat sat against the far wall, beeswax candles burning merrily on a table beside it. Two statues sat on either side of the entrance, one a rather busty Elven woman, and the other a well endowed human man. He sat on the seat, fingers tapping nervously. This was not the place for him; he shouldn't be here. A different woman entered the room, dressed in a velvet robe. Her fiery hair was swept back against her shoulders, bright green eyes smiling at him. "Hello. I'm Anne," she said, closing the door. "May I sit?" Hope nodded, and Anne crossed the small room, sitting rather close to the tiefling. He tried not to stare at her, his eyes sweeping the room until they landed on the statues. "You seem rather nervous. Or do you just prefer the mystery of hiding your face?" "I… there aren't many who feel comfortable with my appearance," Hope swallowed drily. The woman reached for his hood, pausing just shy of touching the fabric, with a questioning look. Hope took a deep breath, and nodded slightly. His hood was pushed back, the woman gasping slightly as his cat ears swivelled in the open air. "That… that is an unusual… effect," she said. "You're a mage?" "Uh, yeah," Hope replied, his ears twitching. "Am I making you uncomfortable?" "A little," the tiefling admitted. "You seem rather intrigued with our statues. Which one do your eyes favour?" "Um… the one on the left…" Anne let out a small smile as she stood up. "Then, if you will wait here a moment, I will send in someone who might accommodate your needs better." She left the room, and a few minutes later, a young half-Elven man entered, his body on display. A tight sleeveless shirt accentuated his chiseled torso, his deep red hair tied back to show off an angular face with just the hint of a beard. Silk trousers bulged with a not inconsiderate package, one that Hope's eyes were inexorably drawn to. "Hey there," the half-elf said, his voice light and warm. "I am Samuel." "I… I'm Hope…" the tiefling stuttered. Fuck, if this didn't cure him of his crush on Elluin… He lost that train of thought as Samuel took his hand, pulling him to his feet. "Will I suffice for tonight?" the half-elf questioned. "Y… yeah…" He could feel the warmth of Samuel's body, the half-elf smiling at the tiefling with a sparkle in his eye. "Then shall we head upstairs?" He was led out of the room and up the stairs. Following Samuel into a dimly lit room, Hope stood in the doorway, staring wide eyed at the large bed that took up much of the room. His stomach was churning with nerves, his tail flicking uneasily under his cloak. "Maybe this was a bad idea…" Samuel paused, searching Hope's eyes. "Is this your first time?" he asked. Hope nodded silently. "Don't worry, we will take this as slow as you want." "I don't know if I can have… have sex… Not with you." "Okay. If you want, we can just lay in bed together. Or you can leave. You are in control here." Hope swallowed drily. He was definitely attracted to this person. But he couldn't stop thinking of Elluin. "Is there someone you're thinking of?" Even with the nervousness that filled him, Hope still managed to roll his eyes. "Very subtle," he muttered, looking up. It broke the moment, and his nerves started to leave him, slowly. "Yeah, there's… there's this elf." "Ah. And does this elf know about you coming here?" Samuel questioned, tugging the tiefling to the bed. "We aren't actually together or anything. I'm pretty sure he hates me." Hope sat beside the half-elf, staring at his lap. His fingers played nervously with each other, thumbs tapping on his thighs. "But you have feelings for him." "I'm trying to get rid of them," he admitted. "I kissed him today, and he told me if I did it again he would gut me." "Doesn't sound like a good match for you." "He and I went on a journey together, and we were constantly arguing. He is so… infuriating. But I can't stand not being around him. I don't even know where he is." A hand gently rubbed Hope's back. Nails scraped over his cloak, scratching him, and the tiefling let out a quiet sigh. "I'm not sure this is the best way to get over him. You intended to remain here for the night, correct?" He nodded, eyes drooping slightly. "If you would still like to stay, perhaps a massage would help you relax." "Okay. How… how much do I owe you?" "Three gold for the night." Hope stuck his hand into the pouch of gold hidden in his cloak, removing the coins. He handed them to Samuel, who deftly pocketed them. The half-elf stood, moving toward a washtub in the corner of the room. A blue glow swirled around his hand, the sound of splashing water filling the tub. A red glow followed until a thin wisp of steam rose from the tub, and the half-elf set a bar of soap beside the tub. "Why don't you take a bath, clean yourself? I can draw a screen for you if you do not want to disrobe in front of me." "Thank you," Hope said in surprise. He stood and stepped up to the tub. With a quiet rasp, Samuel drew a screen between himself and the tub, granting Hope some privacy. The tiefling removed his cloak, setting it over the screen for extra security. He stripped quickly, and stepped cautiously into the tub. The water was warm even to his heat resistant skin, an unfamiliar feeling to one used to bathing in the rain. He sank slowly into the tub, shivering as water slipped up to his chest with a wet sloshing. As much as he wanted to enjoy the water, the tiefling was overly conscious of Samuel moving around the room. Recalling the motions of the spell Elluin gave him, Hope cast it, flinching as his torso heated up to a temperature too hot even for him. Shrugging silently as he splashed some water over his chest, Hope picked up the soap. Maybe it was time for him to figure out how to use this stuff. Ten minutes later, he stood up, taking a towel Samuel had placed over the screen. His body was as clean as it was going to get, his tail dripping back into the tub. Another towel was provided, Samuel leading the now-dry tiefling to the bed. Positioning Hope on his stomach, Samuel laid out the towel under Hope's tail, before straddling the tiefling. There was a quiet pop and the sound of wet hands rubbing together, and Hope tried to look around. "Relax," Samuel whispered, his weight shifting forward. Hope was glad the half-elf was still dressed. He could feel Samuel poking against his ass, but as a pair of gentle hands pressed into his scapula, the tiefling forgot his worries in a loud moan. Samuel dug into the tiefling, gentle but firm in his task. As his oiled hands ran over Hope's back, Hope allowed himself to drift, relaxing fully for the first time in weeks, no, months. This feeling of being cared for was alien to him, and he was in love with the sensation that was running through his body. Even as Samuel slowly thrust against his hole, teasing him, Hope found he could focus more on the massage, the gentle humping just adding to the scene. A hand slipped around his tail, the appendage slapping slightly against Samuel's leg. Soft palms dug into his ass and the tiefling let out a quiet whimper, melting deeper into the feathery softness of the bed. His eyes blinked blearily, Hope taking in the light of a new morning. He fell asleep? "Ah fuck. A cut away? I missed most of the night…" he sighed, rolling over. The towel fell off his body, baring the tiefling to the room, and Hope flinched, covering himself with his hands. "Relax. I've seen all sorts of groins," Samuel said, standing near the empty tub. The half-elf tossed Hope's clothing into the bed, Hope scrambling to dress himself. "Um, thank you," he said, standing up. His body felt refreshed. Even his hand wasn't hurting as much as it had the day before. "Thank you for your money," Samuel shrugged. He motioned toward the door, Hope hurrying to leave the room. Taking up his rush candle from the night before, the tiefling nodded to the woman watching the front door, and stepped outside. His shoulders clenched slightly as he looked around, but there was no one nearby to pay attention to him, and Hope relaxed, before making his way back to the orphanage.
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