Prisoners Exchanged

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Prisoners Exchanged

Postby Cirath » Fri Feb 25, 2005 7:08 am

His patience had paid off. Luskan was a foul pit of human waste confined within stone walls. It was the perfect place to acquire hosts. Knowing that his preferred method would simply alert the city to his presence and nature, eventually leading to a battle he could not hope to win, he had once again turned to his vessel’s memories. He had no talent for subtlety, a weakness that normally would not have mattered, but considering recent events, it seemed he had chosen his host well. If only he could control the spirit as easily as the mind.

The mortal’s mind provided a number of excellent methods of hunting, and his coin pouch sped them along nicely. He commissioned a blacksmith to enclose the bed of a large wagon in a sturdy iron cage as soon as he arrived in the city, then spent the next few days finding bodies to fill it. Slaves, prostitutes, drunkards, vagrants, and a pair of criminals with prices on their heads now filled that wagon. Some had been bought, some bribed, and some taken by a fully legal measure of force. Now, as he drove the wagon out the southern gates, the guards waved him on, glad to see those in the cage leaving their jurisdiction.

Despite the success of his stay, he could not have remained another moment in the city. The bloodlust that drove him burned behind his eyes like the fires that had forged his rolling prison. For three days he had suppressed it completely, not wanting to draw attention to himself, but by the fourth day it was more than he could bear. He eased the pressure a bit by slaughtering a few of the city’s homeless population as quietly as he could manage. It was only a temporary solution, however. Now, as the sun climbed to it’s full height on the seventh day, he was desperate to find more prey, before he was forced to destroy some of the hosts he carried.

Those thoughts drove everything else from his mind for a time. He didn’t notice the city walls disappearing from view behind him, or the complaints of his captives. For several hours he remained in his trance-like state, when a sudden shock brought him violently back to his senses. He had been cut off from his host’s mind. It was as if half of everything he knew had instantly been wiped from his memory, leaving only a sense of loss and confusion. At first he was baffled, unable to think of how or why this had happened, but a moment later the laughter that began to echo in his head gave him his answer.

The old self had finally broken free.

Immediately, he lashed out at the mortal, fully intending to destroy him, no matter the consequences. It was like a normal man beating his fist on a solid door: he could feel the barrier shudder, but knew it would not give way to his assault.

“Did you really think you could keep me out forever?” the voice in his head asked in a mocking tone. “It is my body, after all.”

“Not anymore!” the creature snarled at the empty air, rage thick and unfamiliar on his tongue. “You haven’t got the power to force me out or destroy me. All you can do is deny me your mind and buzz in my ear.”

“For now…”

Something in the tone of the reply was unsettling, like he had some dangerous secret, and was just waiting for the right time to use it. “You are just a mortal. You can do nothing but watch as I end this world,” the Warden said more confidently than he felt.

More laughter.

“Let me tell you a little secret. The bond that let you into my mind, the link you used to try to pass as me, is a two-way street. How do you think I learned to break through those other times?”

The creature seethed. How could this be happening? He was just a mortal, a lesser being, why had he not accepted his fate? But he already knew the answer to those questions. Those answers had guided him in picking new vessels. The mortal’s will to live was too strong. He clung to life out of sheer defiance and an unwillingness to lose. The hosts that had been chosen since his possession had all lacked that determination to fight. They had all resigned themselves to fate.

The Warden raged uncontrollably. The emotion coursing through him was too intense. He could not control it. He had to kill. Now. Somehow, he managed to resist the urge to rip open the cage and tear apart each and every one of his captives. Instead, he turned to the team of horses pulling the wagon. Launching himself from the driver’s bench, he tore into the animals with such zeal that those in the cage, all of which had ceased complaining to watch their jailer argue with the air, screamed and pressed towards the rear of the cage. Most of them vomited at the sight, several fainted, but the rest watched, frozen in terror.

Blood and gore fountained into the air, and when it was finished there was nothing left of the beasts larger than a tooth. Flesh, bone, hooves and harness all had been reduced to a red pulp. For nearly an hour he stood in the carnage, not moving or making a sound, lost in the emotion he was so unused to feeling. When he finally came to and realized what he had done, he whipped around to check the cage and ensure he had not killed his captives.

He had been played, goaded into rash action that would add days to his trip, but at least he had not harmed his cargo. Satisfied that they were alive, he examined the wagon itself. There was still enough of the yolk left that he could pull it himself. Taking up the place of the slaughtered animals, he dug in and pulled. The wagon lurched into motion without much trouble, and he was soon on his way once more. To the casual observer, a blood-soaked man easily pulling a load of prisoners that had required two large draft horses to move.

As he continued his trek south, Cirath whispered once more in his head. “Pull hard. It won’t be long now.”
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Postby Lilira » Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:05 am

I moved north away from the corpses of the unfortunate bandits. My little vixen friend chose not to accompany me and I didn’t blame her. After watching Cirath at work, there was no way I would be able to handle it alone. I paused, stepping off the road to ponder my next action, a small breeze playing with my hair, then moving on to rustle through the undergrowth.

It wasn’t before long I heard the gruff, loud voices of what could only be dwarves. I stepped into the middle of the road and waited, nearly faint with relief when I saw who it was heading towards me from the south.

“Durnad!” I called gratefully. He tossed a wicked grin my way as he signaled his companions to stop. He introduced me to his friends, the same who had given me a hand in Waterdeep with my uninvited guests. Durnad Stonebreaker, warrior by trade with his axe slung across his back led them, the cleric who had healed my hands was Barlok Silverhearth follower of Berronar, Tukan Mithrilstein was a master of acquisitions, and Torik his brother and storyteller.

“Well lass, I see yer in one piece still. That elf been giving you grief?” Durnad asked gruffly. Frankly my trip to this point had driven that problem out of my head.

“Actually, I haven’t seen her since Waterdeep. I have other problems now. Something that is a danger to more than just myself.” Briefly I outlined what I knew. The expressions on the faces of the dwarves were varied. Durnad, bloodthirsty, Barlok, troubled, Tukan and Torik I couldn’t read, must have been all the facial hair.

“Hmm. Well lass, I think this is a little out of your depth to handle alone, want some help?” Durnad asked. I paused; that was exactly what I wanted, but I was afraid to ask. I didn’t want to be responsible for more deaths. Finally I nodded. I needed all the help I could get.

Speaking of help, where was Sotana?

Almost as if my thought summoned her, swirling, silvery mists filled the area forming a pool on the ground, which the druid stepped through with a flash of light.

“You sent for me?”

I swept her up into a hug, ecstatic to see her. For some reason I had a feeling I might survive this after all.

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