• Closed • Two Birds, One Stone (Noth)

Rising from the stony plateau overlooking the rivers and plains of the western continent, and growing wealthy from the gem stones pulled from this same rocky soil, Etzos is a bastion of independence, eagerly spreading its belief that man should rule Idalos, not be servants of the vain Immortals who nearly destroyed it. But can the different factions set aside their agendas long enough to see this through?

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• Closed • Two Birds, One Stone (Noth)

Postby Ryder » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:50 pm

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1st Cylus, 718

Ryder sat in the darkness, waiting patiently with the men beside him. It was his first mission with Al'Angryl so far, aside from small doses of training alongside the other mercenaries. But that wasn't what made him nervous. What made him nervous was who was here, watching, involved in the raid. Noth, the same creature that had recruited him, was here as well. Although he wasn't directly with Ryder's group, he was still going to be seeing what Ryder could do, and Ryder had set an expectation after their first encounter.
Trying to ignore the biting cold, Ryder watched patiently from behind a tree. It was a simple caravan raid, like the one that had been done on him. He could only pray that the people were as under-prepared as he had been that day. This time, however, he was ready for anything. He had his longsword with him at his side, and he was prepared to take out whatever stood in his way. He had a group of men with him, including the men he'd been in the tavern with much earlier that day, and they were counting on him just as he was counting on them.

After what felt like Arcs, the caravan finally came in to view. Ryder gripped his sword tight as the man in charge gestured, keeping his hand up to show them not to move. He watched with careful eyes, leaving Ryder and the others to patiently wait for his orders, all watching the caravan. From what Ryder could see, the guards on it were a lot better equipped than he had been. Some were much better equipped than Ryder had been. His eyes immediately fell to the caravan, however, which looked to be bustling with resources.
Without hesitation, the man gestured, slowly moving closer to the caravan. All of the mercenaries followed behind, moving steadily towards the caravan through the trees. It was dark, meaning that it was hard to see anything other than the light of the torches around the caravan and the faint light that the stars and moon provided for them. It also meant, however, that the men were shrouded. It was near impossible to see them in this light - or so they thought.

Ryder stopped when given the quiet command, leaning against a tree for cover. He glanced over to Will from earlier that day and gave him a reassuring nod, the nerves clear on his face. Ryder had shown to that man that he could fight, same with the others that had seen it. Now, however, he had to prove it for real. Training was nothing compared to this, and he had to show these men that he meant business. He wouldn't let his new friends down.
As the men started moving again, everything was silent, the footsteps muffled by the deep snow. The silence, however, didn't last. All of the man jolted back as the leader of the group screamed in pain, the whistling of an arrow all that was heard before it planted itself in his chest. All of the men from the caravan looked, spotting Ryder and the others. Everyone stood up in a panic.

"Use the trees for cover, push forward!" Ryder shouted, ducking behind a tree and drawing his longsword. Others in the group followed his example, taking to the trees and looking to him to lead. This was his chance, to show he had what it took to lead, to be in charge of this group that was depending on him. He wouldn't let them down. More important - he wouldn't let himself down.
"Now!" he shouted, as an arrow planted in the tree beside him, not hitting anyone as he started to charge, keeping behind a tree at all times. Ryder hoped the others were following, but didn't look back to check. Behind them, however, all the men followed.
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Two Birds, One Stone (Noth)

Postby Noth » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:59 pm

It was the common practice of many militaries throughout the world to partner the most inexperienced soldiers with the deadliest. At times the arrangement was entirely unfeasible, such as in cases where more secretive operations needed to be conducted, because the inclusion of the untrained and the weak would only lead to the likely demise of the entire squad. In other cases, such as in many of the great battles that had occurred throughout history, the partnership had acted as a sort of mentoring program, allowing the inexperienced soldiers to learn the skills necessary to survive from their more weathered peers whilst simultaneously contributing with their youth and natural ability.

The twilight hybrid was certainly not a military commander in the traditional sense of the word, and he had never commanded a true army or a force sizable enough to qualify as such. Nevertheless, he spent much of his time perfecting the strategies of past generals, reading on the excerpts that they left behind after their campaigns had come to conclusion, and he had learned to capitalize upon the fruitions of those who had long since passed into the nothingness of the ether. The fact that he participated on a fairly regular basis in caravan raids; some of the best training for his soldiers available, certainly assisted in making what would have been a simple band of dissidents into a far more capable force than might be expected given their petty and criminal origin.

Intense darkness blanketed the land, making caravans far more wary to travel than they might otherwise have been, and for good reason. Even if one were to discount the potential threat of banditry hiding in the midst of the woods, or the monstrous abominations that suddenly strode into the open when vision had been reduced to the point of near uselessness, there were far more mundane issues associated with traveling wholly in the dark. A person could become easily lost, could stumble into dangerous or unsteady terrain with ease, or could simply be unable to properly find their path in time to make a profit off of their goods before they spoiled or were otherwise exhausted by the wilds.

Thankfully, his knowledge of the wooded area surrounding Etzos had combined well with that of his men, and they had managed to locate one of their most common localities for robbery. It was true that inevitably, Black Guard would likely be dispatched to these areas in order to deal with them, but thus far they had proven relatively unscathed by the actions of the local guard, and there were contingencies in place to relocate their hunting grounds should evidence come to light of hostile interaction.

Crimson eyes peered off into the intangible darkness, observing beyond the blinding sheet of black towards what he knew was the group which contained many of their newer recruits. They had been paired with some of the more experienced members of Al’Angyryl in order to ensure that they would operate at maximum efficiency, but placing a majority of the new blood into a single section allowed the hybrid to appropriately enact plans with their relative strength in mind whilst simultaneously allowing him to keep an eye on their general performance.

The attack began as the caravan gradually meandered into place, their torches doing little to keep them concealed from the prying eyes of the bandits. There was a genteel silence that stretched across the soon to be battlefield as subtle soldiers silently stalked through the shade, their eyes rapt upon their leaders and the prize to be which glimmered in the torchlight with golden elegance. Rapidly, however, that silence shattered into nothing more than a fond memory as the whistle of an arrow caught his attention, directing his crimson gaze to a particular spot upon the caravan. There, a man was now shouting to his comrades, alerting them to the presence of the bandits, notching another arrow and sending it slamming into a nearby tree trunk.

“Go.” He uttered to his own group, listening as the unsteady steps of undead thralls became audible as they rushed forlornly down the hillocks towards the foe, fully intent on devouring them. All the while, the Avriel drew his own longbow, notching an arrow, and sending an arrow lancing lengthwise through the arm of the initial perpetrator, shattering the bone without a doubt and taking him out of the fight immediately.

The issue of darkness and lack of visibility became quickly evident as caravan guards moved away from their torches to fight silhouetted figures hidden away, and it became harder to discern friend from foe.

Would the darkness now be used against them?
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Credit to Pegasus

As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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Two Birds, One Stone (Noth)

Postby Ryder » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:25 am

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As all of the bandits rushed forward, Ryder soon realized the flaw with this attack. Perhaps the darkness made for a great shroud, but that same shroud was wrapped around their head and blinding them all the same. None of the attackers could see what they were fighting. Initially, it made for no problem, as one wall of men went for the other. Anyone with their back facing you was probably friendly - and any looking at you was evidently not. That quickly changed.
Ryder's sword very quickly sliced at a man's neck, using both of his hands for full force. It was enough force to take the man's head off in one swing, his unprotected neck a blatant weakness for him. Ryder was learning with his sword, how to use it effectively and with skill. Weak points were becoming easier to spot, and even easier than that to exploit. Before the man's head had even hit the floor, Ryder started his next engagement.

As bandits and guards alike collided, weapons drawn, the air was filled with cries. Some of the screams Ryder recognized as terror and fear, others of courage and battle. Neither mattered however. Men would live and men would die, it was that simple. All that was certain is that Ryder would not die today. He was now at the head of this charge, and every move he made mattered. He'd earned the respect of other recruits earlier that day, but now it was time to earn the respect of more than recruits. Perhaps, even that of the monster that had hired him.
As the next man rushed Ryder, his sword was dodged with a simple sidestep. Before him, the man quickly dropped, screaming in pain as Ryder stabbed the longsword through his leg. It stopped the man from being any real threat, meaning he couldn't fight back in any way that might pose a danger. As Ryder pulled the sword out, his cry became even louder, almost silencing the rest of the battle. To quiet the man, Ryder's sword went through his neck, quickly cutting off the cry.

All around, battle waged. It was suddenly evident that friend and foe couldn't be told apart, that it was simply a man fighting another. However, Ryder had an advantage that nobody else did. Overhead, unseen by all, the black raven flew - showing images from it's view. The images were clearer from above, showing a perspective on who was an ally and who was an enemy.
Ryder turned his gaze to where a man was being tackled. Above him, an enemy raised a dagger, the bandit under him raising his hands in terror. It was his time to strike. Ryder rushed the man, keeping low and fast to avoid being hit by anyone or anything. As the man's dagger readied itself to slam down, his body was tackled to the ground by Ryder, knocked in to the snow and the dagger lost.

Without hesitation, Ryder's fists started beating down on the man, all of his force going in to it with each blow. Gradually, his struggling stopped, until the man under him was dead.
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Two Birds, One Stone (Noth)

Postby Noth » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:29 pm

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Information was easily the most important part of any battle. If a commander didn’t have any information on their opponent or their habits, then they would be unable to formulate a proper strategy capitalizing upon their own strengths whilst minimalizing their opponent’s. If an officer had no knowledge of the capabilities of his soldiers, then he would never know when they had reached their breaking limit, when they needed to retreat or when it would be best to allow them to push ahead even if it meant disobeying direct orders from above. If a soldier had no knowledge of an enemy then they would not know what weapons would cause them harm, or whether or not there were any secret techniques that would more quickly acquit them of the grave danger they faced.

The issue with absolute darkness such as they faced was that it stole away all information. It took all of the golden and valuable knowledge that was entirely necessary to plan and to consider, and it concealed it underneath a garment of shadow and blackness, ensuring that no one was capable of using it. Perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of this utter lack of information was that it became far more costly to attack a person for fear that they might be one’s own allies hidden away amidst the lines of the enemy. The fact that the enemy in question had broken ranks the instant the fight had initiated certainly didn’t assist matters.

“I can’t tell who’s who!” The Avriel listened as the necromancer hissed underneath her breath, apparent agitation flowing through her witchbranded veins as she concentrated on the abominable beings under her command, not allowing them to lapse from her control for an instant.

“Turn the thralls off.” He spoke, his layman’s knowledge of the arcane showing in his somewhat obtuse choice of words, although the order was clear enough. There was a flicker of shock and confusion that play across the face of the necromancer as she regarded her dark leader, as though attempting to comprehend whether or not he had actually given the order or if she was simply imagining it. “Turn them off, Divinya.” He repeated with a bitter growl, and she obeyed at once for fear of suffering his wrath should she stall any further. Across the battlefield, a pack of monstrosities would suddenly spasm and fall to the floor, puppets whose strings had been snapped at the base left to clatter upon the floor like the ragged dolls they had become.

Slowly, with careful and calculated footsteps, the Avriel began to descend from atop his hill, observing as the assorted silhouettes danced about in an unknown choreography, displayed to his avian eyes by the flickering of torchlight settled atop wagons and occasionally drawn into open palms. There was the clash of swords, the shriek of wounded persons crawling across the floor like pitiable worms as they attempted to slink away from their already distracted foe. The darkness was their ally in that respect, allowing them to retreat from view and danger whenever necessary, though perhaps it was not quite as useful as it appeared from his spectator’s stand.

There was a glint of metal that caught his attention, and he observed as it swung through the air, burrowing itself with a wet thud into the chest of a nearby person whose hands clasped at it immediately, attempting to remove it from its burrowed position before they collapsed to the ground, unable to do anything but shake and twist grotesquely for a few moments before even that was robbed from them.

Meat for the carrion birds, he supposed.

The Avriel approached one of the wagons, using the darkness and the chaos to his advantage to quietly ascend one of the mobile storehouses. He made quick work of the roofing of the wagon, tearing away at the cloth that was present with merciless strikes of his talons, feeling the material clump underneath his vicious avian claws until he felt that enough had been taken for his goals. With gentle movements in shocking contrast to the violent gesticulations outdoors, he began to wrap the cloth about his right hand until it was firmly attached to it, and then he allowed it to gently bury its end into the nearest torch.

It ignited quickly, shooting up to his hand, the residual heat striking his gauntleted hand, melding into it as only a raw energy such as fire is capable. He could feel it beginning to seep into his flesh even through the arcane gauntlet. It served its purpose, however, drawing the occasional eye towards him, and casting his form in visible and perceptible light, his crimson eyes barely visible from underneath the armet and its shadow.

“Enough!” He boomed, still atop the wagon, listening as the fighting gradually began to quell to an extent, reducing to only a few minor tussles hither and thither that would naturally slow in their progression as those gathered became aware of his menacing presence.

“You are beaten. You will surrender, or you will die.”
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Credit to Pegasus

As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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