Feb 27, 2012

Tales of Tyria: Chapter 11 - Shaman

If you missed it, here's a link to the previous Chapter.
Everyone's first instinct was to attack the Charr, but common sense kicked in and caused them to pause for a moment, allowing Karthis a moment to speak.  "Stand down!" he commanded.  It wasn't at first clear if he was talking to the Charr or his companions, but when he turned to look at Skoldur, Naimh and Paulina it became apparent he meant them.
"A bit late in figuring out who's got the power around here Karthis" said the Charr commander "but I thank you for not resisting.  I'll score more favor with Shaman Fiendstone for bringing you back alive than I would have if I just returned with your worthless hide."
"Believe me", replied Karthis, " the pleasure in my meeting with Fiendstone will be all mine." He made a gurgling sound which his companions assumed must have been a chuckle. "Put your weapons down.  It's the only way you'll live."
Reluctantly, Skoldur and Paulina put their bows and blades on the ground. Naimh held onto her staff.  When the Charr commander told her to lay it down too, she replied that it was just a walking stick that she was using as a crutch because she had sprained her ankle.  Thankfully, Naimh's tastes ran to simplistic and functional so her staff actually looked like nothing more than a stick she had picked up in the forest and the ruse worked.
The Charr tightly bound Paulina's, Skoldur's and Karthis' hands and then tied them together in a line.  Naimh's hands were also tied, but enough slack was provided so that she could use her "crutch" while she pretended to favor her right ankle.  She was then tied into the back of the line.
And so they began to march towards the Charr camp and the excavation pit with the Commander in the lead, followed by three pairs of Charr soldiers, the single-file line of prisoners and then another three pairs of soldiers.  Naimh wondered what had happened to Paulina's pet spider.  It had disappeared the moment the Charr spotted them in the meadow.  Naimh hoped that it was following them just out of sight and might be able to help rescue them somehow.
"So, you over-confidant, god-fearing idiots still have those weapon lockers at the bottom of the pit?" asked Karthis of the Commander.  "Shut it!" was all that the Charr barked back.  "No, I'm serious" Karthis replied in an almost jovial tone.  "Keeping a shed full of weapons opposite a cavern full Skritt is a stupid idea."
The Commander stopped the procession and walked back to Karthis, facing him horns to horns.  He then growled "It's locked, as you well know, and the Skrrt make you look intelligent, so we're not worried."
He then turned to one of his soldiers and barked out "Run ahead and tell the Shaman to meet us on the overseer's deck.  Tell him that Karthis yet lives, but with his permission I'd like to see the wretch dive to his death.  Sooner, rather than later!" The soldier gave a curt nod and then ran off on all fours.  The commander turned once again to Karthis and said "I'm not worried.  But you should be!"  With a foul laugh he returned to the head of the column and then began marching towards the camp as fast as Naimh's faked injury would allow.  Karthis remained silent as he had no more useful information that he wished to impart to his companions.
It took about half an hour for them to reach the Overseer's Platform.  It jut out over the pit by about ten feet and the edge was adorned with Skrrt and Human skulls on pikes.  There was a gap in the wall of pikes that was large enough to allow a Charr to be pushed off to his death though. On one side was a raised section with a large, stone throne atop it.  The three sides that didn't hang over the pit were surrounded by a five foot wooden palisade with a gate which the party passed through.  The platform itself was roughly thirty foot square.  The prisoners were brought in and lined up opposite the throne.  Their hands were left bound but they were detached from each other.  When the group looked up at the throne they saw the largest Charr in the camp glaring down at them.
"So you survived the elements Karthis?  I'm almost impressed" said Shaman Fiendstone.
"Oh, I think you're impressed" said Karthis, "because I bet it's made you even more fearful of facing me in a duel."
Fiendstone roared and leaped from his throne. "I do not fear you Karthis" he hissed. "I have nothing but contempt for you.  I won't fight you because you do not deserve an honorable death!"  Karthis just shrugged dismissively and said "If your troops believe that..."
Fiendstone whirled around and strode forcefully back to his throne.  Once seated, he barked to an aide "Bring me the little, grey meat."
A Charr guard in a corner of the platform behind the throne pushed forward an old Asura.  He barely came up to the Charr's waist and the look on his face betrayed his utter disdain for his captors, although none of them seemed to notice.
"Do you know any of these wretches?" asked Fiendstone as he gestured towards the prisoners.  The Asura scanned the line, pausing for a second when he spotted Naimh, and then simply said "No."
"Can you tell me anything about the small one that looks like a plant?"  Grokk paused for a second as he determined the best way to play this and then said "It's a Sylvari.  They're sentient plants.  Harmless.  Mostly they just make good farmers.  Rata Sum imports a lot of food from them."  Fiendstone pondered and then asked "Do you think it's soul would power the Bloodstone?"  Not liking where the conversation was going, Grokk diplomatically said "We don't even know if they have souls -- it is afterall, just a plant."
"Yes, good point." Fiendstone said. "However, we do know that Charr and Human souls will power it, so I think it's time for us to say 'good-bye' Karthis.  You humans can enjoy the show before we put you to work excavating in the pit."
Suddenly, Skoldur's face broke out in a smile as he realized something that only he was aware of.  "No!" he shouted.  "I will never become your slave!"  And with that exclamation, he ran towards the edge of the platform, preparing to jump into the pit.
As he ran to the edge, Naimh observed that Skoldur's skin was turning black as thousands of feathers suddenly sprouted from his head, torso and arms.  His arms narrowed and elongated and the bindings fell off.  His head also changed, becoming black and elongated.  By the time he got to the edge of the platform and launched himself into the air, Skoldur had transformed into a half-man, half-raven, fully blessed by the spirits of the wild, Norn.
The story continues in Chapter 12

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