Investigation

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Entry 1799 24/08/07 00:00
"Okay, all right," said the blacksmith. "I know this feller is a Commander of Lyte and such and all, but there are lots of men on this huge island. I'm not mathematician but doesn't that equally a terribly large amount of money? The pay is already high and I heard our last Captain mutter about stretching the limits."

He fell back onto a big chair and leant against the wall, stroking his beard in thought. 

"I'm willing to help, though. Perhaps there's another way to can lower the risk these men are exposed to, if you catch my meaning..."
 
Entry 1800 25/08/07 00:00
"Your last Captain had already being driven insane, and possibly did not have access to the same coffers his replacement has." The Ildemin watched the blacksmith as he thought. "The Commander is high-ranking, perhaps he can acquire what his predecessor here could not."

As the blacksmith began speaking again, Daven's eyes glinted slightly, as if it were visible that his brain was working within.

"If we do have a way to lower the risk, any way, it may be the moraliser that money will not be. Hope is a powerful motivator, as is a Commander of Lyte. But first..." The Ildemin peered closely at the blacksmith. "What are your ideas, if any, to reduce the risk? I am open to suggestions, we may need them."
 
Entry 1801 03/09/07 00:00
"Well goodness," cried the smith, "isn't it your job to think things up? Oh I guess you're just a sell-sword, so thinking isn't your thing, eh?" he teased. "But I'm sure this Murdock fellow can do more than our last leader, if he can even be called that... Look at it this way; the men fear the imminent doom that hangs over this island. Surely you felt it when you came here. What if you were to take some men and trek down to the south, where the real danger lies, and come back with some kind of trophy? Even if it's a skull you found in the dirt, you can claim it's a Folang leader and that they won't be nearly as dangerous now that they have no commanding unit. You'd be surprised what men are capable of when they believe their enemy to be naught."
 
Entry 1802 14/09/07 00:00
"We could do that. It would be a gambit more than anything, but it's possible. The men may end up believing anything in this kind of state. " He looked at the blacksmith carefully. "How is it that you retain sanity yet no-one else does? You're thinking straight, you show no signs of breaking and you're acting completely normal. Yet you've seen the damage these things can do."

He paused. "Unless it's the sight of seeing the things themselves that has broken the men, rather than the damage. Or seeing them in the action of doing the damage. But anyway..." 

He shook his head, then pointed at the damaged cuirass. "I suggest hiding that. The men see that..." He let the sentence hang in the air.
 
Entry 1803 15/09/07 00:00
The smith shrugged. "I dunno what it is. I aint scared, but then I reckon I'm pretty safe down here eh?" He grabbed the cuirass and chucked it into a dark corner, where it landed with a clang. "I guess that's the reason for my sanity?" 

He turned and looked at Daven with dark eyes, suddenly looking peculiar somehow. He stared for a minute as though daring him to respond, and then he turned back to his furnace. Then he wiped his thick moustache, sniffed, and threw himself down in a chair that somehow managed to support his weight. 

"So do ye want directions? If yer gonna be heading south to find something to use as a trophy, and you take some men... Well I can easily imagine them running in fear before ye even reach the wasteland. So..." He reached over to his drawer and pulled out an old scroll. "Take this 'ere map. It'll guide you to the caves and back. Waddya say t' that?" He held the map out, looking up again with his strange stare from beneath bushy eyebrows.
 
Entry 1804 11/10/07 00:00
(I said I'd get it done eventually! Ha!)

"Perhaps. At least that means we have someone sane to give us information on the others here, and the surrounding area." Daven muttered as he watched the cuirass sail into the corner. "The other soldiers seem a little too demoralised to do even that."

He took the map from the smith and studied it carefully. "This is good. It will keep the men I pick from the fresh units under control. Though hopefully their discipline would do that, but you never know..."

He could feel the smith's eyes on him and met them. "So I'll make sure to take them, a small group should be sufficient, so as to not leave the place protected by the already-broken soldiers." 

He sighed. "Why are you looking at me like that? Am I really that unusual?"
 
Entry 1805 20/10/07 00:00
"Aye that's a good idea," the smith said. "Naw you're not unusual. Not compared to most of the men 'round here anyway. You've got an air in your head. The others have dust and smog." He choked a laugh and turned to get back to his work. 

"Just be careful. There are really dangerous things out there, ya know..."

[1]
 
Entry 1806 28/06/08 00:00
[1]

His dark, thoughtful eyes glared into the flickering flames of the nearby campfire. Leaning on one of the wall's stone pillars, Thane crossed his heavy gauntleted arms across his chest. A warm gleam emanating from the fire reflected against his metal clad armor. The cold weather had forced him to push his visored helmet against his face, concealing most of his features apart from his oculi. Dim fog eluded from his breath, cluttering his sight further.

He didn't like being in this place, yet he did it, just to please his father. "A good opportunity ta' get promoted son!" hurled his father as he waved him good bye.

Thane sighed, he didn't want to be here. Not only were the living conditions mediocre, but apparently men were turning insane, and they were all doomed. For some reason, though, the lad didn't seem particularly bothered by the rumoring.
 
Entry 1807 29/06/08 00:00
"He's going to do what?"

"Go out into the wild and bring back a trophy to prove there's nothing to fear, sir," said the trembling. 

Murdock seemed infuriated at the least. His raised voice, tight knuckles, and concentrated stare were proof enough, but there was still a strange calmness in his posture that gave him an aura of authority when compared with the cowardly soldiers. He looked at each man individually. They all looked away.

"That's a task for a captain, not a lowly soldier," Murdock said, raising his head. "Bhergen, prepare my equipment for a trek."

"Yes sir," said a large fellow. 

---------------------------------

Murdock strode out of the door with surprising grace but then stopped in his tracks. He scanned the room and addressed the first soldier he laid eyes on. 

"You there," Murdock said, pointing at Thane. 

"Address your superior at once!" Bhergen growled. 

Murdock didn't wait for such formalities, though. Before Thane could even stand, he tossed his first offer at the young man: "Accompany me and my bodyguard into the wilderness for three days. I will increase your pay thricefold should you accept. Should you not, you had very well best resign."
 
Entry 1808 30/06/08 00:00
Thane blinked lightly. Hearing Murdock's "You there", he glanced to his side and nearly gasped as Bhergen shouted to him. He hurriedly pressed off the ground with a loud and clumsy clang of his armor's metallic pieces smacking against each others and stood straight, resting his right hand onto the hilt of his crummy, rusted sheathed iron sword.

A frown adorned his brows for a moment as Murdock explained the orders and his expression eased up on the superior's last comment. Resign? He'd much rather die in the battlefield, his father would be crushed with disappointment.

"Yes, sire." He muttered simply, in a low, rather diffident tone of voice. He flicked the visor of his helmet up, revealing his black eyes which cradled the reflection of the nearby flames. He stood there, motionless, waiting for further orders.
 
Entry 1809 02/07/08 00:00
Murdock avoided Thane's eyes. He turned to Bhergen and nodded. 

"This one will do. It doesn't have a smart mouth. Are you ready to go now? Of course you're ready." He was not looking at Thane, but his slightly raised voice indicated he was not speaking to Bhergen. "We are to leave at once. There is no time to waste. The sanity of these insane fools depends on you."

---------------------------------

Outside, it was bitter cold and the wind howled through the trees around and behind the fort. Before them, a vast, dirty wasteland stretched out for quite some time until viciously rocky mountains greeted it. There was not an animal or bird in sight. Murdock started down the road that led south without saying anything. Bhergen, who was carrying all the equipment, followed close behind. Neither of them said anything to Thane.
 
Entry 1810 02/07/08 00:00
The lad glanced around the fort for a moment, awkwardly avoiding the disturbed soldiers' glares and staggered towards Murdock and Bhergen. He remained silent, right hand still pressing against the hilt of his sheathed sword relaxed.

He began tailing the two men down the South path, a worried gaze scanning the surroundings systematically as his fingers swirled around the handgrip of his blade, ready to be drawn at any given moment.
 
Entry 1811 11/07/08 00:00
For the most part, they walked southward tirelessly. The air was cold and the wind never died down, throwing all sorts of bizarre clouds across the sky high above. At one point, some very small hairy animals jumped across some rocks nearby, but other than that, nothing else moved. As the sky began to grow redder, they came upon some very rugged channels in the stone, as though an oversized piece of farming equipment had been dragged back and forth over a large area by a giant. 

"I appreciate your astuteness, but there is no need to strain your cold fingers. Relax your hand, soldier, and spread a tarpaulin here across a narrow part of the trench. We'll need something to sleep under tonight."

Bhergen began to patrol the surroundings as instructed and Murdock simply jumped down into the dusty trench to observe the stones. Bhergen had unpacked a folded tarpaulin from his gear and left it at Thane's feet. Next to it were some metal pegs and a mallet.
 
Entry 1812 16/08/08 00:00
Thane was ever so quiet, making his way behind the two men as the cold gust smacked against the side of his tilted face. Eyes narrowed and vigilant, he carried on gazing through the dust, twisting the palm of his hand around the hilt.

As the small animal suddenly popped out of the rocks, the lad quickly and abruptly drew his sword out of its scabbard and stood motionless, eyes widening and blade risen above his head. With a sigh of relief and awkward movement, he sheathed it back noticing there was no danger.

Grunting lightly, he kept his hand in position, by his side and stretched down to reach for the tarpaulin which he began to assemble slowly.
 
Entry 1813 16/09/08 00:00
The shelter was soon up and Bhergen had been standing there the whole time Thane was assembling it. 

"They're just rodents," he said flatly. "They'd bite your finger if you let them. Otherwise harmless, though. Best not be drawing at every sign of movement else the captain will think yer on edge, ya hear?" Bhergen had a flat accent and spoke with a frown, and his eyes shifted from side to side as he spoke, as though he was looking for something he had dropped. 

There came a terrible scream from high above. Through grey clouds, there were what seemed to be giant birds flying high above. They circled the humans for perhaps half a minute before flying out of sight again. 

"Those... a bit more dangerous," said Bhergen. He turned around to see Murdock trudging over a hill towards them. "Good enough for a trophy, sir?" he called out as Murdock came into hearing range. 

The captain shook his head. "No, and we have no bows. We need something that is actually going to come within range of my blade." He noticed the shelter was up and looked at Thane. "Good. It's no good sleeping when it's dark. It get so cloudy that the day looks like dusk. Get some sleep now and be ready in a few hours when we continue. There's a ridge some way off that would make good shelter from the wind and there are nests near it."

[1]
 
Latest Post Entry 1815 31/01/09 00:00
[1]

Amon praised his luck. The dirt and stone provided a convenient background to hide in with his rusty color. He had already completed sneaking behind the backs of the two men, rummaged through their luggage and pocketed the small amount of food he was able to find. All that was left was to escape unnoticed. Remembering all that he'd learned, he kept himself low enough to crawl along the ground, but not so low that he dragged and left a trail to be followed. 

He was nearly to the crest of the hill he had chosen to escape over when a new human, and the biggest he'd yet seen, made his way over the summit. He quickly dropped his body to the ground and rolled to his left, behind a boulder. He lay flat on his back and hoped the new arrival didn't notice or hear him hide away. As the man passed the rock Amon moved as well, keeping the boulder between the two of them. 

The man began to speak with the others and it was apparent that Amon had gone unnoticed. He inadvertently let out a deep sigh then quickly brought a hand to his mouth in a desperate attempt to muffle the sounds of his breath. 

What was probably the biggest mistake of his life was closing his eyes and waiting.
 
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