Craig Huther Wielding magic and tech, often hand in hand

Kritana & Vavo

Kritana

A dark wind howled and sheets of rain fell as the pair of elves ran down the trail, their wet cloaks trying to slow them in vain. The sky was unnaturally dark, the only light coming from the occasional crack of lightning as it raced across the sky. An eerie red glow appeared on the horizon. Kritana prayed they could keep up this pace. they were only a half days run from their client, she thanked the gods for the luck they’ve had so far. They’ve avoided numerous scouts and patrols. A battalion nearly flanked them but they had just squeezed out.

Anxiety settled into Kritana out here in the grasslands, they were far too exposed. The road had started to ware on her and she was worried about Vavo. He was unusually quiet since they left the forest. She stole a glance back at him. His eyes darted around, ever vigilant, the sharp edges of his face standing out against the chaotic background, his golden hair sticking to his face with his lilac eyes almost glowing.

“There looks like a ridge coming up ahead.” Vavo growled, “We should get down it swiftly.”

They had been traveling for three days now, only taking minimal time to meditate. They weren’t told much about this job, only where to grab it and from whom. Kritana lightly touched the small bag hanging from her neck. This score was more valuable than anything they had gotten their hands on before and she had a feeling there were many agents out to get the pair.

“I believe we are being tracked” Vavo growled and nodded over behind them.

Kritana saw what he meant, but as the next flash of lightning illuminated the environment, naught was to be seen. The weight around her neck grew. They had been in dangerous situations before but this was a different level. They descended the ridge with ease and paused for just a moment to catch their breaths.

A bolt of lightning came from behind a knoll, Kritana dove to avoid it. A blur of a shadow bolted toward her and she managed to tumble. A flash of steel, a shower of sparks, her dagger saved her from the cut of a long-sword. The hulking mass of the cloaked man towered over Kritana. As the assailant drew back, Vavo grabbed him from behind. Kritana used the opening to dive her dagger into the man’s gut. Instead of a satisfying slice, the knife raked across fine chain-mail. A mailed backhand struck across Kritana’s face and sent her flying back. Lightning illuminated the man flipping Vavo over his head, slamming him into the muddy ground.

“Where is it?!” The man roared, holding Vavo by the throat.

Rage took over Kritana as she charged the cloaked man, pulling out the dagger she kept in her boot. Again, a mailed fist met her face and she saw stars as she was sent flying for the second time. She laid, dazed, for just a moment but then she heard chanting, the beginning of a spells channel. Lightning started to crackle around the man’s arms and eyes glowed as he chanted another spell. Vavo couldn’t die, she needed him.

“Vavo!” Kritana cried out, just wishing there was some way she could save him

A brilliant flash of gold light engulfed Kritana’s vision. Her arm was outstretched, toward Vavo and the man, the tips of her fingers smoking. The cloaked man slowly fell to the side without a sound and lay, motionless. Kritana rushed to Vavo’s side.

“Are you okay? I thought he was going to kill you!”

“I’m fine, I’m fine. Let’s just get rid of this godforsaken haul.”

As they moved on, Kritana glanced at the body of the cloaked man, a singed hole right though his torso. She looked her hand, the source of this salvation. The tips of her fingers looked like they had been stained grey.

Neither of them noticed the rain had cleared up.

Kritana couldn’t understand it, her family didn’t have a drop of magic blood. She had heard tales of people gaining magic before, but she assumed it was just that. Tales. She didn’t feel any different. Maybe it was just a fluke of the gods. Either way she was relieved Vavo is okay. She didn’t know what she would do without him. Once they land this job, they’re out for good. Settle somewhere south away from all the madness.

The pair was coming up on the drop spot, they were meeting the client there. It was a small cropping of rocks with a small stream, barely a landmark.

“There’s our client” Vavo growled

Kritana took out a small crystal from her pocket and tossed it into the air. At the top of it’s arc it broke and flashed a quick green light. They waited and saw a similar, red flash, come from their client. They then approached.

“I take it you were successful?” The man asked

“Yes, we have it right here, Emperion. We would like our payment now. This has brought us nothing but trouble.”

“Once we verify the integrity of the score, we can relinquish the payment. Please, follow me.” He then strolled off into a small passage.

Emperion led them down the tight passage, barely wider than their shoulders. They walked in silence for just a minute before the passage opened up into a small clearing. The clouded sky hung above them and cliffs surrounded the clearing. Kritana noticed there were five others in this clearing, all huddled in the middle of the clearing around a small raised dais. Emperion motioned to the five others and they quickly spread out.

“Please place the object on the dais, Kritana. Out of the bag.” Emperion calmly asked

She strode out toward the dais, into the center of the clearing. She noticed a large six pointed symbol on the ground, made of shiny powder with many intricate symbols inside. Each of the five others were standing on a point of the symbol, with Emperion on the sixth. Kritana took the small bag off of her neck, undid the tie, and emptied it’s contents onto the dais. A small, plain looking rock tumbled out. More questions filled Kritana’s mind.

“Thank you. Now please, step outside the circle while we perform the ritual. Then you will receive your payment.”

She walked back to where Vavo was, near the edge of the clearing. He was still, watching Kritana as she approached him.

The Six began to chant. At first Kritana could almost make out what they were saying, but she quickly realized it was not Elvish. She held onto Vavo’s arm as a slight wind picked up. The dais began to glow, faintly. As the chant took on a new verse, it got louder. Kritana felt like her head was being pierced as the wind and lights in the clearing picked up. She tightened her grip on her partner. She couldn’t think, the sound and the light was too much. She had to cover her eyes, ears. Too much. She let go of Vavo and tried to stop the overload of her senses. It could have been ten seconds or ten years.

And then.

Silence.

It was the loudest silence she had ever heard.

Kritana slowly opened her eyes. She looked around as they adjusted to the darkness. The stone was gone, just a singed mark where it had been. The Six looked rattled, but they were beaming, looking satisfied. She turned to talk Vavo.

But he wasn’t there.

He wasn’t anywhere.


Vavo

A dark wind howled and sheets of rain fell as the pair of elves ran down the trail, their wet cloaks trying to slow them in vain. The sky was unnaturally dark, the only light coming from the occasional crack of lightning as it raced across the sky. An eerie red glow was on the horizon. Vavo was pleased at the pace they were keeping, they were just half a days run from their client. They were the best pair of rogues in Luxidon after all. They had easily avoided numerous lookouts and patrols.

But that wasn’t what had him worried. His mind was yearning for something yet he didn’t know what. Not unlike the ache of your belly after many days on the road. Vavo’s eyes darting left and right. Was this some fatigue of the road? He had never experienced it before. Perhaps it was a disease, he would need to see a healer soon. After this score.

“There looks like a ridge coming up ahead.” Vavo growled, “We should get down it swiftly.”

They had been traveling for three days now, only taking minimal time to meditate. They weren’t told much about this job, only where to grab it and from whom. Kritana carried the score around her neck in a small pouch. Their client was paying a King’s ransom for whatever this was and he was sure they weren’t the only one looking for it. Vavo saw movement out just as a flash of lightning faded out.

“I believe we are being tracked” Vavo growled and nodded over behind them.

He was extra vigilant now, refusing to let uneasiness set in. They had to get down this ridge swiftly, they were vulnerable on the descent. The job was almost done and he would not be bested now, not when he was this close to getting out. They caught their breath for just a moment before setting back across the field

Vavo heard the chanting before anything else. He feinted to the side as a bolt of lightning occupied where he just was. A shower of sparks erupted as Kritana parried a blow from the assailant. Vavo saw his opening as he leaped onto their back. He held him by the neck as Kritana rushed in for a stab, but she was unsuccessful. With more speed than Vavo thought for a man this size, he backhanded Kritana. With the same swift movement Vavo was grabbed and slammed into the mud.

“Where is it?!” The man roared, holding Vavo by the throat.

He struggled at the man’s fingers, unable to take a breath. Vavo was blacking out quickly. The sound of Kritana yelling rang in his ears and ended with the thud of a fist into flesh. The pressure on his throat was released enough for him to notice the man was channeling another lightning spell. He wouldn’t be able to get out of the way. This was the end of the road.

So much for that retirement.

The light from the channeling spell lit up the man’s face, a crazed look upon it, his eyes glowing bright. But the light didn’t stop getting brighter, it wasn’t coming from the man. Vavo looked to the side and saw Kritana. She was enveloped in a golden light, her eyes ablaze.

“Vavo!” She cried out as beam of brilliant light shot from her outstretched arm.

Vavo glanced up at the man, his eyes no longer glowing. He fell slowly and crumpled. A large hole in his chest.

“Are you okay? I thought he was going to kill you!” Kritana was at Vavo’s side, stroking at his hair. He brushed her aside.

“I’m fine, I’m fine. Let’s just get rid of this godforsaken haul.”

They moved on. Vavo stole a glance at Kritana and observed her looking over her hand. He wondered what god had given her such power, or perhaps something old in her blood?

He mulled it over, hungering for similar power.

That hunger from before was louder now, refusing to be just in the background. He felt it in his entire body, not just focused on one area. Was the disease quickening? Or perhaps, it was something else. What exactly was the object hanging around Kritana’s neck? Vavo quickly snapped out of it. Rogues honor to not take anything we were contracted to retrieve.

The pair was coming up on the drop spot; they were meeting the client there. It was a small cropping of rocks with a small steam, barely a landmark. Vavo saw him first, pacing impatiently by an opening in the rock.

“There’s our client” he growled.

A small flash of green light came from above Kritana, she had given the signal. Just a moment passed when a similar, red flash, came from the client. They then made their approach.

“I take it you were successful?” The man said

“Yes, we have it right here, Emperion. We would like our payment now. This has brought us nothing but trouble.”

“Once we verify the integrity of the score, we can relinquish the payment. Please, follow me.” He then strolled off into a small passage.

They followed, Vavo taking up the rear. He was buzzing with anxiety, this passage made him claustrophobic. They walked for a while, in silence, until they could see the clouded sky in a small clearing. There were five others here, all huddled in the middle of the clearing. A small raised dais was at the center of a symbol etched into the ground. Emperion motioned to the others and they quickly spread out to the edges of the symbol.

“Please place the object on the dais, Kritana. Out of the bag.” Emperion calmly asked

Vavo watched as she strode toward the dais. He had trouble concentrating here, the buzz of the place getting on his nerves. Kritana reached the center and poured out the bag that hang from her neck onto the dais. He watched as It rolled though the air.

It was the most beautiful thing Vavo had ever laid his eyes upon.

The golden stone was shining brilliantly, he nearly had to cover his eyes but he did not want to miss a second of this. Intricate symbols were carved into the surface of the stone, each one shining a different color of beautiful light. The stone was smooth and sharp at the same time, its many facets reflecting the light coming from inside.

Vavo had never wanted anything before in his life as bad as he wanted that stone. He was about to step towards it when Kritana came back to his side. He realized the Six were chanting, and with each verse the stone changed and shone brighter. Vavo would have grabbed it already had it not been for Kritana holding onto him.

The Six chanted louder. A fierce wind whipped though the clearing but Vavo would not let wind stop him from looking at the beautiful, wonderful stone. It was precious and needed to be saved. It needed to be saved now! These men were going to hurt it! His eyes were watering and burning from the brightness. The stone grew brighter and more intricate, gaining more facets and colors than he thought was possible. It called louder to him and he was hungry to respond. He could think of nothing else, for there was nothing else more important than. The. Stone.

And then.

Kritana let go of him. He grabbed It. And was gone. They were somewhere alone.

Just him and the stone.

[ dnd  hilgarth  lore  ]