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(RP) The Gamblers

John Knighthawke

Stratics Veteran
Part One: John
John couldn't quite remember at which Shrine he was fighting that night – after awhile, they all blurred together for him. As he, together with a Cu Sidhe and the Cu's master, faced the supernaturally-powered, mace-wielding terror, one of the Fellowship's generals, it didn't much matter.

The Cu's master clearly intended to let the Cu attack it before John – it could take a lot more punishment. The macer, a very dangerous opponent for John, however, had other ideas, and charged John while the dog nipped at his heels.

Despite his disadvantages versus the macer, John was in no mood to back down. His only hope was to avoid or block the mace-strikes and strike towards the gaps in his opponent's armor.

Unfortunately for John there weren't many of those.

John blocked a wild swing with his shield, and countered with a driving thrust at his foe's face. The macer turn his head slightly, John's thrust was blocked by the helmet, and John's foe countered with a short mace-jab at John's face, which connected, splitting John's nose and rattling his teeth. Ignoring the pain and splattering blood, John stepped inward further and swung his sword toward the macer's neck, right under where the helmet ended. It was a risky move but the gamble worked, John's sword connected, cut into the macer's considerable neck muscle, and John followed up with a draw cut, opening the shallow wound further and making the macer's blood spurt and gush.

Now, at least in terms of the amount of blood spurting, the combatants were even.

The Cu Sidhe was upon the macer now. A short distance away, more people were finishing up with an archer, so John knew that he, the dog, and its master would have to hold on for only mere moments. John ducked a swing that would have smashed his head through his helmet, the Cu's teeth punched holes in the macer's armor, and the macer was having difficulty deciding which target to swing at next. He focused on the animal at first and John worried for it, so hard were the macer's strikes, but the animal seemed to be holding out, with the assistance of its master. John thrusted, aiming for under his opponent's arm. The macer, distracted by the dog, tried to block with his shield but did so clumsily, John quickly changed the direction of the thrust, his sword skittered along the edge of the macer's shield, and found its target. The penetration was shallow but it enough. More blood spurted, the macer grunted, John pulled his sword back, twirled it into another line of attack, thrusted at the back of the macer's knee, and punched all the way through. Weakened by John's and the Cu Sidhe's repeated hits, the macer couldn't move quickly enough to counter the other adventurers, having finally finished off the archer, moving in. In just a few moments of fighting the entire group, the macer's supernaturally-infused strength wore out, and he lay dead.

John fell backward against a tree, breathing heavily, and watching the blood from his smashed nose drop into the ground. His companions of the day, an adventuring guild the name of which John could not at present recall, regarded him warmly.

“You ok John?” someone asked him.


“Thanks for the assist.”

“You are welcome.” John smirked as his blood flowed and spurted. “Any excuse to kill the Fellowship.”

Despite their attacks on the Shrines, the Fellowship's influence, power, and support continued unabated. John knew of the problems with moving directly against them. Its leader, and perhaps its entire leadership structure, was protected by some kind of dark magic – a link with their god, the entity known only as “The Destroyer” or “The Voice.” They had cultivated relationships with the nobility of the realm through persuasion and blackmail. And Brialla's walk made it obvious that the Fellowship had support among the people – and, perhaps, the Crown itself.

But, still, it was frustrating for John to see the Fellowship's blatant arrogance in having it both ways. They were difficult to touch, despite their making their true nature shockingly obvious.

Later that night, John stood alone in the shallow woods just at the edge of the clearing surrounding the Yew Moongate, a bandage covering his injured nose.

Part Two: Duncan
Duncan came through the Moongate and quickly shook off the disorientation of Moongate travel. He noticed John, and walked over. John had arranged this meeting. Duncan wasn't sure why but, as always, he was willing to put up with hastily-arranged, vague meetings for his best customer.

Duncan noticed John's bandaged nose, but said nothing. He also noticed John's mood and demeanor. He'd known John a long time, but had rarely seen John this weary, even in more turbulent times. Duncan surmised that for some reason the Shrine battles were getting to John.

“You realize, John. You realize you and I've both seen darker fighting than this. Recently too.”

“I know,” replied John. The bandage made John's voice more nasal than normal. “There is something about this, though, Something different.”

“You sure the situation's what's different and not you?”

“No I am not. It could just be me. Something my father said, something like 'every little war wears you out a little bit.'”

“Wise man, your father, but . . . I don't know that he's right about that. 'Least not entirely. We wouldn't be in this business if we didn't kinda like it, at least sometimes.”

“No, I suppose not.”

“So what's it, really.”

“If I could understand it my friend, I would express it. But unfortunately I can do neither.”

Duncan lit his pipe expertly, despite the wind picking up at that exact moment. “Well I think I know. It's that, no matter how bad things get here, no matter how much they attack the Shrines, mess up magic, and no matter how many new armies show up right when you think you know who you're fightin', the real fight ain't here. The real fight's something we can't see. It's out there, in the ether, in the Void, someplace. Killing the Fellowship's nice, and I'm glad we're doing it. But at the end of the day all we can do is that, and pray the Time Lord's right about all this. And that ain't much to hope for.”

“No, I suppose it is not.”

“I feel all this too you know. I'm just more used to it, and more used to hiding it. But, I promise John, I feel it too. It ain't just you. And that's why we've made up our minds about something. If we can sever whatever link there is between Batlin and the Voice, and if we think we can get away with it, we're killin' him. Whether we're s'posed to or not.”


“Aye, and any of their leaders we come across. we ain't gonna let ourselves get caught or nothing, no offense but I'm past taking that kinda risk if I don't have to, but I'm done waiting for orders. If the odds are in my favor I'm taking 'em. Destinie's with me, that's all that matters.”

“I will take the same pledge. Once Batlin's protections seem to be lifted, should I encounter him in battle I will engage and slay him, even if we are ordered not to, and even if other targets seem more important at the time. Accidents in battle happen all the time. Your risk, Duncan, is greater than mine, though – a consequence of the different kinds of battles we fight....So I must ask, though you already have answered.....Are you certain of this?”

“Pretty sure. That'll do for now. And like I said, if it's too risky I ain't doing it. If I can do it, though, John, I might need to send for you, if I think that'll be faster then making it back to your house or some house Destinie controls. I can count on you?”

“Of course,”

“Good. Warn Tanda there might be an unexpected guest or two, and don't you sleep too heavy. And if you get word....You best come running.”

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