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 Post subject: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:55 pm 
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<Gaerlan> Gaerlan is at a table writing as she is let in. She recognizes it as one of the sort of trances the Blackguard regularly partakes of and, given the erratic motion of his hand, that it must be close to complete. The Hell Hound across his feet starts to rise as the Paladin enters, but pauses when he recognizes her. She's a common enough visitor, though not without her sisters.

<Gaerlan> The door closes and locks behind her as the doorguards leave the two alone.

<Annabeth> As always, Annabeth maintains a cool outer expression, though her lip curls slightly; whether at the sight of the fiend, or Gaerlan's trance, he can't tell.

<Gaerlan> Can't tell indeed dear readers, for within the trance Gaerlan is fairly blocked out to the rest of the world. After a few moments of waiting however, his hand moving furiously across the paper,

<Gaerlan> At last he opens his eyes, working his head around his neck. "Useful, but not comfortable." He glances at the paladin, "You understand of course."

<Gaerlan> "I don't suppose you'd give me a massage?"

<Annabeth> "I am a warrior of the holy light. Not your maidservant. On the other hand, it may be quite tempting, to have my hands so near your throat."

<Gaerlan> He streaches, lazily, like a cat. "You're welcome to try my dear."

<Gaerlan> After a long moment he stands, collects the paper, and moves to the door. He passes off the papers to one of the servants waiting - to be carried to Puella - and returns his attention to his prisoner. He flops across the feather bed, "Do you enjoy these meetings?"

<GM> On the paper is written: "The dwarves of darkness loath all that walk above ground, and respect strength and force. Name allies you have won, foes you have banished, or make them a gift of gold beloved and enemies most loathed."

<Annabeth> "Best not give in, I think; even if I were to choke the life from you, my sisters would suffer for it. If indeed, they live still?" She stands as if at attention by the door. "Is that a rhetorical question?"

<Gaerlan> "Not at all. It's a simple question. Do you enjoy your time here? Our meetings? Does it bring you pleasure to know that these meetings ease their suffering?"

<Annabeth> "The knowledge that I may ease their suffering, by enduring your presence, yes. The act itself... penance is not supposed to be pleasant."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan shakes his head, "It's so sad. I keep trying to help you see."

<Gaerlan> "You’re so busy worrying about what your God is going to think, and what rules you’re breaking, that you forget what it is to live. You forget what it is to make choices for yourself. I’m trying to show you a path towards happiness. A path towards your desires, your needs, your wants: not towards the ‘noble’ and ‘virtuous’ path that at the end of your days will leave you empty, with a lifetime of regrets. A lifetime of things you should have done, things you might have experienced."

<Gaerlan> He rolls over, "When was the last time you did what you wanted Annabeth?"

<Annabeth> "That would be... the night we met."

<Annabeth> "Is it so foreign to you, that such a life truly is 'what I want?'"

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan smiles at the memory, "Yes."

<Annabeth> "Then I pity you. There is far more fulfillment, more lasting satisfaction in the service to others, than merely trying to sate every desire that passes through your mind. If more people realized that, we should truly have Heaven on earth."

<Gaerlan> "Heaven. A dreary place filled with those worshiping an ideal they can never actually reach. No doubt better than a world in which people do as they wish, as they will, as they desire."

<Annabeth> "A world of zero inhibitions... and zero fulfillment. Empty lusts, trying to fill an emptiness that they can barely realize is there. Why bother to have a soul at all, if you have no greater ambition than any beast of the field?"

<Gaerlan> "How do you know how empty lusts are, oh Bride of Mitra, so pure and chaste."

<Annabeth> "I have seen them in others; even felt them myself from time to time, though I do not let them rule me. We sisters all took our turns doing charity work in Drownington; do you know, every time there was a flood, there were two groups of people that stood out to us."

<Gaerlan> "Do tell."

<Gaerlan> He finishes his roll out of the bed, approaching her.

<Annabeth> She stares straight ahead at a spot on the wall, though she takes a half-step away from him. "About one in ten were eager to help their neighbors; even if they were injured, as soon as they were strong enough, they threw themselves into rebuilding, feeding, clothing, healing, refusing charity to better give it. They were always the ones who walked with a spring in their step, who were the first to smile again."

<Gaerlan> He circles her, like a shark around a wounded seal, "No doubt Mitra's holy spirit filled their little hearts with joy."

<Annabeth> "Another one in ten or so refused to do anything, even to help themselves; they would eat from the Church's coffers for the rest of their lives if they could. They went so far as to give up their own children, if caring for them meant they would have to shift up from wallowing in the wrack and self-pity. Their eyes were dull, their spirits broken. Even those who had nothing looked on them with contempt, for they would rather stay at the bottom, than better their lot."

<Annabeth> "Of the two, I know which I would call happier."

<Gaerlan> "That's your mistake then dear." One hand runs across her back, to a shoulder, "You're confusing me with those sad men. I do not wallow in pity. Nor do I seek to supplicate myself to your little god. I am in control of my own destiny, and my own desires. Of the flesh," That same hand runs across her collarbone, "of the mind, and of the spirit."

<Gaerlan> "I don't need saving. I don't want saving. You're trying to raise people up, to keep their head above water. But I'm not drowning in the depths. I'm not being dragged down. This is where I live. These are the waters in which I swim. You're so busy trying to keep your head above the water that you've forgotten the truth. We call came from the sea..."

<Gaerlan> "Stop struggling..."

<Annabeth> Her hand flashes up to catch his wrist, stopping his hand. "You've seen me struggle once. I'm not doing so now. Don't give me reason to. And you forget, that some of us have risen above the slime; not all of us are sharks that walk as men."

<Gaerlan> "I think you're shark enough."

<Gaerlan> "Your kind think you are sheep dogs, protecting the little sheep from wolves like me. But in your heart you know the truth. You want to howl at the moon just the same. You can deny your nature and whimper as you follow your master around at his heels, but you want something more." He steps close. "Don't you?"

<Annabeth> "I can think of throat I'd like to see torn out, at least."

<Gaerlan> "I make you angry, don't I." He's close enough that she can feel his breath on her. "It's because it's true."

<Annabeth> "That one so deluded as to believe that could live so long, and do so much harm."

<Gaerlan> "Harm to your delicate sensibilities I'm sure. You're trying to tell me you've never wanted to give in?" The hand she holds wraps around the hand holding it, his fingers interlocking with hers.

<Annabeth> She squeezes his wrist hard enough to grind his bones together. "All mortals are imperfect. But I've seen what's at the end of that road, and have no desire to follow your wicked way."

<Gaerlan> "Give in to your anger. Give in to your hate." He whispers in her ear as she grinds bones with her free hand. "Strike me in your fury." He smiles slyly, "Or is it something else you'd like to give into? That line between love and hate is so thin..."


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 11:29 pm 
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<Annabeth> The look of disgust on the paladin's face is so impossible to feign.

<@Gaerlan> Gaerlan laughs, "So offended."

<Gaerlan_Cimo> "Am I so hard to look at?"

<Gaerlan> "Am I?"

<Annabeth> "On the surface, perhaps not," she allows. "But it's been a long time since I looked only at what's skin deep."

<Gaerlan> "Me too." He whispers in her ear, "That's what's so appealing about you."

<Annabeth> She leans away, and pushes him away from her. "And beneath your surface, all I see is rot and decay. Like flowers, growing in a poisoned swamp."

<Gaerlan> "That's the problem. You see rich, deep, black earth, and you're so focused on the color that you don't see what's growing in it."

<Gaerlan> "It's the black soil that one should farm."

<Gaerlan> "Your sisters would agree."

<Annabeth> "There is a difference between rich black loam, and the tainted mud surrounding a dragon's lair. Your breath and blood are soaked through with venom. It only grows other poison."

<Gaerlan> "Seven out of seven priestesses of Mitra can't be wrong."

<Gaerlan> "Former priestesses. Would you like to see?"

<Annabeth> She freezes. "You're lying." She sounds as if she is trying to convince herself.

<Gaerlan> "All that hard work, all that self sacrifice to protect them." Gaerlan smiles, "All for nothing."

<Gaerlan> "All that time you were dining with me, talking, spitting on your vows, they were here behind your back with me."

<Gaerlan_Cimo> "How does that make you feel, darling?


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:21 pm 
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"I feel... as though I have been wasting my breath." With shocking suddenness, she dashes towards the Blade of Balin in the corner of the room., snatching it up before Gaerlan can react, and holding it up in a guard position, gleaming once more with a golden light...


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:49 pm 
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Gaerlan laughs lightly, "Is violence all you know?" He spreads his arms, almost inviting the attack, "Go ahead then. Take my weapon. Strike me down in all of your hate. Prove me right."

His hound lets out a growl, but Gaerlan silences it with a geasure. "What are you waiting for Annabeth? I am unarmed. Now is your chance. Show me the glory and grace of a champion of Mitra."


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:03 pm 
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"All? No. But I see it is the only language that you and I share. I don't hate you, black knight; I pity you. But I'm through wasting my breath."

She steps forward, and strikes Gaerlan with the blade, consecrated once again to Mitra's purpose, with his name on her lips. Durance has not sapped Annabeth's strength or skill, and the sword bites deep, cutting through his unholy armor into flesh. Tongues of white fire leap from it, wrapping themselves around him, rooting him in place, his other sword tantalizingly out of reach...

OOC: Gaerlan takes 36 damage, and is entangled for one round; he cannot move away from Annabeth for that round.


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:19 pm 
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Blood flows freely from the wound, but still Gaerlan makes no move to defend himself. "That's right. Strike down an unarmed man. It's all you know." The wounds close slowly. "Should I call for your sisters as well so you can murder them in cold blood as well?"

There is some motion in the hall behind the door, though it is difficult to hear through it and over the sound of her own breath and Gaerlan's blood hitting the floor.


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:03 pm 
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Annabeth continues the assault, though tears begin to flow from her eyes.

OOC: 27 more damage. Yes, she is smiting, if it makes a difference.


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:22 pm 
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The blade opens bloody wounds more quickly than Gaerlan's unnatural healing can keep up and blood runs in rivers down his chest and legs. It begins to pool around him as he stares at her.

Without warning the door opens, though not to admit soldiers, or priestesses, or the rest of the Knot. Instead a young girl - she cannot be more than six or seven, lets out a scream of pure terror at the sight of the woman attacking Gaerlan. "No! Stop!" She charges heedless into the fray, arms outstreached as she tries to place herself between the two, "You can't hurt my..." the last word goes unsaid as tears run down her face. She stares defiantly at the paladin, eyes brimming with tears and thin arms shaking as she makes a human shield of herself.

Gaerlan's bloodsplattered hand rests on the girl's shoulder, staining her white blouse black. "Go ahead then Annabeth. Afterall, she's a heritic as well. We're all just monsters to you right? Do what your god demands."

15 healing over two rounds and nonlethal conversion puts Gaerlan at 30 damage, 3 nonlethal damage


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:42 pm 
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Annabeth stops her next attack - nowhere near hitting Grace, about to slide into Gaerlan's throat - in shock, her arms jerking the sword away as her eyes widen in horror. For the first time, Gaerlan sees the paladin in the throes of a strong, uncontrolled emotion. Her hands quiver just slightly as she takes a half-step back... and then stop, as that horror is transformed to rage and disgust.

"Using a child as a shield... you're even more vile than I imagined. Did you murder her parents, or simply have her snatched from her bed?"

Her expression is softened by sorrow and remembered pain as she glances down at Grace. "Whatever he's told you, little sister, you are nothing but a tool to him. I am so, so sorry that you have been caught up in this evil man's schemes." The young girl glares back at her defiantly, and Annabeth backs away further.

"I am not a savage or brute, unlike most that you associate with, false knight. It will not be my hand that shows this girl further bloodshed if I can help it. And coward that you are, I'm sure you'll never come to me without her as a shield again," she spits, letting a shade of contempt color her tone. Unless he makes a move to stop her, Annabeth moves to lean in a corner of the room, Balin's sword still clutched tightly.


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 Post subject: Re: Dances with Paladins
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:58 pm 
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Gaerlan gives a mocking laugh, "a shield? Are you so deluded as to think I have anything to fear from you?" He shakesnhis head as he moves around Grace, one strong hand still on her shoulder. "No. Grace is here because she wanted to help. Wanted to help you see, like she wanted to help her foster mother see, that the face if evil is not the face of the enemy, it is the face of your neighbor. It is the face of a child. What a hypocrite you are."

He advances on her, "'I won't spill blood in front of her'" he mocks in an off tone, "but you and your sisters would think nothing of burning her alive in a few years. Nor would you object to starving or freezing thousands of 'savages' and they're children north of the way. Your morale code is as warped as a poisoned tree and as shallow and fecid as a bog. Virtue when convenient, sacrifice when others are the ones doing so. You know in your heart you are wrong! Why are you still fighting for the wrong side? Join me. Join your sisters. Join Grace. Together we can build a better world, of peace, tolerence, and prosperity."


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