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Staring into the Abyss

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Staring into the Abyss

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:31 am

Through the pain, he actually felt a rib crack. He found himself lying on the floor. How did he get here again? Ryn slowly crawled to his hands and knees when a heavy boot caught him in the ribs again. The pain caused him to roll across the bar room floor. Instinctively he reached for the everpresent knife in his boot. His hands grasped around nothing. Why did he come in here unarmed?

“Because your stupid.” he heard a hard but feminine voice say. “I KNOW that you know better. You WANT to get your teeth kicked in!”

It was hard to think. The question confused him. Why would anyone want this? Again he tried to get to his feet. He actually made it to his knees this time. As he reached for a table to help stabilize himself he saw his attacker. It wasn’t the female voice, but a rather large man. Through blurry eyes he saw a meaty fist come swinging in. “That’s going to hurt.” he heard the woman say. She was right.

As the fist crashed into his face, Ryn’s world spun around. The force of the blow knocked him clean over the table and crashing into the chairs on the other side. He could taste blood now. Blood mixed with cheap ale. He vaguely remembered there being lots of ale.

“Are you going to just lie there?” the voice asked. Ryn was pretty sure she sounded exasperated. He had that effect on women. The voice was familiar, but he didn’t know why. “If you don’t do something soon, I think he’s going to kill you?” Yep. She was definitely annoyed at him.

“Shut up!” he slurred. “Just... shut up!” He could hear the man wading through the crowd and chairs to get to him. Who WAS this guy?

“I’ll shut up, when you fight back!” she answered with a voice ful of rage. “After everything you’ve done, your going to DIE. Your going to Die in a damn bar Brawl!”

“SHUT UP!” Ryn cried out! He didn’t even know where she was, but he was getting sick of her voice! ‘After everything you’ve done...’ Memories broke through the drunken haze. Memories that he remembered trying to drown. Maybe he did want to die.

“Last chance...” He could tell she was worried. Really worried. Shaking his head he saw the bruiser clearly. The man was a little taller than Ryn, and built like lumberjack. He didn’t carry himself like a trained fighter, but for an amateur he was doing pretty well! Probably just a villager or logger. More memories flashed through his mind and the reverie nearly cost him his life. He felt himself get hoisted to his feet by the stranger.

“Wait... Enough...” Ryn managed to croak out to his attacker. The man however wasn't interested in what he had to say.

“I’ll tell ya when you’ve had enough!” Ryn gagged on the stranger’s breath. If his fists didn’t drop him soon, his breath would. He seemed drunk too, but was still handling it better than Ryn. The small part of Ryn’s mind that still thought clearly recognized that the punch coming in was killing punch. As time seemed to slow, that rational part wondered if the intoxicated fighter actually meant it to be.

“Do SOMETHING! NOW!!” The woman’s voice screamed.

Instinct kicked in. As the punch came in, Ryn ducked causing the fist to go wide. Before his attacker could recover the hunter finally took the offensive. His fist plunged deep into the man’s ribs, probably breaking a few in return. Next a stunning blow from his other fist took his breath away.

“YES!” The woman said with glee. “Drop him fast, before he recovers. End the fight, before he ends YOU!”

“Shut up...” Was Ryn’s only answer. The adrenaline was pumping now and seemed to be clearing his head. He knew what to do. He’d been doing it all his life. Looking at the man clutching his side, he tried to disarm the situation. “It’s over... Ok? You hit me... I hit you.” It hurt to talk. That last punch probably cracked something in his jaw. “Let’s just both walk away...”

The stranger’s only answer was a bestial growl as he leaped at Ryn. Apparently they weren’t going to be able to end this amiably. The attack was powerful, but clumsy. Whoever this man was, he’d probably never really been in a true fight before. Not like Ryn.

As the man leaped for Ryn, his expression changed in mid-flight. The look of anger and hatred, turned so quickly to confusion in any other situation it would have been comical. Ryn wasn’t in the laughing mood however. He swung the chair he had picked up as hard as he could and the stranger fell to the ground in a pile of kindling and didn’t move.

Ryn staggered over and checked for a pulse. It was there, strong and steady. He’d have a headache when he woke, but then who didn’t now days. Breathing a sigh of relief he stood back up and surveyed the damage. He gave a long whistle. It was pretty impressive. Two tables, about four chairs, couple of bottles. He’d seen worse, but not in a while.

“Actually the last town was worse.” He heard the woman say. “You just don’t remember. You were more drunk then you are now.” He looked around for the familiar voice but all he saw were bar patrons staring quite angrily at him, and nobody was actually talking. They all seemed to be waiting to see what he was going to do next. The bartender had his hands suspiciously under the bar.

“What... What the hell was that all about anyway?” He tried to remember, but it hurt to think.

“You’ll remember tomorrow. You always do...” she said sadly. With a sigh he knew now who he was hearing. “Pay for this. It’s time you were getting the hell out of here.”

“I think you may be right...” Ryn muttered. He staggered a bit toward the door. He dropped some gold on the bar and looked back apologetically to the scared townsfolk. He didn’t remember the details, but he was somehow sure this whole thing had been his fault.

“You got that right little brother. It’s starting to be an ugly habit of yours.” he heard his sister’s voice say. “One of these days we’re going to have a talk about that...”

“Shut up Myra...” Ryn simply stated. “I don’t talk to the dead...”


Last edited by Elric on Sat Jun 19, 2010 2:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:55 pm

The morning light burned like fire. Ryn groped across the bed for his pistol. It wasn’t there. He still wasn’t used to that. Finding what felt like an empty bottle of wine, he threw it at the window with a cry of agony, hoping to put out the searing light.

As soon as the bottle left his hand he regretted it. Windows weren’t cheap. Fortunately for his coin purse he was in no condition for accuracy. With his eyes forced shut he heard the bottle shatter a little to the left of where he had thrown. Groaning he rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. He failed.

His body was wracked with pain, most of it in his facial region. Whether from the beating he took last night or the hangover this morning he hadn’t decided yet. What had happened last night? With a disappointed groan it started coming back to him.

Just as he’d feared, it was all his fault. The man in the bar... Ryn had never even gotten his name... his only crime was looking the part. Truthfully he hadn’t looked that close really. The others looked closer to Sharpaxe. How many others? He couldn't remember.

How long had it been now? Two months? It was hard to tell. The days and nights seemed to blur. Could it have really been that long since he'd left Tadjar? Since the disaster in Harlowton? As Sharpaxe’s face came into view he shook his head and tried to sit up. The throbbing pain banished the memories for the time being. Ryn welcomed the pain.

Gingerly he examined himself in the mirror. The damage wasn’t as bad as it felt. The left side of his face was swollen a bit, but not what he was expecting. The whole right side of his torso was tender and an ugly mass of bruises. That was what he was most concerned about. With practiced fingers he gently examined the bruises. Each touch brought new waves of pain that he gritted through. With tears in his eyes, he finally breathed a sigh of relief. He was no healer, but he was fairly certain nothing was broken. He’d broken enough to know the difference.

Other than the wounds he was a mess. Looking at the dried blood on his face and hands it was obvious what happened. He barely made it up to his room and passed out as is. Again. As he dipped his hands into the bowl of water, he rubbed the old dirt and blood away to reveal a familiar face.

It was a handsome face when it wasn’t scowling that way. At least that’s what he’d been told in the past. He doubt he'd hear that now. His eyes were surrounded with dark circles and bloodshot and it had been days since he'd last shaved. Still, there was a remarkable lack of scars considering the life he’d led. He’d been lucky. Running his hands through his wavy blond hair he resisted the urge to put his fist through the reflection.

Gently he dressed and left the room. He paused as he walked past the locked weapons trunk. He could picture Myra’s sword sitting on the top of the pile. Stubbornly resisting the urge to open it, he left his room and went to see what today had in store.
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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:01 am

The air was hot and stagnant as he walked through the town. Long honed senses told him something was wrong, but he consciously chose to ignore it. He'd spent the last two months doing... nothing. Ryn was retired. The disaster at Harlowton was his last case. Whatever problems people had now, they'd just have to deal with themselves.

The town of Jaikom was small by most standards. Ryn hadn't decided yet if he would stay awhile or if he should just leave. If the incident at the tavern was anything like almost remembered... then it'd probably be best if he just collected Gluebucket and moved on. Besides Jaikom was too small... He couldn't get lost in a town this size, and that's all he really wanted to do.

Of course that was if he could stay out of the taverns... Problem was, Ryn Valdric was a man of action and a retired one at that. Retired men of action got bored VERY easily. Many times he's considered finding gainful employment. Unfortunately as he examined his options, it didn't take long to realize he had nothing in the way of marketable skills. From a child he was trained with one goal in mind and it didn't leave much for the mundane skills. If he wasn't doing THAT anymore... what could he do?

As he saw it, his options were limited. Either work in the general store... as a farm hand somewhere... or do nothing. The last couple treasure hordes he'd found at rendered him rather wealthy, so sadly he wasn't FORCED to do something meaningful... Most days he found himself in the tavern.

After last night's debacle, he did try to postpone the inevitable, he really did. He checked his horse, walked around the town... He stopped as he saw a crowd gathering around the Constable's office. Every instinct he had told him to see what was wrong. The nagging guilt stopped him though. The last time he'd 'helped'... the memories reared their ugly head and the image of Sharpaxe floated into his vision again.

He didn't even know his first name....

Despondent he turned back toward the bar and ordered his first drink of the day.
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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:46 am

Suddenly the door to the tavern was pushed open. A tall man, well built and in his mid-thirties hustled in. Ryn instinctively reached for a weapon, but all he could find was the mostly full bottle of win. That would be such a waste....

Fortunately the man... Ryn was sure he'd heard his name before... had little interest in him personally. He stepped up and addressed everyone in the tavern. "Listen up everyone!! We're forming a search party. I want everyone outside in Fifteen minutes. Abner and his son have gone missing... Some signs of struggle... So let's get a move on!"

The men filed out of the tavern, some grumbling, some sounding worried. Though Ryn tried to ignore them, it seemed that nobody had had a cross thing to say about Abner at least from this bunch. Still, it didn't concern him.

"What about it, Val?" The man asked. It took Ryn a moment to remember the name he'd passed around. The name sparked the memory of the constable's name. Marcus... something or other... They'd had words on an occassion or two.

"Looks like you have plenty of volunteers... Leave me the hell out of it." Ryn replied apathetically. Heavy bootsteps approached and Ryn instinctively freed his hands, ready for whatever came next.

"Y'know, boy..." the constable said derisively. "You're a lucky one..."

"Really?" the ex-hunter asked as he wiped some of the alcohol from his lip and refilled his glass. "How'd you come to that conclusion, Marcus?" Looking back over his poor excuse for a life, he could think of a lot of descriptions for his character... Lucky wasn't one of them.

"Well... The way I see it," the lawman answered. "Since riding into town, you've been nothing but trouble to everyone you've crossed..." He smiled a grim smile at the stranger.

"I'm not looking for trouble... In fact I'm on way out. Probably today."

"You aint' looking for trouble?!?" Marcus chuckled. "Tell that to Micah. I've got a dozen witnesses sayin' that you were kicking the hell out of him yesterday, about the last time anyone saw Abner... Now the way I see it... Your charming personality is getting you a reputation. Odds are, if the people around here didn't know you had an alibi..." He let the thought hang there for a moment. Ryn noticed a peculiar look in his eye as he sadly shook his head. "Like I said... Lucky."

"Well... As you said, I have an alibi... so obviously I didn't do anything to this Abner fellow... Now, Leave me to my drink and leave me alone."

"Have it your way..." the constable said in disgust. "You can handle yourself in a fight, you've obviously been around a bit... and I figure you owe the town a little goodwill..."

"Not interested." Ryn said with a tone of finality.

"So be it. If ye change yer mind..."

"I won't."

The constable sighed heavily and left the tavern to organize the men who WERE willing to help. Ryn on the other hand quickly downed another glass of the cheap wine and ordered some stew. Things were heating up in this town, and he wanted no part of it. However he also wasn't about to go running for his horse the moment someone went missing.

"Well... That's the first good idea you've had today!" Myra's voice chastised.
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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:44 am

He was hearing the voice again. It was much to early for THAT to be happening. Worse yet, he was the only one who did, and that wasn't a comforting thought. Though 'comforting wasn't a word he often used to describe his sister. Hard. Precise. Demanding... but Comforting? No... not what first sprung to his mind.

Time seemed to crawl by. He wanted to leave, but ambition was in short supply these days. The only company he had was the bartender and the voice in his head.

"You baby brother... are quickly become the most useless thing I've ever laid eyes on. You just sit around on your hands drinking yourself stupider than you already are! People need help... and your doing nothing!"

"What... Exactly do I care if someone's gone missing?!?" he asked quietly. "I don't know him... Odds are he's dead anyway... Ain't nothing I can do anyway..."

"I figure the beast got Abner...." an old wheezy voice. "Probably the kid too..."

Ryn started suddenly. Apparently he wasn't as alone as he thought he was. There at a back table of the bar sat an old man with a cane leaning against his booth.

"See!" Myra's voice chided. "See what kind of company you keep. You may not be the only one in town who isn't of any use... but at least he's got old and crippled as an excuse."

Ryn tried to go back to his drinking, but against his better judgement couldn't contain his curiosity. "What beast?" He asked with a wince. Whatever the old man said, he was sure he didn't want to hear it.


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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:11 pm

"Hehh.. What?!?" The old man seemed surprised that someone spoke to him. "Ye want what?"

"Forget it..." Ryn turned back around to his solitude.

"Ye heard about the 'Beast of Jaikom' ain't ye?"

Ryn sighed and turned back toward the speaker. There was a time not that long ago that anyone who'd spoke of a legend or a beast would have his undivided attention. That Ryn was gone... the one who remained, a cynical shell of the hunter that was... was barely interested at all.

"Beast's been around forever they say... Big as a horse and black as night. Comes for ye in the night... Few people have ever seen it and lived... NOBODY's seen it TWICE..." The old man sat back in his booth with an excited twinkle in his eye. Ryn suspected that few people gave this old man the time of day, and he was just excited to actually have an audience, even a bored one.

It was obvious this 'beast' was the most interesting thing he knew... but to Ryn it was old news. He'd heard a hundred stories just like it. Shadowy monsters that hide in the dark. Some were true... but most were nothing. Still in a strange mood of altruism he found himself asking, "Why doesn't someone catch it? Hunt it down..."

The old man opened his mouth but the answer came from behind the counter. "Been tried... No one's ever had any luck. My grandpappy told me the story when I was a tyke. Said he and the best hunters around tried to track the so called beast, but it didn't leave any marks. Being late spring and just after the rain... Scared Grandpappy something fierce. My pa thinks there was never anything there. Said Grandpappy had a drinkin' problem back then."

The bartender spoke as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Almost bored in his own right. It seemed this was one of the tales 'everyone knew... but Ryn couldn't tell if the bartender 'believed' or not. "Still every once in a while someone claims to see something... and nobody can prove anything."

"And people are killed by it?" Ryn asked a little more seriously.

"Hard to say... Some go missing, some just die... fright's the usual blame... but Nothing in the last ten or so years..."

As usual Ryn's first instinct said Werewolf. Big, Black... Canine features....

"Lunar cycles off... and they leave tracks." Myra quickly corrected.

Not to mention that werewolves don't take ten years off between activity.

"They did in Harlowton..." her words cut like a knife. "Ahhh Sorry, forget that..."

As if it were easy to forget... It's what he'd wanted since he first felt the knife sliding out of Sharpax and realized that man died entirely too easy. He'd killed a man... stalked him through the woods and cut him open when he was vulnerable. As merciless as the things he hunted. Correction USED to hunt.

He turned away from the man with a new determination to ignore his ramblings. The 'Beast of Jaikom' was going to be filed away as overactive imagination.

After a few hours, Ryn was finished. He'd eaten, he'd drank, and now it was time to leave. Thankful for a chance to walk out of a tavern unaided (a rarity it seemed) he paid his tab and head for the door. He almost made it too.

Constable Marcus pushed his way into the room pale as parchment. Ryn knew that look. It was the look of someone who had seen something more horrific then they ever believed possible. He USED to get that look. He knew the fate of the missing townsfolk before the lawman even opened his mouth.

"We found 'em..." Marcus told the bartender. "Found 'em both..." Ryn could see the man trying to be strong, as he told the news. He did an admirable job... but to Ryn's trained if slightly blurry eye, there was a distinct tremble in the man's hands.

"Abner... we found 'em both out by the Miller's place... Out by the tree..." Ryn wasn't sure, but that had a sound like it held some local significance. "His neck was broken clean. Don't know what caused that... but the boy?!? He was torn to pieces. Like something..." He just shook his head. "I don't know like what. I don't know WHAT could have done that a person."

Ryn knew of a few things.

"AHA!!! The Beast strikes AGAIN!!!" Came a wild hoot from the back. Everyone shot a disapproving glare at the outspoken old man. He didn't seem to notice.
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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:43 am

A thousand thoughts went through the hunter's mind. A veritable catalogue of monsters and beasties that could be the culprit. It wasn't on purpose and he shook his head trying to get the thoughts out. Old instincts die hard.

"Probably just a bear." he said dismissively as he turned to leave.

The constable turned his pale face toward Ryn. "I've seen what bears can do boy... No bear did this."

"I TOLD you... the BEAST got 'im!!!" came the shrill voice. "Abner said he saw it... Seen it a couple of times! Looks like he finally got caught!!!"

Ryn's head was starting to hurt. In his goal to leave today he'd been drinking lighter than normal... but that old man was still getting on his nerves. "First of all... Abner's kid was the one gotten right? Second of all didn't you say nobody saw it twice and lived to tell about it?"

The old man got a perplexed look on his face. "I said... ummm... Well.. He SAID he saw it a couple times... Probably just heard it more than he saw it. He was complaining about the clacking of claws for days now..."

Ryn just raised an eyebrow, before Marcus joined in. "It wasn't no phantom dog that did this either. Yeah Abner said he heard the claws, but Abner heard a lot of things... and Like Val here said, it was the boy, Merle who got tore up..." Ryn's eyes narrowed as he took in the words. The story seemed almost familiar, but with his history MOST creatures he heard of reminded him of something else he's seen.

He would have pegged the constable as a sensible man... if he wasn't dismissing 'the beast' readily, then either the superstition ran deep here, or there was something to the story.

"You need to see that body!" he heard Myra say. He was entirely too sober to be hearing her at this time. That was never a good sign. He nearly responded till he realized he was surrounded by people. Living people.

"Sorry to hear about them..." he mumbled as he left the tavern and went to collect Gluebucket. He could feel the stares as he left. He hadn't made any friends in this town.

"You need to see that body..." the voice said again.

"No Myra... I Really don't! I've seen more bodies than any man should... I'm done with that life."

"You're not DONE!" She scoffed. "There's only one way out of this life, and you know it!"

Ryn sighed to himself and leaned against a railing. "Your in it till it kills you... that's what you always said."

"I was right! This isn't the kind of thing you can just walk away from... I KNOW you... Hell! I trained you... I RAISED you... Your BETTER than that."

"Yeah... you did, but that was before. Before Harlowton. Before I started to kill normal people... Before I killed you! The boy you raised is dead. Died in Harlowton. So your philosophy stands. The Job killed you, and it killed who I was!"

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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:18 pm

His mind drifted back, five years... had it really been that long? The town Ochord. Myra and he had been hunting then... It was easier with a partner. Someone who knew your moves before you made them... Since then he'd found others to work with. Sir Devron, Deitrich, Lady Lafia, Mia... It wasn't the same. Myra and he had been a well oiled machine back then. Nothing surprised them. They knew what they were hunting and they knew how to kill it.

It was different now. He blamed the gates. They seemed to drop you right into the middle of the hunt as quickly as you wanted to get there. No more research, no more investigation. Just jump in and hope you had the right weapon for the job. It was stupid. It's not how he was trained. It had gotten Sir Devron killed. Though at least he'd been lucky enough to be killed. Myra and he had only been surprised twice.

The first had been Yew town. It had been too fast, or she was too slow, but that was the wolf hunt that killed his sister. Oh... not right away, but a werewolf's poison is tenacious. Once it gets hold, it doesn't let go. It took a while to work, but she knew she'd been infected. She said she could feel it. The predator, wild and savage, wanting to break free.

She held it in longer than anyone he'd ever heard of. He still saw her face as she handed him, her silver short sword and told Ryn what she wanted him to do. Naturally he refused. He just couldn't... It wasn't an option. He insisted there was a cure! She was always the realist of the family. Still she agreed to try...

For months they searched. Werewolves became their sole prey. Everywhere they went they searched for any lore they could find. All signs pointed toward the 'natural' werewolf who started the strain. Problem was, if you start with an infected werewolf like they had... the chain grows cold fast.

Natural werewolves were born that way. Their bites can infect normal people. In a month or two they succumb to the poison and become 'infected' werewolves. As they have no connection to the Natural one that started the mess... and it can take a month or two for the symptoms to progress... the trail was difficult. They made it four back... which is two more than any other hunter could boast. But eventually they ran out of options.

Each month the gypsies herbs and charms had less and less effect. By the third month Myra had insisted on chains to restrain her during the nights near the full moon. Seeing her like that tore at his heart. He could see the fire in her eyes dying. She'd made him promise, many, many times... that he wouldn't let her hurt anyone. He didn't know if he'd be able to keep that promise.

That was before Ochord.

Rumors had drawn them there. Legends. When hunting for monsters it was the worst way to hunt. Legends and Rumors don't kill. THINGS kill... People may not know (or want to know) what it is that's killing their neighbors... but one thing it is not... is a rumor.

People had seen a large wolf prowling the woods and had for centuries. That concerned Ryn at the time. Werewolves weren't known for living centuries... but they were desperate for any lead. The moon was going to be full again soon and they were willing to jump at any chance. IF, and it was a big IF, this was a werewolf... then odds were good it was a natural.

Infected rarely stay in one place for long. Their savage nature doesn't suit subtlety and once their bloodlust is sated, all that is left is the poor tortured soul who doesn't understand why they have blood on their hands. Once they realize what happened... or once the villagers do, they usually start wandering from place to place... often times looking for a cure. Much as the Valdric's were doing.

It was two nights before the full moon. Myra had been irritable the whole day. Nobody they talked to had any answers or any clues. The oldest people in town knew of the creature, though there were discrepancies in it's description, but most hadn't seen it in years. Most didn't want to see it. Every time it showed up someone died.

Superstitious nonsense. Ryn was certain. If you couldn't keep your monsters down... it was because you didn't know what you were doing. Everything had a weakness... Find it. Use it! That night they went to work.

Myra was off her game. That much was obvious. The moon was bright and the way she kept staring at it gave Ryn chills. Tomorrow he'd have to break out the chains again.Suddenly Myra pointed. Ryn looked but didn't see anything. Myra's eyes were getting better in the dark. Yet another thing to add to his worries.

Suddenly he saw it and his heart sank. Almost thirty yards away and the size of a small pony and blacker than the night surrounding it. It's eyes were lit with a red the color of hellfire. It didn't attack but just stood there watching them, waiting. But it was not a natural werewolf. In fact it wasn't any kind of wolf at all. It looked like a dog, a retriever or hound of some kind. Whatever it was... It wasn't natural and Ryn aimed his flintlock and fired.

The shot was good, but the Dog paid no mind and continued to stare expectantly. Ryn heard Myra draw her sword and he did the same. Without words they split apart and tried to circle the creature. As they got close the hound simply vanished. To Ryn it was just simply gone... but to Myra she thought it had melded with the shadows and was swallowed by the ground.

The next day was the longest of Ryn's life. They were out of leads. Every cure they'd found was either ineffective or outright fraud. He didn't know what to do and for a change, Myra had no answers either.

As darkness set and the moon started to rise Myra started to get the chains ready. Once again, she had given Ryn her silver sword. Swords don't need to reload, she always stood behind. As always she exacted the promise... the same promise as always. 'Whatever it takes, don't let me hurt anyone.'

Whatever it takes...

He'd asked the same thing of Sir Devron after his own scare with the curse. The Paladin had agreed without hesitation. To be honest, while Ryn appreciated the relief it brought... he would have liked to hear a LITTLE hesitation.

As Myra arranged the shackles Ryn heard it. A ticking sound. Claws on stone or wood. Softly at first but growing louder. Quickly he looked out the window and there it was. The dark hound. Standing in the street and staring right into the room. He called out to his sister, but his words were lost in the sound of Cloth tearing.

Fear gripped his heart as he turned away from the window. Instinct forced him to duck as a heavy iron chain flew inches from his head, smashing through the glass and into the street. The hound didn't flinch, it just watched... and waited.

The sight before him turned his blood cold. His sister was nigh unrecognizable. Her clothes were shredding and bones were crackling as her body shuddered and shifted before his eyes. Ears were growing long and pointed, her jaw was stretching to make room for teeth meant to rend flesh. He was gripped by a terror that he'd never imagined and all he could do was watch.

Cries of despair and agony gave way to yips and growls as she grew and changed. Ryn had never seen a change like this before. Every time they killed a werewolf, it had reverted back to human form... but as they were dead, the change seemed almost peaceful. This was anything but! The physical reworking of an entire body... He'd never imagined...

Suddenly it stopped. SHE stopped. Her breath came in deep powerful bursts and yellow eyes squinted in the glare of the lamp light. She seemed confused, uncertain of her surroundings and he saw her begin to sniff the air. Suddenly she snapped her wolfish head toward her brother and uttered a deep growl.

Ryn didn't know what to do. Actually that wasn't true at all... He knew EXACTLY what to do in this situation, but shock, fear or familial love stayed his hand. One hand was on the butt of his pistol the other around the hilt of her sword. Either would kill the person he loved most in this world. Neither would obey his commands to act.

Myra hunched her shoulders and glared at Ryn. Slowly she started moving toward him flexing her new claws. Curved claws that had to be at least eight inches long. He'd seen what claws like that would do to a body. Slowly, he raised his pistol to his target and with tears in his eyes he pulled the trigger.

The sound of the wheel clicking and the explosion of lit powder shattered the night, followed by a sharp yelp of pain. Before the smoke cleared Ryn knew he'd failed. In that last instant he'd jerked to far up, and while the silver ball had buried itself deep in her shoulder, all that served was to make her angry.

Ryn threw the empty pistol to the ground and in despair drew Myra's sword. The creature before him grabbed the heavy oak table that separated them, and with one claw threw it across the room as if it weighed less than a good book. The table shattered as it smashed into the wall and before Ryn could ready the sword, he felt the massive claws wrap around his throat and slam him high against a wall. She held him there, snarling breath hot against his face as she raised her other claw to finish him.

Suddenly she felt the pressure of a sword against her chest. Rage filled eyes slowly drifted down from her prey and looked at the silver blade.

Ryn begged and pleaded. Hoping to reach something of his sister inside the monster. The blade was set, but he didn't have the heart to push it. Suddenly he saw they eyes of the monster shift. Familiarity, love, despair. The snarling face softened for just an instant.

At first he thought he imagined it. He saw the free claws swing down and he knew he was dead. He tried to use the sword, but he had no leverage. Suddenly he felt the claw grip tight around his arm, and in horror he felt it shove up against her own chest. He felt skin and muscle yield to the blade and one last pulse of a powerful heart before the blade struck home.

The claw around his neck loosened and he dropped as the beast fell to the ground, sword still firmly embedded through her chest. His hands were covered in blood... Myra's blood. He stumbled to his feet and watched as the beast's convulsions grew weaker. Slowly... peacefully, he watched as she shifted again, back into the familiar form he knew.

An unearthly howl of triumph filled the air. Ryn had forgotten about the ghostly hound! As he turned back toward the window he could hear the rapid clicking of claws as if the beast was running, but when he looked there was nothing there. The hound was gone, but he could still hear the tapping of claws. They seemed to charge into the room and then as suddenly as they started, the sounds faded off into the night.

When all was said and done, Ryn was left alone with the corpse of his only family. Tenderly he wrapped her in a sheet and later that night performed the rituals that would guarantee peace. With her heart removed and separated into quarters by a silver blade, a healthy dose of salt to repel the spirit (or any other spirit) from inhabiting her body, he lit the pyre and watched the flames in silence. With the dawn the flames had faded and there was nothing left of his sister but ash. As he watched it blow away in the early morning breeze, part of him went with her.

Ryn left Ochord soon after, and he never saw the mysterious hound again.
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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:33 am

"You did what you had to do..." he heard his sister say sadly. "You know that..."

"Do I?" he muttered to no one in particular.

"Yes. You do." the voice said with confidence. "By killing your Myra, you saved lives. MANY lives. Not to mention her soul. She didn't kill innocents... she didn't truly become the monster. You stopped that."

"And yet, I still hear her voice..." Ryn said in annoyance. "I know she's at peace... and I know she's not haunting me... but I still hear her voice."

"Of course you do..." Myra's voice said derisively. "She taught you everything you know... she taught you right from wrong... and when you need a swift kick in the pants, you'll always hear her. She's the only one you EVER listened to!" his conscience told him. "And lately baby brother... you've need a few kicks!"

Ryn reached a hand out and leaned against a gnarled wooden post in front of his inn. A few more moments and he could have his trunk loaded on Gluebucket and this town and it's problems would be just a memory. The memory of his sister's death weakened him though. Memories he'd hoped he'd buried by now. He was so tired. He just leaned there for a few minutes with tears in his eyes.

"Why did you kill her?" the voice asked simply.

"You know why..." Ryn whimpered.

"SAY it... Out loud."

"To save her from herself... To stop her from hurting anyone else. Innocent people... Helpless... Like Sharpax!"

The voice was strangely silent as again, Ryn saw himself chasing the man down... the man all his vaunted instincts had told him was a monster... and killed him. Brutally. Silver dagger drenched in blood as he stabbed the frantic man over and over again. He had gone too far. He knew that now... The village may have had monsters in it, but the woods that day? There was only one... and it hadn't been Sharpax. His conscience had nothing that would ease that pain.

"Yes, You screwed up..." the reverie was finally broken by Myra. "Innocent blood was spilled that day. What do you do now? Give up? Quit?"

"Thought crossed my mind..."

"And what of Merle? or Abner? or any of the OTHER innocents in this place... here? Now?" His sister's voice had taken on a pleading he'd never heard in life. "What if you can SAVE others?!? You HAVE to check it out!"

"They aren't alone... they have people...." Ryn sighed.

"Marcus?!? Seriously???"

He sighed again. Marcus seemed a decent man. Ryn was sure against an orc or goblin, probably even a bandit, the man would do just fine... but in Ryn's family he'd be considered a rube. An amateur. The look on his face alone told Ryn all he had to know about the man. He wasn't a Hunter... not like Ryn was... Leave the orcs and bandits to ordinary men... When the 'weird' stuff showed up... Things that couldn't be explained... things that couldn't be 'killed'. THAT was his job.

"SEE the body... LOOK into it... if it's nothing you can always leave again! You just can't leave not KNOWING..."

With an angry sigh, the hunter wiped the unshed tears from his eyes and pushed off from the post. He was right... He knew he couldn't just leave not knowing what was wrong here. He glanced down the street trying to decide if the bodies were taken straight to the undertaker, or off to the doctor's first? With the debate over cause of death... Ryn's instincts told him doctor.

With a determined stride the hunter left the inn behind him and walked down the street. The Beast of Jaikom had just gained Ryn Valdric's attention.
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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:48 am

The tinkling of a bell rang through the surgeon's office alerting any within that Ryn had arrived. Mikah was the closest thing to an official healer Jaikom had. Not a priest per se, but just a doctor/surgeon/whatever they needed. The last priest they'd had in town was of Aeirie. Goddess of luck and fortune, he had left over ten years ago, on to bigger and better things Ryn assumed. Since then the shrine was well maintained, but not manned, so the people of this village had to make do with the more mundane methods. Ryn was fine with that... while an instant fix was a bit more pleasant in the short run, his naturally curious mind preferred methods and tricks that he could actually learn.

Ryn had met Mikah once before, and not under the most ideal situation. He really had made a name for himself in this town. Still the hunter found himself liking the old half-elf. He doubted Mikah felt the same. As if on cue the doctor came to the front room, bringing with him a waft of air that stank of fresh blood. Ryn knew he'd chosen right.

"What do you want?" The half-elf said running his hand through slightly graying hair. Ryn knew he had to be at least sixty to seventy and was a little concerned at the peaked look on his face. This was a man used to seeing the insides of bodies... anything that had him so shaken caused the hunter to doubt his own convictions. "I really don't have time for you today."

"Yeah... so I've heard," Ryn answered confidently. "That's why I'm here. Marcus asked me to have a look at the bodies... See if I could offer any help." It wasn't 'techniquely' a lie... Marcus DID ask him to help, but he doubted the constable would want him poking around the evidence... or the crime scene. That was his next stop.

"Yeah?? Why? He think you've seen something like this at the bottom of a bottle?" the doctor said in disgust. "I don't need the help of the town drunk... least of all one that ain't even from our town!"

Ryn ignored the insult. He was back on the job. The opinion's of others didn't interest him much when he was on the job. If the Doctor wouldn't let him see the bodies now.... then he'd break in tonight for a look. Still he didn't give up.

"Then you already know everything about the death then! Excellent... Saves me the trouble... What can I tell Marcus?" Ryn didn't miss the frustrated look that crossed Mikah's face. The doctor hadn't come to any conclusions yet. The grin the hunter let slip let the doctor know that he knew...

The half-elf's eyebrows furrowed. "Fine... you want to see? Hell! Bring yer friends if you can find any... C'mon back!!! But I guarantee you this... If you go spewing whatever you drank for lunch today in my room... there'll be hell to pay!"

Ryn didn't acknowledge him, just followed to where the man pointed. As he passed the curtain leading to the operating tables, the stench of death hit him square in the face. He closed his eyes and grimaced against stench of blood and bile rose in his throat. He could practically feel the old doctor gloat behind him, and once again stubbornness saw him through. With one annoyed look at Mikah he moved up to see what he came to see.

On the tables there were two bodies, both covered in sheets. The taller one by it's silhouette, had to be Abner. The sheet was clean and white. By stark contrast however, the shorter silhouette was a disaster. The sheet was stained red, some places so dark it looked black. Carefully Ryn pulled back the sheet. From the corner of his eye he saw the doctor had lost the smugness in his look. The one that replaced was simply the look of a despondent man. One who would give anything not to be where he was now. One look at young Merle and Ryn sympathized.
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Ryn Valdric

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Jul 06, 2010 6:23 pm

Ryn's experienced eyes gazed over the body of the boy. For a moment he wasn't even sure what he was looking at. Blood and gore were everywhere. His rib cage was shattered and lungs and organs were shredded. He suddenly felt very sorry for the doctor. Despite what he'd thought earlier... even he had never seen anything do this much wanton damage.

If he'd had to guess, he'd have placed his age around fifteen or sixteen winters, but it was just a guess. The body was broken and gored, and his face was nearly tore off from a claw marks. He was still dressed though the clothes were blood soaked ribbons. Ryn took a step back and looked back at Mikah in disbelief.

"Never seen anything like THAT before have ya?" the half-elf said, all trace of disdain gone. "I know I haven't and I've been looking for a very long time..."

"What could have done that?" Ryn asked out loud. Though he knew the doctor didn't have an answer and a shrug was the all he got. Something about the body was nagging at him. He stepped forward again and reinspected the body more carefully. Shock had worn off, and with a little effort he was able to push his horror to the back of his mind. Odds were good he'd be seeing this again in his nightmares... but that was a problem for later. Now he had to focus.

He pulled out a stick and started poking around the torso cavity. Heart, lungs, kidneys... liver... Everything was accounted for. Everything was damaged and hard to recognize, but it was all there... "Doc? Were you there when they found him?"

"No... but I was sent for pretty quick. Why?"

"Just wondering... Did you see any tracks? Any signs of struggle?"

"Besides Merle you mean?"

"Yeah... besides him?" Ryn asked with annoyance. "Did anyone interrupt the attack? Why did it stop?"

"What do you mean stop? Attack looks pretty successful to me!" The doctor was getting annoyed himself. He'd only allowed the drunk back here because he was sure he'd get sick and embarrassed. That hadn't happened. In fact he was seeing a side to this man he didn't recognize.

Ryn was already shaking his head. "Look at this? What's missing here?" Mikah stepped forward in curiosity. When the doctor didn't answer and Ryn could tell pride was keeping him quiet, he answered for him. "Nothing... He's shredded... He's bitten... he's clawed. But he wasn't eaten.

"Now they've been missing since last night. They were attacked by some animal with a ferocity unheard of... but nothing was eaten? Animals don't kill for fun. Even the rare things that do enjoy it, rarely let dinner go to waste... It had all night! It should have drug him off and devoured him at it's leisure..." The wounds on the body were numerous and overlapping, but he tried to piece together the puzzle. Finding a claw mark he measured it against his own hand. Smaller. Bigger than a wolf... but still Canine in shape. He was quiet as he let the pieces settle.

There were bites.. but they were superficial as far as he could tell... Leg. Shoulder. Almost like the creature caught the boy with it's teeth and then either threw him to the ground... or Held him down, while it dug in with it's front claws... Digging like a dog trying to get under a fence... or a gopher... What WAS this thing?

"Does anyone raise dogs around here? Big ones..."

"Couple of hunting dogs, but nothing too big about them..." He lowered his hand to mid thigh. "Biggest one's about up to here, But he's a sweetheart of a hound..." Ryn shook his head dismissively.

"No... His spine would be at least up to your waist... probably higher. With neck and head... May even be able to look you in the eye..."

"Never seen anything like that... Never HEARD of a dog that big before..."

"What were they doing out at the Miller's place? That's where Marcus said they found them right? Were they killed there?"

The doctor got a reserved look on his face "I don't know what they were doing out there... There was no business for them to be there... and by the amount of blood 'I' saw... Yeah, that's where they died..."

They... That sparked an idea. "What did Abner die of anyway? Was he attacked too?"

"Not like that, no..." The doctor sighed loudly... "Near as I can tell... he died of a broken neck... or possibly asphyxiation. Sometimes it's hard to tell what came first. Pretty mundane really... The boy's the real mystery. We're focusing on them one at a time."

"They're BOTH mysteries... and since they were found together, they're BOTH just as important."

Ryn's eyes narrowed. His instincts told him the doctor was hiding something, but he didn't know what. Not yet anyways. Quickly he pulled back the sheet and looked at the elder victim. His face was contorted in a look of horror, and his face was a shade of blue. That would fit with the doctor's Asphyxiation assessment. But how?

Gently Ryn tilted Abner's head to side and noticed that it moved much to easily. Broken neck. Under his chin was the only outward sign of trauma. A dark purple bruise around his throat. Not... distinct enough for him to pinpoint... Possibly a noose, a Garrote, maybe even hands wrapped tightly.... though he'd have expected the bruise to be wider in that case.

"Where is this Miller's anyway? I want to check out the scene..."

Mikah suddenly seemed all to eager to get rid of the hunter and moments later he was headed toward the hunting area.
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