IC - Awakening.   Posted by AB.Group: 0
AB
 GM, 46 posts
Fri 1 Feb 2019
at 05:33
IC - Awakening
For most people, that dreamless sleep's just a Godsend. Breaking out of it is like leaving a sanctuary. As the mind trudges out of muddy blackness, it's set off to its own devices and concerns. Sometimes, though, it keeps a slower pace, floating around, careless, unconcerned with routine's heaviness and survival's demands.

Not quite the case when you awaken from a centuries-old dream...

How long has it been? She's been hearing the moaning of life up above, melting it into her dreams. At one time, she held court to his lordship's kin, a savage slaver from the northern coasts. The tribal leader begged her to protect his kind - seven children of feral manners, two wives he took amidst the picts, bringing south. Hate followed suit: he'd killed a Kindred to prove his own worth, the foolish mortal, and now the dead's sire wanted revenge. The pursuer commanded wolves and rage, and he was out for  blood.

Around her, an entire sect of trained warriors, beautiful as angels and deadly as shadows, awaited her decision.


[Ok, what did she do?]

AscendedMaster
 player, 56 posts
Fri 1 Feb 2019
at 06:01
IC - Awakening
The dreams were never quite the same twice.

This time, the Red Lady held court in a fortress, around which a town had grown. She fought mightily to hold fast to the rules of mortals, even though she was one of the Fair Ones, the Kindred of Danu. So when travelers asked for safety, she gave it, and her word was her bond. On bread, salt, and blood she swore the oaths of hospitality, and when the tribesman did likewise, the pact was made. Thus, when other Kindred came, baying for blood, the Red Lady denied him.

She demanded proof of the murder, for the only way to release the bonds of hospitality, save should the guest attack the host, was to know that the oaths were sworn under false pretenses. Let the wolves howl, let them tear at her herd. Her warriors were many and mighty, fed to full with her heavy blood and made powerful by their servitude. If it was to be war, so be it.

Justice would guide her first, that night, as she stood on the walls of her fortress. But if the accuser had only vengeance to demand, then the Red Lady would answer with hurled spear. She was mistress there, not the northern lord, and she would not have a stranger demand she surrender her honor over a foreign slight.
AB
 GM, 48 posts
Sat 2 Feb 2019
at 04:17
IC - Awakening
The lord's more cunning than she expected. The creature that would launch threats and spears against her walls remains surprisingly focused and contained. His speech is calm, like a cold wind's night. A storm gathers at the horizon, rage burning within his skin, but he remains, detached, calculated, suffering grunts and snarls from his impatient army - even the wolves refuse him as he refuses to fight - and the lady recognizes their bestial language.

A glance from him silences them all.

"Danu, you ask for proof? How, if this fugitive turned my breed into ashes? What little proof was possible has been taken by the north winds! Such a request is unbecoming of a ruler. For hospitality's respected, but the blood price remains unsatisfied!"

"No... Let us compromise instead: let him fight in an ordeal, and the gods shall decide whose cause is just! Champion against champion."

He glances, waiting for an answer.
AscendedMaster
 player, 60 posts
Sat 2 Feb 2019
at 04:52
IC - Awakening
She held up three fingers. "You know the custom and law, lord of the north. Three witnesses to side with the accused makes the judgement."

She looked to her left and her right, to her warriors, holding their weapons and her banner. A black raven on red. The banner of Odin, the chief god of the Danes, and their god of war. She had taken it from them in battle, and she kept it to honor their memory, for they taught the Red Lady that violence must be answered in kind.

"He will make the square of branches if he so desires, and for no other reasons."

She looks down, at the man standing in the courtyard, the subject of the conversation. "Shall you answer the challenge and make the square?"
AB
 GM, 52 posts
Mon 4 Feb 2019
at 01:09
IC - Awakening
In reply to AscendedMaster (msg # 4):

"My lady, the offspring of this one" - he points out to the pleading lord - "attempted on the life of my youngest son, claiming his life as his own right. When I questioned him, the creature turned mad and attacked me. I only slayed in defense of my life. And now I should plunge into danger's way a second time when the gods made heir choice clear?" - he tries to keep his poise as he speaks, but the lady knows better: his voice breaks in subtle ways, ways that a human might ignore. A human, but not her.
AscendedMaster
 player, 63 posts
Mon 4 Feb 2019
at 02:07
IC - Awakening
She smiled, as warmly as she could manage by light of torch and moon, from the ramparts and down at the man. "I do not demand that you do this, or even desire it."

The Red Lady was not sure, in that moment, with which of the two men she agreed, the chieftain in her hall or the lordling with his wolves. True, the life of kine was worth less than the life of Kindred, but true also that murder was unacceptable.

She turned back to the lordling's wavering host and said, "For this creature, whose spawn would do murder, you would throw away your lives against a wall you cannot hope to breach?"

They had no engines of war; their attack would be quite hopeless without a traitor to aid them. They could not conceal an entire battering ram; could they?

Nevertheless, she signaled with her free hand, the one not holding her spear, to indicate that her warrior-maids should keep careful watch on the perimeter, especially where the Red Lady was not.

She pointed her spear at the lordling. Spears were, then, the ultimate weapon of Kindred violence, not only deadly and tearing, but capable of rendering victims torpid, if the strike was strong and accurate. "I will not surrender my honor for your demands, northman. My word is my bond, and I have sworn on my blood. If the accused will not answer your challenge, make what accusations you will, but he is safe, as long as he is in my house and on my land."
AB
 GM, 56 posts
Tue 5 Feb 2019
at 05:48
IC - Awakening
The northern warrior shakes  his head.

"And you would choose to dishonor me instead, leaving my offspring's memory and name to rot, never avenged!" - he grunts.

"Very well. Protect him, then. Keep him from harm. Let him live within those walls till his last days are close, for if he leaves your protection, our grasp upon him will be swift and deadly."

He turns around, barely controlling his own army, and moves forward, into the wilderness, followed by a scattered, unwilling horde. The lady had decided. Still the ruler of her land, she was not defied. The northman, on the other hand, had lost strength amidst his own - something he would certainly never forget.

***

Months had passed, and then turned to years. News from the south came: even under watch, the northern army began to rally around a new leader - a brother to the deceased. It ravaged the countryside, attacking only where the lady's troops were not found. In those days many servants fled their homelands, seeking protection of their vampiric patrons. And then, under a full moon and near the lights of Beltane, a ragged vampiress reached out for the lady, seeking refuge.

Like the man that once sought her, she fled the incursion of the northern army. Like a fairy lady, she came surrounded by a small coterie. She had left her lake, her ancestral home, after a brutal massacre had taken place. She came to pay her respects and to ask for shelter. Her beauty almost rivaled the lady's own, and the people that saw her believed they faced one of the Sidhe in the flesh.

"Mother of all that is pure, will you grant us shelter? We shall provide you with the secrets of our lake, with the resources of our magic..." - she said.
AscendedMaster
 player, 67 posts
Tue 5 Feb 2019
at 06:27
IC - Awakening
Her first response to the renewed enemy that refused battle was to issue a challenge, three times, to a duel to the death between the leader of the northmen and the Red Lady herself. If she was refused, then assassins. And if that failed, the Kindred had been defeated by mortal armies before. The greatest of these that had come to Britain were the Romans, and so the Red Lady would begin to emulate their strategems: a network of informants in every town, simple forts a day's march apart; functional rather than beautiful, as the hill-forts of mortal kings, a well-trained and armed militia. These things would take time to build, but since the northerners refused open battle, they would not be able to stop the implacable advance of fortification and would, inevitably, be driven out.

Her lands and people would need to pay greater taxes for this, in coin and in Vitae, but they would see the results immediately. Construction was a very visible thing. The Vitae could make many more ghouls to train in communicating with animals and seeing that which was hidden, and the coin could buy slaves and materials and hire architects to see to the building.

When the lady of the lake came to the Red Lady's fortress, she received her in warmth and hospitality. The Kindred of those days were not so fragile as the modern Kindred; a warm fire was welcome to all, for winter's chill bit so hard that an incautious vampire could freeze solid in the night.

Goblets of hot Vitae were spilled and offered to the lady of the lake, and the Red Lady said to her, "You are welcome in my hall. I ask you, however, that you not flatter me so. I am not so great as you say."

Payment, of course, would be welcome, and magicians could prove a potent weapon against the elusive northerners. Could those miscreants hide from the auguries of the forest maids?
AB
 GM, 57 posts
Fri 8 Feb 2019
at 00:58
IC - Awakening
A challenge's issued. Shortly after, the attacks begin to die down. The answer comes: a few weeks later, he agrees to meet the lady. Then they shall talk, and they shall fight. In the first full moon, he'll be waiting within the walls of Caerdydd, where Shiodachan the elder - a vampire himself - will serve as judge. The war chief expects for an answer.

[Ok, please, roll Intelligence + Investigation + 2, given the Lady's territory knowledge.]

As days turn into weeks, the vampire guest, named Leanan, sates her needs with the red nectar that flows from the Lady's reserves. And even though the blood pours copiously, it cannot replace the warmth of company. In time, she shares experiences with the Lady's court, and her suffering becomes known within the Lady's halls. John, the mortal under the Lady's protection, listens attentively as Leanan sings her story, and before she ends, his heart surrenders to her tragedy, and he falls in love.

At first it seemed impossible for a vampire of transcendent beauty and talent to correspond to a mortal's feelings. Still, as John himself poured his heart out, telling his own tale of loss, he captivated her so, and soon both walked the Lady's halls together, growing more and more intimate as time passed.