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RP:Ceremonies of Light and Dark

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Part of the Hour of Wolves Arc

Summary: A terrorist attack strikes fear and loathing into the hearts of Frostmaw's citizenry on the eve of a triumphant celebration. A wall has been forged, a symbol of the city's courage and conviction, but men and women from all walks of life find themselves thrust into catastrophe when unknown assailants spread the harsh substances known as red dust and ice spice throughout the streets. Hildegarde, Lionel, Emrith, Eirik, and their allies mount a defense. Jarith and his Northborne prove invaluable in turning the tide. Ranok helps to keep the chemicals from spreading throughout the entire city. And several people, including Meri, Oline, and Leshhak, are subjected to an eerie voice beckoning them toward some unknown journey. When the red dust settles, one thing is clear: Frostmaw will never be the same.

Eastern Frostmaw Gates

Hildegarde had been proud of the development of Frostmaw’s wall. It had been damaged terribly by a giant during the battle who fought against Desparrow in a bid to maintain Balgruuf’s grip upon the city. The giant was ultimately victorious, crushing Desparrow into the dust and sending the wall tumbling down upon the waiting camp of Hildegarde supporters. The wall had been severely damaged and its repair had been a costly and ongoing project, but it had become a pet project of Hildegarde’s. And what a project it was. The previous wall had been made of stone. The new wall – soon to be finished – consisted of a combination of black ice and blue steel. It stood out from the sheer white of Frostmaw’s icy tundra; the black ice and eerie blue glow of the blue steel certainly made it an intimidating blot against the white of Frostmaw. The wall had to have been taller than a dragon! Scaffolding clung to it, along with massive machines that could have been mistaken for war machines but instead were devices of creation. Massive tools consisting of metal and wood, meant for moving these heavy materials in order to build the wall. There was a massive gap in the wall, though, where the large doors of the gates would soon stand. Yet at this gap there stood two mighty statues wrought in stone: two large giants that were well known and beloved amongst the Frostmawian people. Tharn, the previous Captain of the Queensguard and loyal servant of Queen Satoshi, who stood with his hand extended as if in warning and his sword hanging from his hip. Mikael on the other side, Captain of the Queensguard to Hildegarde, who died in defense of her life at the march to Frostmaw. His hand too was extended in warning, sword and axe hanging from his hips. The stone perfectly captured their faces and their armour, as if they were still living. These stone sentinels would forever monitor the gates of Frostmaw, forever judging those who wished to enter the City of War and forever promising to repel the enemies of Aramoth’s Chosen. Hildegarde stood here today, gazing at the statues in awe and wonderment as the people around her continued to work and begin to prepare for the celebration to come.

Lionel is in his trademark thin black silks, Knight-Commander’s vambrace wrapped around his left forearm and Hellfire strapped upon his back in its almost distractingly prismatic sheath. His role here is to oversee security, but he’s looking rather jovial despite that fact. This is a celebration, after all -- merchants are peddling their wares from gold-painted palanquins, hawking cooked ducks and cutlery and everything in-between. Citizens, many of them concerned with the recent outbreaks of substance abuse and anti-establishment rumblings, have left their hearths and homes in search of a little joy. As the work on the wall continues, Frostmawian military is on-edge, surveying the expansive streets and keeping a keen eye on all foreign attendees. Rynvali firestarters are dancing to the beat of a chiseled shirtless man and his drum, tossing sparked green flames between their hands in elaborate measure. Fishermen from Cenril have fresh catches for Frostmaw’s seafood-loving folk. A crowd has gathered, purchasing trinkets from Chartsend from fellows who claim the items are from a mermaid’s paradise far beyond the western shore. For all its troubles, Frostmaw still has some wealth, and it’s going to good use in search of happiness today. Guard-Captain Katee Thrace, short-haired and eager, is in direct supervision of a score of armed men and women who are as interested in the exotic items and impressive wall as they are on their pressing duties. Lionel himself remains reasonably close to the queen. Scents of breads and perfumes and lavender oils permeate the area. It is a jolly occasion for a good cause, and spirits have been lifted on this day.

Emrith Kohl has been all over the map lately. He had taken to roughing it in Sage Forest most nights, until something terrible happened, something which drove him to the very worst place for him to go. Since then, he has returned to Frostmaw, where the thing that draws him seems to have a much weaker pull, something he can resist equally while asleep or awake. The vampiric elf is hooded, cloaked and armed this day, cutting a rather forgettable figure as he plies the paths of the city of Frostmaw. Ilaerothil remains back in the forests far to the southeast, having no particular liking for the cold and, if the truth is told, no particular desire to be around the spell-blade during his recent funk. A brief eddy of particular cold seems to follow the elf wherever he goes, and an odd mantilla of unnatural darkness drapes him no matter where and how he moves. He arrives at the city's easternmost gate only to see something of a crowd gathered. He stops immediately, not moving, not breathing, simply intending to observe at first. He will speak up or come forward as needs must. For now, he attends.

Hildegarde said to Lionel, "You're awfully quiet, Lord Commander!"

Lionel accepts a bronze goblet's worth of delicate red wine from a rather insistent merchant who is quick to offer some to the queen as well. Before he can bring it to his lips, however, a nearby soldier marches forth, takes a goblet for his own, sticks his index finger in the air and samples it thoroughly. The soldier's brow furrows, but after a time, he nods his approval. "It is clear," he informs his superiors, ensuring no foul play on this festive day. The merchant wrinkles his nose in mild offense. "Well, of course it is! Ah, begging your pardon, my queen." The portly man's thick cheeks blush a matching shade of red to his own exports, bowing. Meanwhile, Lionel replies to Hildegarde with his first words spoken in hours. "Aye, I suppose I am, my queen. It's just never been easy for me to relax at times like these. Live life on edge long enough, and you see shadows in every ray of sunlight, I suppose." He tastes the wine. "Mm... still, this is good stuff."

Eirik takes little time to investigate his surroundings. Instead the berserker finds himself zoned out, feet mindlessly carrying has near six foot frame through the area. It is only the odd hustle and bustle of the eastern gates that yanks mind from thought. Silver eyes scan the faces of random citizens, friends and all people alike. As per usual, Eirik is dressed for an imaginary war. A single armoured sleeve working its way up right arm and weaving into a fur covered, leather and steel plate pauldron. A silver stitched black leather jerkin covering his torso while matching pants give way to scuffed steel greaves that protect the tops of booted feet and his shins. Brann Forbruker, a runic longsword, lies tied to his hip via the means of a leather baldric. Lionel is noticed, standing near the Queen but both are ignored for now; Eiriks stomach began to rumble over the scents of bread. His first task was to find food.

Ameno walked into area wearing a dirty brown trenchcoat, fastened only by a brown piece of cloth. His skin was bleached by chemicals in some areas and had taken considerable damage. His voice was raspy and his eyes sunken. He didn't look well. But he seemed to checkout what the merchants had, "do you have any blood cleaners?" He asked herb merchant.

Oline stood propped up against the wall of a neighboring building, admiring that enormous wall. Hildegarde was right to be proud of it.... it was a spectacular sight. She was attired in a long, dark violet gown with silver circle accents. Perhaps a little too sheer for a more modest individual's comfort, the dress was her own personal point of pride. She'd made it herself, from a pair of banners adorning the wall of the Academy of Magic in Larket. Anyplace else, Oline would have been an intimidating sight to behold. She had a mantis-scythe blade upon her hip longer than the average human was tall, and a cloud of misery around her which rendered the air almost palpable. Here in the land of giants, however, she looked little more than a grumpy child playing dress-up. That, of course, only served to further sour her mood.

Hildegarde rolled her eyes at the wine tasting, finding it just a little bit *too* much. But then again, she was immune to poison. The other mortal folk were not, so it was to their detriment that these things were checked. Better safe than sorry, right? The Silver offered Lionel a little wry smile, “Celebrate, Lord Commander, our wall is nearly done,” she told him, gesturing up to the grand wall that would soon be completed. Tharn and Mikael: immortal guardians of Frostmaw.

Ameno coughed hard blood spalttering against his sleeve. "None, fine, just thought i'd ask." He walked over to a familiar face lionel. "Sir." He tried to salute but found himself unable.

Leshhak had been walking around like usual, hoping to find the tavern to enjoy a few drinks and a round of Nerves. That was when he noticed a large group of people having a party outside the gates of Frostmaw. He blinked his one green eye in surprise - what was going on? - when he noticed a few faces he recognised. He walked over to the festivities, if only hoping to find a drink and conversation to enjoy.

Thamalys connected heels first with the bulky block of blue steel sitting right on top of the upper rim of the wall, there where even the scaffolding had to give up to the gloomy air, a landing surely enough characterized by the usual, colossal lack of poise that seemed to set apart the Blue from the rest of the Avian kind. Muttering something not so very pleasant with respect to both content and tone, the Spellblade proceeded to straighten himself up as much as the hefty weight of his silver-clad wings would have allowed - which is so say, not the much indeed, the Winged Beast willowy shapes invariably bent to some extent. Dressed aptly - or so he thought - for the particular circumstance, the Avian sported plain black lather pants and a rather battered shirt, some time ago possibly of the colour white. The unruly mass of his waist-long dreadlocks was pinned down into a sort of a huge comb , spiralling across his shoulders while brushing the metallic shapes of a Halberd skilfully laced squarely enough. His feathery companion, Nebb the Kite, was nowhere to be seen, but who could have blamed him? Frostmawian skies made for quite entertaining glides and dives, after all. Balancing on said chunk of material, the Blue briefly assessed the situation below. It seemed the work was well under way - and indeed, that celebration was already in the air. As such, he would have curved his lips into the broadest grin, for once genuinely content in witnessing something righteously coming to a long-awaited, magnificent conclusion. No need for him to mingle with the merry mob, then - not today. Hence, after having waved a brisk salutation, most likely not noticed by anybody but a rather astonished halfling engaged not so far below with some ropes and timbers, the Spellblade would have leaped into the air once more, circling high above the fort to consequently vanish into the chilly air.

Hildegarde offered Eirik a little wave of her hand upon spotting him! She wouldn’t interrupt his getting food, but she did wish to acknowledge him. Emrith looked as if he were scanning the crowd, so she didn’t interrupt him. As Thamalys landed by the celebration, Hildegarde called him over. “M’lord!” she greeted warmly, “I think that man there might need your wisdom,” she said, gesturing to the bloody Ameno.

Meri definitely dressed for warmth, but a brunt of what she is wearing is hidden beneath the thick fur lining of her cloak that she wears hood drawn up in another bid to keep the heat escaping. Not her climate, she would almost certainly never adjust to it, beaches will always be preferred to snow. Still, occasionally her travels bring her into these colder climates and with a celebration underway. Food or drink does not seem to be calling to Meri today, but the artist is more than content to wander. There were more than a few familiar faces present like Eirik, Oline and Thamalys and they would all be greeted as she happens upon them during her wandering each with a nod and smile.

Ameno groaned and gritted his teeth. And dizzily tried to move away. Crashing into a wall and falling to the ground.

Lionel beams a proud smile at the construction. Somewhere up there, Tratt C. Milous himself is helping to supervise the final bricks, and anyone with him is being ‘regaled’ with old stories they’ve may have heard a hundred times before. Down here on the surface, however, Lionel is interrupted when a sunken-eyed, bloody-sleeved Ameno approaches him with a staggered step. Out of the corner of his eye, the Catalian espies Oline, but that will have to wait -- Ameno is clearly unwell. “Thrace,” Lionel calls out, and the Guard-Captain appears as if out of nowhere. In truth, she is just very, very good at her job. “Ser?” Lionel gestures to the draconian. “Ameno, what has happened? You need medical aid, my friend. Captain Thrace here can ensure you receive it. Would you care to allow a physician to look after you?”

Emrith begins to glide forward, and as he does, the elf clasps shut his cloak. One moment he is visible, the next he is not. Careful but steady steps lead him through the gathered throng toward Lionel, Hildegarde and the various folks near enough to them to be included, however peremptorily, in their conversation. When he gets close, the spell-blade unclasps his cloak, popping back into full view again, then raises his voice. Despite its slight rasp, it carries well. He accompanies his impromptu little speech with a glower that seems to take in everyone in the vicinity. "This is all very well," he says, gesturing at both the wall and the celebration, "but it stinks of self-congratulation. Surely there are better ways to spend coin for this troubled place than upon lavish entertainment and the building of defenses for the enemy without? But perhaps there are secretive plans to deal with the rumours no one wants to talk openly about. Perhaps a bit of fluff and bravado to distract from true misery, constitutes a display of political acumen." He scoffs, to show what he thinks of that idea. "Problems are problems, no matter how many stones you put around them or how much speech-making accompanies the wall." There is an odd, fevered cast to the man's eyes beneath his hood, surely not visible unless one were to come very close to the spell-blade and look into his face. "But this is a rotten wind," he finishes. "A fell, rotten wind, which blows now. See if I am mistaken come sunrise."

Ameno with no dignity left ameno nods to lionel's reply. "Please."

Ameno :: with thrace's asssistance ameno is led to the sickness ward for treatment.

Hildegarde turns slightly when Emrith suddenly appears. In turning slightly, she has caught sight of Oline who garners a little frown from the Queen. A giant child that she did not know? Clearly this girl was not Frostmawian. Who was she? Questions that can get answers another time. Emrith’s harsh words have gathered a little frown from the Queen as she gently places her hand upon his arm – if permitted – and gestures to the food and the scaffolding. “It is hardly a luxurious festival, my friend, when we are providing traders a place to trade, men and women ample opportunity to work and repairing a broken wall. Think ill of it if you wish to, but this is hardly an extravagant event. Those who do not have food, those who hunger, those who simply wish for more or wish to socialise can come here and eat. That is the purpose of this. If you wish to speak ill of me and my deeds, I welcome your criticism. But do not think to scoff at my kingdom and the work I provide my people with.” Hildegarde relinquishes his arm, casting a glance to Lionel.

Leshhak glances around at the crowd, noting that earlier he had spotted a certain lady friend of his... when his eye rested on Oline. With a smile, he walked over to the giantess. "Greeting, M'lady Oline," he said with a bow, producing a rose seemingly from nowhere, and offering it to his friend.

Oline 's mind was elsewhere. Her head was buzzing with noise, those echoing shrieks and wails of agony that tormented her so having been going at it now non-stop for days. She didn't sleep. She could barely eat. She just sat up in her flat, staring at the ceiling, waiting for death or insanity to take hold. So perhaps that was why she only just barely managed to catch Meri's greeting. She returned it with her own, a half-arsed "Hey"... before her attention began to wander, this time to a bottle of whiskey she lifted out of her satchel. Prying the stopper out, half the bottle vanished in a single gulp.

Eirik decidedly picks out bread which he has never before tried, offering the merchant coin in fare trade. The piece of bread is snapped in half and idly lifted to further smell before a bite is taken. It’s here, bread in mouth, that Eirik catches Hildegarde’s wave. He offers up a nod from a distance to acknowledge the Queen of all Frostmaw. Meri too is noticed, a grin tugging at his features while a bread filled hand waves. The Queen is again the focus of his attention and he marches towards her. Should any guard stop him from gaining entrance he would indeed come to a halt, but there were things he wished to discuss. Mainly, the discussion of fealty or his fealty. Emriths interaction with Hildegarde is noted, but left out of his own conversation. Perhaps this wasn’t the time or place for such serious discussions. Eyes shift to the statues, “I didn’t realize there were such great craftsman here.” He offers up in idle conversation.

Lionel narrows his gaze upon Emrith’s own speech-making, pursing his lips but saying nothing just yet. There is a man down, after all, and Lionel’s fellow guild officer ought to know that this trumps any talk of walls or their political purposes. He takes the draconian by his shoulder, Thrace doing the same, and together they hoist him up. “I’ll see to him personally, ser,” the short-haired Guard-Captain guarantees, and she and Ameno vanish down the busy street, into the cloister of rabble. “My gods, man,” Lionel mumbles, squinting at the vampiric elf now. “This is a minor merriment, complete with all the perks our queen just mentioned. Not some massive diamond-encrusted display of noble prosperity.” Although, he tenses at the end of that rebuttal. “Still… it’s been awfully windy, lately.” As if timed, a fierce gust passes through the area. The Rynvali firestarters’ flames nearly snuff out in reaction, and the crowd murmurs in surprise. Then, festivities continue, and louder than before. Ill wind or not, there is a disquiet to the whole realm of late.

Leoxander was in the area, perhaps perched on the structure of the gates, casually, bottle in hand. He wasn't making any great effort to stay concealed, but did not draw much attention to himself as he surveyed the scene. (ooc: Lurking.)

Ranok arrives with little pomp or circumstance. He himself walked alongside a rather large draft horse, on which atop perched a small woman. Dressed in the typical fair of battered duster and sharp weapons, the smith and his companion came at the behest of Lionel. While the construction of a mere wall was a bit beneath him, even one to defend an entire country, the unique opportunity afforded was one he could not deny. The challenges of scale and the fight against the cold, along with materials kept away from the general public were too tempting. And so he came, dragging along perhaps the only other of his little entourage that might hold interest. The woman was small, frizzy haired despite an attempt at a bandana to hold it back, and her face was bedusted with more freckles then a Frostmaw winter squawl. Ranok kept away from the horse, who seemed wary of the smith. Any time path or circumstance drew the man and beast towards each other, the horse was flicking its head. Well trained warhorse or not, it just seemed that Ranok did not have a way with the things. This continues up, merchant drafts horses to farmer's nags. With luck, none caused enough of a disruption to draw overmuch attention, though many dirty looks abound as stalls or carts are kicked or nudged as equines shuffle uncomfortably. Straight to the gap the smith goes, the woman beside him dismounting. A finger tips back the brim of his hat, and gray eyes take in the construction so far, he held none of the awe that Hildegarde had. He rather lacked the artistic soul or personal connection to the statues, as finely wrought as they had been. And there was a critical absence of Frostmawian pride. What, instead, he had was a grudging respect for a job well done. The sudden gust of wind causes the instinctive snatch of his hat to stop it blowing away, duster around his thighs blowing like mad, "A bit late in the season for tempermental weather, isn't it?" was muttered to himself. Truely, he didn't know. Rynvale was his home, not Frostmaw.

Oline 's cheeks flushed a bright shade of scarlet as Leshhak suddenly appeared, procuring a flower from Valkr-only-knew-where. "Oh!" she started, grinning fiendishly as she took the rose and gave it an almost-ladylike sniff. "Ah'm nawt... Ah... um... Ah'menn... y'know... thenks!" She stared at the rose intently, smile slowly wavering. "Ah... lahk flowuhs. Nobuddy... evvuh rilla thenks tha', though. Wah'd a big brute lahk me wanna flowuh..." she shook her head and sighed. "Thenk you. S'rilla sweet!"

Leshhak smiles back to the giantess with a chuckle, "You are very welcome, Miss Oline." His eye cast about the crowd. "...what is happening here?" he asked, "A party for something? I've been out of the lands for a while, so I'm not... up-to-date on current events."

Hildegarde || A nearby construction worker sniffs loudly. He looks as though he’s suffering from a cold which is unusual for a Frostmaw giant! He’s a massive man but he looks a little under the weather: his skin glistened with sweat and his posture had slumped slightly as he made his way to one of the rather primitive constructing cranes that stood near the wall. There’s just a hint of what looks like a reddish kind of dirt around his nostril.

Emrith just shakes his head. "I live here and prosper here, Hildegarde," Emrith replies, "so I would be foolish to speak harshly against the kingdom as a whole. But see if I am not right. This has all the hallmarks of tragedy. Even the words you spoke in response to me." He bows his head to both Lionel and Hildegarde - though in truth it is only the barest dip of skull and shoulders - then turns aside, to stare moodily southeastward. Part of him knows that he is overreacting, very likely jumping at shadows. The rest of him, though, the part of him which seems to be most battened upon by the ring riding his right forefinger...that part of him knows he is right. Well, he thinks to himself, short of starting a riot, I have done all I can do. Emrith stands ready.

Oline gestured to the wall, enormous and blue and littered with bodies and machines working with haste to finish the project. She watched it for a moment, herself, until her idly-twirling rose jabbed a thorn directly into her thumb. With a yelp, the giantess suddenly realized she was answering a question, and shook off her daze. "Ah'm... Ah'm sorreh. Juss... a liddal d'stracted. Evvuhwuns sellibratin' cuz th'wall is almoss dun. It got wrecked durin' th'Sivvuhl war, 'n s'bin gettin' fix't fohevvuh. Finally juss'abowdt done!"

Leoxander 's wolf sharp gaze trailed after that particular Frostmaw worker as he finished most of what was left in his bottle, sleeves rolled to his forearms despite the cold weather and wind reaching him at that vantage point.

Meri started toward Oline, figuring she may as well strike up a bit of conversation with the giantess she has grown rather familiar with. Leshhak makes her to Oline and presents her with a flower before Meri even covers half the distance between herself and Oline. Re-route. Leshhak and Oline are instead given space to converse, Meri continuing her aimless wander of the celebration. The cloaked woman is content to remain on her own, observing.

Leshhak glanced up at the wall. "Oh, I see," he said with a nod, "that's good, then." He noticed the aforementioned construction worked and raised an eyebrw. A giant of Frostmaw with a cold? Something was wrong... or he was being paranoid. He was slightly for that among his friends among the Order. He kept an eye on the giant, but continued to speak with his friend. "And how have you been, Miss Oline? And how is your uncle?"

Hildegarde said to Eirik, "Frostmaw has a history of craftsmanship. Skills it will not share with outsiders in regards to ice and cold-forging. They cherish their secrets, just as many other cultures do." Ranok picks among the construction tools before selecting a nice sturdy crane bedecked in iron plates. It'd make a perfectly useful anchor. With an almost lazy gesture, he extends left fingers outwards, and makes a grasping gesture. Blue lights flare gently and Ranok is tugged into the skies, pulled by a magnetic attraction to the iron on the crane. His flight was not hurried or hasted, given that there was no need to zip like an arrow, but he'd practiced this sort of thing for years. The force of it just so, an overshoot, and his booted feet were on the wall, hat firmly on head. Hopefully no workers were easily distracted. Or if they were, that they had a firm grip. That one close by didn't look so good, but the smith's attention was on the stone and metal. He always had more interest in the inanimate, unless someone was trying to kill him. The perch atop the nearly done wall also offered a good vantage point, which he could not deny offered a splendor of color and merchants. Still...instinct was rumbling in the back of his mind. Where had he seen this before? Oh, right, every time he came to a large gathering this side of the world, something immediately broke. The consideration rather dashed any hopeful tendrils of good mood he might have had.

Eirik said to Hildegarde, "I see," he takes a further moment to look upon the construction. The ice wall, the statues and the teams working to finish up both. Another bite of bread is stolen, "I still have a lot to learn about this place." His statement more of a comment to himself than her.

Oline had spied Meri on her approach, and was a bit sad to see her veer off. Not that she didn't want to talk with Leshhak or anything... no... she'd just been meaning to get a minute with the artist to discuss her services. Anything to stop the screaming... even the pain of inking needles... was preferable to another night being unable to focus. "Uncle Maldor? He's... bin a'liddul... pricklier n'yooshyoual." she said at last. "Ah'm... suhvahvin. Dowehn whuddeye gawt'a t'git throo th'day. Geddin throo th'nahts iz harduh tho." That final note was accented by a second swig from her bottle of whiskey, which then fell empty to the ground at her feet.

Lionel | Frostmaw’s southeast reaches are a sprawling network of wide roads, sharp angles, and shady alleyways. WIth a festive atmosphere undercutting the symptoms of a real problem in the City of War, even those shady alleyways don’t seem so bad just now. That is, until a group of malcontents appear in unison, one at the end of each alley for a total of twelve in all. Their cloaks seem to adapt to the stark grey stone behind them, partially obscuring them to even greater ability than the buzzing crowd of citizens they step into. Sharp-eyed folks will surely spot them, their burlap bags in one hand and their knives and shortswords and clubs in the other. If there is one unifying element to these weapons, it is the blood. Behind them, down the dark alleys, soldiers are dead, their patrols cut short by savagery. It is through this means that they have managed to make it here now, and a second group of thugs lay prone upon the nearby rooftops, matching burlap sacks at their hips and crossbows at the ready. As for the dark-hearted men and women themselves, there can be little visible bond. Some are human. Some are elven. Some are crossbreeds, or dwarven. There’s even a gnome, although he is so well-built he will still inspire fear. A couple of them are Frost Giants, and a couple more are feline folk, and there is truly no telling what affiliation these ruffians share. But their goal becomes clear quite quickly. All those burlap sacks go straight into the air, expert cuts across their fabric, and they’re tossed into the crowd at various angles -- from the rooftops, from within the crowd, left, right, front, and center. The guards are quick on their feet, but only to their detriment. After all, the contents of these sacks are the mysterious substances which have been plaguing a separate segment of Frostmaw’s population, the poorer segments further west. From some bags, a thick red dust, aptly titled ‘red dust’, as it were, and as it spreads, any who inhale it will soon succumb to frantic, manic behaviors. It’s an upper, per se, and it will mess with minds.

Lionel | From other bags, the fabled ‘ice spice’ -- a bluish tint to its manufacture, this bizarre contraption’s effects have been more readily visible across town. Those who inhale it will feel a pressing downward force, a sort of dread, a depressive. It’s the opposite of red dust in every conceivable way. It should be noted that Hildegarde, Lionel, Emrith,, Ranok, Ashe, and Jarith are all in the trajectory of the red dust, whilst Oline, Meri, and Leshhak are well within range of the ice spice. As the crowds rush in panic on either side of those gathered, another force rips in from due east: dozens upon dozens of the spice-addled ‘zombified’ Frostmawian denizens. They’ve heard it, they’ve smelled it, they’ve caught the scent of more of their precious substances. And they’re pushing, shoving, throwing everyone this way and that as they attempt to get another hit. “Hold the line!” Lionel screams. “No mortal damage to the crowd, not even the addicts! Throw them down, do not kill! Do not…” His voice is muddled as someone claws at him, and he swings a punch. It’s chaos, everywhere. Up on the wall, the strange, sniffly guy from earlier? His eyes are bulging. What splendor down below. He shoves into Ranok, even as the red dust sprays down as if from the heavens. He shoves, and slams his foot into a nearby crane, and down he goes, dead on impact. With him, a portion of the wall, and the crane itself, and it’s set to crush whoever is beneath. Emrith was right: a cold wind was rising in Frostmaw.

Hildegarde , like Lionel, is quick to fall into that automatic commander mode. Battle was in her blood, so she was ready for it. “Do no harm to them!” she commands, unwilling to see her citizens come to harm even though they wished to cause it right now. Of course, deadly force cannot be helped when it comes to trying to survive but Hildegarde appreciated the effort. As the bags deploy their dangerous cargo, Hildegarde readies her halberd: already finding the visibility rapidly diminishing due to the dust filling the air. The red dust that seemed to fall upon her and those near her was perhaps not quite so blinding as the blue tinted dust heading towards Oline and co. But the creaking of the crane cannot be ignored, the low guttural rumbling of the wall as it begins to splinter and sheds a section of sharp ice, Hildegarde wraps her hand around the collar of Eirik’s shirt and Emrith’s cloak, “MOVE!” she roars, tossing her body in the direction of Lionel in a bid to throw all four of them out of the way. Hopefully no one else was quite so close to the tumbling section of ice as it splatters against the ground: ice sounding like tinkling glass as it shatters everywhere; glimmering in the fading light of the day. Hildegarde would release Eirik and Emrith, trusting in them to get up to their feet swiftly, like she did. With a grunt, Hildegarde swings her halberd from the left to the right in a sharp motion to send a rushing elf spiralling away from them. Even as she struck the elf, red dust billowed from his body. The bastards had even lined their clothes with it to cause the maximum damage.

Emrith :: Standing still, waiting for the wind to rise, Emrith Kohl is as ready as he can possibly be when mayhem strikes the gathering. When Hildegarde seizes his cloak, the spell-blade lets it happen, allowing her to hurl him aside as the groaning crane's payload hurtles earthward. The elf hits the ground, and is up in a flash; from full stop to a flurry of motion, the spell-blade suddenly becomes a whirling tangle of limbs in defense of himself and those around him. He seems to have procured a staff from somewhere, and begins laying about him with its seven-foot length. Wind stance serves well here, and Emrith knows better than to question a shouted order from Lionel. As the unfortunately addicted close in, the vampiric elf uses heavy, punishing strikes to break hands, knock shoulders, smash backs, and generally knock down or incapacitate whoever he can reach. He may or may not kill the odd target, should a wayward slip or a miscalculated blow go awry, but his aim is to cripple them, to put them down and keep them down. Crowd control is something for which a quarterstaff is ready-made, it seems, and if this one happens to have blades on either end, it only means that Emrith has to try and use the flat of those killing edges to deliver his dizzying array of strikes. The runes carved along the length of the staff do not flare to life, since no further force than his own vampiric strength is necessary. The dust itself is something Emrith can ignore almost entirely, at least for now; he is wearing a hood, which keeps most of it out of his eyes, and without the need to inhale, Emrith simply ensures that he does not breathe the stuff in. He does not have to know what that powder is to know that ingesting it is a very, very bad idea. He fights on, trying to make his way toward Hildegarde and Lionel; thankfully, his position nearby the pair in the first place makes this relatively easy, and soon enough he is able to set up a whirling defense near enough to the two of them that any others interested in holding a line might be able to interdict themselves into the relatively safe space nearby him.

Oline was among those who lurched instinctively to action, despite her not being particularly ready for it. She found herself spinning around the corner of the building face-fist into a massive blue cloud. Startled, the giantess sucked in a deep breath of the stuff before she managed to pull herself back around the wall coughing and spluttering. She tried to find her sword, but her eyes were welling up with tears now to try and force the powdery blue crap out and she couldn't and the hacking cough onnly made it harder. Before long both hands were at her throat, every effort being required just to keep breathing through the burning pain in her lungs. It doesn't take long for the effects to start kicking in, ether. Already Oline can feel her mind numbing... her heartbeat slowing. Even the act of coughing seems to have become slow, right down to the lethargicly traveling spray of blue-tinted spittle as it departs from her mouth. Having never gotten a chance to even fully grasp the situation, the giantess finds herself slumped upon the ground incapable of grasping her blade, much less making any sense of what's happening around her. But hey... at least the screaming voices stopped. That was nice. Valkr's mercy, it was nice. She could almost... sleep…

Eirik is still chewing that last bit of bread when the crowd goes crazy, and those bags of red plop on the ground nearby Hildegarde, Lionel, Emrith and himself. Eyes just open wide in reaction, Lionels words forcing a clenching of his jaw. Do not kill, he husks. Hildegards abrupt reaction has Eirik rolling up to his feat some distance away, tossing him out of harm. The cranes payload smashing into the earth around him. Fine, he mutters. Brann is not even so much as drawn. Instead the bread is dropped in favor of a wooden leg to a random stand. Its abruptly snapped off the end and brought to grasp like a make shift mace. His longsword could not be used here; it was far too destructive and Eirik knew that. Defend, the Queen, do not harm the people but fend off the attack. The lycan shifts mind to the task at hand, squinting his own eyes as the haze of red dust litters the area. As often done before, Eirik leaps into action. Club coming to defend a citizen from another red dust revolutionist - battering against his features soundly. More of that filthy dust spurting into the air as Eiriks target hits the ground. Eyes are quick to scan the area looking for a place more advantageous to their current struggle. He had his own dealings with the members, having wiped out a few himself. His quick survey of the landscape interrupted again by a mob of citizens looking for that drug, but Eirik weaves through the group only pushing them out of the way. He was on the Queens trail, like Emrith.

Meri was content to move through the festivities, inspecting this vendor and that, examining there wares with no intent to purchase. It was the figures moving on either side of the alley that put an end to this, Meri's gaze darting from one end to note the menacing arrivals then to the other end as the hood of her cloak is thrown back to better free up her vision. Her gaze goes up next, to the rooftops, just in time to see bags being cut and dust, both red dirt and ice spice, raining down on the crowd. Meri a thick cloud of blue powder is about to settle upon Meri but it does not, it is as if there was a dome about Meri keeping her safe from the effects of the drugs. While she may have faces she counts as friend amongst the crowd, in this instance the woman is going to behave selfishly. It's not into the fray she goes, not holding the line, but to the sidelines. If she needed to push or punch some drug hungry Frostmaw citizen out of her way to get there she would do so. The crane could be dealt with by the warriors of the area. The opposing team had all of Meri's attention, trying to ascertain who may be calling the shots with this assault. Maybe who might be good to tail if Cujo doesn't kill everyone…

Ranok hated it when he was right. That was the problem with being a cynical bastard. You were either pleasantly surprised or horribly right. Seems today's agenda was a main course of disappointment with a side of crazy. Business as usual, well and truly. From his vantage point, he could see the brewing. "Aw, hell." But as he's about to raise the alarm, the sniffly giant was rumbling with a sack of...what the hell was that? Eyes thin. Something told him that it wasn't construction material. In a flash, he understands. How he'd missed it before...well, hindsight being twenty twenty and all. Addicts and the desperate were not unfamiliar to him. The way they carried themselves, the way they moved, the look in their eyes...it all made sense. But there was scant time to ponder it all. Dust was in the air, and a giant was stumbling into him. Instinct kicks in. The addict did not fall. Ranok adjusts his balance, experience with heights and disproportionate brawls coming to the fore. A booted foot, an application of the proper amount of force to the back of a knee, then an ankle, and even a giant was falling. This was a mistake, but there was that damned hindsight again. Two things were thrust into his plate. An inhalation of the dust nearly sent him coughing, lungs burning. Its bad nature was immediately apparent, besides the fact that Ranok's mother always told him not to inhale strange red dust. He holds onto the breath, lungs aflame. The wall begins to crumble, and a realization. The woman he'd brought along was underneath. In an explosive force of shout, his voice echos, "MATTIE!" The freckled woman's head jerks up from her ponderings of the wall and her hands accompany them. Even as stone and steel sink down in gravity's embrace, Ranok was bracing himself. Left fingers clutch an outcropping of blue steel hard enough that finger impressions would be left remain. Electricity surges and the crane's fall slows, chunks of rocks it clung to slowed as well. It was not a ceasing of the fall, but enough. The ground around Mattie, the woman, ripples as her expression changes from one of surprise to concentration. She was a natural terramancer, poorly trained but holding of a good connection to the earth. This made her a natural builder, which was why she'd been brought along. Spires of rock jut forward to race to meet falling rock. Between the two, Ranok and Mattie stop most of the wall fall, turning a deadly disaster into a merely messy one. But Ranok is coughing, calling upon his vambrace to call a wind around him to whip the red dust away. Hopefully his size would deal with the dose, as well as his unusually hardy nature.

Ashe swept out of the chaos and the clouds of colored dust like a bat out of a cave. A sudden black shape like a speeding arrow curving around a few heads at a sharp angle. It was followed by a wordless song, more music than lyrics, that could not possibly come from the throat of a bird. Yet it clung to the small speeding shape like an invisible cloud. Spreading a sort of focus, but also a pacifying calm wherever the crow went. As to where it went? After it's sharp curve over the crowd it landed – if only for a moment – on Hildegarde's shoulder. Shooting the queen a look with a shiny black bead of an eye before it leapt off and tumbled forwards through the air. Growing into a larger mass of feathers that became a cloak wrapped around a man. That man, still singing, wrapped his scarf around his face. Somehow without muffling the song to any noticeable degree.

Oline slowly slid herself further around the corner. In this state she wasn't much good to anybody. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she howled at herself for letting her guard down. For being so distracted. More people were going to die because of her, now... of that she was almost certain. Her chest ached, both from the coughing and from the sensation of panic and paranoia settling in. She could hear the shouting. The screaming. They weren't in her head anymore... they were just around the building. The giantess forced herself to stand, shaky, and finally bring up her blade. All pretense of training and professionalism was lost as she slunk around the far side of the building and into the alleyway... headed as quickly -away- from the noise as she could get. How had everything gotten so out of hand so quickly? Why did these things keep happening? Larket... now Frostmaw... was there no place peaceful where she could just rest her tired bones? "S'nawt fayuh..." she snarled out loud, backhanding a gibbering human woman who came screaming around the corner as she approache the other end of the alley. The woman went down with a hard wet thunk, and didn't get back up. "... evvuhpless Ah go... s'the soddin' same..."

Jarith had kept up guard patrols for the weeks until now, the rift betwixt the northern borne and some of the other leaders of Frostmaw remained in a fashion, but Jarith kept to that oath despite it all. It was a question more of duty to his people in the northern reaches, more than anything else. They acknowledged Hildegarde, and allowing ill to befall the city-state would mean ill befell his home beyond. The jovial event had the knight a bit more on edge, celebrating whilst the city fights. The dust had been more and more an issue, now this, and he was not slow to react, traits honed from battle and war brought his own battle-ready demeanor. The knight was not a part of Hildegarde’s initial brief, a selection of his own guards at his back, had him just yards behind the queen and her entourage. Perhaps this is a lucky sentiment as That dust began to drop they were later to the madness. Hands shift. “ Smother it!” The guards battling the fray day-to-day had learn tricks, and while it would not stop the dust permanently, all of them, their leader and his braided hair included pulled bandanas, doubled for greater shielding over mouths and noses. Vision, and it hitting their eyes would be an issue, but for the time they were safe, temporary reprieve granted as Ser Jarith and his men found their own escape from the crumbling wall. The separation betwixt Hilde, Lionel, Emrith, and Eirik greater now as the male and his own guards are to the opposing side of that partially fallen wall. The debris blows up a gust of snow and ice, casting further the red against those guards at the ready. “You heard the queen! Full Circle!” His additional shouts ring to his men, who snap too, shields joining, Jarith would form up with them. The crazed denizens are met with shields and fists, the strange shifting phalanx cushioning attackers and with practiced shoves returning the impact back, following through is perhaps best seen by the altered Elven knight, Braids dangling as his shield would drop and the un-pinned handle of his short sword would glint silver without the blade; in the ruby-red gauntlets as he disembodied his own zombified human from consciousness. The group turned and more similar actions brought reasonable effects; a wake of unconscious forms left behind them, but they are not immortal and the attacking force before them seems less inclined to attack so separately. Soon two and three attackers make their tactic harder, this line can only hold for so long. Dust is already forming on the clothes that cover their lower features, threatening to push through. Jarith’s focus is on a younger squire, charged beyond the protection of the circle. “ Pellam!” Too late, the boy’s joy at repelling two foes is cut short, a punch followed by vicious biting and flailing bodies brings screams that fall achingly silent seconds later. “Close Ranks!” But Jarith is outside the circle as it repels another attack, the warlord’s body twisting, shifting through the en masse attack beating down those who come forwards, his energy is up, strangely. His mask is fallen, and he batters viciously, at anyone who tries to impede that progress until he can scoop up the fallen youth and, with blade hilt in hand, batter off foes, returning to his guards with the preciously lost comrade.

Hildegarde ’s attention is being pulled every single way and it’s becoming increasingly harder to keep track of it. She feels alive, though. So so so alive. She has never felt quite so energetic in her life before! As the crow lands upon her shoulder, Hildegarde offers it a grin and is swiftly distracted by the arrival of Jarith and his men. Jarith was a sight to behold, that much was true, and that’s who she decided to fight her way to. If she could clear the path to him, his men could easily surge in and round up the addicts safely in such a way that the casualties are kept to a minimum. “Rally!” she roared, her halberd briefly dipping in the direction of Jarith as she swiftly made her way towards him. The shaft of her halberd was used to intercept attacks, to twist them away before whacking here and there; to swing low and high to harmlessly subdue an attacker if she could. The crumbling of the wall didn’t distract her now, her breathing was all she could hear and this distant throbbing in her head, this constant ‘go go go’ sensation that was bouncing about her skull in that exact moment. So egged on by this, Hildegarde even swung her head forward and cracked her skull clean against that of an attacking Kuronii northman. Red dust was one hell of a stimulant.

Meri sends a glance briefly to the downed giantess, part of her half-considering taking the time to try and rouse he sedated giant. It is in this instance that business comes first and Meri has not been up in Frostmaw as much as she has been because she has a love of the cold. The wall does not turn into a total disaster thanks to Ranok, bits of the wall still fall but the entire situation could have been worse. As Meri has managed to position herself to one side of alley, the woman is largely safe from falling debris anyway, some rubble may roll harmlessly her way but it is ignored. Meri does not remain for an observant or inactive state for long, the warriors are already dealing with the twelve miscreants that are in either side of the alley. Meri does not presume she is going to have much luck in the way of following any of the gang members. What about those on the rooftop? Where the drugs were thrown to begin with? Between a building Meri goes with the intention of scaling the building, one can only presume that the psion climbed her way up to the rooftops but...who really witnessed that? Either way, Meri is ground level no more, but has a clean vantage point above. For now. Still of sober mind, Meri's one ultimate goal was to follow the miscreants leading this assault. Not fight them.

Lionel feels the impact as his fist connects with the jawbone of a nearby spiced-up junkie. There is a sharp crack, but it cannot be heard over the tumult that surrounds them. A loud whoosh turns the Catalian’s attention behind him, and he mouths an expletive as the crane and chunk of black ice spins down upon the immediate vicinity. Hildegarde’s shove is well-timed; it takes him forward, and he rolls across the paved ground, slamming himself into several more junkies in the doing. They tumble down, and luckily, a few are rendered unconscious by the action, thus clearing the way a bit. But even lack of consciousness here can be deadly, for a deafening crush of people -- some fleeing, some being struck by the substances, some already addicted, and malevolent others sowing the discord -- all of them are stepping raggedly, bumping into each other, and trampling those who are lower to the earth. The peculiar color-shifting cloaks of the burlap-wielding interlopers create distortions of color across the crowd, all the way down the street. It hurts Lionel’s eyes to look at this overlong, so he narrows his gaze and stands at the ready beside his queen, and Emrith, and Eirik, and the lone guardsman who had tasted wine just moments ago. That stalwart bloke isn’t long for this world. A crossbow bolt takes him at a grizzly angle straight through his temple, and blood squirts up like a gusher as he falls and is stepped-upon like yesterday’s news.

Lionel | Lionel glances up at the rooftops, chasing the trail of that whizzing crossbow bolt, and he notices several more being readied. “Damn it! On the roofs! They’re on the roofs! Around the queen!” He leaps ahead of her, deflecting a shot as it’s volleyed with a suddenly-drawn sword. Hellfire, the fabled blade, takes the bolt and shatters it. Elsewhere, a chunk of wall from on high speeds down into the ground with a vibrational thud that can be felt and echoed from across the mountain… and perhaps beyond. Although light, the black ice stings the stone below with a thunderous noise, and a gathering of junkies -- and numerous attackers, too -- are crushed to a pulp beneath that power. The noise and its impact heralds a change in the tide. Even the addicts are moving a bit more slowly, now, as if uncertain. The remaining attackers are weapons-up and striking, seeking further blood to satisfy their goals. But some of those attackers, the ones who had carried the ice spice into battle, are backing away swiftly and making for the alleys. Some of them clash with Frostmawian troops, some with Jarith. Others will escape. In their wake, all those who had been near the dreaded spice will be wrapped up in a terribly bleak feeling. Much like Oline has begun to suffer, Meri may as well, although her ascent up the buildings has her at a better spot. A feeling of helplessness, of hopelessness, will sweep across this section of the crowd like a current of bitter regret. And what of those attackers on the roofs? Well, it’s a good thing Lionel screamed their presence at the top of his lungs a moment ago. When in Frostmaw, always look to the skies; a strafing run from four Eyrie wyverns and their riders ends in a bloody tangle of intestines yanked from unsuspecting foes. There, Meri. Just in time to watch winged lizards gore people freakishly. That’s a heck of a thing to see.

Emrith integrates himself readily into the circle of Jarith's guards; this is a man he doesn't know, but his company seems capable enough, and Emrith will do what is needed to form and hold a strong center. He begins to use his quarterstaff more like a halberd, utilizing jabs and lower strikes to keep those approaching the circle at bay. He is lithe and quick, and vampiric strength means he is well-suited to nearly any weapon or military arrangement; this one is no different. The peculiar song which drifts across the battlefield is something Emrith simply cannot stop and savour, but he still manages to appreciate it, in an abstract way, even as he continues to fight. At Lionel's shout, the spell-blade looks up just in time to see carnage from on high. He switches his staff to a one-armed grip, continuing to push back against any who gain close, and beginning to channel mana through it as he works. Kinetic energy, quickly stored, soon blooms from the end of the weapon, spreading toward the heavens in a compact little dome which, for the time being, redirects hostile fire back upward. This is all he can do in the short-term, and Emrith knows he must trust others for greater defense if this engagement continues. So far he is hale and limber, unwounded save for a scratch and a bruise or two. But if this continues for too long, there's going to be one very exhausted elf unable to maintain a protective watch on all fronts. "I told you," he mutters to himself. "An ill wind."

Leshhak was too busy keeping an eye on the construction worker, he didn't realize what was going on until too late. He was hit in the face with some kind of blue dust, and he instinctively threw his hand over his nose and mouth, but he had already inhaled some of the mist. He felt something squeezing on his body, and his training instinct kicked in. He looked around at the chaos erupting around him, but his mind was already too kerfuffled to make any sense of it. The first person to launch at him - one of the supposed addicts - was promptly flattened with a punch to the face. First rule - make sure you're in a safe area. This clearly was not. But his vision was blurring and he didn't know what else to do - so anyone coming near him would get quite the surprise.

Meri, Oline, and Leshhak suddenly hear something that no one else can perceive...

[A mysterious yet powerful voice whispers to your mind “You sought the slow and soft embrace of death through that poison dust... but I sense that you are stronger than that. Seek me out, if you wish for a boon. A boon that, I promise you, will have your enemies quail before you.”]

Eirik found something odd. Lungs began to burn unable to stop the inhalation of red dust littered air, coughing in a response. Left arm raising to cover his mouth as his march continued onwards. This is the first time his body had come into contact with the effects of the drug - and he is energized despite his current fit of coughing. Its inhaled agents affecting him in only a few short breathes, pumping his veins full of the body altering substance. Make shift club is raised to block the incoming attack of another drug dealing lunatic, who is most likely hopped up on his own chemicals. The mace is deflected, but sword only bares down into the leather and steel plate pauldron, denting it and forcing and odd gasp of air to escape the lycans lungs. Damn it all! Eirik enrages his mind at the thought of such weakness, twisting at the concept of an attack even making connection to his body. His stinging lungs are ignored, and left hand grasps the dealers head twisting it to the side. Followed abruptly by mace clubbing the soft tissue of his stomach. Foot sweeps out, catching the dealers leg and toppling him over. Fist, which carries the mace, erupts in a force-filled display wrecking the side of the downed mans features. His eyes roll backwards, falling unconscious. Silver hues flick back up as Eirik rises, berserkers endurance suddenly enhanced by the feverish madness of red dust. That call to rally is heard, but Eiriks journey there would be a violent transaction of blows. Crazed citizens fighting for the dust, the Lycan and each other. Amidst all the chaos another attack comes to claim him but instead of defending, Eirik steps into the blow. The addicts elbow smashing against the pauldron turned weapon and the berserker uses the force to twist his left arm into and assault of his own, taking the attacker down. Suddenly Eirik finds himself within range of the Knight-Commander, Hildegarde, Emrith and Jarith. Eyes twist to the rooftops just in time to witness an arrow miss its mark and thud into the ground at his feet. The wyverns are an unexpected addition, but thought is ripped from mind again; a screaming drug enraged wave of citizens. Eirik twists away and runs to the aid of Jariths group, filling any blank holes in the formation.

Oline 's eyes traveled over to the motionless woman upon the ground. No... not motionless. She was still breathing. The giantess moved over and stared down at her, dull eyes glazed and filled with anger. Not for the audacity of her failed attack, mind. That had already been forgotten. Instead her growing rage spawned predominantly from the bent stem of the red rose clutched in the hand she'd used to bash in the woman's face. The screaming voices in her head were coming back as well, only... now they were stronger. Louder. More demanding. They wailed and shrieked at her, demanding justice. Murderer. Child-killer. Monster. So loud now that even with the sound of the blood boiling in her ears she couldn't drown it out. It wouldn't be until much, much later that Oline understood... the reason she hadn't been able to drown out the screams was because she'd been the one screaming. In the heat of the moment, as she stood there staring down at the unconscious addict, none of that mattered. All that mattered that there, lying upon the ground, was the object of her immediate hatred. She kicked the downed woman with all the force she could muster, sending her cartwheeling like a ragdoll out of the alley and straight into an abandoned vendor's stall. Another wild lash, this time at nothing, brought the giantess' fist through the wooden wall of someone's modest home. More screaming, and then sobs, as Oline found herself once more fallen to the ground. Her legs wouldn't carry her. Her eyes wouldn't stop watering. The weight of the world came crushing down on her again and it was much too much for her to bear any longer. Overhead, the familiar shrieking of a wyvern drew her gaze... and a bitter, tired laugh. It was at that precise moment that a bone-chillingly foreign voice invaded her mind, and planted the seed of a thought into her head which silenced the voices once more. Oline's eyes drooped shut, after that... not unconscious... but fixated upon the bent rose clutched between her forefinger and thumb. A trickle of blood rolled down her thumb, still impaled upon the thorn. "... sodditall..."

Ranok arrests his coughing. The air was better. It helped that there was a breeze up here, too. His heart was pulsing but he was unsure of whether that was just the post disaster adrenaline boost or something more sinister. Given the situation, the distinction hardly mattered. There also little to be gained from up above. The wall seemed stable enough as it was, remained, even as a jagged and ugly scar was borne from the crane's sudden removal. And so Ranok leaps down, the height unimportant to him. Landing with a thud, he's moving immediately into the crowd, a growing maelstrom at his back. He brought the wind with him. Spurred by the beating of his heart, fed by the life around him in the people and plants of the area, the druidic connection surging, the wind began to whip. But to call it so was dangerous. The wind was not a calm and tame beast to be at beck and call, and it slipped the reigns at the slightest provocations. But who cared about that? Frostmaw was familiar with the bone chilled howl of tearing air, and Ranok was no stranger to the parched scream of a sandstorm, the ones that used to rage across his homeland. To feed it, to push. Clear the dust, spread it so far into harmlessness. The man's duster was clawing the air, spread behind him, reliving its heritage as the skin of a creature of the skies. Fingers are clutched skywards, slowly rising as the wind feeds gleefully, beginning to make a pocket of sheer force around the smith. He could feed this frenzy. It could consume until it was an unstoppable force. This was what his mind whispered, regardless of what reality might have been. Liana's work was powerful, combined with his own craft to create that undulating mimicry of the sand dunes of the desert, but it held limitations. A begged release, to turn it loose, and all hell with it. Despite the plumeting temperatures as the wind drew in higher altitude air downwards, Ranok began to sweat. Struggling with what he'd wrought, there was no control offered like he held with his armor, the benefits of a will of steel and the intelligence that resided within it, too. But this was him. No gods, no kings. Only man. Teeth grit as he's pulling back on it. A wild release would hold bad benefit to all. But a slow tension and a snap might do it. Addicts and junkies were held at arm's bay, unable to get close enough as the wind turned aside bodies, thrown to the side. He was becoming battered too, his progress slowed, brought to knee. This is why the power was so dangerous. Why he respected the force of air enough to wear a token of it on his body. But before body breaks, his will triumphs. The hand is brought down not in a slam, but a slow touch. And with it, the wind breaks in a wave of air sheer enough to shove a firm hand between the shoulders of any but the most stoutly firmed. Whether it'd clear the dust remained to be seen. Ranok was too battered, blood seeping from scores of cuts where rock and debris harshly graded skin. His companion, Mattie, was running to him, but he was not moving.

Meri agrees, that is quite a sight to see. It was not a sight that she had entirely expected to see either, as the winged beasts were not on the assault prior to her ascent. Yet there they are now, goring out an enemy right before her very eyes. In terms of the creep factor, though, the flesh eating scorpions from the desert still take the cake for Meri. She is not without reaction, a step backward in surprise almost sends the woman careening from the rooftops but she is quick to correct what could have been a painful mistake. Her present position may afford her escape from that feeling of hopelessness that those on ground level may be suffering but that nagging feeling still enters the back of her mind. Any feeling of despair is washed away as something else enters her mind, a voice. The woman drops into a low crouch, trying to ignore all distraction from wyvern to the crazed cries violence from below to try and really focus on -where- this voice was coming from. The presumption is that whomever is speaking to her via telepathy must have her in their line of sight. The psion's blue eyes scan all of the details below with the utmost scrutiny and if nothing would pop out to her immediately, she would move along the rooftops. That would prove more of a challenge with the addition of the wyverns into the fray. Would they know her to be friend or foe? That was uncertain to the psion but her standing around Frostmaw was not concrete for them to consider her friend and so Meri proceeds with the utmost caution from rooftop to rooftop toward the end of the alley, eyes searching and alert.

Ashe stuck close to the queen. Not out of any bravado so much as protection. The bard was, as he had said many times, no soldier. Soon enough he gave up on the song. While the effect may have been helpful, breathing deeply to sing seemed a bad idea. Instead he simply pulled a short bow out of thin air and began firing arrows at unsuspecting targets. All the while sticking close to the important people. A familiar blue line streaking through the air to intercept attacks aimed for him or someone close-by. It was difficult to see, as usual, just a streaking blurr of lightning-blue. As if thunder curled around to bard to knock attacks out of the air.

Leshhak hears a strange voice enter his head, and it intruigues him. However, his focus was on what was going on around him. He heard Oline's whisper, smelled the blood, but he couldn't figure out what was going on around him. The poison or whatever had hit him in the eye. He reached for the stick of charcoal on his back, then hesitated. No, shouldn't bring that out. Not with innocents nearby, who could end up hurt while he can't see. So his best option would be to get out of the way and stay out of the way, at least until he could see. But the pressure from the poison was getting to him, and his knees started to shake. He leaned against the wall behind him, using it as a crutch of sorts and started walking, using only his ears to try to figure out what was going on around him, though it didn't tell him much. Only that there was chaos and fighting. He thought for a moment, then murmured, "Alright, voice, where can I find you?"

Jarith was not pleased, the rush of red-dirt into his system had brought him vigor, but at what cost. To say the knight was long ill of subversive foes was perhaps a best put truth. He shifted as the body of that squire was settled on the ground at the center of his men. “ Dragon Incoming!” The shout came more akin to a rally-cry, and the knight stood to see Hildegarde in her glory, gathering behind her as she fought towards him. “ Right Wheel. “Ceren, Heidlr, Zaresh, shield Pellam’s body, their wields a blade you drop them. They would leave that trio, and churn a path towards Hildegarde. “BATTLE LINE! Attend yor Queen!” Another northern shout, Jarith’s men had been like him birthed and bred in war. The circle would split and flow into a solid rigging of shield-bearing knights and squires, Northern men, a barbaric lot following the lord of the Northern Reach’s command with easy willingness. The men left to defend the body gave homes for those eager to fill the gaps as Jarith used the turning tide to search their surroundings more accurately. Vendors, empty stalls. A cast blue stare focuses on Hildegarde briefly, “M’lady.” He dips his skull respectively and turns focuse to the later arrival, Eirik, his clan-mate. “ Northman! Let’s see how true ye are t’ yor Kin!” A shout to his new friend, and the knight is charging forwards. The remaining wall form his first line, and he hits the first cart with a bore shield, upending it, scattering the addicts back into line. The shield wall is the third, but the forth is at their back, an alleyway maintained by a food cart and a frost giant addict; meet the fourth wall. That is where Jarith is running, turning over carts, folding the addicts they have inwards, herding them until he reaches that behemoth, thinner, erratic even by comparison to the rest of his kin. ‘No blades.. This is going to fecking hurt.’ Hoping that Eirik is on the other side, another force to help this last hurdle Jarith leaves the cart whole, charging up on it. Balled fist, shield in gauntlet covered hands rearing back before her rams home every bit of that battered wooden edge at the larger being’s jaw. The recoil breaks bones in the northern elf’s wrist, and dislocates his shoulder. He lands, sans shield with his limp arm behind the slowly teetering Giant waiting for the berserker to finish the job he began and join him, or leave him defending the alleyway alone, jaw stubbornly set, chest heaving, red dust was spectacular indeed.

Hildegarde was very much hit by the red dust. It consistently landed upon her and she was not undead like some people here, she was breathing it all in in her efforts to stave off the attack and keep the attackers alive. Her attacks became a little more frenzied, her strikes a little harder as she pushed her way to Jarith. With the addicts being gradually repelled due to their combined efforts, Hildegarde was able to make her way to Jarith and co without taking on a whole lot of damage. The position that Jarith held was advantageous, yes, it meant his back was covered. However, there was an enemy in their midst. Addicts had the habit of sleeping or even just holing up in unusual spots, waiting to strike at the right moment such as this. A giant holding a bulging sack of what was presumably that horrid substance. Yet on his body there are a number of smaller sacks attached to his body, ready to burst open should anyone strike at him. “Jarith!” Hildegarde roared, jerking the halberd out as far as her reach will allow; it’s so far that it is barely in her hand now. But her point has made contact, the spear-tip of the halberd has torn into the giant’s throat who stands behind Jarith with the bulging sack. With a gurgle, the giant tears the sack in two and drops it over the group; the mixture of red dust and ‘ice spice’ pouring over the lot. Hildeagrde has already shoved her body at Jarith to knock him out of the way of the falling dust, for he seemed to be the only one relatively unaffected so far. The giant has slumped backwards, halberd swinging back and forth from his collapse. He manages to rasp out: “The… Wolf… Will… Rise.” Hildegarde heard the words and can only look bewildered by them. It’s not something she knows or understands. But she intends to. “Retreat to the fort,” she commands them all, her breath heavy and her eye a little wild. “Lionel, take the rear, Jarith can you lead the way?” she was trusting them to do this for her. “Emrith, can you keep your eye on the rooftops?” She expects he’ll prefer the stealth. “Eirik! Pull in, we need you wrangling the stragglers, let’s get ready to move out!” The Silver glances in the direction of Ranok, “Fort!” she yells in his direction, hoping he’ll get her jist. The attackers hadn’t really aimed to kill, maim or seriously harm the people… but they were hellbent on spreading that dust.

Oline must have sat there staring at her battered flower for an age and a half before she finally set it aside in the snow. The giantess lazily fished a bottle of whiskey out of her satchel and pried out the stopper. She brought it up to her lips. tipped it back, and drained a third of the bottle into her mouth.

Lionel swings in defensive horizontal arcs, then snakes his limbs sideways for greater diagonal positioning. Each time, his blade passes through the air -- a warning to all would-be assassins that Hildegarde and her entourage will not be taken unawares. It keeps the addicts at bay, too, blessing the Catalian with the good fortune not to kill unarmed men and women. That fortune will not hold, but for this stitch in time, as Lionel moves with the band toward Jarith and his men, it is something to hold onto. When necessary, he hoists Hellfire in his left grip, using his right to land or attempt punches upon those who creep too close. Jarith’s Northborne are joined more readily now by the surviving Frostmawian military detachment; Guard-Captain Katee Thrace herself has returned to the field from escorting Ameno, and she’s brought a line of cavalry from the fortress and a detachment of Frost Giants behind them. Ranok’s herculean effort grants a great wind which dispels much of the dangerous dusts, a further boon to the beleaguered defenders of peace in this ravaged city. The Rynvali firestarters have even taken to combating the attackers with their candles -- alas, red dust and candles do not mix well at all, and an explosion sounds from down the street, killing six and wounding thirteen. Up on the roofs, the wyverns and their riders pay Meri no mind; they recognize her as unaffiliated with the thugs and move on in their sweep. Down below, that giant with bags of dust all upon his body goes tumbling, and another sound like thunder cracks across the town. Lionel does not hear the giant’s dying words, of a wolf and a rise. Lionel does hear Hildegarde’s decree, and he shouts back in the affirmative. “Soldiers of Frostmaw, with me! Cavalry on our flanks! To the rear! To the…” Something changes. Globs of obsidian seem to melt into reality, warping around each and every attacker -- the survivors are consumed, and the corpses of the fallen, too. The doomed giant, the intestinally deprived rooftop corpses, all of them are consumed, and the thick, oozing obsidian vanishes like a muck, leaving only trace elements of some dark energy. And it is damned terrifyingfly familiar. This is the precise substance that made the unknown assailants disappear after an ambush on Lionel’s recruit battalion just outside these very gates some seven months ago. It was a cold case. It was a disaster. Frostmaw could never ascertain the identities, but 27 perished, and the bonfire for their funeral brought no solace. Ever since that defining moment, Lionel O’Connor has been convinced that something wicked stirred, wrapping all of Lithrydel in despair. Larket, Frostmaw, everywhere -- succumbing to that evil. And now he sees it. And he is about to cry out, to announce it, when a thick volume of that red dust from the dead giant smacks him in fury, entirely too much. So much. And he descends into mere anarchy. “It’s the darkness! The damnable darkness! Oh gods, it’s returned! Queen! Queen! Queen! Oh gods, queen, it’s the recruits! What killed them! I see it! I know it! I…” Tears roll down his substance-addled cheeks, and Guard-Captain Katee Thrace catches his fall. Lionel is elsewhere, mentally.

Hildegarde could not afford to lose an able bodied fighter like Thrace! Instead, Hildegarde shoulders the burden of Lionel’s wait and fireman-style carries him to the fort. “Onward!” she commanded, so hyped up from the energy of the dust that she feels as though her strength is boundless in this moment.

Emrith takes his cue the moment he notices that retreat is in the offing. Hearing Hildegarde's words, shaking his hood to free it of the mixture of dusts that clings to it, the spell-blade clasps his cloak, pulls his staff in close to his body and literally vanishes. A spring, a quick climb, a leap or two, and suddenly the vampiric elf is several long paces above the ground, marking the rooftops and moving swiftly to quell any would-be snipers from that vantage. Stealth is one of his strong suits, and in truth, he is glad to be free of the melee below. Ranok's enormous windstorm, welcome though it was, has the elf glad to be leaving the scene; this is not the first time the man has sent things flying in seemingly heedless disarray. The elf's boots play a dual purpose here, allowing him the luxury of absolute silence while also letting him shoot across gaps between buildings without the necessity of jumping; that invisible plane, it seems, works at heights as well as upon the ground, so long as the boots have a solid surface to start from. He follows the party back toward the fort, slipping quietly to the ground at his first opportunity but keeping his eyes trained on the rooftops. Where wayward threats might lurk, Emrith looses the last of his staff's kinetic charges in tight little blasts, hard enough to render a victim dazed or unconscious but hopefully not hard enough to kill. But a few deaths at this point would be a small if unfortunate price to pay for the greater safety. He does not notice the energy which seems to engulf the fallen; this is a detail he will no doubt learn of later. For now, he is relatively unhurt, and he is angry. The warning went for naught. Crowds always paint themselves as tempting targets for terrorism.

Leshhak couldn't see, still. He heard the chaos. The yells. Everything going to crap. He had to get out of there. Fast. And hopefully find the source of this voice that spoke to him... after he cleaned out his eye. He kept walking along the wall, hoping to find some way away from the chaos... and he just quietly slipped away.

Krice arrived from the far west, standing north of the chaos to survey it from a wider vantage point. Gilded eyes scanned the scene and the prominent faces involved,his expression one of tempered shock and utmost concentration. he knew not what had happened, by the stench of blood, accelerants, fire and death had drawn him near. As people rushed by him in retreat, he maneuvered around them to refrain from hindering their haste, but he himself did not withdraw. Silently, with an eager stare swept across the battleground, he observed and looked for where he might be needed, overseeing the safe retreat of his allies.

Oline spotted Leshhak and called out to him, her voice raspy and tired. "Misstuh... M... mistuh Leshha-ahk..." her bottle sloshed a bit as she gestured at him, unaware that he'd been blinded by the dust. "Ovvuh... ovvuh hee-yuh!" Her mind ached. The uninvited intrusion had disrupted the screams, but it had also forcibly opened channels of her mind previously unusued and unknown. That was painful... and it was a pain that would linger for some time.

Meri kept moving from rooftop to rooftop but it was not on the retreat back to the for as Queen Hildegarde was commanding of the others. The blonde has another goal in mind, someone to find, people to follow. A better person would stick around to check up on the people she has formed friendships with that were high out of their minds, make sure that none of them were caught up in the explosion. Meri demonstrates herself a selfish person today -- other business to tend to.

Eirik gave a devilish grin to Jarith - his clan mate. Red dust imbued body, mixed with the berserkers mind had the man ready for further action. The frost giant becoming the next target of their combined effort, Eirik gives no quarter and follows in suit. Leaping over carts, shouldering stray citizens in blazing pursuit. Backed by angered mind, something turns sinister in the pursuit. As Jarith leaps to bring shield to the giant, Eirik follows in suit. Though instead wraps his knees around the giants neck, club smashing into the face of the giant time and again. With Jariths momentum, and Eiriks final assault, the Lycan finds himself riding the beast as it falls backwards. With efforts combined their target comes to a careening halt, body falling in a hazardous display. Crashing into the ground, smashing carts, stands and random few who could not manage to step aside. The warrior grins at the assault and haphazardly dives to the side as more drug riddled substances scour the scene. The northern wolf rises, wooden leg in one hand, free hand pulling his sword free. There wasn't any time to admire the destruction and at the request of Hildegarde, Eirik follows in suit wrangling the stragglers as the make their escape.

Ranok had a headache. The battering of air was like being punched by a thousand soft but firm fists. Anyone caught in a storm would know the feeling. To say nothing of his racing heart, the energy in his body that it claimed to have but he knew was truly just a tax upon the future. His systems were dealing with the poison, hardy body carefulyl and meticulously sorting through it all. But time was scarcely a resource in surplus, it seemed. His ears were ringing but he could hear a faint voice, insisting he moves. Mattie was tugging at him, pulling him up with surprising strength. The woman was a bit of a salt of the earth, muscles beneath her clothing bunching and tugging. A foot gets underneath him and he's standing suddenly, a blink of surprise. But here comes more. There was always more. And then darkness...eating the dead and wounded? Fingers fumble with his duster as they grow and bubble, the magic obvious. But they were gone and Lionel was gibbering. He wondered. A blank look at the sphere, and he sticks it into his pocket, fishing out another. This one held thin lines that showed where it could split open. Even as time ticked down, he swings the thing out of his hand. Like a yo yo, save tied on a sting of magnetism, it flickers out into one of the last globs. The remains of the giant he 'encouraged' down with gravity, the sheer bulk taking time. Out it spins, flickering open into the darkness, then a tug to reclaim it. Or try. Perhaps it was a gate, or oblivion itself. The sphere was made of tough stuff, ghroundium and mithril, made to take samples of things and keep them tight. Nonetheless, whatever came back was kept at small distance, fixed in place and following along with a held field. Mattie was insisting, and Hilde was leading the charge, and so Ranok goes to the fort. To recouperate, to plan, and if necessary, to counter attack.

Leshhak turned his head at the sound of his name. "...Miss Oline?" he asked, trying to follow the sound of the voice. His one eye was watering, trying to rid of the poison. But He couldn't see. "Miss Oline," he called out, "you need to... keep talking. I can't see... I can't..." Some kind of emotional effect was starting to take hold of him and he started shaking like a leave. Fear. Panic. Sadness. Confusion. His training allowed him to shut those emotions out but whatever was thrown on him was affecting him in many way. So he ended up standing against the wall, eye streaming, knees shaking, and with the urge to just break down and cry.

Jarith was battered, Hildegarde’s push would surge him from initial contact, but the dust would settle in nostril, a dose of both drugs slowly worming into his system. The northern born would cough, breath a frosted sight and nod his affirmation of His Queen’s command. “To the Fort! Side-Arms! Push them for’ard!” The contingent of warriors move out, Jarith was combating his own weakness to the drugs. The mix was placing him on edge, and yet he stalked ahead, a thought, and his blue eyes turn back as Lionel goes mad. Pellam. The boy’s protectors move to lift that body and it is absorbed into the ooze, Jarith’s heart breaks. That was another of his men, another soul placed at the former Warlord’s feet. Another set of family he would have to bare burden too. IT was why if he could see to it, his son would never see the field of battle.

Lionel is carried to the fort, but he doesn’t know. He can’t know. Lionel is in a daze, dark memories swooping over him. Everything crystallizes, and it’s a sharp, rough crystal. Fourteen months ago, the man returned to Lithrydel in search of a good death. He saw the shapes of the Dark Immortals he had fought -- he saw them in his every nightmare. He felt their pull; the torture he had gone through at their hands a decade ago cannot be put into words. He continued his duty to defend the realm, but he wanted to die while doing so. But he found purpose. Through Hildegarde, she who carries him now, and through others, too. A renewed sense of vitality had swept over him, but it was nearly crushed when those assassins struck his recruits and the trail went cold. But he recovered. Ever on the up and up, Lionel persisted. Thanks to Khitti, thanks to Dominic and Brand. Thanks to Krice, and Pilar, and Eirik, and Alvina, and Rorin, and all the rest of them. Yet now…? It’s all such a blur. Such a blur. People are screaming in his mind’s eye, and the obsidian which conceals the perpetrators of this attack has him feeling shattered. The effects of the huge dose of red dust upon his system are leaving him a shell of a man. Lionel is here, physically, but mentally he is gone. So far gone. All he knows, a tiny little hero’s voice screeching like an ember, is that he must live to unmask these villains once and for all. All his phrases, to Krice and to the late Briar and to the rest -- all his talk of an evil spreading across the land -- they’ve all led him here, to the scene of a tremendous terrorist attack upon the kingdom, and that self-same evil surely lying in wake from afar. Laughing. {