Black Rose Chronicles

Discussion in 'The Library' started by Belladonna Rose, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    Here will be the writings of one who has ventured into the land of Novia. How she got here and how she started. Hopefully this will be entertaining and i can keep up with it.


    The skies grew dark as the ship headed into rough seas. Salt spray grew with intensity

    and the sails furled and flapped with every gust. Even for a seasoned crew it was obvious

    they were a bit more tense than usual. There seemed to be a strange form of energy in the

    wind and on the sea.



    The captain manned the wheel as usual with Jack at her side. He noticed that the captain

    was having a rough time holding the ship steady. But the waves were growing stronger every

    minute. The clouds were growing darker making the midday sky look almost that of midnight.

    Nary a soul on board said a word but continued to do their jobs. None would balk at the Captain

    because of bad weather. If the Captain stayed strong so would they.



    Huge waves washed over the deck and one particular one reached high enough to splash

    at Jack and the Captain. Shaking off the water Jack reach to take the wheel.

    “My Lady....pray let me take the helm. These waters are rougher than usual. None of which

    we have seen in a long time.”

    Giving Jack a terse look she shrugged him away. Chin up she watched the horizon that was

    slowly disappearing in the darkest clouds she had ever seen. She knew Jack was right. The days

    of gentle trade winds had come to pass as had the sun. She felt deep in her gut that this was not

    right and they were definitely heading into trouble.



    As time passed the crashing waves had gained strength and she was starting to waiver her hold

    on the wheel. Again Jack bade her to let him have the wheel. Aching muscles and fatigue won out

    and she stepped aside once he got hold of the spokes on the wheel. She remained at his side though.

    There was no way she was going to leave the deck. She would never let the crew see how worried

    she was.

    Pulling her compass out of her pocket she held it out. The pointer was going crazy. Spinning

    in one direction then the other. This made no sense. She herself plotted this course as she had

    done so many times. They all knew this route blindfolded. But this weather was just too strange.

    One of the crew yelled down from the crow's nest but it was hard to hear him over the wailing wind that was blowing. All she could do was look in the direction he was pointing. And there it was. A huge spinning vortex just at the sea horizon. This was something she had only heard about from other sailors and captains. Usually over many pints at local seaport pubs. She never thought she would ever be witness to it herself.

    Immediately she grabbed the wheel from Jack and started trying to turn the ship around away from the blue glowing entity. There was no way she was gonna let that thing swallow her ship and crew. The wheel seemed to have a mind of its own though. No matter how hard she and Jack tried the ship was heading straight for the vortex. She called out commands for the crew to man the sails but it fell on deaf ears. No one could hear her commands. Many jumped to action. Seasoned sailors were good at predicting what the captain would command and this crew was one of the best.

    Try as they did the sails were not cooperating with the crew. Just like the wheel. Almost as if the vortex was commanding the ship instead of her. Gripping the wheel harder she tried her best to steer the ship away but there was nothing for it. The Black Rose was no longer under her control and there was nothing she could do about it.

    As if by magic or whatever the ship steered straight at the vortex and the all the crew and her captain could do was wait and watch the Black Rose slip away through the swirling blue of the unknown.



    Calm winds surrounded them as they passed through the vortex. Sails flapped aimlessly as the crew tried to contain them. The wheel became slack in her hands and slowly steered as if on the calmest of any sea. Looking at Jack she shook her head in disbelief. Jack nodded and stood steady at her side.

    Just as quickly as things seemed to calm the ship started for another vortex. This one was different. A huge opening like the other only black as night. Swirling intensely. The winds began to pick up again but the waves were not. Calm water and wild winds were something none of them had experienced before.

    As they got closer the loud wailing of the winds became ear piercing. The crew began collapsing on the deck where they had once stood. Jack as hard as he tried soon joined them. The only one left standing was the captain. And soon the sound overtook her as well. The Black Rose was going through yet another portal only this time with no crew or captain at the helm.







    Drenched from head to toe she tried to raise up on her hands. Slowly lifting her head to survey

    the damage to the ship she realized she was no longer on the ship. Grass. Lush green grass and a

    fragrance on the air she had never smelled before. No salt in the air except that which came from herself. Looking about the surroundings were strange yet beautiful. Almost in a trance like state she turned looking at all the foliage and lights about her. Some of the plants had a luminous glow about them. Soft chittering of creatures and chirping of birds made it all so tranquil compared to the last

    thing she remembered. Remember. The crew. Jack. Where were they. Scanning around the area she went to look for them all. Someone had to of survived as well. Walking to the edge she looked out and there was nothing but sheer drop off over the edge.

    Slowly she walked the perimeter of the area as close to the edge as she dare. Looking carefully to see if there was land below. She could see specks of land masses below but they seemed so far away.

    Finally making her way back to where she started she sat down to think. But darkness overtook her again from fatigue. As she drifted off into the darkness of sleep she blinked her eyes and saw something coming towards her but she was too exhausted to stay awake.
     
  2. Leelu

    Leelu Avatar

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    I love cliffhangers. Luv it so far.
     
  3. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    For what seemed like hours she opened her eyes and looked about at the strange surroundings. At first she thought it was just a dream. Seeing all that she had before it was obvious to her that it was not a dream. More so a nightmare. Leaning up on her elbows to survey the area again she saw a hooded figure standing off a ways. A hand raised from the figure beckoning for her to approach. Standing slowly she realized that she was not actually walking. But floating barely off the ground. Strange that she be doing so and when she looked down at the ground she saw nothing but a smokey image of feet.

    What was going on? This is not right. Am I Dead?

    The hooded figure took a step forward and reached out a pale hand.

    “Fear not Avatar. You are not dead. You are merely in a different state of being for a time. Once

    I explain you will materialize as you were before and you will then be able to continue on your journey.”

    Looking at the hooded figure again she realize that it was a woman. Small in stature. Pale with bright eyes. She could not tell the color as they changed like a kaleidoscope. Swirling and swirling. It was almost mesmerizing. She reached out to the figure and took her hand. Feeling a warmth in that hand that she had never felt before. Or at least had no memory of it. It was comforting and soothing to

    her soul. Soul. What about the body. Her body was gone. Shaking her head she felt as if she were going to drift back to the darkness again.



    “Hold tight Avatar. Do not slip away from me. I have much to tell you. Much to explain why you are here. Do not falter or fear me. I am not here to harm you but to guide you.”



    Again the warmth filled her again and she calmed. Patiently waiting for the woman to tell her what was happening to her. Maybe she knows what happened to her crew as well. She stood before the woman and looked again into those eyes.



    “You have been brought here from your world Avatar to help rid our lands of the evil that has besieged us. We alone are not able to defeat such powers. So we have brought forth others from other worlds and lands to help aide us in our task. If we lose this fight we might very well lose all that we know and love.”



    Looking at the woman she tried to find her voice. But no words came from her lips. She was mute and unable to ask any questions. The woman smiled and nodded. “You can ask questions of me. But use your mind. Do not try to speak. I will understand all that you ask “



    Struggling she tried to open her mind and form her words there. Easier said than done. She was so used to muttering things to herself. Try again she reached into her mind to find the words. Finally. There. Yes. I can speak to her.

    “Where am I? Where is my ship and crew? Why have I been brought here?” Strangely looking at the woman. “Who are you?”



    Smiling softly again the woman leaned forward. “You are in Novia. The New Britania. Your ship is but lost I am afraid. But your people are within the realm of Novia. Each one has passed by here just as you have. As I said before. You were brought here to help aide us. The prophecy speaks of an Avatar that will come from another land and time and help us defeat the great Evil.”



    Waving her hands up in the air she smiles again and a aura surrounds her.

    “I am Arabella. Your guide.”



    Looking at the Lady Arabella she swayed a bit. Thinking this cannot be happening. But here she stands in a strange new world and decides to listen to what this woman tells her. It is here she will learn her new found destiny.



    “We have been taught to expect one from another world. One distant from our own both in time and space. The world of Earth, of Lord British. Yes, he is here and hopes to meet you one day on your travels. He will be kept informed of your progress or your demise. He told me to relay to you that you have a mighty task ahead of you. For all that he holds true....the Three Virtues have been forsaken here. It is a task to you traveler to choose a path. Although throughout your journeys all three will cross each other.”

    Blinking as she absorbed this information she could only nod her head. This was really happening.

    And her friends are here doing the same as she is being instructed. She will do anything as long as she can find her crew, and Jack.

    Arabella continued to explain the three paths that must be followed.

    “There are three paths to follow. Truth, Courage and Love. It will be up to you to decide which you want to start with. But remember as I said all three will intersect at one time. At that time you will then

    be forced to confront the hidden ruler of this world and destroy that ruler.”



    Blinking again she just stared at Arabella. How is she supposed to defeat such an entity. There must be some mistake. But remembering deep in the recesses of her mind she knows from the past that Lord British would not manipulate her to this world if he didnt feel she would succeed.



    “Here now you must follow the pathway down to the Mirror and you will be restored to your former self. Then go up the path to the building atop the hill. Inside is an entity that will ask you which path you choose. Once you answer she will direct you to your destiny. Go now Avatar and begin your quest.”



    Slowly she floated down the pathway and near the pool of water where she first awoke was a huge

    shimmering mirror. She walked to the mirror and gazed into it. At first her reflection was that of a ghost. But slowly she saw her face coming into focus. Face, hair, clothes. She was whole again.
     
  4. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    Taking in the transformation of herself she looked around her again. The mirror no longer glowed. Only a shimmering and swirl of lights could be seen now. Not even her own reflection. Stunned at this magic she stood there for a time. Then a voice came to her tell her to go up the path to the building at the top. “Your Destiny awaits you Avatar”.



    Turning she looks up the path and starts to walk. Walk. Smiling she takes a few more steps and begins to run up the path. Amazed that she is on her own two legs again. Thank the stars she was whole once more. As she reached the top of the hill she saw an ornate looking building. Small but very impressive. Intricate carvings and a strange red glow from the domed roof. This must be the place.

    Reaching out she slowly turns the knob of the wooden door. The metal of the knob was warm to the touch. As the door opened a soft warm mist greeted her and the red glow inside grew even brighter.

    Stepping into the structure she saw the huge metal face hanging on the wall. Strange glowing eyes seemed to stare down at her. She stepped forward and looked about the room. Empty alcoves were to the left and the right. Huge torches hung on the walls beside the face. As she grew closer to the face the metallic churning sounds of gears began. Louder and louder. Covering her ears she started to step away towards the door.



    “Greetings Avatar. At last you have arrived.”



    Stopping dead in her tracks she looked at the face. The glowing eyes blinked at her and the face looked as though it was alive. Shaking in her own skin she stepped close again to examine this strange thing on the wall.



    “We have been waiting for you Avatar. It has been foretold that one such as yourself would arrive.”



    Blinking again she stood infront of the face and listened carefully to what it said.



    “By what name do you go by Avatar?”



    Swallowing hard she tried to find the words to answer. After a moment she finally spoke with her own voice instead of using her mind as she did with the hooded lady.

    “ My name is Belladonna Rose.”
     
  5. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    “Greetings Belladonna Rose. I am the Oracle. I am here to help determine who you shall be as you move through this new world. I am but a guide to help you learn and navigate on your journey.”



    Bella looked quizzically at the machine. The clanking and grinding of gears was almost overwhelming. Shaking her head again she heard the face give a soft chuckle and soon the sounds subsided and a dull hum filled the room.



    “Here I will ask a series of questions to determine the path you should follow. There are no right or wrong answers. And no answer is irrevocable. Tis the way of the mind and soul to change one's mind along the path to better suit or deter your destiny. Your path will be yours to follow. I will simply assist you in following the choices that your feel are best. I know not your mind or heart Avatar I can only watch your actions and advise on what I see.”



    Bella felt a bit tense at the conversation. Not sure if she should trust this machine. She was not all that familiar with this sort of entity. This sort of thing was not widely known or used where she came from. She was definitely in a new world. Remembering what Arabella said about Lord British she decided to continue and listen .



    After a time the Oracle asked her many questions. Things about what she would do in certain situations. She only prayed that she answered the right way. She responded with her heart. For that was truly the only way she felt she could be honest with herself on everything she did.



    The clank and grind of gears started up again. “Ahh. You have chose the Path of Love Avatar. And I will now instruct you where to start your journey. The outpost of Solace Bridge has been under attack. Here you will venture forth through the rift and make your way to help those who survived. Upon reaching Solace Bridge look for Edvard. He will guide you from there.”



    Bella looked quizzically at the Oracle.

    “You will see me again Avatar. And I advise you check with me when you see buildings such as this in many a town. Here I can give counsel and help you if you need advise. Your destiny awaits you.”



    The eyes of the Oracle glowed slightly and blinked.

    “Your arrival has been foretold in a prophecy Avatar and the road you travel pre ordained. We have waited long for your arrival. You must not delay any further. You will learn much and be given many choices in your travels. You will meet many foes and make many friends along your way. Heed all in your path. Now you must go Avatar. The world of New Britannia awaits you.”



    Bowing her head quickly she steps backwards towards the door. Turns and the door opens before here. The diminished light of the outer world let her know that it was coming upon nightfall. She exited the chamber and looked towards the uphill path. Looking back again to the chamber the door was now closed again. Taking a deep breath she made her way up the path.



    Muttering to herself. “ I have no weapon. I have no food. What in hell's name am I doing here? This is some sort of trick or am I really in another realm. No matter. I need to go forth. I need to find Jack and the crew. If I have to turn this world upside down to do it then I will.”



    Trudging up the hill she see the circle of pillars and the bright swirling blue orb in the center. This must be the rift that Arabella and the Oracle talked about. Do I step inside. Jump. Run. Bella walked

    to the edge of the ring and peered inside. Nothing but blue shimmering and swirling lights.



    “What the hell. I am probably dead anyways. What can go wrong. I have nothing to lose.”

    Taking a deep breath she ran straight at the rift and disappeared from this place.
     
  6. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    Stepping through the other side of the rift the cloudy air cleared from her sight. She could see trees and the strong smell of smoke and death filled her nostrils. Looking around her she could see lush green grass and trees, but the smell was overwhelming. Bella could even feel the evil in the place. Deep in her bones. She had felt this many a time before. No stranger to danger or death. Ahead she saw the palisade walls surrounding the area. This must be Solace Bridge.
    In the distance she could hear many sounds. Some familiar forest sounds. Birds, squirrels and even the sound of a bear in the distance. But that moaning sound was different. As she walked towards the gate of the palisade she saw something lumbering towards her. WHAT IS THAT?
    Undead. Zombie. Oh great. She looked about for something to use as a weapon. There on the side of the path was a branch of a tree. Hoisting it up and taking a stance she waited for the thing to come closer. The smell was hideous. As the zombie came closer it reached for her. Pulling her arms back she swung the branch at the zombie. It took the brunt of the hit full force but kept coming. Oh great. This should be fun. She continued to hit the creature and finally after a few more hits it fell to the ground.
    She looked down at the poor thing and realized it was wearing the remnants of what was probably the local inhabitants. So sad that this had to happen to a human.
    Walking away from the again corpse she approached the gate. On the other side she could see an older man standing guard. Staff in hand as if waiting for something to attack him. She pushed up the lever to the gate and slowly it opened. Rushing inside she was met again by one of those zombies.
    But to her surprise the old man cam forth and helped her fight. Several of these creatures come forward and between the two of them they put them to rest.
    “Thank the stars you arrived. Not sure how well I would of faired against that many of those things. The bridge has been overrun with those foul creatures for near a fort night. And the other undead things lumbering around as well. It has been a sad time indeed.”
    Wiping the muck off her tunic from the fight she looked at the older man. He was a portly fellow but was very well trained in defense. This was a good thing.
    “ Good day to you stranger. I am Edvard. I was told to expect someone of your stature and here ye be.”
    Bella smiled softly at the old man. Looking at the destruction of this place was more than she had expected. It was truly a battle for sure. And from the looks of things the battle did not go well.
    “Hello good sir. I am Belladonna Rose. I was sent here by Arabella and the Oracle.”
    “Aye. Yes. Arabella. She is a fine one that one. She has been busy of late bringing other Outlanders to the realm. Doing service for Lord British she does. And I am thankful for you being here.”
    “I do not know what is expected of me here but I will do my best. Perhaps you have seen others of late. I am worried about the crew from my ship and my friend Jack. Maybe they passed this way.”
    “Ah. Alas many have traveled through here and I sent them on to continue their journey as I will you.” He quickly started moving about gathering up a quiver of arrows and the long forgotten bow on the ground. Approaching Bella he handed them to her. She looked at him with concern.
    “Here..take these. I dare say you will need them more than I. That tree branch will not help you
    much with the other things out there to fight. When you see a weapon on the ground pick it up and use it if need be. Or sell it for gold in the nearest town. Fair to say I do not have much else to give you. Advise and instruction is the best I can do.”
    Bella took the bow and quiver and a dagger she found on the ground. Pulling the quiver onto her back she looked about. Off to the right a slow burning building caught her attention. She could hear the faint sound of a child crying.
    “Quick Master Edvard. That child needs help.”
    “Ah....there she is. I knew there was one child left but could not find her. She must have been hiding inside that building. Hurry Avatar....rescue the child. I will meet you at the other gate and we will get her to safety.”
    Turning on heel Bella ran to the building. Pushing the broken door open she saw a soldier dead on the floor. His shining sword at his side and a crumpled note in his hand. She took both and headed up the stairway where she heard the whimpers of a child.
     
  7. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    As she went up the stairs an armed skeleton crashed through the far door. Still holding the dead man's sword she quickly spun and slashed at the skeleton. Shattered bone clattered on the floor. That was easy enough. Leaping up the stairs two at a time she reached the landing only to see another of those skeletons making its way towards the child. Sword in hand she jumped between them and began slicing at the the monster. This one was that easy. The clanging of swords being crossed seemed to vibrate in her ears and throughout the room. Stumbling back a bit she regained her footing and lunged forward. Surprise caught her as her sword was wedged in the ribs of the skeleton. With a twist and a yank she freed it and the bones clattered to the floor.

    Taking a breath she looked around only to see the child peering over the top of the bed where she had been trying to hide. Bella reached a hand out and the girl ran into her arms crying. Holding her close for a moment she pulled her face up to look into her eyes. Fear was obvious but there was something else there as well.

    “What is your name child?” The girl looked at her with tearfilled eyes. “Charlotte Gray is my name and I want to go home.” Bella took the child by the hand and led her down the stairs and out the doorway. “Come along then. We will see about getting you home.”

    Across the courtyard she could see Edvard standing by the gate. Holding the child with one hand and the sword with another she made her way across. Edvard stood solemnly. Looking down was another guard. He too had met his fate with these creatures. He too had a sword like the other. She reached down and took it as well. Sliding it through her belt she nodded to Edvard.

    Reaching up he pushed the lever to open the gate and they proceeded to walk across the bridge. Nothing came after them this time. But she was ever watchful just the same. At the end of the bridge she looked up the hill. There she saw the rift. That must be the way they were heading.

    “Master Edvard.....the rift. Should we head there and get out of this forsaken place?”

    “Nay child. That is not the way right now. The stars are not aligned correctily. And I have no idea where that rift would leads us. You must take the girl to Soltown. Her mother Abigail is there.”

    At the sound of her mother's name the girl perked up a bit. She squeezed Bella's hand eager to go to her mother. Bella looked down and smiled. “Yes. I will take you.” Edvard moved towards the edge of the road and down a short path was a small boat. He motioned for Bella to go ahead of him.

    “Quickly Avatar. Take the child and make your way up river. You will be in Soltown by dawn. Tis not safe to tarry here. Darkness brings the creatures out in numbers. You both will be better off than here.” Looking across the darkening land he looked back. Bella put the girl in the boat and started to climb in when Edvard took her by the shoulder.

    “ Take this book and give to Captain Stanley. It is an accounting of what has happened here and such. He will make the decision of what to do next. Perhaps he can get troops from Ardoris to come and help clear the area. And that sword and note you have be sure to give them to the loved ones. The sword will go to goes to Emily in Soltown. That note to a lady in Celestis. If you happen to make your way there...Go now Avatar. Darkness grows.”



    As she pushed away from the bank and started to row Edvard yelled out to her.

    “By what name doth thee go by Avatar. So I will know if ever we meet again.”

    Cupping her hands to shout back..”Belladonna Rose is my name.”
     
  8. Belladonna Rose

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    Waving with a small smile Edvard then turned and walked back up to the bridge. Standing in the middle he watched as the boat made its way down river and as the sun became hidden behind the mountain. Strange sounds started up again throughout the forested area. Soon the creatures would be on the prowl again.

    Charlotte curled up as close to Bella as she could. It was hard to row the craft with the child nestled against her so closely but she did her best. Edvard did not lie about the dangers of the darkness. She could hear the moans and screams coming from the river banks. Rustling bushes and brush as things seemed to make their way out into the dark. This alone made her want to row faster but she was beginning to falter in her strength. She was so tired. Much had happened to her this day. No time to rest. Must get to Soltown. Where is Soltown? Exhausted she kept rowing praying with every stroke that she did not fall asleep or worse.



    Hours in the darkness eventually became less as the sun began to creep up through the trees. She had been at sea so long that she forgot how long it took for the sun to rise. Having not been on land much of late she needed to get her bearings again for life on land. The river began to narrow putting the banks much closer to the boat. This worried her a bit...but the noises from the forest became less and less with the rising sun.

    Up ahead she saw the faint light of torches. Light that will soon be extinguished once the sun was out. And there …..a dock. This must be the place. Please let this be the place. A man in strange armor stood at the end of the dock. Turning his head he saw the boat and waved them forward. As if she was not doing that already. Bumping along the edge of the dock the man reached down and gained hold pulling them up closer. He pulled the tether from inside the boat and tied it to a post.

    Reaching down he put his hand out to help her onto the docks. She waved him off and hoisted the child up to him. “Take her please. We have just come from Solace Bridge. Edvard bade me to bring here here to her mother. I am Belladonna Rose, the Avatar.” Blinking she was not sure if this was how she was supposed to introduce herself or not. No one said otherwise how she was to do so. No matter. Titles were not that important save one. And seems that one is long lost.

    “By the stars. It is true. Another Outlander has come to help. Thank the stars. I am Captain Stanley and this is Soltown. I am in charge here til Commander Cugel says otherwise.”

    Bella pulled herself up on the docks and tried her best to stand tall. Fatigue was winning over for sure now and apparently the Captain saw this. “Lets get this wee one to her mother. I know her well enough. She is across the road in the refugee camp. Abigail will be happy to see her and will want to thank you personally.”

    Bella honestly could care less about thanks right now. All she wanted was hot food and sleep. Hopefully this woman will take pity on her and give that much. Smiling softly she followed Stanley across the road to the camp. Looking about she saw several tents and people milling about a roaring fire. Many children scampered about playing at being guards. From the looks of things they got away from Solace Bridge with barely the clothes on their backs. Which she knew how that felt. That was all she had.

    The refugees saw Stanley and ran to him....huddling around him like vultures. He pushed his way past them to the far tent. A tall woman came to the entrance of the tent and gasped as Stanley approached. Handing the child to her she hugged the girl tightly. Crying out to the skies she turned away with the child. Many of the others cheered and applauded. Among their own despair they were happy that at least one of them had some happiness returned to them.



    Stanley went to the fire and gave a short account to the people. Telling them of Bella's journey from Solace Bridge. He told them he had news from Edvard and was going to send a dispatch to Cugel in Ardoris. They were saddened by the news. Solace Bridge had fallen. Now they had to decide what to do and where to go. Many had already left. Making way to other places throughout the lands. Some to smaller towns some to outlying areas. The pilgrimage from Solace Bridge for some would lead them far and wide. Some would stay close just for the memory or just because they had lost all hope.

    Seeing this in their faces caused a pang of regret in Bella. But that is what the Oracle said. She said that she would feel regret, sorrow and many other emotions as she travelled the lands. Forsaken Love. This is the path she was on. To restore Love to the people. How the hell was she supposed to do this.



    She stood by the fire as the refugees walked by patting her softly on the back or giving her a quick embrace for what she had done. As they did so she watched the woman...Abigail..tuck her daughter under a blanket on a rickety cot. The woman turned and motioned for Bella to come to her. Walking into the tent she saw there was very little here. A sack which was probably all she owned. The woman fumbled in her pocket and reached out to Bella. Taking her hand she placed a handful of gold pieces in her hand. Looking down at the pittance she looked back at the lady. Sorrow and what looked like shame crossed her face.

    “Tis all I have to offer M'lady for your service. You brought my daughter back to me when I all but thought she was lost to me. There is nothing of my husband I assume...not that I thought there would be.”

    “Nay M' lady. I do not know of your husband. I do not know much of anything as I am new here. I was sent to Solace Bridge and that is where I found Edvard. We then found the child and I was sent here. Other than that I am as lost as you seem to be.”

    The lady looked at Bella with astonished eyes. “Outlander...Avatar. The one the prophecy speaks of. You have done more than you could ever know. Please take the gold and make use of it. Armor, weapons whatever will aide you. It is the least I can do.”

    Bella smiled and took two coins and gave the rest back to Abigail. “Please...take the remainder of this gold. Make your way out of here. Make your way to a better life if you can M'lady. For the sake of the child.”

    Nodding and smiling the lady took the gold and put it back in her pocket. Little that it was it might be enough for food to get her and her child elsewhere. She would figure the rest out later.
     
  9. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    Turning and leaving the tent Bella noticed that Stanley was standing at the edge of the road. She walked up next to him and touched his shoulder slightly. Knowing somehow that things weighed heavy on his mind and heart. Such a task for such a young man. But for some reason she felt he was capable.

    “Ahh Avatar. You startled me. I have been reading through Edvard's book. Tis a wonder that man survived at all. He is a strange one for certain...Now as to you. I think food and rest are instore for you. And I will see about getting you fitted for your journey. Not too fancy mind you. We have not much to offer here . There are merchants in and about town though that are fairly reasonable for their wares.”

    “Captain. What of these swords. What should I do with them. And I have this note as well from one of the fallen guards.” She showed the swords to him and the note. Her shook his head and swore under his breath. Apparently he knew who the sword belonged to. And told her to look for Emily. Either in the camp or the Inn. She would have to break the news to her alone. He needed to write a dispatch for Commander Cugel and find a courier. As for the note she held it would have to be delivered to Celestis . The woman , Zorabeth resides there. Walking away he headed towards the town. Bella followed a few steps behind him.
     
  10. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    The path into Soltown was a solemn walk. Stanley made an even tempered walk towards the entrance. Knowing what he had to do Bella did not regret that part. Asking for help was not always an easy task for anyone. Especially one who was in charge of so much. She looked about at the homes along the road. Some fancy some plain. And many had their hawkers out selling wares to would be travelers. Having only a few coin in her pocket she though best to just hold on to it for now. She would assess what Captain Stanley finds for her and go from there. As she approached the gateway into town she notice a man waving to her. She walked up and introduced herself.
    “Hello good sir. Might you tell me where the inn and tavern are?”
    “Aye Outlander. Tis up the road to the left. Nice little place for a some rest. Not fancy mind you but its better than nothing. I am Merrick the town crier. I can tell you just about anything to do with this town.”
    Frowning at the man she just did not understand why everyone kept calling her Outlander. It was beginning to get a bit annoying actually. And she had only been of this world for two days. Maybe it was obvious she was not from here. Looking down at her attire that very well might be the case.

    “Thank you for now. Just need the inn for now. I am in need of a bath, food and sleep. Neither which comes first matters to me right now.”
    The man looked her up and down and smiled. “Indeed, M'lady. No offense but you look a bit worse for wear. I have seen a lot lately though with all the attacks and such. Dismal times it is. Poor folk from Solace Bridge finding their way here after the attack. I here tell Blood River and Highvale are in the same situation. Mad times for sure.”
    Looking at the man she could see fear and sadness in his eyes. Something terrible indeed has been happening here. Shaking her head she smiled at him weakly and turned towards the inn. A few people walked about aimlessly. Guards walked about with that lordly manner like they were better than the rest. She thought to herself the faster she got out of here the better. Her temperment would not last long with the likes of some of these people.
    In front of the inn sat the hooded woman. Arabella. What was she doing here? How did she get here so fast. Shrugging Bella walked up to her . “Hail Mistress Arabella. Tis good to see you again.”
    Arabella looked up. Sadness in her eyes as well. Bella thought to herself that she would never get used to that look. But just as quickly a sparkle appeared in Arabella's eyes.
    “Ahhh Avatar. Tis good to see you made it. I feared you might not make your way through Solace Bridge. I hear that it is forsaken and lost for sure.”
    Confused by that comment she just smiled softly at the lady. “Aye. It was a bit more than I had expected. Master Edvard was helpful though. I did rescue a small child from there but brought back troubling news to Captain Stanley. He is sending a courier off to get aid.”
    “Ahh. Good , good . That is good news. Perhaps Ardoris will come to aide these poor folk. I know the garrison at Solace Bridge outskirts is trying its best to fend off the undead and cultists. Many of the people have gone there before coming here. I am not sure how goes their fight. Perhaps you can go and see if you can help.”
    Sighing deeply she nodded. “I would like to find some food and a short rest if possible. Alot has come about in such a short amount of time. And I need to outfit myself better as well”
    Arabella looked her up and down. “Yes. Yes you look like you could use a meal and bed. Go into the inn and tell Richard that your meal and bed are on me. I will scour around town and see what I can get for you.”
    Nodding her head she turned and walked up the rickety stairs into the inn. The air was stale and wreaked of moldy bread and old ale. The floors were littered with leaves and dirt. As hard as the barmaid tried to clean it seemed useless.
    She walked up to the counter and cleared her throat to get the innkeeper's attention. Standing with his back to her he continued to clean the mugs with a dirty cloth. Rolling her eyes she knew how this was going to be. She had been in enough dirty dank taverns to last her a lifetime. Again she cleared her throat and finally the portly man turned.
    “Ahhhh. Welcome welcome. And what can I do for you today? Perhaps an ale or pint of beer?”
    Shaking her head she smiled wryly. Typical. “Nay sir. No spirits for me today. I am in need of a bed and food if you can accommodate me. The Lady Arabella said she would pay the bill for me.”
    Looking at her with a curious eye he eventually smiled. “Of course. You must be one of them Outlanders. Come to help defeat all this riffraff across the lands....All I can say is good luck to ya. Tis a bad bit of news indeed about Solace Bridge. Bad for business at first but now its picked up some with all the travelers and you Outlanders.”
    Again that word. She just looked at the man and waited. “Emily will get you a bed ready and then bring you some food. Would you be wanting a bowl of water to wash with. She can get you that too.”
    Emily. She looked around at the woman sweeping the floor. She now knew where to take the sword. She would wait til she could get her alone to break the news to her. She didnt need to do this with so many around. “Thank you.....what was your name again?”
    “Aye. I be Richard. Proprietor of the Soltown Tavern and Inn. “
     
  11. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    He motioned for Emily to come over and whispered to her. The lady turned and gave Bella a smile and headed to the stairs. After a few minutes the girl came to the edge of the staircase and called out to Bella.

    “Lady Belladonna your bed is ready. Please follow me.” And away she was gone. Belladonna went up the steps one at a time. Fatigue was about to win her over. Once she got to the top she saw a curtained off area and several beds..a couple occupied. As she walked towards Emily her heart jumped to her throat. How was she supposed to tell this girl such horrible news.

    Walking up to Emily she lay a hand on the girl's shoulder. Looking up into Belladonna's face she knew somehow this was not going to be good news. A tear slid gently down her face and she hung her head.

    “ I am so sorry dear.” Pulling the sword out from under her cloak she presented it gently to Emily.

    Taking the sword from Bella she hugged it tightly to herself. Walked over to a chest hidden in the corner. Unlocking it she open the lid and gently placed the sword inside. After locking it safely away she stood. Brushed off her dirty apron and wiped her eyes.

    “Yes indeed. It is sad. But he knew what he was doing. He knew the risks and we both agreed that it was for the best of the world that he go and help those other poor souls. Do not feel sorry for me My Lady. I will be fine.” Emily smiled softly and turned away heading back down stairs.

    Belladonna sat on the edge of the cot and hung her head in fatigue. These poor souls have no clue what is going on out there. Yet they keep up the fight and dig in to survive. Truly admiring these people she decided now...that she had to do what she could to help. No matter what the Oracle or Lady Arabella says she would stand her ground and fight..

    Shedding her dirty clothing she slipped quietly into the small hip tub and washed. The water was tepid but she did not care. It was water, clean and felt good against her weary body. Wrapping in a makeshift towel she sat on the cot again..pulled the blanket back and lay down. Sleep....this is what she needed.







    Somewhere a rooster crowed. Tiny cracks in the chinking of the wall let in the smallest bits of light and from the sounds below she knew if must be morning. Rolling over she looked about the room. No one was in sight. She stood with the blanket wrapped around her to stave off the cold. Peering around the room more she noticed now how rather clean it was. She had seen worse. She reach for her clothes that had magically appeared at the foot of the cot. Not what she was wearing. Maybe there had been a mistake.

    Stepping to the edge of the staircase she leaned down and got Emily's attention. The young girl smiled and came half way up the stairs. Without Bella even asking Emily informed her that the Lady Arabella had brought her a change of clothing and that her other belongings were in a pack next to the bed. She also told Bella that she would have her some food as soon as she came down stairs.

    Shocked a bit she crept back and put on the clothing. A worn but fine cotton shirt. So soft to the touch. Leather tunic, pants and fine pair of boots with matching gloves. All worn but well cared for items. She wandered to herself they belonged to and then quickly decided not to. More than likely some poor soul that did not survive Solace Bridge. Taking stock of her belongings she grabbed the pack and sword and headed down below.

    There at the long trestle table seated a few local folk and one lady patted the seat next to her. She slid onto the bench and looked about. Worn, tired yet friendly faces met her gaze. A few introduced themselves and she did the same in return. One particular man looked warily at her.


    “You be one of them there Outlanders. Seems to be a lot of your lot coming through town. Not sure what you all think you can do for us that we can't do for ourselves. We been havng to fight and scratch for everything over the years....Not so sure what some strangers are gonna do to make things better.”



    With that said many around the table and the room itself turned their heads away and looked broken again. The fear and despair could be seen in their eyes clear as day. Bella took up her cup and took a drink. Yuck. What in the world is this she thought . Tasted like muddy water. Oh well. She reached for a chunk of bread and small wedge of cheese. As she nibbled away Emily walked over and place a steaming bowl of something infront of her.

    “Not the best of meals. But its hot and filling. Will do you some good. Looks as though you haven't eaten in a while M'lady.”

    The steam from the bowl brought a smell she had'nt smelt for a long time. Stew. Mutton stew.



    “Thank you Emily. This will do me just fine. And it smells like what my cousin used to make. ..I am sure I will enjoy it.”



    Everyone at the table chuckled and went back to their own meals. Digging into the stew she ate with a robust appetite. Not as good as Aletta's but it still worth eating. This bowl would not make it to the slop bucket for sure. After a few moments the innkeeper....Richard brought her a note.

    “Note from Mistress Arabella. Says for you to meet her at the blacksmith tent when you be done

    eating your fill. She seemed quite eager for you to join her though....so best be quick about it.”



    “Thank you Richard. Appreciate the information.”

    Licking her fingers in the most unlady like manner she bid all a good day, grabbed her pack and headed to the door. As she stood there Richard pointed to the left gesturing her to make her way down the road.

    Pulling her pack onto her back she stepped down and started in that direction. There seemed to be a few folk milling about the streets. A beggar or two, a few children running about. Seemed pretty quiet and peaceful.
     
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  12. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    As she walked down the muddy road she was Lady Arabella ahead. Waving enthusiatically. This woman was so strange. Amidst all the chaos and death she seemed to hold a light in her soul for the good. That much energy must be tiring all the time Bella thought.



    “Ahhh Good morning Avatar. You look rested well...I do hope you are ready to start on your

    journey.”

    Bella smiled softly and stood next to the lady. Arabella took her by the arm and pulled her towards a tent that covered a smithing forge. There she saw a well built woman covered in soot and sweating. This must be the local smithy. Strange for a woman to do so but with what was going on it made sense.

    “Belladonna Rose....this is Annika the local blacksmith. She will help you get ready for your journey.....And might I say. She is the best smithy this side of East Reach Gap....No matter what anyone else tells you.”

    Annika looked at Arabella and smiled. “You be right on that M'lady Arabella. I am. Not that I chose this profession mind you...But being the daughter of a smithy as I am I do know me a thing or two....Even a wee bit more than me poor Pa.”

    Belladonna could not help but to laugh. It was nice to see a woman secure in her craft and in her efforts she puts forth. Too many has she seen that took the easy way. Not that being a woman was all that easy. No matter what profession a woman had to work hard at it.

    “Nice to meet you Annika....And I am sure your skills are quite suitable indeed.”

    Annika looked Belladonna up and down taking measure of her build. And clucking her tongue here and there as she turned her around, poked her in her middle and looked sharply at her features.

    “Aye. I should have something that I can make fit 'er. Might take me a bit to get it done though.

    And what weapon ye be using girl?”

    Belladonna wriggled and straightened her clothing back in place. Shrugging she pulled the sword out and handed to her. She felt a bit self consious of the blade but it 'was' given to her.

    “Bless me soul. That be a guard sword. What ye doing taking that ….Did ya steal it from a dead guard or sumthin?”

    Feeling a bit insulted Bella yanked the sword back and started to think twice of the smithy.

    “No I DID NOT steal it. I brought it back to his widow....who in turn bade me keep it that it

    might serve me where it did not him....Thank you very much for assuming the worst of me. I suppose you have low esteem for other Avatars as well.”

    The smithy snorted and wiped her nose with her sleeve. Looking a bit sheepish for her accusations.

    “Nay. Just dont be seeing those swords in the hands of strangers is all. No offense made deary. And if you be talking about poor Emily at the inn then I agree. I do hope it does you good.”

    Reaching out her hand she took the sword back and told Bella she would have it ready along with the armor as well.

    Smiling as usual Arabella took her by the arm and waved to a man across the road. She was determnined I think to introduce her to every one in town.
     
  13. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    The tall man waved back and immediately turned and launched a volley of arrows at an archery target. Eyes wide I was convinced that he was a master at the skill.

    “Good Mornng Varren. How are you this fine day?”

    Turning towards us again he smiled through his rough beard and pulled his bow across his back.

    “Good Morning M'lady. I am quite fine this morn....Ahh I see you have found another outlander.”

    Looking me up and down taking measure of me I felt a bit awkward. Am I really that odd looking.

    “Good morn to you Avatar.... Would you be of a mind to use a bow or are you one of those sword swingers?” Laughing at his apparent joke.

    “Good Morn Sir. And I can do both.”



    Arabella giggled and walked up closer to Varren. Whispering something to him she smiled and then turned back to Belladonna.

    “Master Varren. This is Belladonna Rose and she has just recently arrived. I know not what choice in weapon she prefers. Annika is mending her sword as we speak and getting her gear prepared.

    I just came to introduce you to her incase she may be of need of your skills.”

    “So Mistress Belladonna. You are handy with sword and bow. Very intersting. Very intersting indeed....Would you of a mind to show your bow skill?”

    Handing Bella a bow he threw some arrows at the ground. Taking the bow she reached down and pulled an arrow out. Skillfully she settled the arrow at the bow...pulled back the string and took aim.

    Letting loose the arrow it flew strong and true. Bullseye!

    Taking a deep breath Varren patted her strongly on the back. “Well done. Well done indeed.....Seems that if you can do that I doubt I can teach you much. But if you ever feel the need for more training you can certainly come to me for it.”

    Smiling softly she handed the bow back to him. “Nay nay. Keep it. May it fire strong and true for you when you need it to M'lady. And here ….take this quiver of arrows along as well.”

    Looking at the man as if in shock she took the quiver and slung it on her shoulder. “Thank you Sir.

    I will most certainly put this fine looking bow to good use.”

    Tugging at Belladonna's sleeve Arabella pulled her away and waved good day to Varren. She was a persistant one for sure.

    “Hurry along girl...We have a few others you need to meet.”

    After what seemed to be hours of walking about town they finally made it back to the smithy tent.

    Annika pulled out a nice set of leather armor. The pieces were covered in metal studs all about and seemed to be quite durable. And handing the sword back to Belladonna with serene elegance she was done. “I wish you the best fair Avatar. Tis a long and treacherous road you must now travel. If are of need of my services please return any time.” With a bow of the head she turned away and went back to work.

    Bella thought it was odd. Arabella took her arm and moved her along. “Annika has outfitted many an Avatar and soldier of late. None of which she has seen again. Either they have met an ill fate or are off busy in other parts of the world. Would do her good to see at least One return from their journey.”

    Arabella hung her head a bit. For the first time since Bella met her this was the first time she saw sadness on her face. Placing her arm about Arabella's shoulders she gave he a small hug.

    “Fear not M'lady. I will return. One way or another this is not the last you see of me.”



    Taking up her new found belongings she edged her way up the road to the gate. Arabella gave her a map with markings for where she should go. Now it was time to get about the business that was appointed to her. Perhaps she will meet up with her friends on the road soon. What a time that will be telling those tales she thought.
    Heading towards the arched gateway the refugees waved and wished her well. This really put her

    in a much better mood. Stepping through it was almost like the vortex that brought here here in the first place. After a few moments the bright sunlight shown in her face and she looked about. Green grasses. A worn dirt path. Blue skies with a few scattered white clouds. Making her way up the path she stood at a break. To the left took her near what looked like marshy swamps. No...that is not the way. To the right she could see a billow of gray smoke. That must be it. Pulling her belongings high on her back she started walking.

    As she drew closeer she could see the burnt fort at the bridge. That is where she had come from with

    the wee girl in tow. Solace Bridge. Shaking her head she walked towards the bridge. The smell of burning embers and death was strong on the air. She turned her head away from the sight. She hoped she would never have to go back there again.

    Standing in the middle of the bridge she turned her sights to the right...towards the outskirts Arabella talked about. But something caught her eye she had not expected. And a soft warm breeze caressed her face. Closing her eyes she soaked up the fresh smell and the feel and she smiled. The Sea.

    Breaking into a run she flew over the bridge and headed towards the sea ...not the encampment. She had to put her eyes on the waters she missed so much. Reaching the edge of the cliff she looked out and took in a deep breath. Filling her lungs with the fresh salty sea air was just what she needed.

    Looking up at the sun she judged it was just past midday. Decidedly she sat down on the cliff's edge and watched the waves crash against the rocks. She had plenty time before nightfall to just soak in all the fresh air and sunlight she could. This was not asking too much to giver herself some time to feel alive again before her tasks took her to who knows where.
     
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  14. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    Reaching the outskirts small tendrils of smoke could be seen in the distance showing obvious signs of life in the encampment. If it were other than that the smoke would be different. She had seen enough of that kind to last her a lifetime.

    Walking through the archway she could see the encampment. Even a few folk meandering along the riverbank fishing. Now things could not be that bad if they had time to fish. Strolling along slowly the sun was reaching the top of the mountain range. Soon it would be dark.

    As she approached the edge of the camp a guard stepped out and inquired of her business. Once she introduced herself and showed the letter from Captain Stanley she was ushered to the headquarters. Here nestled inside some stone ruins with a makeshift canopy stretch overhead she was introduced to

    Captain Kinsey.
    “Ah..welcome welcome Outlander. Good to have you in camp. Hope you are up for some nasty work here. Between the undead, bandits and Ebon Cult clan we are up to our neck of it.”

    Smiling softly at the Captain , Bella thought to herself this was someone she could respect. Hard knocked life and ready for anything. She saluted the Captain and handed her the note from Stanley.
    “Of course..hopefully he is more successful with getting help out this way than I. Seems most of my
    couriers disappear. Nary a one has returned. Not sure what to make of it. Either killed or took off for other parts of the world.” She continued to comment as she read the message.
    She looked up from the paper at Bella and then tucked the missive away in her vest. She seemed to take stock in Bella's appearance. Clearing her throat she took Bella by the arm and lead her to the edge of the ruins. Pointing out the different aspects and people of the camp.

    As Kinsey pointed to the various people in the camp she explained each one's role. Most were just a few folk who havent managed to move on to better parts. Others were of her own troops who are doing what they can to help those who do come in for help. She motioned towards the vastness of the area explaining a bit more about the bandits. Pointing to the far side she talked about the ruined town across the river and how Ebon Cultists had taken up residence there. And of course all the undead throughout. She even mentioned a farm near the coastline where Farmer Filmore refused to leave his land regardless of what was happening in the rest of the world. She made mention of an alchemist who has a shack near the old cemetary and that he has been most helpful with ailments and such of those who find there way in.
    “So Outlander. That is that. This is what we are here for I suppose one could say. Helping those who cannot help themselves. Since you are here by Arabella's advice I would recommend talking to everyone in camp and seeing what they need help with. Report back to me anything that might be useful. Look out for my scouts throughout and bring back any info you can. That is if you are of a mind to help out for a spell.”

    “Aye Captain. I will spend sometime here in the camp and help where I can. As you might be able to tell I am still trying to get my legs about me. Being a ship's captain for so long its most odd for me to have so much solid ground under me. But I will do my best to aid these poor folk.”

    Kinsey reared back her head in a laugh and slapped Bella on the back. “Good good. Knew you would help. Glad to have you here.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a few coin and handed them to Bella. “Here take this and get yourself geared up. I know those in Soltown tried well to outfit you but see if you can find something more suitable.” Winking at Bella she turned and walked back to her makeshift desk of planks and barrels.

    Bella walked into the camp and talked to each person there. She felt a bit sorry for everyone of them. Each had their own tasks and reasons for being there. The sad couple sitting at the bonfire told of their daughter's stolen portrait and bade me find and bring it back. A guard asked for any heirlooms that were stolen off the dead to be returned. One of the guards asked me to retrieve some items for him in return he would teach me how to make arrows. Even some children dancing about a firepit singing a horrible song about Bloody Bones peaked her interest. After talking to them she thought she would have to check this out as well.

    Getting a few extra food stuffs she set out to explore and do what she could to help.

    With a mental note of her tasks at hand she went out and across the eastern rope bridge from the camp. Nodding to the guards on both sides of the bridge she made her way down the path. In the distance she saw some shiny material among the rocks. Pulling her small pickaxe from her pack she started collecting the orange colored ore. “This should be enough. “. Taking some small branches and her blanket she managed to make a travois. This will be much easier to move things. Seeing some trees she chopped one down and spent a bit of time making it easier to load. With the better part of the day gone she headed back to camp to turn in the ore and wood.

    Sitting down at the center campfire she looked across at that couple. That sat in silence the entire time...not even talking to one another. An errant sniffle came from the lady but that was it. Bella thought to herself to be so forlorn at your losses that you can't even take care of personal things was a place she never wanted to be.

    The cooking merchant lady came over and handed Bella a steaming bowl of food. Bella smiled and thanked her for the food and pointed to the couple. The haggared looking lady knelt close and whispered into her ear. “Best to just leave them be. Since their daughter's painting was stolen when they reached camp they just sit there wallowing in sadness.” Sniffing and wiping her nose on her sleeve she continued. “They lost their daughter at Solace Bridge and the only thing they had left of her was that painting. I 'spect they be sitting here til their last days unless someone finds that painting.” She softly patted Bella on and shoulder and walked away.

    Well that seems to be the next and most important errand she will tackle in the morning. Pulling out her pack she unfurled her bedroll near the fire and climbed inside. Sleep was what she needed now.

    The night sounds were strange. Howling of wolves in the distance. Moans of the encroaching undead around the edges of the camp. Guards clammering from point to point to keep that enemy at bay. Coughing and snoring. And then an errant cricket from time to time. But it was enough to lull her to sleep.

    After what seemed like no time at all Bella was awoken by being poked in the side with a stick. As she rolled over to see who was assaulting her in her sleep her eyes opened to the dirty face of a child.

    Grumbling she rolled back over. Poke. Poke. Poke. Quickly she rolled over out of her bedroll and grabbed the stick....broke it in half and tossed it away.

    “HEY..that was my best sword you broke.” Snarling something under her breath the child squatted down next to Bella. “You be going out into the countryside today? If so you best be bringing me that Bloody Bones book back which ya. Me and mine needs that book.” Bella perked an eyebrow up at the child. She and hers needs a good swat on the bottom is what they need. “If I can find it I will bring it. In the mean time you and yours make yourselves usefull in camp. Gather firewood and such. Don't be a pain in the backside of Cap'n Kinsey.” The child jumped up and looked aghast. Stuck her tongue out at Bella and ran off. Laughing to herself Bella gathered up her bedding and prepared to get ready for another days adventure.
     
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  15. Belladonna Rose

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    Heading across the rope bridge she nodded to the guards again on both sides. Then made her way towards the swampy area. Here is where she was told the bandits hide out. At first glance it did not look like a great hiding place. Making her way through she took out a couple of the pesky bandits and checked them for heirlooms and such of the Solace Bridge survivors. She found a couple. Making her way across the nasty waters she saw a cabin on stilts. This must be the hideout. As she walked up she saw a small tombstone with a candle and flowers. With a sad memoir or ode to a young girl. Lilianna. That is the name of the daughter of the couple in camp. Strange this be way out here. As she rose up from the stone she felt a light tap on her shoulder. Turning she was face to face with a haggered looking bandit.

    “Was a sad day when my Lilianna died. I swore I would always remember her sweet angelic face.”

    Puzzled Bella stepped away from him.

    “Are you the one who stole the painting from her parents. If so I would appreciate if you could return it so they can move on from this horrid place.”

    Chuckling under his breath he turned and walked towards the cabin. “Aye. I took it cause it belongs to me. Lilianna painted that portrait of herself for me so that I could remember what she looked like. Before she could give it to me the Bridge was attacked and she died to those foul undead things.” Clearing his throat trying to hold back his anger he went on. “Her parents found it next to her body and took it....claiming it was their. When I saw them come into camp I snuck in and looked through their things and took the painting.”

    Bella looked down at the ground mulling over what he said. Does she take the painting from him in a fight or does she disregard the whole thing.

    “I understand it means a great deal to you. But it means a great deal to them as well. They lost their daughter horribly and this is the only thing to give them piece. Would you not part with it for that fact.”

    He looked her up and down and grinned. “Ahhh you be one of them Outlanders here to help set the world to right again. Nah. I keep it. They can deal with their grief just as I have. If it werent for them and their peddling ways they would never of beenin Solace Bridge and my sweet Lil would never of died. They can rot for all I care.”

    Walking over to a small campfire he squatted down and looked up at Bella. “I have a copy you know....of the painting. Not as good as the original but you can take it...they can have it and never know the difference.” He poked around the embers waiting for Bella to answer.

    Not really knowing which way to go she decided she would take the copy back. If they never knew she created it to begin with they might not know the difference. She struck a deal with the bandit leader. “Might I know your name sir. I am Belladonna Rose.”

    “Aye. Pleasantries escape me of late. My name is Yardley. “



    “I have decided I will take the copy back to them. But mind you if they see it is not the true painting I will be back to take it from you.
     
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  16. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    Trudging back to the camp Bella approached the couple by the campfire. She softly cleared her throat to get their attention but they neither one looked up. Stepping in between them she stood the painting gently infront of them and when they glanced up they both gasped in surprise.

    “Ohh My. It is the painting. However did you find it?” the gentleman asked. The lady burst into tears and hugged her husband tightly. Bella could see they were both happy and overjoyed to see the painting.

    “My name is Belladonna Rose and I was told you were looking for this. One of the guards told me to search the bandit camp in the swamps so I made my way there. I talked to a man named Yardley and he admitted taking it. I explained your grief and he handed it over to me.”

    “Lady Langston and I greatly appreciate your service.” Smiling he handed me a small pouch full of coin and shook my hand vigoursly. They seemed to be pleased enough and so I bid them farewell.

    As Bella started to move away she overheard Lord Langston tell his wife they had just enough funds to make the trip to Ardoris. There they can get back to their lives again. Smiling Bella walked to the one merchant tent to grab a bite of something to eat. Timothea the merchant told her how proud she was that she was able to retrieve the painting and set the Langstons at ease. Offering her a warm bowl of stew she talked about Farmer Filmore. Expressing how nor he or his farmhand Dawson had been to town in a while and asked if she could check on him.

    Bella smiled and said she was heading that direction anways so she would check in on the old farmer. As she ate her rough meal she ran through the list of people she needed to track down. A scout by the name of Rhoswen was on the way to the Filmore Farm. She would check in with her first. And then move on . She needed to stop at the alchemist shack near the cemetary and see if Master Ackerly had the medicine ready for an ailing man in camp. And also to head to the old village and check out the disturbance by the Ebon Cultists. It was going to be a long day for sure.

    Taking a few coins from her pouch she bought a few staples to get her through her journey. Again she saluted the guards at the bridge and crossed over. This path was starting to get too familiar. By now the bandits along this road had decided to leave her alone. She had dispatched enough of them over the last day or two so they wanted no part of her. She finally reached the stone bridge which was the first indication that she was heading into new territory. Before she crossed she noticed the bushes shuffle a bit and there was a young woman in guard clothing. This must be Rhoswen. Approaching cautiously she introduced herself to the girl. In return she learned that Rhoswen and the guard Quentin were in love and she was greatly worried about him. He had moved on up the road to scout around and had not returned. Bella assured her she would find out where he was. Another task Bella thought.

    Making way over the bridge she passed a few more bandits. Same as before. They turned and went the opposite direction. In the short distance she saw a wagon on the side of the road. Full of arrows and what looked like claw marks. As she got closer she saw blood on the ground which lead towards some rocks to the left of the road. She followed the trail. There sprawled on the ground face down was a man in guard clothing. Next to him a note. She read the note and exhaled slowly. Quentin.

    Putting the note inside her vest. Hoisting the dead guard onto her shoulder she grunted making her way back to the road. Ahead she saw the sign for Filmore's Farm. She would leave the boy there and retrieve him later. Making her way down the path to the farmhouse she saw the old man walking about. She approached slowly as not to startle him

    “Ahhhh so ye found me worker did ya. Knew he would end up dead sooner or later. Thank ye for returnin him to me.” He pointed towards the small shed and told me to take him up there he would deal with it later. Inside the dusty cobwebbed room was a small bed. And on that bed was a young man filled with arrows. Dead. She laid poor Quentin on the bed alongside the other boy and went back out to talk to the old man.

    “Pardon me sir would you be Farmer Filmore? I was asked by Captain Kinsey to check on you while I am out this way. And sorry to tell you but that boy I brought in was one of the Captain's scouts killed out by the road.”

    “Ohh. Damn. Thought it might be Dawson. He has been gone a long time and thought that be him.

    I be guessing he will show up sooner or later.”

    Bellad shook her head. Apparently the old man wasnt that worried that he didnt check the shed for his missing help. Not her concern at the moment. She asked if he were alright and he expressed that his prized pet Betty went missing and that if I would be kind enough to take a few moments to find her. Telling Bella of the wolves in the area that have been harrassing him. She nodded slowly and set off to look for Betty. Since when did she become such a bleeding heart. Something must of rattled her brain in that shipwreck.

    Off she went past the barn and into the rocky terrain behind the farm. Sure enough a large pack of wolves were pacing about in a small den under a rock outcropping. She moved in and took them out one by one as they attacked. The pack leader then pounced on her from above the rocks but she quickly took care of him. There on the ground was a collar with a coin shaped object hanging from it. On the coin the name Betty was engraved. She quickly took the head of the leader and headed back to Filmore. Once she tossed the head on the ground at his feet she handed him the collar. Sniffling he went inside his home and brought out a nicely made leather tunic and handed it to her.

    “Thank ye stranger. You did me a good deed by finding my poor Betty. Here take this and may it help you on your journeys.” Sniffling more he moved on to his house and shut the door behind him

    Well if that dont beat all. She looked at the tunic and saw if was finely crafted. Pulling off her vest she put the tunic on. Nice fit indeed. This should come in handy. She yelled to Filmore that she would be back to get Quentin on her return trip. No response. Oh well. Leave him be.



    Back up the road again she looked at the scribbled map that Kinsey had given her. The cemetary was up ahead. It was near on to evening and the sun was starting to dip below the mountains. Not a good time to be around a graveyard you fool. Laughing at herself she moved on. From the corner of her eye she saw a large rambling form coming towards her. Stopping she pulled her bow out and aimed. As it approached she saw it was covered in blood. Moving a lot like those zombie creatures. No way was she about to get into a fight with that thing. Firing as fast as she could she shot at the thing. And it quickly went down. When she got to it she saw a book laying next to it. Ballad of Bloody Bone. For heavens sakes. This is what those children were going on about. Well that is one thing now off my list. Wiping the book off with some leaves she put it in her pack. As she turned her head to look back at the corpse she realized it was gone. Looking around her she got an ill feeling about that creature.

    After a short walk she was at the edge of the graveyard to the left and across the road to the right was a worn shack. Skeleton creatures were walking around outside the front. Running to the edge of the broken down wall she shott a volley of arrows at them and heard more noises from behind her. Running around the wall she ran straight to the shack threw open the door and slammed it shut behind her.

    A finely dressed man turned quickly and looked her up and down. Apparently those things didnt bother him in the least. “Ahhh another Outlander. You can tell Kinsey I dont have her medicine ready yet. Missing an ingredient and I cant get into the graveyard to get it. Those pesky bone clankers wont let me out the door.”

    Confused Bella looked at the old man. He turned back to his table and started muttering something about an olfactory gland. What in the world was that. She tapped him lightly on the shoulder and asked what it was he needed.

    “Ahh yes. I be needing that gland off them zombie critters in the graveyard. Tis what I need to make the cure for that poor man in the camp up the hill of Kinsey's. Like I said cant get past them bone clankers. And what be your name girly.”

    “Belladonna Rose sir and yours.”

    “ I be Ackerly Master of Herbs and Fine Medicines”

    “Well Ackerly sir. If you allow me to rest the night here I will be willing to get your gland things for you so you can finish the medicine. Then I can retrieve it for Kinsey on my way back through. I need to get to the burned out village to report on the Ebon Cultists there and then retrieve a fallen guard and take him back to the camp.”

    “Well aint ye the busy one today. There be a cot over there you can take your rest at and probably best to wait til morning. Them critters outside there dont like the daylight that much. So make yourself comfortable and we will get to work come morning.”

    With that he went back to his work and paid Bella no attention afterwards. Laying down on the cot she curled into a ball and tried to sleep. The moaning from outside was distracting and the clatter of bottles from Ackerly didnt help but she soon fell asleep.



    The sun started shining through the cracks in the back wall of the shack and she could smell something very pleasing as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Ackerly was cooking something on the stove. Turning he smiled as he walked over handing her a plate of fried eggs. This would be very refreshing to Bella. She hadnt had eggs in a long while. Eating quickly she took the plate and put it in the bucket by the stove. Then started gathering her things for the day. Ackerly told her what to look for from the zombies in the graveyard. Warned her to turn off the valves that were spewing green gas everywhere or else she would end up like those critters. With that he waved her off and went about his business.

    Slowly opening the door she notice that the skeletons were no where to be seen. Good for that. Keeping her bow at the ready she set out across the road. She had left her pack at the shack so was able to move a bit more quickly. Once she went through the gates she could hear that horrid noise from the zombies. Gurgling and moaning as they seemed to gasp for the last strains of air and humanity.

    After the third or fourth creature she finally got the gland from one. Wiping off her skinning knife she headed back to Ackerly. And anxiously to beg for a pan of water to wash. This 'do gooder' business for sure a messy job.

    Entering the shack the old man turned and smiled. “Ahh I see you made it back alive. Good good. And did you get the gland I asked for.”

    “Of course I did or else I would not be back. I do not shirk my tasks dear sir.”

    “Yes yes...i see that. Dont get your knickers in a twist. Just surprised a lady as yourself was up for that task. Most folks tend to either not go or come back looking as green as the gas over there. Some folk just dont have the stomach for nasty business as that.”

    She handed him the jar with the gland inside and grabbed a pail for water. She went out in the small courtyard and found the working pump. The water was cool and crips but felt good against her skin. She was never of a mind to not enjoy a good wash whether it be warm or cold water. That was one thing the crew teased her about. How clean she liked to be. She giggled softly to herself remembering that small bit about the crew.

    When she went inside Ackerly told her he would have the medicine ready by the time she passed back through again and that he had no doubt she would make it back safely. Bella thought it odd that he held so much asteem for her without even knowing her. That was fine by her.

    Again she was off into the unknown. Ackerly told her the old town wasnt too far down the road and she should have no trouble finding the cultists. He told her she would find them in two spots as he had seen them when he was foraging for herbs. And he warned her as well as they were a nasty bunch of evil for sure. She thought to herself...what part of this journey hasnt been nasty.
     
  17. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    With the intent to make the best use of the daylight Bella moved out and down the road. But despite the time of day it was overcast and quite foggy. She could see the fog rise above the cliff edges from the river below. Whoever carved this place out was insane. Those cliff edges were very steep and jagged. Keeping her wits about her she could hear things rambling about in the brush and bushes. No telling what was out there to greet her.

    In the short distance she could make out what looked like abandoned buildings. To the right was a burned out husk of one building. That didnt look good. Suddenly from out of no where one of those zombie creatures and two skeletons came towards her. Quickly she pulled her sword out and took a full swing at them all. Clattering of bone and the ill sounding smack of her blade against flesh made her winge. That sound is one she will never get used to. Wiping the blood from her blade on the grass she stood and proceeded down the road. Over a period of half an hour or so she dispatched every thing that came forth. Even some of the lower ranked Cultists were taken out silently.

    Weaving between two of the back buildings of the area she saw a bonfire glow. As she crept closer she could hear chanting from the three cultists moving around it. And suddenly something happened.

    Quickly she pulled her bow out and lined an arrow up to fire. There in the midst of the fire stood a mishappened woman...covered in blood and bandage. Raising her hands to the sky and chanting some

    sort of spell. OH NO you dont Bella thought to herself. Firing off a shot it hit the woman and she turned in Bella's direction. Pulling out two more arrows she fired another volley and the woman collapsed into the flames. Blue light spewed up high in the sky and then vanished. She was gone. But that didnt stop the cultists from making their way towards Bella. Coming out from the cover of the broken down garden wall she fired off rapid shots at each one...taking them down quickly. Checking each cultist to make sure they were dead she found a few gold pieces and she pocketed them quickly.

    As she made her way close to the bonfire she noticed that a strange color ooze was all around on the ground. There was no way she was touching that stuff. So she just moved on.



    Climbing across the wall and heading towards the edge of the old town again she heard the chanting. Same sounds same set up. As carefully as she could she watched and waited. Again the woman appeared. Rapid fire shooting and down she went. Again she took out the cultists too. This

    must have been what Captain Kinsey was talking about. She would be sure to report this.

    By the time she made her way back to the tattered road going towards Ackerley's place the sun was beginning to go down. Picking up the pace she made her way to the shack. Fighting every step of the way with zombies, skeletons and wolves. Exhausted she was happy to see that broken down shack . As she started to knock on the door Ackerley open it and smiled.

    “Knew you would make it back. I told ya so. Besides I heard all the noise nearby and took me a peek through the shutters. I saw you taking down some of that riff raff out there. You be a good one with that there sword. Glad to see you back.”

    With that he took her by the arm and ushered her inside. Shut and bolted the door. Then went about his business. Shaking her head she made her way to the water basin and bucket and cleaned herself up a bit. Looking about there was nothing hot to eat so she grabbed a pot and rooted around for something to cook. Putting what vegetables she could find together she made a quick stew. After an hour or two it was done and Ackerley made sure he scooped himself a big bowl of food like it just magically appeared there. After eating he went back to his work.

    Bella curled up on the smelly cot and quickly fell asleep.
     
  18. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    Dreams took over as she slept. She was standing on the bridge of her ship. Tight grip on the wheel and Jack standing next to her. He looked out to the horizon and smiled as the wind blew through his tousled hair. Smiling to herself she thought back to all they had been through together. Always a steady hand on the ship and at the ready to jump into action no matter what. And his caring nature for her warmed her heart but scared her just the same. Looking at the horizon herself she shook off the thought of anything other than the job at hand, her ship and crew. No time for personal entanglements.

    Then there it was....ahead. The Vortex. Glowing and pulsing and getting larger as they approached. Trying hard to steer the ship away it seemed to just suck them in. All hands were on deck manning the sails and doing there best to secure the ship. Closer and closer and then darkness.

    She woke with a sweated brow. Looked about the room and saw the old man at his worktable. Did he ever sleep? Slowly pulling herself up to a sitting position she reached down for her boots. Pulled them on and stood. As she approached the old man he turned with a wary look on his face. Startled she took a step back.

    “Ahhh tis you Outlander. Forgot you were in the house for a moment. Tend to get busy with my potions and work forgetting all else.”

    He reached to the side of the table and turned to Bella. Handing her a flask with a slight green glowing liquid inside. “Here be the medicine Capn Kinsey be wanting. This should fix up any ills in the camp for sure.” Pressing the flask in her hand he returned to his business. Nothing else said.

    Bella gathered up her belongings and went out the door. A slight overcast took the sky. She thought to herself she hoped it wouldnt rain today. She was tired of the rain. Stepping out into the courtyard she could hear the rustling in the bushes and surrounding forest. She would be happy to shut this place away from her and the sooner the better. Such vile creatures roaming about and she longed to get back to some sort of civilization.



    Trudging down the road back towards Farmer Filmore's she could see all manner of creatures about.

    Bears, wolves, rabbits and squirrels. Crops growing in the farmer's fields. Cotton. Strange. But that is probably how he makes his living. As she reached the entrance to the road that led to the farmer's house some bandits made their way up the road....seeing her they turned and made way into the brush.

    Finding their comrades on the road...dead..they must of thought better to aproach her. Funny she thought.

    Halfway down the path she noticed a fresh graves next to the tattered shack. The farmer must of went inside and found Darwin and Quentin and decided to bury them. With that done she decided to leave the old man alone. With a turn of the heel she went on down the main path back to the bridge.

    As she got close to the bridge the lady guard stepped out and met her. Sadly Bella handed her the note she found on Quentin's body. The poor girl was distraught. After reading the missive she scribbled a message on a scrap piece of paper and handed it to Bella.

    “Please take this back to the Capn and tell her what you found. I will remain at my post as ordered.

    She need not fear that I will leave. It will be my duty to avenge my poor Quentin.” She slowly turned wiping the tears from her face and took her post near the bridge.

    Bella tucked the note in her vest and made her way back up the hill towards the camp. A few of the foolish bandtis attacked her but she easily took care of them. This time she was going to check their pockets. A few coins and trinkets. She rememberd something one guard said about returning heirlooms that the bandits had stolen. She would return these as well. The guards at the edge of the rope bridge were busy with a couple of those zombie things and immediately cleared the way so she could cross over. The camp was rather peaceful when she entered just before midday.

    Looking to the one side of the camp the children were playing around their small campfire. She approached and stood watching for a minute. One of them stopped and looked her way.

    “Ohhh. It be you. The Sword Breaker. What ya be wantin from us today. Here to spoil our fun some more.” Bella gave the child a scowled look and then walked closer to them. They all stopped their dancing and looked at her with a bit of fear in their eyes.

    “Nay I do not wish to spoil your entertainment. I just thought you might want this.”

    Holding the book up over their heads they all stared in disbelief. “Is that the Bloody Bones?”

    All the children ran towards Bella as she teased them with the book. She laughed as they jumped up and down trying to get the book.

    “Gimme that book Outlander. That is ours. We needs that book so we can sing the song right.”

    Bella looked down at them and scowled again. “You do know that Bloody Bones is not a fairytale dont you. Bloody Bones is real. And each time you sing that song it brings that creature out searching for who is singing its song. “

    The children looked at her with surprise. Then jumped up and down laughing and cheering.

    “She did it...she did it. The Outlander did it. She gots us the Bloody Bones.”

    It was obvious these children had no clue what they were doing. But that was none of her business one way or the other.....she tossed the book in the air and let them fight over it. Laughing over her shoulder as they scrambled about trying to hold onto the book she moved on the the guard.

    The guard looked her up and down and smiled. “Thank you for giving them some glimmer of hope.

    They know not what they do but they just try to stay entertained best they can. Eventually we will get them to a town and have them looked after better.”

    Bella smiled at the guard and pulled out a small pouch and handed it to her. “I retrieved these from some fallen bandits on the road. I do hope you can return the items to their owners if they still live.”

    The guard looked into the pouch and she smiled. “Thank you Outlander for doing such a good deed.

    I will try my best to return them to their owners. By way what be your name.”

    Bella looked at the young guard and smiled...Belladonna Rose.







    Making her way through the camp she went straight to Captain Kinsey. Handing her the note from Rhoswen about Quentin and the bottle of medicine from Ackerley. She proceeded to tell the Captain about the Ebon Cultists and that she had dispatched them from their ritual. She told her about the woman that appeared and disappeared at each ritual site.

    “Damn. Then its true. Mistress Valdis is trying to come back to this side of the realm.”

    She shook her head and explained that this creature was once very powerful and has been using the Ebon Cultists to maker her way back to this side. The side of the living so she can try and take over the unrest of the lands. Bella looked at the Captain like she had lost her mind. What kind of sorcery is all this. This realm has completely gone crazy. All this undead and such. Now master sorecery at work as well. Shaking her head she decided that she was no better off here than she was back in her world.

    Evil is just that...Evil.



    Captain Kinsey pulled a rolled parchment off her makeshift desk and handed it to Bella. Along with a rolled up banner and pouch of coin.

    “Its not much but you have truly showed your worth since you came here. I apologize it its not much but we have very little as it is. Please take this parchment to Captain Stanley at Soltown and see if you can be of service there. They are in need of help with all the migrating villagers from around this area.

    The undead and bandits are razing all the small towns so many are moving towards Ardoris. Soltown is where many have landed.”

    Bella took what was given her and looked at the rolled up banner.

    “ That is the Banner of Love my dear Belladonna Rose. You have shown great love and compassion for us and these poor folk who have lost so much. I have a strong feeling you will do great things for our lands and help bring peace and Love back to our people. Take it . It will be better off in your hands than here in mine. Go now and safe travels Future Avatar.”

    The sound in Kinsey's voice was that of courage and devotion to her task. And she would take the banner and put it in a safe place til she could later retrieve it. Looking around one last time at the camp she headed towards the gates. Back to Soltown is it then.
     
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  19. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    The walk back to Soltown was quiet and solemn. Bella thought back to the people she met in the Solace Bridge encampment. They had all been through so much and yet many still survived and endured all they had been through. The children although a few were orphaned she was sure seemed to pull through and hold out for some form of hope. Playing and doing their best although a bit odd. Smiling at the children dancing around the campfire singing the Ballad of Bloody Bones seemed innocent enough. But after seeing that creature at the Ebon Dawn ritual sites she was not all that sure.

    Passing the awful bridge area again made the whole thing sink in deep in her thoughts. There truly was something evil lurking about and causing all this trouble. She just hoped she could help end it all.

    And the sooner the better it would seem.

    Entering the edge of Soltown she was greeted by the refugees there at the campsite. Captain Stanley waved from the edge of the docks as he ushered more folk from who knew where. Patting her sides she remembered she had to deliver a message for him to some town called Ardoris. As she walked up to Stanley his smile dimmed a bit. She thought to herself ..Do I look that bad? Do I show some sort of misery to him that I bring bad news? Odd she would think this but it must show on her face. She had always been so good about hiding things like this.

    “Ahhh Avatar...I mean Mistress Belladonna. Good to see you have managed well from the outskirts. I take you have news for me?”

    “Yes a bear a message from Captain Kinsey. She bade me inform you that they are holding down things there despite some interuptions. But things are going well. A few folk are packing up to move on for other parts but most seem content to stay there.”

    Frowning a bit he looked down at his feet...then looked back up into her face.

    “I don't know if things will ever be alright again M'lady but tis good that we have you Outlanders here to help out. Meaning no disrespect mind you. It's good to have you here. Things in Soltown have been a bit strange of late but I guess that goes with so many refugees about.”

    She gave him a puzzled look and turned to look over her shoulder.

    “They all seem to be fairing well at the moment. Not sure what else could be going on.”

    “Ahhh well see that is the thing. The regular folk of town are a might up in arms over the folks from Solace Bridge being here. Rag tagged and all. They feel that what happened at the bridge might find its way here. And quite frankly we are not equipped or manned for such an assault.”

    Bella nodded in understanding and started to step away.

    “Its more than that though I am afraid.” Clearing his throat as to speak more he moved closer as if to whisper in her ear.

    “Seems there have been some things happening the last few nights. Robberies, fires and someone mentioned there were bandits coming up outta the sewers. Not what one would expect here. If you wouldn't mind moving about town and see if you can find more information about these things I would truly appreciate it.”

    Patting him on the shoulder she nodded to him she would and that simple smile grew on his face again. It was amazing to Bella that this man would hold so much trust in her since she was an Outlander. Shaking her head she grew to hate that title more and more each day.

    Walking towards the camp everyone bid her a good day and she made a point to speak to each one. One lady mentioned that she went to put flowers on her daughter's grave and the pendant she had placed there was missing...and there were large footprints around her grave. She told Bella it had to of been the thief as her husband was off fighting somewhere and the boot prints were extremely large for any of the men about town. Giggling she told Bella she had spent the last couple days going about town looking at all the men's feet. Bella couldn't help but laugh as well. She told the lady she would look about and see if she could solve the mystery.

    One of the men in the camp was going on about a fire a few nights back..burning an entire wagon to the ground. Almost killing one of the horses. And one of the other women agreed that she had seen someone walking about with a red sash or some sort of red clothing. But she wasnt sure as it was getting dark. Everyone was unnerved that someone would try to burn them out after what they had already been through. Many were already talking about taking what little they had and move on. At least they wouldnt have to deal with this.

    She nodded to them her understanding and thought to herself they were better off here than out side the town. Too much evil was lurking about ..and that wasnt just the things she had been fighting. Things like this often bring out the worst in folk.

    Moving through town she stopped and spoke to Arabella a short time then made her way into the inn. Ordered her some food and sat down to eat. Minding her own business as she ate she did listen to the conversation at the table. No one seemed to give her a second notice.

    The mintstrel who usually is singing for a pint was sitting by the fireplace on a stool....staring warily into the flames. When she finished her meal she approached. Touching him lightly on the shoulder he almost jumped out of his skin.

    “Scared me half to death ya did. Don't be sneakin up on folk like that.”

    “I did not sneak up on you and I did call your name out but you were too engrossed in watching the fire. Is there something the matter this evening. You seem very on edge.”

    “Well I don't be knowing what “egrosse” means but yes I am a bit distracted.”

    Bella smiled and pulled a stool up next to him and patted him softly on the knee.

    “ Here I be out back of the inn...takin care of business in the darkness when two hooded figures come barreling by me knocking me to the ground. Neither a care in the world that I could have been hurt. Rudeness if you dont mind me saying so. But that aint the thick of it. They smelled funny they did. Kinda like damp stone and moss. Like they been sleeping by the river or somethin. But it was way worse. Kinda had a dead smell about them too.”

    Shivering he looked back at the fire and shook his head. “It was just strange. Made me teeth chatter thinking about the way they smelled. I thought maybe they went into the inn but they never did. I came back inside and they were no where to been seen.”

    Patting him on the back she listened to him.. Motioning for Emily to bring over a couple pints. As she got the mugs she handed one to the man and told him to drink up. She sipped the second one and decided she would give it to him instead. She never was good at drinking ale and beers.

    After a few gulps he seemed to settle down a bit. Then she asked him if he could tell her what direction they came from and she would check it out. He told her and she again patted him on the shoulder . Standing she walked to Emily and handed her a few coins. Asking her to get the man a bed for the night so he could rest. Emily smiled and nodded.

    Here she stood with three new missons to accomplish. Find a thief, an arsonist and some thugs.

    Well isnt this going to be a fun time indeed.
     
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  20. Belladonna Rose

    Belladonna Rose Bug Hunter

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    After many days in Soltown Belladonna finally completed her missions. She found and dispatched the thief in the graveyard and returned the missing necklace to the rightful owner. She uncovered the arsonist and reported him to the Captain in town so he could deal with him. The wealthy merchant fellow is still a bit under suspicion to her though. He did not seem like a friendly fellow. Again she talked to Arabella and was told to venture out into the world. Finish the tasks at hand in the city of Ardoris and go forth to Blood River and High Vale. There were many things needing to be done in both those area to finally find the cause and reason for the Undead uprising . Also the additional uprising of the Elves.

    Belladonna pondered her new found circumstances. Now she would have to trod throughout this still unknown land trying to help fix all their problems. Shaking her head she moved on towards Ardoris


    After talking to many folk throughout she met many along the way that sent her here and there for different tasks. Making her way to a shop she purchased a coal stick and blank book so she could write down all this information so she would not forget it. Each person she talked to she jotted down clues and such to help keep track. She smiled as she sat at a table in the Pelajar Tavern eating a small meal. Pulling the book out and sharpening the slight charcoal stick she wrote down the past things she had done since she arrived. Some were distrubing remembrances and some were funny. Finally catching up to the present time she stretched and took to her room for the night.

    Arising the next morning she had a small breakfast. Visited a tent shop to purchase some provisions and then headed out. It was time to explore this vast world and see what it had to offer her. She needed to find a quiet place to settle down and make home port. There was no way she could keep venturing further and further without having a place to go to and revive herself both mentally and physically.

    Making her way back up the road from Ardoris she passed by Soltown again. And on past Solace Bridge. She reached the area of East Reach Gap and made her way across into a desert area. Dry, hot and very few villages along the way she found herself in Desolis. Here she stayed the night and picked up more information about this and that from the villagers. Restocking her supplies she headed west as she was instructed. “Head to Brittany. There you will find what you seek” said one of the travellers in Desolis. So that is what she did.



    Crossing the remaining desert she approached green grass and trees. Finally. Some respite from that horrid heat and sun. Not that she was not familiar with heat and sun being a ship's captain but the dry air was not to her liking. She liked the sea breezes for certain.

    Coming over the hillside she saw many villages dotted across the lands. This was obvious due to the smoke pillars from all the homes. She stopped into one town and took a rest there. Crossroads was the name although it was not a cross road at all. But it was a nice enough place to rest for the night. Early the next morning she stopped at a small row house shop and resupplied herself. At least the small scrabbles she had along the way gave her enough coin to purchase what she needed.