OS Roleplaying Log: Blessing in Blood

This real-time collaborative storytelling scene took place on OtherSpace back in 1999. I played the role of Rathorl, a reptiloid Nall competing against a rival for a mate:

Sun Goddess Square – Nalhom

Before you stands the very edges of a tropical jungle, amidst it a large, carved stone structure grants you entrance into the heart of this planet. During the daytime the sun’s warmth hits the very center of this lush courtyard and during the night the clear cool light of the planets three moons converge on this spot to form a spectacular light show. To the left and right of the carved structure lie huge buildings carved out of the same stone but much more ornate in their construction. One structure lies open allowing the suns rays to filter in during the day while the more ornate building is decorated with large bronze statues of a female lizard holding the sun above her head while Ydahri and other slaves look up in awe. Off to the left the ground flattens and appears cultivated.

Betoth moves, with a clacking of claws and a harsh, constant hissing, from the tunnel of the tube station. He is as he always is– Betoth, in his armor, bearing his weapons. Though his armor has obviously been polished, he has made no other concessions to the event.

Kh’rrtyris rustles into the Square, some ways behind Betoth. Upon seeing Rhas’eas, she hisses, nostrils flaring slightly, and bobs her head in deference to her mother. “Mother. Nalia shine upon you and grant you favor.” Her tail begins a slow, swishing movement from side to side, jaws opening a fraction as her tongue darts out to scent the air.

From her perch near the bronze feet of Nalia, Rhas’eas is resplendent in her finery, obviously donned especially for the occasion. As Betoth enters, she merely inclines her head. At Kh’rrtyris greeting, she raises her palm, “And may she shine on you, my youngling”

R’ikamvril tastes the air with a flick of her dark tongue, obviously eager for the battle to begin. She stands off to the side, but her eyes are keen and alert.

Betoth extends his palm to Rhas’eas, inclining his head. His hand then drops to his swordhilt. He draws it, the metal rasping out. He narrows his eyes, the wrinkles making his scarred flesh jut out ridgily along his cheeks. “I am prepared.”

Rhas’eas drops her eyes to examine the steel of his blade. Her mouth opens slightly with wry amusement. “I see you took my advice. Your sword is newly sharp, is it not?”

Kh’rrtyris flicks a glance from pinpoint pupils to Ri’kamvril, eyes narrowed a fraction. To Rha’saes she inclines her head again, lifting her hand in typical Nall salute with palm facing outwards. At her words however, she chuffs a little with some annoyance, blowing out her nostrils. “Mother!”

Betoth shrugs ripplingly, the muscles in his shoulders distinct, veins in his arms visible even beneath the scales– telltale signs of a warrior’s preparation for serious battle. “My blade is never dull.”

Rathorl arrives from Sprestathin Lobbby <Srestahin: Nalhom>. Rathorl stands about three feet tall, with fearsome sharp teeth. This Nall wears the scars on his pebbled gray flesh like medals. He wears gleaming black armor that bears the squiggly insignia of the Vox’s elite defense unit. Fused onto the armor is a rank designation of -VV-. Slung at his left side is a curved-edged sword. Holstered to his right is a blaster.

Rhas’eas again opens her mouth in amusement. “Well spoken, Betoth.” Her attention turns to Rathorl as he enters the square. “We shall soon see how your vigilance serves.”

Rathorl strides out of the mountain entrance, clawed hand resting on his sword hilt.

Kh’rrtyris weaves her head rather like a bird of prey, raptor-like head lowered. Her nostrils flare suddenly and she chuffs sharply, swivelling her gaze towards the new entrant as she flicks her tongue out to scent the air. Her tail stiffens and she raises herself to her full height. A palm is extended in tight salute. “Nalia bless you…” she grates. “So. Rathorl. It has been…too long.” Her tone implies, “Not long enough.”

R’ikamvril swivels her snout to regard the approaching Nall.

Rathorl studies Kh’rrtyris cooly through dark, shark-dead eyes. “You have been eating well.”

Betoth’s mouth lolls open, revealing a great many teeth as his rival enters. His eyes narrow, and he says, rumblingly. “Relinquish your proposal and you may live. There is no dishonor in letting something that doesn’t want you go.”

Tongue flicking in the air, Rathorl turns to regard Betoth. “You must be that foul creature from the Toth hatch who was so unfortunate as to allow himself to be dragged into this female’s clutches. She suits me. I will have her. You will die.”

A low, ominous rumble sounds from Kh’rrtyris’s throat. Her snout lifts, nostrils flaring. “Silence!” she hisses ferociously, jaws snapping with a clack of unpleasantly sharp fangs. Her pinpoint pupils fix on Rathorl. “I need not your insolence Rathorl. You were always, and always will be, a brat.”

Rhas’eas steps between the two suitors, palm raised toward the crowd.

Rathorl tils his head curiously at the female, his jaw dropping in amusement

Rhas’eas takes Betoth by one muscled arm and turns Rathorl toward the crowd with the other. Her voice raises above it’s usual raspy whisper as she addresses those who gather. “We decide today an alliance. We decide these issues as our ancestors have for generations, through strenght and honorable combat.”

Betoth snorts. “Small words. Small form.” He levels his sword in Rathorl’s direction. “I am Be of the Hatch Toth. 65 challengers lie dead behind me. You are in front of me. Stand aside and you will only have to suffer humiliations.”

Rathorl bows his head in reverent silence as Rhas’eas speaks

Rhas’eas tightens her grip on Betoth’s arm and continues. “If there is one who knows why this combat should not take place, let them speak.” She tilts her head and waits.

R’ikamvril glances around slowly.

Kh’rrtyris chuffs with distinct and angry blast of her nostrils, folding her taloned hands into the sleeves of her black robes. Her tail whips viciously from side to side, the pale rings of skin around her eyes darkening a shade. She gives Rha’saes a sharp glance, then lifts her snout defiantly. “I will not have Rathorl as hatchmate mother. I have spoken.” She dips her head, an angry bob, and steps back, hissing.

Betoth remains silent, having made himself perfectly clear on all relevant points.

Rhas’eas drops her arms and turns frostily to Kh’rrtyris. “Anyone with something to say BESIDES you.”

The competing suitor’s jaw drops open in undisguised mirth.

Kh’rrtyris clamps her jaws together tightly, sparing only a glance of absolute and utter disdain towards Rathorl. “I bested you in combat hence before Rathorl. Be not so arrogant as to assume you will have me on any easier terms.” Her piece said, she lets loose with another low hiss and clucks in her throat angrily.

Rathorl chortles, his tail swishing excitedly. “I will taste your blood upon our bonding, Kh’rrtyris.”

Rhas’eas reaches inside her armor and pulls out a small golden knife, its jewe-encrusted sheath sparkling in the sunlight. “Let he who lives, rule his house and that of his new bride.” With that, she unsheaths the knife and throws it point first into the ground between the suitors.

Betoth rocks his weight onto his talons, tail stretching behind him. He straightens his back, a few pops audible as hardened muscles realign themselves. He then flexes, stretching his arms to the sides. More pops resonate from his chest.

Rhas’eas steps back to stand beside Kh’rrtyris

Rathorl draws his sword with a steely hiss.

R’ikamvril steps back, giving the combatants room.

Betoth waits only ’til Rathorl’s blade has cleared its sheath before loosing a hissing growl and swiping with his own at his opponent.

CLANG! The blades come together between the Nalls.

Kh’rrtyris hisses, the pale rings of skin around her eyes darkened to near amber as she glares at Rathorl. “I will have your scrawny and unprepossessing neck before you will taste any part of me Rathorl,” she snaps before subsiding into silence and watching with tightly champed jaws and flicking tail.

Rathorl bares his fangs. “There is not much shame in surrender, Be of Hatch Toth. But much less humiliation in dying.” Rathorl steps back and swings his sword toward Betoth’s neck.

Betoth wastes no energy with a retort. He simply reverses his swing, ripping it through the air towards Rathorl’s midriff as he ducks low, knees bending to an impossible angle, thigh-muscles bulging.

Rhas’eas fingers the golden embelishments of her ceremonial armor. Her eyes are greedy as she watches the blows exchanged. Low in her throat, she speaks to her daughter, “You should enjoy this, Youngling. Many would give the tip of a tail to be in your position just now.”

Betoth’s blow clangs against’s the Nall guard’s armor.

In ducking, Betoth avoids the swing of Rathorl’s sword. Rathorl steps back, sword at the ready.

Ri’kamvril again tastes the air with her tongue. One black claw scratches at the midnight of her chestplate. She throws her head back and bellows. “Blood!”

Rathorl circles slowly.

Betoth drives his momentum forward, having slid under the smaller Nall’s guard to strike armor with his last swing. He twists his blade sharply upward, slashing at the opposing Nall’s swordarm, tendons standing out beneath the scales of his wrist. His eyes are widened, pupils a lizardly slit.

Rathorl has circled out of reach before Betoth can strike home with the blow, but he does make a superficial cut along the outer flesh of the arm. Rathorl hisses and lunges forward, stabbing downward at Betoth’s right thigh.

The stab slashes along Betoth’s thigh, drawing blood, but it is not deep.

Kh’rrtyris chuffs with anger, giving her mother an exasperated look accompanied by the rolling of her large eyes. “Mother, they are /not/ I.” As her gaze swivels back to the fight, she releases a low hiss.

Betoth hisses, slaver dribbling from his chin. Left-handed, his sword held there, his right hand snatches at his opponent’s wrist, the low stab having drawn him close. His sword, meanwhile, arcs back then rapidly forward as it swings towards his opponent’s chest.

Rathorl swings an arm out to intercept the wrist of Betoth’s sword arm, knocking his opponent’s weapon loose and sending it thumping to the ground. Then Rathorl kicks at Betoth’s midriff. The blow does no damage, but knocks Betoth sprawling to the ground near his sword. It also frees Rathorl’s wrist.

Not taking her eyes from the battle being waged practically at her feet, Rhas’eas thwacks her tail hard on the pavement behind her. Dangles chime as she does so. “You will thank me, one day, for protecting your interests, Kh’rrtyris.”

Rathorl huffs through flared nostrils and steps back, sword ready.

Betoth tucks his legs into a painful but effective roll, coming into a crouch near his sword. He retrieves it, hissing harshly. His jaw lolls open, revealing a great many fanged teeth.

Rathorl resumes slowly circling, his eyes locked on Betoth.

Kh’rrtyris’s eyes are riveted on the battle. “Then Nalia protect me from idiots as suitors, mother,” she hisses tartly. “Rathorl is immature and should have been drowned at the hatch.”

Enthralled by the battle, R’ikamvril begins to pace slowly along the edge of the courtyard, much to the annoyance of other spectators. Unconsciously, she gouges at the breastplate of her armor with sharpened talons.

Betoth’s ‘smile’ grows wider, mouth lolling open further. He hisses, a soft, low sound of amusement. If he’s noticed the wound to his leg, he’s not showing it. For a moment he studies his circling opponent, then he’s in motion, sword blurring into a dizzying flurry of strikes at his opponent, driven by battle-hardened thews against the smaller Nall.

Rhas’eas runs her dark tongue along a row of sharpened teeth. “You know nothing of him since he was small, Girl. He has grown to great standing in his adult life. He is one of the Vox’s elite guard.”

Kh’rrtyris clicks her talons together, the sound distinct even under the covering of her robe sleeves. Her tail begins a deliberate motion from side to side, not precisely worried but evidently in some apprehension. “Mother. I bested him in battle before,” she grunts, clacking her jaws together. Eyes going to Betoth quickly.

CLANG! WHOOSH! CLANG! Rathorl parries that hailstorm of blows from his opponent, then ducks, drives closer and slices the curved blade of his sword along Betoth’s left wrist, leaving a deep wound that gouges flesh and severs nerves, leaving the clawed hand a bleeding mess that twitches uncontrollably. Betoth’s sword falls to the ground. Rathorl steps back, hissing, raising his snout and tasting the scent of blood with his forked tongue.

Rhas’eas pulls her cloak closer around her. “When he is your mate, you can best him at your convenience.”

Betoth howls. Maddened by pain, he hurls himself at his opponent, seeking to bring himself under the smaller Nall’s guard, into the range of claws and fangs, jaws seeking Rathorl’s throat.

Anticipating such a move, Rathorl throws himself to the ground in a defensive, rolling crouch. Betoth trips over him and falls sprawling to the ground on his belly. Rathorl then leaps onto Betoth’s back, pinning him.

The low growl that emits from the Priestess’s chest is close to a rumble. As she flicks out one taloned hand, her robe parts slightly at the shoulder, revealing a gleam that should not be there. “Mother, I will NOT marry Rathorl,” she hisses, not taking her eyes from the battle.

Betoth roars in anger. Muscles tense, years of hard training and battle coming to his aid as, heedless of the pain in his wrists, he /heaves/ himself back and up, into the smaller Nall, tail whipping along Rathorl’s back.

The bold move by Betoth succeeds and sends the surprised Rathorl sprawling backward, landing belly up on the ground. His sword falls a foot away from his grasp.

Betoth whips around, a foamy slaver dripping from his maw as he hurls himself onto the exposed belly of his opponent, rear legs kicking in an attempt to disembowel, jaws snapping at his throat, arms seeking a rather unloving embrace as his claws rake for the smaller creature’s sides.

Betoth’s talons scrape the smaller Nall’s armor, and his jaws fail to get purchase on Rathorl’s throat as the Vox guard wriggles and rolls, tangling with Betoth. They roll across the courtyard in a mad, hissing, kicking, thrashing horizontal whirlwind of steel and pebbled flesh. Blood sprays as

Betoth finally manages to score a deep cut in Rathorl’s left arm.

Kh’rrtyris runs a well-seasoned ebony claw along the sleeve of her robe, her jaws opening in a hiss of what appears to be savage satisfaction as her tongue flickers out to scent the air. Eyes narrow, bloodlust and battle combining as she hunkers down slightly in predatory fashion quite unbecoming to her Priestess robes. “Yes!” she growls.

Rhas’eas sniffs the air, her nostrils flexing at the tip of her pebbly snout.

Betoth, totally lost in the madness of blood, attempts to wrap the smaller Nall in an embrace, pinning his arms to his sides, legs still kicking for his bowels and thighs, jaws hissing and snapping as he twists his neck around, trying to latch onto the throat of the smaller thing, no longer even a Nall to him.

Rathorl hisses angrily, pushing away from Betoth and rolling a safe distance before using his tail for balance and returning to his clawed feet. He looks around for his sword. It is on the other side of Betoth.

Betoth’s embrace is broken. He rises, and with a certain prescience, reaches behind him with his right arm. His hand closes on the sword’s hilt.

Eyelids nictating, blood streaming from his wounded arm, Rathorl watches and waits, circling slowly.

Kh’rrtyris champs her jaws together, a slight glob of slaver dripping from one very white and very vicious fang that’s exposed as she curls her upper lip, snarling slightly. Her tail whips from side to side twice, then thumps on the ground hard in some excitement.

Betoth hefts the sword in front of him. His eyes dart. Locating his own sword, he circles swiftly into a position between his opponent and it. He then advances, hacking at the small thing viciously with its own curved blade. His tail thrashes from side to side behind him.

Kh’rrtyris glances at her mother but a moment before lifting her snout, throwing her head back and flaring her nostrils with a sharp blast of an exhale. Again, as the neck of her black robe parts, there is that strange metallic gleam.

Rathorl takes a precious few moments to study the situation. His eyes go first to the blade in Betoth’s hand, then to the one beyond Betoth, then back to Betoth in general as the larger Nall advances, swinging. His tail swishes back and forth as he contemplates his next move, and he spins, bends over and allows his armor to take the brunt of the clanging blow, then kicks out with a foot and slams his tail into Betoth’s left leg. His claws rake the pebbled flesh of Betoth’s leg. The tail slash knocks Betoth off balance.

Fists clenched at her sides, Rhas’eas watches the fight through narrowed eyes. She speaks through the corner of her mouth to Kh’rrtyris. “You should be honored by such a show of strength.”

Betoth growls, falling. Not rising yet, he swings mightily at the now-closer leg of Rathorl.

Skillfully, Rathorl leaps to avoid the swinging sword and comes down gracefully and powerfully within easy reach of Betoth’s lost sword. He reaches down and snatches up the blade, whirling again to face his opponent. Rathorl growls. “A puny blade, but it will suffice to dispatch this weakling.”

Kh’rrtyris takes a step forward as Rathorl advances on Betoth. Her taloned hand grips the neck of her robe tightly as she ignores her mother’s comment, preferring rather to lower her raptor-like head as if preparing for battle. Stiff, tense, as if she’s just waiting the right moment to jump into action.

Betoth, having come to his feet as his opponent went for the sword, takes this moment of petty speech to strike, whipping a succession of cuts at his opponent’s neck and shoulder area.

In a moment of realization, Rhas’eas puts one hand on her daughter’s cloak. When her claw hits metal, she hisses. “You would so dishonor your family and the one you say you would marry?”

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! Rathorl grunts as he parries several blows. He’s still bleeding badly from his wounded arm, and his parries seem to carry less strength, as if he has grown tired.

Betoth’s blows, coming as they are from his good, but relatively untrained right hand, are equally weak. CLANG! CLONK! CLANG! The combatants continue circling each other, eyes locked on the other as they step back for a breather.

Kh’rrtyris whips her head around to regard her mother with cold, reptilian eyes. “It is no dishonor to challenge, and it is certainly no disgrace should I require my future mate to prove his strength mother.” Her low growling hiss is the eerie calm before a battle, tail held stiff and straight behind her, jaws parted in a rather savage Nallish smile.

Betoth stumbles abruptly, weak leg giving weight beneath him. He snarls, neck exposed to attack.

Rathorl tastes the air with his forked tongue, then, sensing an opportunity to strike, roars and leaps forward, bringing his sword down toward the exposed neck. His shadow falls across the gleaming knife on the ground.

Betoth’s mouth lolls open. His knee dips abruptly lower, with seeming suddenness able to support his weight again. As he drops beneath the slashing blade, his own return strike comes, adrenaline driving his battle wearied muscles to new strength as he tears his sword at his enemy’s abdomen.

Rhas’eas opens her large jaw, raising her palm in a contemptuous gesture. “Betoth fights his own battle. There is no honor in taking refuge in your protection.

A surprised hiss and a gout of blood issues forth from Rathorl’s mouth, spraying Betoth, as the sword finds a groove in the armor and punctures the Vox guard’s belly. The sword gripped in his hand falls to the dirt. He sags forward, blade digging deeper.

Kh’rrtyris lifts her snout with equal contempt. “There is no law against my challenging Rathorl after this has ended if…” Her eyes whip to the battle and she releases a savagely triumphant hiss. “Or perhaps that will no longer be necessary.” Her eyes flicker to Betoth for a moment with great approval.

Rhas’eas raises a clawed hand toward the effigy of Nalia and screams. “No!”

Betoth roars his triumph, spraying his opponent with foam. His wounded arm rises, supporting the wounded Nall for but a moment with his forearm. In that moment, the curved blade draws back once more, swinging mercilessly at its owner’s neck.

Unable to defend himself, Rathorl can do nothing as the sword slices into his neck and then – *CLUNK!* – becomes lodged in Rathorl’s windpipe. Jammed in place, the sword remains attached to Rathorl like some bizarre, bloody silver appendage as he collapses to the ground. His blood splatters the ceremonial knife nearby.

Kh’rrtyris’s head snaps back, raising her intricately tattooed palm with a hiss that trickles slaver down her lower jaw and onto her robe sleeve. “Nalia be honored, blessed be Her glorious name…” she rumbles and bows her head deferentially, although even that can’t hide her absolute and utter satisfaction. “Nalia receive her own.”

Rathorl’s tail twitches once, twice, a third time…and then stops. His shark dead eyes seem locked on Kh’rrtyris, watching her from across the gulf of eternity.

Rhas’eas drops her arm in a gesture of defeat. Head lowered, she moves to the center of the courtyard where the golden knife still stabbs the earth. Bending to take its jeweled handle, walks slowly to Betoth.

Betoth, eyes still wild with the rage and pain of battle, releases the sword’s hilt. His good arm’s hand seeks the front of his opponent’s armor, and he heaves him from the ground. Turning, he faces Rhas’eas. He speaks, breath made harsher by his exertion. “She is mine, by right of combat.” He casts the limp body at Rhas’eas’s feet. “My dowery. May it bring you pleasure.”

Stepping over the body of her dear friend’s son, Rhas’eas moves to stand before Betoth. She offers the knife’s handle to the L’soth, head lowered. “As it is your right, I give you the honor and the wife you have earned. “

Kh’rrtyris moves from her mother’s side, striding towards the dead Rathorl and kneeling beside the body. Reverently she raises her palm towards the statue of Nalia and brings that same hand over Rathorl’s forehead. “Nalia receive her own with grace and glory,” she chants in a guttural, sing-song hiss. Her amber-ochre eyes glance down at the dead Nall’s face, resting on the eyes glassed over in death. “You were always a fool Rathorl,” she hisses in a whisper so soft it might just be illusion of the wind. Then she sets her palm on his chest, lowers her head and hisses a reverent, “May Nalia bless your family.”

Betoth accepts the knife, inclining his head. He kneels down beside the fallen Nall, knife slicing viciously at the end of Rathorl’s tail. It detaches. Betoth thrusts the knife through his belt, collecting it in his good hand. He stands, addressing the crowd, booming. “I am Be of Hatch Toth. Kh’rrtyris will be my mate, and our blood shall mingle as one. This is an honor greater than any other I have claimed in battle. Two days hence, the celebration begins– and I intend to enjoy it!” He holds the tail up, displaying the limp, pebbled thing to the crowd.

Rhas’eas takes two steps back, her heavily decorated tail at half mast. Fingers laced at her ample midsection, she lowers her head and mutters quietly, defeatedly. “Praise to Nalia.”

Kh’rrtyris remains knelt for a moment longer, head lowered as she completes the last rites for her erstwhile suitor in accordance with the regulations set down by the Vox Nalia. As she rises to her feet however, her nostrils flare and the pale rings of skin around her eyes turn a few shades lighter, making her eyes seem wider than is normal. Calmly, without fuss, she strides towards Rhas’eas and bows her head to her, clasping her taloned hands together. “Mother, in accordance with the law of Blessed Nalia, I ask your blessing on this union.” She does flick a surprised glance towards Betoth – not entirely unpleased, if shy as close as a Nall can be shy.

Rhas’eas raises her dark eyes to meet Kh’rrtyris’ gaze. “It has been willed by Nalia that you marry. I will obey the will of Nalia.”

Betoth turns, stalking the few paces between him and Kh’rrtyris. He thrusts his hand forward, tail, still twitching with the spasms of dying nerves clutched in it. He says, simply. “Take it.”

Rhas’eas cocks her head, clearly confused by the gesture, but takes the twitching triangle of flesh. “Your trophy?”

Kh’rrtyris turns amber-ochre eyes towards her fiance, tongue flickering out to taste the air. A moment passes before she chuffs, the sound denotive of some amusement. “Thank you Betoth,” she responds with a chirring cluck from deep in her throat. And she proceeds to take the twitching tail, jaws lolling slightly, the rings of skin around her eyes now pale cream. “A present to treasure indeed.”

Betoth’s eyes don’t leave Kh’rrtyris as he replies. “I have my trophy.” He then turns, addressing the crowd, again in that booming tone. “All will treat my mate with the respect due one of her station. I am L’Soth. She is as me. Any who fail to give her that respect will die at my hand.”

Kh’rrtyris’s eyes go to Betoth’s wounds, a flicker of concern showing as her pupils dilate from their black pinpoints. She takes a pace forward, laying a clawed hand on his shoulder. “I will tend to you,” she hisses quietly. Then turns towards the crowd, making what amounts to a Nallish curtsey with avian grace, tail held out for balance. Then raises the gory trophy and consumes it according to custom, jaws champing unpleasantly with a bit too much satisfaction.

Betoth hisses in acknowledgement. He extends his wounded arm towards Kh’rr, hand flopping loosely on its end where the tendons have been cut. “This one is serious. The others are superficial.”

Tail still held low, Rhas’eas turns from the corpse and nods briefly toward the happy couple as she makes her way to the edge of the square. Wordlessly, she makes her way to an awaiting hovercraft.

Kh’rrtyris inclines her head as she raises one hand to brush away the bloody remnants of her “meal”. “Come to the S’Nelmar.” With that she nods towards the exit and carefully places her free hand under Betoth’s elbow – the one of the wounded hand. “Let us go before it gets worse.” She does lift a glance to Rhas’eas. “I will see you hence at the engagement banquet Mother. Nalia bless.”

Betoth shakes his head, tugging away. “Not yet.” He moves back to the site of the battle, bending down. Carefully, he collects his sword, wiping the blood on his armor’s leg before sheathing it. He then offers the wounded arm to his fiance. “Now we go.”

Rhas’eas wordlessly acknowledges her daughter’s words and leaves.