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Inspectre
2008-01-14, 04:28 AM
I have decided that save for the initial character DMs, I am going to post the rest of the introductory information in a modular, spoiler-fied format. Hopefully this will make things easier to read as you can open things up and read at your leisure. Feel free to read as much of what is posted below as you like – just because it’s inside a spoiler doesn’t mean you can’t read it! :smallsmile:

I would, however, encourage everyone to skim through the Rules and Character Status sections first before moving to individual DMs. Both of these sections provide crucial information regarding what your character can and can’t do at the moment. Happy Posting, and Welcome to Ironheart!

Introduction – As it turns out, the same introduction from the recruitment thread

The Baron of Gast was a particularly cruel man, made all the more so by his general intolerance and lack of humor. He was not without his pleasures, however, most of which involved inflicting pain on the weak and helpless. The nature of his desires thus mandated a constant supply of victims, which was difficult to maintain without eliciting the king’s attention.

King Tallond IV, the current ruler of the kingdom of Narle and the Baron’s liege lord, had developed a reputation as being somewhat of a do-gooder. Although loathe to directly interfere in any of his vassals’ affairs, he would certainly not look kindly on the Baron if his tastes continued to lead to the disappearance of his serfs. And there was very little the Baron could offer in order to convince the king to “look the other way”.

The Barony of Gast was a rather insignificant stretch of rocky highland positioned along the southern border that the human kingdom of Narle shared with the elves. Along the northern border of Gast the rocky highlands gave way to grassy foothills, allowing a pastoral existence for the serfs living there. Other than that, however, Gast’s sole remaining export was the meager amount of metal ore dragged from the mines dotting the mountains covering the rest of the Barony. The last and final resource the Baron had at his command could not be exported, for it was a place, not a thing: Ironheart.

Discovered several centuries ago, the ancient fortress was dubbed Ironheart by its human discoverers due to its rather unique nature: the fortress and its surrounding walls were made entirely out of hardened iron. A powerful aura of magic also surrounded the place, preventing any entrance or exit from the structure via magic. This, in addition to the fact that it was situated on top of a mountain with sheer cliffs falling away from the fortress on every side – the one winding path carved into a cliff face the only way up – made Ironheart the perfect unassailable fortress.

Since that time the fortress has remained in human hands, a powerful bargaining chip in negotiations with the elves. As a sign of good faith the king at the time of Ironheart’s discovery allowed the Barony of Gast to retain ownership of the structure rather than seize it as a national resource. No doubt the current King Tallond IV regretted his predecessor’s decision as possession of Ironheart gave the Baron of Gast a powerful bargaining chip against him. This was likely the only thing stopping the king from crushing the Baron out of hand, as rumors of his cruelty abounded throughout the kingdom. But it was not enough for the Baron’s behavior to be excused entirely, and the Baron knew that the king’s patience was beginning to wear thin.

Recognizing the need to soon develop an “appropriate” source for his victims, the Baron eventually determined that no one, not even the great King Tallond IV, really cared that much about what happened to criminals. Judged guilty by the courts or occasionally a noble, these pathetic souls were found deserving of punishment and imprisoned until it had been meted out, whether this was a specific act or the simple passage of time. Once found deserving of punishment, most criminals were forgotten about by the ones who had sent them there.

It was this quality that most interested the Baron, although the fact that criminals were often made of a bit sterner stuff than pathetic serfs also intrigued him. The fact that what the Baron intended to do to them was likely far beyond their intended punishment didn’t bother him, nor did the thought that some criminals might indeed be innocent of their crimes. Someone had deemed these hapless fools deserving of punishment and that is exactly what the Baron would provide. Once turned over to him, what that punishment turned out to be was no one’s concern but the Baron’s.

The very thought of having a nigh-endless supply of guilt-free victims excited the Baron immensely, and he immediately set to work establishing himself as the “Warden of Narle”. Unfortunately, his plans quickly hit a snag: there were no prisons in Gast, and thus no ready place to store those turned over to him for “punishment”. This might have brought about the end of the Baron’s plan altogether, as the construction of a suitable prison would have taken years, and the Baron certainly hadn’t the patience to wait that long.

But once again, the ancient fortress of Ironheart came to the evil man’s rescue. Beneath the iron structure lied a modest dungeon, with numerous tunnels stretching down into the mountain beneath that. It would therefore be a simple matter to convert some of those tunnels into additional cells, expanding the dungeon and converting a place designed to keep people out into a place that kept them in.

And so the Ironheart Fortress became the Ironheart Bastille, converted seemingly overnight as the first prisoners were locked into the dungeon and work began in the tunnels below. At first this change was kept secret, but as the dungeon cells began to swell with criminals and other “undesirables” from throughout Gast, it became harder to mask the ancient fortress’s newest function. Eventually the Baron went public, announcing his intentions and even offering room in his cells to neighboring provinces.

Surprisingly, a few nobles took the Baron up on his offer; their own prisons having been pressed to full capacity for some time. This bought the Baron a few allies, and it was whispered that he obtained still more when he discretely offered to house those secret prisoners that each noble had, but wished none to ever know about. It was these allies who gave the Baron enough support to force King Tallond IV to tolerate the Baron’s behavior for a bit longer.

But years passed, and perhaps distracted by other matters King Tallond IV never got around to dealing with the Baron. Soon after opening the doors of his prison to the outside world, the Baron realized that there were many who were willing to even pay to send their prisoners there. And thus the Barony’s new largest import also became its largest source of income: prisoners. These funds the Baron mostly returned to Ironheart in the way of further investment, keeping a small percentage to line his own pockets with. The prison below Ironheart grew ever larger and more oppressive, as its occupants began to come from further and further outside the Barony.

Today Ironheart is known across the continent as the final stop in a prisoner’s journey. Unless destined for a personal meeting with the Baron, who has only grown in cruelty and creativity with age, no prisoner ever exits its dark gates. Those sent to Ironheart are sent to die, or worse. Rumors now abound that the Baron has grown disappointed with the source of income from imprisoning other lords’ criminals. Seeking ever greater wealth, the Baron has now allowed sections of the prison to be rented out by darker powers, allowing them access to handfuls of prisoners for “experiments”, “rituals”, and other nefarious purposes.

The Warden of Ironheart, a man nearly capable of rivaling the Baron’s sadism and who has been the prison’s director for the past twenty years, has also recently started a number of programs designed to increase the prison’s income. While previously satisfied to lock the prisoners away and allow them to rot, a change has recently come over the Warden. Now, many unlucky prisoners are put to work: sent down to the mines below the prison levels or flung into the Arena to be torn apart by beasts to satisfy bloodthirsty spectators.

The mining initiative does not seem to be going quite as well as planned, however, as many prisoners say that they now only dig on the first few levels, with even the guards afraid to tred down into the deepest tunnel sections beneath Ironheart. The occasional missing guard seems to lend credence to the fear that something is living in the darkest tunnels beneath Ironheart, but no one seems to have any idea as to what that may be.

Despite these recent changes to the operation of Ironheart, it is still mainly a prison and place of suffering for those who have had the misfortune of being sent there. The days are mainly a monotony of boredom and fear, broken by occasional bouts of suffering as the guards pick out their latest victim. This is all about to change, however, because someone is about to accomplish the unthinkable, and Escape from Ironheart.

Locations – Aboveground Brief descriptions of known Ironheart locations aboveground

Ironheart – Overview

An impossibly ancient structure, the fortress known as Ironheart was discovered several centuries ago. Built into the peak of the largest mountain of the mountain range separating the Barony of Gast from Elven lands and made out of solid iron, the fortress has long been thought to be impregnable.

Settled on the summit of the mountain the black outer wall of Ironheart delineates the grounds for the rest of the complex; sheer cliffs that appear to have been artificially made falling away on every side. A narrow winding path leading up one cliffside to the main gate is the sole method of travel to the fortress, save for flight.

In addition to the fact that the entire structure is bizarrely fabricated out of iron, a powerful aura of magic permeates the place, suggesting that many powerful spells were used in its construction so long ago. This aura extends from the soaring top of the Central Tower to the inky catacombs stretching out below, and outwards from the fortress for about a mile. In addition to proving slightly unsettling to those who are magically inclined, this aura seems to have only one other major effect: prevention of all teleportation or similar travel magic within the area.

In the centuries since its discovery Ironheart has been used as a defensive fortification, staging area, and negotiation tool by the Barony of Gast. However, it has recently been converted from a fortress into a prison by the current Baron. Proving to be just as impossible to break out of as it had been to break into, Ironheart has quickly gained a reputation as the final stop in a criminal’s journey. Escape from Ironheart is said to be impossible, even for the most exotic and powerful inmates as the Baron continues to extend his clientele base across the continent.

Although the steady influx of prisoners has swelled the Baron’s coffers as disparate groups rent out space within the prison to store their prisoners or simply those they want to disappear, the political dynamics within the prison have shifted as a result of this. What was once a personal playground for the Baron and Ironheart’s sadistic guards has since evolved into a vicious cesspool of suffering and death: home to a host of horrors that claim the lives of inmates daily. Immoral arcane researchers, cultists, and far worse things now work in Ironheart with the guards, preying upon the hapless criminals sent to serve their sentences. And for all the criminals sent to Ironheart, the sentence is the same: life imprisonment. How long that sentence is in actuality depends largely on where within the prison an inmate is assigned.

Outside Ironheart

Surrounding Landscape

Ironheart is located near the center of the Barony, which consists largely of the high mountain range separating the human Kingdom of Narle, of which the Barony of Gast is but a small part, from the elven lands to the south. As such all but a small strip of land to the north is anything but barren rocky highland, dotted by a few stands of hardy high-altitude pine. The highest parts of the mountain range, where Ironheart is located, are covered in a blanket of snow year-round with the winter snows being especially brutal. A number of small mining and hunting settlements are nestled in small valleys between the mountains all around the Barony, but since its conversion into a prison all settlements within a thirty mile radius of Ironheart have been evacuated and razed to the ground. As such, the only real shelter for several days’ travel in every direction is the occasional small cave, and the ancient fortress itself.

The Cliffs

The top-most portion of the mountain Ironheart is located on consists of two hundred foot high cliffs, above which stretch the one hundred foot high walls of Ironheart’s Outer Wall. A single twenty-foot wide path has been chiseled into the face of one cliff, allowing access up from the bottom of the cliffs to Ironheart’s Main Gates. The bottom of this pathway is secured by a relatively modest gatehouse, housing only a few dozen bored guards at any one time. It is often viewed upon as a punishment to be assigned garrison duty within the gatehouse, and so some of the most lax and incompetent of Ironheart’s guards can be found here. Given the level of security within Ironheart proper, only the most paranoid officials are concerned about this state of affairs.


The Walls of Ironheart

Main Gates - Outer Wall

Although gates are generally thought of as one of the weakest points of any wall, the designers of Ironheart seemed determined to prove that theory wrong. As such, the main gateway for the outer wall of Ironheart is actually a walled-off pathway leading through the outer wall and a short distance beyond it. This pathway is blocked by a trio of portcullises, each controlled by a pair of fortified guardhouses, one on each side of the gateway. Supposedly, to open any of the three portcullises that close off entry into the rest of Ironheart, winches in both guardhouses on each side of a portcullis must be used to haul that gate up. This process must then be repeated at the next portcullis, and then the next, to allow individuals to pass from outside the fortress to Ironheart’s Inner Wall, and vice versa. Due to the fact that the Outer Wall is also the higher of the two (the battlements being roughly a hundred feet up from the ground), and hang over the two-hundred foot high cliffs, jumping off the wall is not an advisable means of escape.

Main Gates - Inner Wall

The second line of defense for Ironheart, the Inner Wall is surrounded by a wide, deep moat, with all manner of predatory and foul things swimming about in its waters. The one entry point here is a large drawbridge, which is raised and lowered from the two main guard towers. These two towers are the largest and strongest of the towers set along the Inner Wall, naturally, but the actual controls for lowering the drawbridge aren't here. Instead, two very thick, very strong adamantine chains lead from the two towers back into the nearby Central Tower, the command center for Ironheart. It is there that the actual winches for lowering the drawbridge are located, although if there were someway to cut the amazingly thick and strong chains holding the drawbridge, it might be possible to lower the drawbridge by force from the Inner Wall instead.


The Fortress Proper

The Fortress Proper – Overview

Behind the safety of its dual walls stands the real fortress of Ironheart, a massive chunk of assembled iron rising high into the sky. It is here that all business within the former fortress is conducted. Guard quarters, supply rooms, administrative offices, and everything else vital to running a prison is located aboveground within the fortress itself. There are a few minor research laboratories located within the smaller spires rising up from the fortress, but these are primarily owned by the Baron and tasked with discovering more effective and powerful means of magical restraint. All of the prisoners are stored underground beneath the fortress, with several access stairways leading down from the fortress’s basement.

The Ground Floor

The Fortress Proper – Ground Floor

The ground floor of the actual fortress fulfills a wide variety of purposes. In addition to housing the processing rooms for new inmates to Ironheart, the ground floor also holds the stables and kennels for the fortress’s ground-based animals, including a small storage area for those more exotic and dangerous creatures brought in for the Arena. The kitchen for the prison staff is also located here, along with a modest foundry, tannery, and rope walk. Several wide stairways provide access down into the basement, with heavy gates at the top of each that can be slammed shut and locked at a moment’s notice.

Ground Floor – Prisoner Processing Area

The prisoner processing rooms are likely the first thing a new prisoner sees after entering the fortress for the first (and final) time. Unless the prisoner is considered too dangerous or arrangements were made ahead of time, the new prisoner must go through here before being assigned to a cell.

The entire area is arranged like an assembly line, with each room fulfilling a specific purpose and each new inmate going through these rooms in order. Several side rooms are also present: places where the guards can drag a prisoner into for a “personal welcome”.

The first room consists of the guards thoroughly searching the new prisoners, confiscating any and all possessions that haven’t already been confiscated, including clothing. The guards then outfit the prisoner with a simple burlap tunic and set of breeches before marching them off to the next room.

This next room is the fitting room, where prisoners are placed into their mobile restraints. The number and type of restraint vary greatly, usually custom-tailored to what is known about the prisoner. Particularly dangerous or stubborn prisoners are often equipped with restraints designed to inhibit their capabilities, while non-threatening ones are simply equipped with some sort of hobble to keep them from running away.

The next room is the cell assignment room, where the various record keepers and administrators for the prison shift through mountains of paperwork to find an empty cell to stick the prisoner in. Like the personalized restraints, each prisoner is assigned to a cell based on the prisoner’s presumed capabilities and the sadistic whims of the administrator in charge of the prisoner’s case. Mere commoners and debtors are thrown into a cell on the first level of the prison, while murderers and hardened criminals often find themselves on the third and lowest level.

Once the prisoner has been assigned a cell, the next step is branding. This is perhaps the quickest step, as the prisoner is simply dragged into the room and strapped into one of the available chairs scattered about. The guards then use a modified branding iron to collect the red-hot iron numbers from the numerous nearby braziers, and press the now-numbered iron into the prisoner’s arm. The cell number is now permanently seared into the prisoner’s arm, and it is often this number that the guards use when addressing prisoners. This task complete, the guards now drag the prisoner into the final room of the processing area.

The final room is where the prisoners are kept until a patrol of guards arrives to escort the prisoner down to the cell levels. It is also commonly used by the guards to host an “official welcome” to Ironheart. This welcome varies depending on the whims and moods of the particular guards present, although it generally involves some variation of pain and suffering on the part of the prisoner. More than one prisoner has never even made it to the cells, too feeble to survive even the welcoming party to Ironheart.

Ground Floor – Stables/Kennels

The stable and kennel areas on the ground floor mainly house the horses and guard dogs occasionally used by the guards. Due to the fact that no prisoner has ever thus far gotten past the Inner Wall in an escape attempt, the need for tracking dogs and mounted guards has not presented itself.

Therefore, the stables are relatively small, capable of holding perhaps two dozen mounts at full capacity. Normally, a dozen of these are filled with riding horses, the rest being used to shelter the mules for the prisoner wagons that arrive daily.

The kennels are a bit larger, generally housing anywhere between two and three dozen guard dogs. The dogs are somewhat more useful to the guards, as they take great pleasure in using unfortunate prisoners to help ensure the dogs stay in shape.

Finally, the last section of this area houses the menagerie of dangerous and exotic beasts that have recently been imported to participate in the Arena. Unlike the horses and even the dogs, the beasts are rarely fed by the guards, ensuring that they are viciously hungry during their matches in the Arena against unlucky prisoners.

Ground Floor – Kitchen

The ground floor kitchen focuses solely on feeding the staff of Ironheart, allowing the meager kitchen located in the basement to deal with the needs of feeding all of Ironheart’s inmates. Attached to the kitchen is the mess hall, a large dining room equipped with long wooden tables where the majority of Ironheart’s guards eat. There is also a stairway leading down to the basement level where most of the food is stored.

Ground Floor – Foundry/Tannery/Rope Walk

Tasked with supplying Ironheart the basic materials needed for restraining and imprisoning its growing number of prisoners, the foundry, tannery, and rope walk are generally in continuous operation. However, these areas only provide the raw materials; it being the task of the workshops above to fashion the produced materials into the cell bars, shackles, straps, and various other implements used throughout the prison.


The Second Floor

The Fortress Proper – Second Floor

Located above the ground floor, the basement, and the prison levels, the second floor of Ironheart is where the transition from prisoner management to staff management begins. Here the largest sections by far are the Guard Barracks and General Staff Barracks, although there is also a modest Armory as well as a Wash Room. The stairways between this floor, the third floor, and the ground floor are all unblocked, allowing easy access up and down between the different floors. Although a few paranoid guards worry about prisoners easily charging up into the Barracks once past the numerous gates below, the simple fact is that only a particularly foolhardy prisoner would attempt to rush up the stairs from the Ground Floor and into one of the most guard-dense areas in the entire complex.

Second Floor – Guard Barracks

This is where most of Ironheart’s countless guards sleep. The area is set-up as a number of interconnecting rooms, each filled with bunkbeds stacked three high. Heavy chests set up at the foot of each bunkbed store the possessions of each guard that sleeps there, often little more than a change of clothing, a suit of chainmail, and a weapon or two. The beds are hot-bunked, meaning that as soon as the guards using the beds wake up, it’s likely that another group of guards is about to come off-shift to use the beds. There are three guard shifts at Ironheart, meaning that as many as three people use the same bed during any given 24-hour period. The life of a guard is thus generally uncomfortable and unpleasant, which leads most guards to take their frustrations out on the prisoners. Disputes between guards are fairly uncommon, however, as one punishment reserved by the Warden to enact at any time upon a guard is to strip him of his status and throw him into a cell with his now fellow prisoners. Such fallen guards rarely last long between guards that previously felt slighted and now have a chance for revenge, and the prisoners themselves.

Second Floor – General Staff Barracks

Located on the opposite side of the fortress from the guard barracks, the general staff barracks are arranged similarly, with a honeycomb of rooms containing bunkbeds stacked three high. Like the guards, the general staff also works and sleeps in three shifts, with the currently sleeping shift taking up the beds previously used by the just awakened shift. If anything, the general staff – that is, cooking, cleaning, stable tending, and any other jobs that don’t directly involve prisoners - are even more careful to behave themselves as the Warden generally views them as even more expendable than the guards, and thus does not hesitate to reassign them to the prison levels . . . permanently.

Second Floor – Armory

Almost all of the guards choose to store their weapons and armor close at hand, generally storing them in the chests at the foot of their beds while they sleep. For those few who do not, as well as to store any extra weapons and armor required for new recruits there is the Armory. Unlike the two barracks, the armory is actually one very large room, capable of storing all the various weapons and suits of armor safely. It is also quite clean and organized, a fact that Quartermaster Silas Tarn is very proud of and ensures with regular inspections. Entrance to the Armory is guarded by way of a much smaller attached room, which everyone must pass through in order to reach the Armory from the main hallway. A sealed shaft runs through the middle of the Armory, connecting the Foundries below to the Workshops above.

Second Floor – Wash Room

Tucked away in one corner of the second floor is the wash room, open to both guards and staff. A number of large fireplaces along the outskirts of the room allow for impressive amounts of water to be heated, which are then dumped into the shallow pool which adorns the center of the room. A number of smaller wash basins are also set up around the outskirts of the room for those that do not wish to use the community bath.


The Third Floor

The Fortress Proper – Third Floor

The third floor of Ironheart is also the top one, above which jut the towers, long iron talons clawing up into the sky. In addition to providing access stairways to each tower, the top floor of the fortress houses the various workshops, prisoner possession storage rooms or “treasuries” as they’ve since been dubbed, and finally a few sleeping quarters.

Third Floor – Workshops

A winding, confused mess of interconnected rooms, the area commonly referred to as the Workshops provide all of the manufactured goods that Ironheart needs to operate. Woodcarvers, blacksmiths, leatherworkers, and bowyers all work side by side here to ensure the guards can be provided with the tools required for their jobs. A large pulley-based elevator shaft eats up the middle of this winding maze of various small workshops, allowing fresh raw materials from the foundries on the first floor to be easily brought up for finishing work. In addition to crafting new equipment for the guards and new restraints for the prisoners, the workshops also do some repair work, although maintenance of the cells themselves is taken care of by a special subdivision of Ironheart’s guards.

Third Floor – Treasury

Dubbed the “Treasury” by Ironheart’s guards long ago, the name refers to several locked rooms which contain all the seized possessions of prisoners that appear to have some value. It is likely possible to find virtually anything somewhere within the Treasury, as personal weapons, armor, jewelry, and even sufficiently fancy clothing is kept stored away in one of the rooms. Thanks to Quartermaster Silas Tarn’s insistence on order, each of the separate rooms holds one variety of item, neatly stored in a series of chests: one room might contain only weapons, for example, while another would contain chests full of rings and other precious jewelry. Finding a specific item would be difficult were it not for the fact that the storage location of each item is also recorded in a logbook, in the event that a specific item needed to be retrieved for some reason. It has always been the case that whenever a possession is removed from the Treasury, it is to serve as a reward for an exemplary guard, rather than as a return to the item’s original owner.

Third Floor – Sleeping Quarters

The sleeping quarters for Ironheart’s administrators and workshop artisans are considerably better than those that are used for the guards or general staff. Although the beds are still hot-bunked out of necessity to keep Ironheart fully running at all times of the day, here they are single-stacked beds. Additionally, each person has their own chest, allowing for some minor personal possessions to be kept.



The Fortress Towers

The Fortress Towers – Overview

Stretching up into the sky above the fortress are the iron talons of Ironheart’s towers. Three smaller towers surround the largest which is simply called “The Central Tower”: Ironheart’s command center. These other three are collectively known as the Spires, and each tower has its own purpose separate from the management of the prison, which is the Central Tower’s objective. Long enclosed iron bridges stretch between each Spire and the Central Tower, allowing for easy travel from one to the other.

The Spires

The Fortress Towers – Spire One: Key Storage

Far above the dark depths of the prison below, the first of the three Spires serves as storage for the keys to every lock in the entire prison. The location of every key is noted down carefully in one of a multitude of logbooks, and every time a key is removed or returned an entry is recorded. Most guards routinely carry no keys, particularly any involving those that would unlock prisoner restraints. Keys that open cell doors are a much more common sight, as patrols of guards regularly appear to remove a prisoner from a cell for mining, participation in the Arena, or simply to serve as entertainment either in the Torture Chambers or the Guard Barracks.

The more commonly used a key is, the closer to the base of the spire it is, the easier its location is to find in the logbooks usually, and the higher the likelihood that there have been several copies of said key made. Obviously, for the most dangerous prisoners who are seldom, if ever, interacted with the keys to their cells and restraints are stored in a dark corner at the top of the Spire, totally forgotten about.

The Fortress Towers – Spire Two: Flying Mount Stables

Although far rarer than the prison’s normal ground-based mounts, the Ironheart staff nonetheless maintains a few domesticated flying mounts. Griffons and wyverns can both be found here, stabled in separate levels of the spire in order to avoid any hostilities breaking out between the two different species. The rest of the spire is taken up by storage spaces for the specially-made saddles required to ride these beasts, the food necessary to feed them, and the few trainers and handlers that care for the beasts while their guard riders are elsewhere. Flying mounts are generally only given to the most elite among Ironheart’s guardsmen.

The Fortress Towers – Spire Three: Ironheart Research

While most experiments are conducted by the mad wizards and dark cultists that the Baron has allowed to inhabit the lowest levels of the prison, the third Spire is solely for the Baron’s personal use. And since the Baron is primarily interested in improving the efficiency of Ironheart, most research conducted in the Spire is tasked with finding more inescapable and efficient ways to contain prisoners. Although most of the research is directed towards the development of better and more powerful magical wards and bindings for the increasingly powerful beings begin incarcerated in Ironheart, some research is also being done to create better mundane restraints, and some has even been directed into the creation of more effective and space-efficient cells.


The Central Tower

The Fortress Towers - The Central Tower

The Central Tower is the administrative center for the entirety of Ironheart. The highest-level administrators work and sleep here, including Quartermaster Silas Tarn, the captain of the guards Logan Delran, and the Warden himself. The most elite of the guards also have their barracks here, positioned in between the rest of the prison and the administrators’ various offices. Due to the fact that the heavy chains for the Inner Wall’s drawbridge also lead here, it is likely that the winches used in lowering the drawbridge are also housed somewhere here, about halfway up the tower. Needless to say, few prisoners have ever set foot in here, and even fewer have ever returned. Unlike the rest of the aboveground fortress, the Central Tower has each entry point covered in a gated and heavily-guarded security checkpoint. Access to the Tower is strictly forbidden except for authorized personnel, and even the average guard must have a specific reason and properly-filled out paperwork as proof to be allowed inside. Failure to follow this proper procedure is considered an imprisonable offense by the Warden.

Inspectre
2008-01-14, 04:34 AM
Locations – Underground A brief description of known locations beneath Ironheart


The Fortress Proper


The Fortress Proper – Overview

Behind the safety of its dual walls stands the real fortress of Ironheart, a massive chunk of assembled iron rising high into the sky. It is here that all business within the former fortress is conducted. Guard quarters, supply rooms, administrative offices, and everything else vital to running a prison is located aboveground within the fortress itself. There are a few minor research laboratories located within the smaller spires rising up from the fortress, but these are primarily owned by the Baron and tasked with discovering more effective and powerful means of magical restraint. All of the prisoners are stored underground beneath the fortress, with several access stairways leading down from the fortress’s basement.

The Basement

The Fortress Proper – Basement

Serving as a barrier between the prisoner cells and the rest of the fortress, the basement provides only a few other functions. This function is fitting as this is also the place where the iron walls give way to stone, although there are several places where the massive iron pillars that stretch down into the mountain and serve to anchor Ironheart to the basement are visible.

There are several stairways leading down into the gloom of the first level of the prison cells, but all are heavily guarded. Significant guard stations are set up at the top of every flight of stairs, with heavy iron bar doors that can be slammed shut at a moment’s notice. Each guard station and thus, each set of stairs is also surrounded by an iron latticework cage, which can also be shut, locked, and barred from the outside, thus trapping any unfortunate guards in the cage with escaping prisoners who somehow managed to get past the first iron gate.

A large kitchen labors day and night to provide sufficient food for all of the prisoners, often little more than a thin gruel. A storage area is also present, housing all of the extra restraints produced by the workshops above. Finally, the most recent addition to the Basement is the Arena, where prisoners fight and die for the entertainment of visitors.

Basement – Kitchens

Several large rooms in the basement of Ironheart have been converted into kitchen areas as the guards struggle to meet the nutrition requirements of the fortress’s population of prisoners. Often the “food” prepared is little more than a thin gruel, but the food carts dispatched from the kitchens to wander the halls of Ironheart’s prison levels are a welcome sight nonetheless.

Basement – Restraint Storage

What extra supplies are produced by the workshops upstairs are stored here. Here in the basement, these supplies are solely restraints; the weapons and other goods being kept elsewhere, farther away from the prisoners. The location of the storage area also means that extra restraints are close at hand for the guards should a prisoner suddenly become difficult. Interestingly enough, the keys to all of these extra chains and shackles are not kept here, but instead are stored in the Key Room located within the Spires with the rest of the innumerable keys containing current prisoners’ restraints, cell doors, and the like.

Basement – The Arena

The newest addition to Ironheart, the Arena has been created for the sole purpose of entertainment, both for the guards and visitors who are willing to pay for a seat. Like the rest of Ironheart, the Arena operates more or less continuously on a 24-hour cycle, although there are usually several periods of downtime stretched throughout the day. These periods of downtime can last several minutes; just long enough for guards to drag the bodies out of the Arena, or several hours while things are set up for a large-scale match that features large bodies of participants or a particularly gimmicky scenario.

Although most often the matches consist of prisoner against prisoner bouts, often it is prisoners against monsters, or even occasionally the guards themselves. Typically the fights are to the death, and if the match involves guards against prisoners the guards are generally the only ones who walk out.

The entrances to the Arena on the basement level of Ironheart allow access to the spectator stands, where the crowd can watch in relative safety. With none of the participants ever armed with ranged weapons and a sheer stone wall ten feet high separating the spectators from the entry ring, it is highly unlikely that any spectators will ever come to harm. Still, several armed guards wander about through the seating, making sure that everyone feels safe enough to watch and enjoy the brutal deaths of dozens of prisoners every day.



The Cells

The Cells – Overview

Stretching out beneath Ironheart in all directions including down, the cells are where virtually all prisoners of Ironheart are kept in various states of incarceration. Set up as a series of four levels currently, the Cells grow darker and more oppressive with each level down. They are also more secure, as each level lower is designed to contain worse and more dangerous criminals. Many rumors abound as to why there are only four levels, when there are certainly many more tunnels going even deeper into the mountain. For whatever reason, however, for the moment the guards seem content with just four levels, leaving the tunnels below empty except for the mining crews. Each of the four levels is constantly being expanded, and this seems to be doubly the case as of late as the mining crews have shifted to digging in the “safe” tunnels running parallel to the mountain rather than those that lead deeper into it.

Floor One

The Cells – Floor One

The oldest holding area within Ironheart, likely created from the original dungeon located just beneath the basement. As such, it is also the closest holding area to the surface, and the largest due to the length of time that it has been here along with the near-constant adding-on of new cells as mining crews lengthen the "safe" tunnels immediately below the surface. Several stairways lead up into the basement of the fortress.

Unlike the rest of the cell levels, the first floor is brightly lit, the result of numerous ancient iron oil holders set into the walls. Undoubtedly a hold-over from the original dungeon of Ironheart, the design for the oil holders was copied and new ones were bolted into place as new sections were opened. Simply a repository for a fair amount of oil along with a wick, the oil holders can burn for almost an entire day before needing to be refilled. More for the guards’ benefit than the prisoners, the bright light on this floor allows rookie guards time to adapt to working underground and gain experience in patrolling the floor, on the lookout for any prisoner-initiated trouble.

Most of the weakest and least important prisoners are held here, usually nothing more than mere commoners that have in some way failed their serf duties. Due to their close location to the surface and relative unimportance, many prisoners disappear from this area, only to be found back in their cells later, beaten or stabbed to death. Particularly stubborn or hardy prisoners are often sent down one of the several dark stairways that lead further into the network of tunnels beneath Ironheart, either to spend the night in one of the lower level cells, or remain there forever.

Like the basement level above them, the top of each stairway leading down to the second level of cells is equipped with an iron grate that can be swung down and barred at the first sign of trouble. These stairways are generally guarded by at least a trio of guardsmen, ensuring that only a very organized and lucky band of prisoners could cut down all three before one of them slams and locks the grate shut in their faces as they attempt to boil up the stairs.

The Cells – Floor One: The Arena

Home to the newly founded Prisoner Gladiatorial games, the Arena was recently fashioned out of a large hollow area dug out from the walls of the basement and first floor of the cells, specifically for this purpose. At the end of one hallway on the first level of cells, a prisoner waiting area has been mined out, allowing for guards to temporarily restrain prisoners while they await their fate within the Arena itself. A simple blood-stained iron door set upon the opposite side of the room allows entry onto the Arena floor.

Surrounding the Arena floor and separated by a ten foot sheer wall are the Spectator Stands, where guards and bloodthirsty individuals with gold to spend can watch the proceedings. In the center of the Arena floor is a large pit, the bottom of which is about a similar distance below the main Arena Floor as the Spectator Stands are above. No fighting occurs on the Arena Floor, it being simply a place for the announcer to stand while introducing the next match and for the guards to equip the prisoners with any gear that the upcoming fight demands. Instead, all fighting occurs within the pit itself, with prisoners reaching the bottom by either climbing down a rope ladder that is immediately pulled back up after they let go, or by the much faster method of being thrown off the side by a guard.

Fortunately, being kicked into the Pit is rarely fatal, as the bottom is covered in a thick layer of rust-colored sand. With even the Arena operating throughout the day and night, numerous patches of the sand are slimy and sticky, quickly coating competitors’ legs in the mixture of blood and sand. Victorious competitors are lowered the rope ladder to return to the Arena Floor and from there back to the prisoner waiting area or their cell. Defeated competitors lie in the sand, adding their own blood to the mixture until guards come to drag them away through the gated tunnel that also leads out of the Pit.

This tunnel is also the entry point for any monsters used in the Arena, and as such it is often a few hours before a released monster can be sedated, carefully carried back through the tunnel to the elevator shaft that leads up to the Stables on the first floor, and the half-eaten corpses of the monster’s kills to be dragged out of the Arena by the same route.


Floor Two

The Cells – Floor Two

The second floor of the cells, this level is home to most of the petty and semi-dangerous criminals sent to Ironheart. There are more guards here on regular patrol, and several security hardpoints dot the layout of the place. At the center of each of these security stations there is often a stairway leading up or down, thus requiring an escaping prisoner to attempt to pass through at least one in order to leave Floor Two. With an average of a dozen guards per security checkpoint, the very idea of sneaking or hacking one's way through even one security checkpoint is a daunting task for the average prisoner.

Although much dimmer than the first floor, a few scattered oil holders burn, covering the entire floor in a dim illumination. More experienced guards patrol here, preparing themselves for the inky gloom of the third and fourth levels, which are pitch black save for the light the guards carry. Each security checkpoint is also brightly lit, making for shining beacons that stand out against the poor lighting elsewhere. The bright lights allow for the checkpoint guards to easily anyone approaching, thus ensuring that a prisoner will have to work a lot harder to pass themselves off as a guard even at a distance.

Interestingly enough, despite the somewhat hardened nature of the prisoners housed here, Floor Two is actually one of the safest places to be. This is due to the fact that it is far from the Guard Barracks above, as well as the area known only as "The Labs", rumored to be located close to the cells on the lowest level. The entrance to the Mines is also located here.

The Cells – Floor Two: Mine Entrance

Although a number of mining details operate throughout the tunnels beneath Ironheart, including the various cell levels, there are a few tunnel networks deeper yet that are considered the official mines. At the intersection between the long tunnels of the second cell floor and a long tunnel leading deeper down into the mountain, a supply station was set up.

Now separated from the rest of the second level of cells by an iron door and expanded into a large room, the Mine Entrance allows the guards a place to store the various tools necessary for mining. It is here that those prisoners assigned to mining report to first each day, chained together in short slave lines of six apiece and often overseen by groups of four or five guards, each armed with a whip in addition to his usual weapon. Each prisoner is given a dull shovel or pick, and then the slave chain is led off to its assigned position for the day. Some chains head back out into the prison levels, working on expanding one of the floors, but most head down the long tunnel that leads deep into the mountain, and the area commonly referred to as the Mines.


Floor Three

The Cells – Floor Three

The third floor of the prison cells is where the most dangerous and psychotic of prisoners are usually held. Occasionally a prisoner from the first or second floors can also be found down here, the result of a particularly cruel guard taking him/her down to “spend the night”. Most such prisoners are never the same after spending a night down in the damp air and inky blackness.

Unlike the two floors above, there is little to no light down here save what the patrolling guards carry. Also shining out in the darkness are the numerous guard posts scattered through the floor and clustered around each of the stairways. Even the light from these two sources is muted, however, the result of the guards using hooded lanterns for illumination instead of torches. This also allows the guards to use light as a weapon by suddenly flipping one of the lantern’s shutters all the way up, spotlighting an escaping prisoner and temporarily blinding him/her in the sudden bright light.

Many prisoners, if they aren't already crazy, quickly become so, thanks to the darkness and often oppressive silence. This silence is maintained by the guards deeming anyone who makes a lot of noise to be insane. Prisoners deemed insane by the guards are quickly shuttled off to the Torture Chambers for “treatment”, or occasionally even down to “The Labs” to serve as test subjects. Naturally, this silence also allows the guards to hear loose prisoners attempting to sneak up behind them, the guards’ senses honed from experience and the absence of any other noise save their own breathing. A series of thick iron doors at the far end of one tunnel away from the rest of the prison cells leads to the Torture Chambers, dampening any screams coming from that direction into silence.

The Cells – Floor Three: Torture Chambers

Sealed off from the rest of the third floor of cells by a series of thick iron doors with small rooms between them, Ironheart’s Torture Chambers ensures that prisoners inside are completely cut off from the rest of the world. Each prisoner is not alone in his/her suffering, however, as there is often another prisoner only a few feet away, enduring similar or even worse treatment.

Unlike the rest of the third floor of cells, the Torture Chambers are lit fairly well and are quite noisy. Given that the light comes mostly from braziers of coals waiting to be used in some manner and the noise mostly comes from agonized screams, most prisoners find that they actually prefer even the third cell level to this.

Due to the fact that this area is divided into a rather large number of individual rooms, connected to the others by open doorways, most refer to the area as the “Torture Chambers” rather than the “Torture Chamber”. The individual nature of the rooms allows a guard, or a small group of guards, to spend some “one-on-one” time with a single prisoner. Each room is generally equipped with one or more devices that allow the guards to inflict no small amount of pain on this prisoner, and between all of the rooms virtually anything a sadistic guard could think of to use is probably located somewhere.

Small holding cells located within the walls of each room also allow one or two prisoners to be stored within any given room. Some guards therefore take great pleasure in locating pairs or trios of prisoners that previously knew each other and dragging them all in here, forcing the others to watch with one of their fellows is brutally tortured. The rest are often then rotated in – the guards are always happy to ensure an equality of pain for all.

Interestingly enough, due to the nature of most of the devices located within the Torture Chamber, most prisoner restraints must be removed before the prisoner can be attached to the device. There are always several guards involved when a prisoner’s mobile restraints are removed, or the prisoner is removed from the device, so a prisoner’s freedom of movement rarely lasts more than a few seconds. Nonetheless, this does mean that most guards within the Torture Chambers are carrying keys to somebody’s restraints, sometimes several sets of such keys. Thus, it is possible for a prisoner to overpower a guard, taking the keys to his/her restraints from his unconscious body, and then free him/herself. The sounds of the struggle likely won’t even attract attention, although the open doorways and frequent foot traffic ensure that the results of a scuffle won’t remain secret for long.

For some, it would be even easier to wait for the guards to remove their restraints and attach them to a device first. Most devices are designed to only restrain the average prisoner during its operation, and thus lack the ability of some prisoners’ personal restraints to withstand their strength or other abilities. It is for this reason that none of the most powerful prisoners, usually those on the fourth level of cells, to ever be taken up to the Torture Chambers as the risk of their escape once free of their personal restraints is too great. Due to the fact that most prisoners on the fourth level are often primary test subjects, however, most guards are content in the knowledge that no one imprisoned in Ironheart ever escapes from agony for long.


Floor Four

The Cells – Floor Four

The bottom of the prison cell levels, only the most horrifically powerful prisoners are stored here. As such great strides have been taken by the guards to ensure that most of the inmates incarcerated in the cells down here never leave their cells, let alone the level itself. Unlike the neat and orderly rows of cells stretching out into the darkness, here the cells are arranged chaotically throughout a maze of twisting tunnels that loop up, down, around, and sometimes even directly back on themselves.

Thick doors made out of solid adamantite cover the doorways separating the tunnels from the cells themselves, thin peep slots set into each one at eye level to allow guards to peek into the cells. The guards never peek into a cell unless required, which usually means that the prisoner is about to be moved elsewhere, usually to The Labs. Most doors leading to occupied cells are also covered in a variety of magical runes, running the gauntlet from complex wards to simple sentences in ancient languages that basically mean “Don’t open this door, idiot!”

Each cell is customized to nullify an inmate’s unique abilities as fully as possible, and the mage staff at Ironheart works very hard to learn all about a prisoner before placing him/her in one of these rooms.

Generally, there aren’t even any guards patrolling the twisting tunnels of the fourth cell level, but rather only magical sensors that report on anything unusual appearing in the tunnels. Most doors are also equipped with a separate alarm that is triggered when the wards holding a door shut are tampered with. Any such alarm immediately triggers a response from the massive guard station set up at both ends of the single stairway leading up to the third level. Several teams of heavily armed and armored elite guards are dispatched from the station whenever an alarm is sounded, immediately heading to the source of the problem via several different pathways.

If any sign of trouble is actually detected by the teams, or any team fails to report back every five minutes via a communication crystal, the Warden is personally informed. The entirely of Ironheart then goes on high alert, each level of the prison is locked down, with the stairway gates only being opened to allow yet more guards to pour through into the lower levels until the problem is found and dealt with. Thus far, the Warden has never been alerted to a problem, as none of the prisoners stored down here have found a way yet to even break free of their restraints to get to the door, let alone attempt to open it.

It is rumored that at the bottom of one of the tunnels randomly spiraling down into darkness, there is another sealed adamantite door that leads not to another prisoner’s cell, but the area known only as “The Labs”.

The Cells – Fourth Floor: The Labs

Located behind a sealed adamantite door designed as yet another prison cell on the fourth level, the area known only as “The Labs” is a place that no prisoner has thus far ever, ever come back from. Rumors of all sorts of horrible experiments being conducted there circulate throughout Ironheart, making the threat of being sent there enough to pacify all but the most resolute of prisoners.

However, the guards rarely if ever carry out such a threat, instead sending the disobedient prisoner to the Torture Chambers. This is due to the fact that The Labs are not run by the Warden directly but instead by the various mad wizards and alchemists who rent out rooms within the Labs for study. Although these researchers will occasionally request an “average” prisoner to participate in some sort of experiment, by and large the researchers are most interested in those prisoners with very unusual abilities or that are powerful enough to warrant being kept in the fourth level.

Due to the fact that each section of the Labs is essentially rented out to a third-party, the design of the area is modular, a series of several interconnected rooms before a long corridor stretches out to lead into another one. Although one of these rooms is usually a cell that can be modified to contain a specific powerful prisoner, actual security within each separate lab is expected to be provided by the renting researcher. While this might elsewhere led to a substandard number and quality of guards, the explanations of the Warden as to what would happen to a researcher if even one of his/her test subjects manages to escape usually convinces the researcher to hire more than adequate security for managing the test subjects.

An additional step taken by the Warden is to carefully arrange each researcher’s lab within the overall structure so that the most dangerous test subjects are farthest away from the door leading out to the fourth cell level. Because the labs are all connected in a long line leading out from the fourth cell level, this means that the most dangerous test subjects will have to travel through all of the other labs before arriving at the door leading up. Despite what most of the researchers are paying him, the Warden cares about the lives of his own men far more than that of any researcher or the researcher’s private security.



The Darkest Depths

The Darkest Depths – Overview

Beneath even the fourth level of prison cells and The Labs lie the darkest bowels of Ironheart. Ancient tunnels as old as the fortress itself twist and turn, leading ever deeper into the darkness of the mountain. Unless on specific business, no guards remain in these tunnels for long, and it is common for those that tarry down here too long to never be seen again. Few know what truly goes on down here in these darkest depths of Ironheart, and perhaps not even the Warden knows everything.

The Darkest Depths – Ritual Chambers

Somewhere within The Labs, there is a stairway that leads even further down, into a network of tunnels that now serve the various dark cults that have also rented out space within Ironheart. Like the researchers above, the business of the cultists is their own, and security is provided by the cultists themselves.

All sorts of evil and blasphemous cults have settled down here, their members only occasionally coming up from their dark quarters to request and purchase prisoners for sacrifices and other hideous rituals. Much like The Labs, no prisoner has ever returned once the cultists took him/her down into the depths of their underground sanctuaries.

The Darkest Depths – Mines

On the second level of cells is the entrance to the mines. A long tunnel leads steeply downward to a level of tunnels below even the Ritual Chambers, expanding out into a large network of crudely hewn tunnels, the results of previous mining crews attempting to find significant mineral veins.

Unlike most of the mountains in Gast, the mountain beneath Ironheart is somewhat rich in minerals once one has gone deep enough. Most of the already exposed mineral viens have already been mined out, however, and so now most crews work on expanding the already existing tunnels, hoping to run into fresh mineral veins.

However, recently work has shifted to following the tunnels that run laterally through the mountain, rather than continuing to probe down the tunnels that lead ever deeper into the mountain. Rumors abound that these deeper pathways are “haunted”, home to horrors that even Ironheart’s guards don’t want to deal with. It is also suspected that the first several levels of the Mines will soon be converted into yet another living area: a fifth level of cells or space for yet another outside interest to come to Ironheart in order to pray on the unfortunate souls imprisoned there.

The Darkest Depths – Catacombs

Beneath even the mining tunnels lies the deepest tunnel network of Ironheart. Few prisoners have ever seen it, but many wild rumors abound as to what can be found down there. Believed to be even more haunted than the lower levels of the Mines, it is said that once long ago guards would take prisoners down here to mine.

Only instead of searching for mineral veins the guards would simply have the prisoners dig short side passages into the walls of the tunnels and crawl inside. The guards would then collapse the entrances to these side passages, leaving the unfortunate prisoners inside to be buried alive.

No one knows whether or not this story is true, but everyone refers to these lowest tunnels of all as “The Catacombs” for exactly that reason. No mining teams ever come down this far, the guards and their slave chain leaving as soon as the guards realized where they are. Regardless as to whether the stories are true or not, something does seem to have taken up residence down here, as the occasional slave chain with attending guards will disappear from the Mines, presumably dragged down here by whatever killed them.




Rules A short summation of what I expect


Ok, so obviously despite being freeform there needs to be a few simple rules so everyone can make sense of what’s going on.

1) Post Format

I don’t particularly care how you format your posts, provided they are legible. However, I would strongly encourage you to use the standard set up on these boards: normal text being actions, italics being thoughts, “quotations and color being used for speech”, etc. Obviously with so many players it will be difficult for each character to have their own unique color, so I will leave you to sort that out amongst yourselves in the OOC thread. However, I personally would not mind if two characters had the same/similar color text for speech, nor would I mind if you don’t use a color at all – just be sure to use quotation marks in that case so I know you’re talking instead of doing something.

2) God-Modding

Dorizzit brought this up in the recruitment thread, so I thought I should briefly address the matter. While I want to encourage creativity as much as possible, obviously I need to set limits on what is possible. My only real limits on what your characters can do is this: be reasonable.

We have a wide range of character types and abilities, and as such what might be a reasonable action for one might not be for another. As an example, a commoner with no prior training and shackled at the feet being able to run along the wall for several feet before jumping down onto a guard and snapping his neck is probably not reasonable. However, a ninja that is not encumbered by shackles probably would be able to run along the wall and land on the guard.

I understand that this makes for a fairly grey area, so I will try to nudge everyone along in the right direction towards my ideal as necessary. Sometimes this nudging will take the form of outright failure (with usually an explanation as to why your idea failed), sometimes success but with a price (like being injured), and sometimes you’ll just get away with it because your idea is so darn cool and original. :smallgrin:

If anyone still has any concerns about this, please feel free to PM me with additional questions or post in the OOC thread.

3) The DM is Final Adjudicator

This should go without saying, but for completeness I’ll list it here. I, as DM, have the final say regarding the outcome and consequences of your characters’ actions. If you feel that I’m being unfair towards your character, feel free to send me a PM so we can discuss it – I would rather that the OOC thread is not clogged up with disputes. That being said, I don’t think there should be many disputes if everyone is reasonable with their actions, and there should be no player vs. player incidents so any “yeah, he did that, but I did this” arguments should not occur.

4) Post Every Day, But Don’t Worry About It

I am going to try to DM this thing every day, or every other day should real life start interfering. When I DM I will write up outcomes for everyone who posted since my last DM – I will not wait for everyone to post (unless of course someone sends me a PM saying, “hey, I’m just about done with my post could you please wait?”). Other than the fact that you missed the DMing for the day, there are no penalties for posting late or not posting at all.

However, if you suddenly fall off the face of the earth and stop regularly posting in Ironheart without telling me ahead of time, I am going to assume that you have quit the thread. About a week or two after not posting anything, I will remove any characters that have quit the thread in a permanent and probably gruesome fashion unless they’re somehow important to the plot in which case I’ll NPC them until the plot reaches I point where I can kill said character in a permanent and probably gruesome fashion. :smallyuk: Obviously, telling me you’re about to go on vacation or something is different and I’ll NPC/temporally-displace your character as needed.

Note that because some players might wind up on teams together, I will DM those players on a team as one unit. Thus, gnome_4ever & Engineer will get separate DMs when they’re apart, but when they’re on a mining detail together their will get a joint DM under “gnome_4ever/Engineer”. Only one player on a team needs to post for a fresh DM to be made, but obviously those other people on said team who didn’t post will end up NPC’d and do relatively nothing unless absolutely required. Of course, repeated incidents of this in a row with the same character will cause me to assume said character has quit the thread, and thus vulnerable to dying in a permanent and gruesome fashion.

5) No Player vs. Player

While I understand that your characters are all degenerate scum (:smallyuk:), stabbing each other in the back while trying to escape from prison is just plain stupid. Feel free to argue, hate each other, avoid each other, refuse to cooperate, and/or go your separate ways once you’re free, but actually coming to blows is a no-no. I simply don’t have the patience to adjudicate a freeform player vs. player fight. That being said, a healthy dose of cooperation between characters, even if they dislike each other, is probably a good idea given your shared situation.

6) What You *Can* Do

Like my definition of god-modding, I suspect that this concept might take a bit of work for everyone to get used to and enjoy. As the DM, my job is to determine the final outcome and consequences of player actions. However, I am going to divide those player actions into two categories: combat and non-combat situations.

In non-combat situations, the players are trying to solve some sort of problem that generally does not involve something trying to directly kill them. This could be solving some sort of puzzle, escaping from their restraints, or even choosing which hallway at an intersection to go down. Here, because the player obviously doesn’t know what I’m intending the solution to be, I would prefer if the player just posts whatever their character is doing to solve the problem. I’ll then come in and post the outcome, whether the player’s actions succeed or fail, the consequences of this, and what is going to happen next. In combat situations, the players have a bit more leeway if they so choose.

Example: John Doe has just been DM’d saying that he’s come to a locked door.

John Doe: “I pound loudly on the door, shouting at anyone inside to open up, while disguising my voice to sound like a gruff guard.”

Me: “Sure enough, after a minute the door opens, and two guards are standing in the small room beyond the door. Unfortunately, though you may sound like a guard, you certainly don’t look like it, and they draw their weapons upon seeing you.

In combat situations, the players are fighting against or directly opposing one or more NPC denizens of Ironheart. Because the solution to direct combat against an NPC should be obvious (kill the duder, or run away if he’s too powerful), I will allow players to post a bit more. Instead of just post their actions, players can also post the desired outcomes of their actions as well. Of course, I will still have the final say whether players are ultimately successful, but this addition will hopefully allow players a wider range of creativity in combat and speed such things up. Note that some opponents will require more effort/more than one post to kill.

Also note that regeneration from wounds, either through healing magic or outright regeneration, is dependant on the source of the injury. Wounds that I give are permanent until I say so, but feel free to add to your list of actions that you’re drinking a healing potion, attempting to regenerate, whatever it is your character can do to recover from an injury. I will post whether such attempts are successful or not. For wounds that are self-inflicted, like the player posting as part of their combat outcome that they take a scratch along one arm, they can post recovering from said wound without having to wait for my approval, assuming of course that they have some reasonable method for recovery.

Example: John Doe has just encountered two guards in the room beyond a previously locked door.

John Doe: “As the guards draw their weapons, I draw my own: a crossbow that I had taken from a previously defeated guard. Raising the weapon to my shoulder, I take careful aim and fire at the guard nearest to me. The bolt flies true, striking the guard in the chest and sending him crashing to the floor, dead. As the second guard steps toward me I suddenly leap at him, bringing the butt of the crossbow up into his chin. The guard staggers back and drops to the floor, dazed. Before he can recover I step in close and deliver a hard kick to his jaw, knocking him out cold.”

Me: “Your surprise attack with the crossbow works, as the bolt hits the guard square in the chest and he falls to the ground, dead. The second guard is a bit more skillful a combatant, however, and he rolls with the blow as the butt of the crossbow impacts against his chin. He staggers back a step, then leaps forward, slashing at you with his sword. Luckily, the blow actually strikes the shaft of your appropriated crossbow, shattering it and ruining the weapon but otherwise leaving you unharmed.”

I hope that everyone can see what my intention with this is. If not, feel free to send me questions via PM or in the OOC thread. Go nuts, have fun with this, and don’t worry: if you get too crazy I’ll reel you back in. :smallwink:

7) Life Sucks, Then You Die

It is possible that various player characters will die. If this is for some bizarre plot situation or the character has been backed into an inescapable corner due to reasons not entirely self-inflicted, I will contact the player of that character and we will work something out (a new character, visitations from beyond the grave, resurrection later by an outside force, whatever).

If, however, the character dies from a severe lack of regular posting or because their most recent course of action was just plain stupid (such as charging into a room full of elite guards armed only with a rusty spoon), chances are good that the character is going to stay dead. If that character’s player is still interested in playing, then they are free to make a brand new character with which to escape with. Hopefully, this new character will have a better sense of judgment and/or more regular posting. :smallgrin: Players whose characters die for plot reasons also have this option if desired.

I think that about covers it. Additional rules may be added from time to time as new bridges are crossed, so check back every now and then!

Inspectre
2008-01-14, 04:39 AM
Character Status – The summarized condition, location, and other information about your character. Will be updated frequently.



Example (player names, rather than character names, will be used here)

Name – Name of character, duh.
Played by: – Name of the player currently playing this character
Condition – Current injuries, if any
Restraints – Current restraints that the character has to deal with.
Stationary – Restraints that are immobile, and thus hold the character in one place: cell doors and the like
Mobile – Restraints that move with the character, and thus restrict movement and their other capabilities: shackles and the like
Location – Where the character currently is within Ironheart
Equipment – What weapons and other gear, if any, the character currently possesses
Allies – Friendly NPCs that are currently tagging along with the character, if any
Personal Jailors - Enemy NPCs that are activately opposing your character. They want to personally see your character dead or imprisoned. Will periodically appear to try to accomplish just that.


Old Hands - Those escaping from Ironheart since the beginning

Dorizzit

Name – Korram Alstan
Played by: – Dorizzit
Condition – Minor cuts and scrapes
Restraints
Stationary - None
Mobile –
Cell number burned onto the inside of left forearm

Location – The Cells, Maximum Security
Equipment –
Arm covering made from strips of restraint glove; suppresses fire-arm but can be removed at will

Allies – Countess Amelia Ashargrin (Captured) Seraph, Daughter Katrina, Calcifer?
Personal Jailors - None


Iethloc

Name – Sohssal
Played by: – Iethloc
Condition – Minor cuts and scrapes
Restraints
Stationary - None
Mobile –
Forced possession of body of a research assistant
Research assistant’s body is covered in runes similar to the inside of Sohssal’s cell, preventing him from leaving the body willingly
Arm of research assistant tattooed with Sohssal’s former cell number, Sohssal’s human body has had his cell number carved into the inside of his right forearm by a shard from a silver-framed mirror

Location – The Cells, Maximum Security
Equipment – None
Allies – Research Assistant, Omega
Personal Jailors – The Three Sages


MrEdwardNigma

Name – Victor Ravenstein the Third
Played by: – MrEdwardNigma
Condition – 100%; No injuries
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –
Cell number burned onto the inside of right forearm

Location – Sanctuary of the Prophets
Equipment – Fungus Torch, Small amount of fungus
Allies – Cassandra the Monk, "Sara"
Personal Jailors - None


Pwenet

Name – Akor/Incom “Pwenet” Morgan
Played by: – Pwenet
Condition – Kept alive by armor, missing arm & leg (replaced by armor)
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –
Former Cell Number (#1) seared into his arm via magic, seemingly impossible to regenerate

Location – The Catacombs
Equipment –
Enchanted Suit of Dragon Armor, with Wrist Blades, Wings, and Wing-Mounted Bolt Throwers (10/10, 10/10)
Warhammer of Ross
Fiery Enchanted Adamantite Spear
Arguile's Repeating Crossbow, 15/15

Allies – None
Personal Jailors – The Malevolent Seven


ubersquid

Name – Elkwin Holmanson
Played by: – ubersquid
Condition – 100%; No injuries
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –
Cell number burned into the inside of right forearm

Location – The Catacombs
Equipment – Handaxe, Chain Shirt, Backpack full of supplies, Healing Potion, The Dawnblade
Allies – Marv
Personal Jailors - None


Voth

Name – Voth
Played by: – Voth
Condition – Minor burns on right hand, cut along right shoulder, cauterized crossbow wound in right thigh
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –
Cell number burned onto the inside of right forearm

Location – Spire Three: Ironheart Research
Equipment – None
Allies – Female Collaborator
Personal Jailors - The Volesin Brothers, Shadow


WhiteKnight777

Name – Umber
Played by: – WhiteKnight777
Condition – 100%, No injuries
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –

Cell number burned into right forearm using magically-applied holy brand

Location – Sanctuary of the Prophets
Equipment – Guard Short Sword
Allies – Mellita the Vampire
Personal Jailors – Paladin Alexander Ross, The Four Ancients



Fresh Meat - The newest additions to Escape from Ironheart


OverWilliam

Name – Tare
Played by: – OverWilliam
Condition – Numerous bruises and cuts from repeated beatings, one eye swollen shut
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –

Cell Number burned onto inside of right forearm

Location – Another Plane
Equipment – 1 Healing Potion, Daggers
Allies – Teareal & Adamè
Personal Jailors - The Hag


Baerdog7

Name – Ander Windrivver
Played by: – Baerdog7
Condition – Minor cuts and scrapes, Regenerating
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –

Cell number burned onto the inside of right forearm using unholy brand

Location – The Cells, 2nd Floor
Equipment – None
Allies – The Devil
Personal Jailors - Brother Adamus Crane


Burrito

Name – Askov Bailikson
Played by: – Burrito
Condition – Minor cuts and scrapes
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –

Cell number burned onto the inside of right forearm

Location – The Cells: Second Floor
Equipment – Hand of Ghost Woman, Hairbrush of Ghost Woman, warhammer, faded Tabard, backpack, torches, & assorted traveling gear
Allies – Tattoos
Personal Jailors - None


Lonna

Name – Pyrene the Temptress
Played by: – Lonna
Condition – Severe damage to one hand, Large chunk taken out of one thigh - cauterized
Restraints
Stationary – None
Mobile –

Anti-magic collar locked around neck, delivers strong electircal shock upon detecting an attempt at spell-casting
Cell number burned onto the inside of right forearm

Location – The Main Tower
Equipment – Crossbow, Daggers, Lantern, Formerly Nice Silk Dress
Allies – Garthax?
Personal Jailors - None


The_Snark

Name – Mar
Played by: – The_Snark
Condition – Whip gash across the back
Restraints
Stationary – None, given free reign of The Fortress Proper and The Cells: First Floor. Limited acces to The Spires & The Cells: Second Floor
Mobile –

Bronze Bracelet locked around right wrist, identifying you as a collaborator
Bracelet contains several simple cantrips to allow tracking of you throughout Ironheart
Numerous inactive magical restraints you are not aware of, relics from when the guards were terrified: 1) you'd remember who and what you were 2) you would break free and reap bloody vegeneance on an incomprehensible scale
Cell number "2" burned onto the inside of right forearm

Location – Spire Three: Ironheart Research
Equipment – None
Allies – Julian
Personal Jailors - "Daddy": Brother Corwin



The Graveyard - Where all PCs go when they die

Engineer
Name – Amraf “Twister” Birsten
Condition – DEAD

Frozen
Name – Lamont
Condition – DEAD

gnome_4ever
Name – Desot
Condition – DEAD

rubakhin
Name – Dima Vostrog
Condition – DEAD

smartaleq
Name – Val Mercer (aka "That guy")
Condition – DEAD

Warshrike
Name – Dwiggs
Condition – DEAD

Gygaxphobia
Name - Kailess
Condition - DEAD

Adlan
Name - Garm Ranah "Little Heap"
Condition - DEAD

Darkadvice
Name - Cade
Condition - DEAD

Inspectre
2008-01-14, 04:44 AM
DMings – The moment you’ve all been waiting for, the actual starting DMings

All

It is April within the dark confines of Ironheart, and the grip of winter can be felt slowly loosening even in the dark depths below the fortress. Due to their position far underground, most of the cells have a coolness that remains fairly even throughout the year. Still, the icy grip of winter does occasionally penetrate down into the cells, weakening the many ill-equipped and unkempt prisoners stored beneath Ironheart, and finishing off those who can endure no more through illness. The guards are also more irritable during the winter, and more numerous as some guards find the cool darkness of the cells preferable to their frigid posts aboveground on the walls surrounding the fortress.

Even with its grip loosening though, winter continues to hang on as tenaciously as some prisoners cling to life, and the upper cells levels are filled with the dry coughing of sick prisoners. With time having no meaning down in the underground depths of the prison cells, no one knows if the sun is truly up or not. Nonetheless, it is “morning” for most inmates, as they awaken with rumbling stomachs, to await the coming of the food carts carrying the thin gruel that serves as breakfast, but also lunch & dinner in this place.

Today is shaping up to be an ordinary day, just yet another slow plodding day filled with boredom for most and sheer agony for a select few in the endless series of such days. However, unbeknownst to any of the prisoners, today is a special day, and events are about to be set in motion that will grant a select few the possibility of escape. But no one has ever escaped from Ironheart . . .

The Spires

Voth

You were having your favorite dream again. You were back in the village where you and your “partner” had butchered dozens of innocent people. Only this time, instead of pathetic farmers you were killing guards, their agonized screams as you cut them apart sounding so similar to you own when they were the ones cutting, beating, and stabbing you. Music to your ears.

But like all such happy dreams, it didn’t last long. No, instead it was rudely interrupted by a boot to your ribs, jarring you from your slumber to full awareness with a loud gasp. Your vision was still black, the result of the iron visor locked in place over your eyes to prevent you from seeing anything, or rather, to prevent anyone from seeing what you had seen. Apparently the guards had gotten tired of finding themselves in the midst of a burning village every time they attempted to stare you down. Oh well, no matter – you still had your other senses about you.

Your skin tells you that you are still in a brightly lit room, the bright light stinging where it touches your exposed skin. Shadow was not happy at the moment, but there was certainly nothing you could do about it for now. Your ears tell you that there are no less than five separate sources of breathing throughout the room: four close-by with the fifth near to the heavy iron door to your “room”

Your new accommodations were certainly more impressive than your old ones, an old cell down on the second level that had been similarly brightly lit like your current room. You suspected that the guards would have rather placed you down on the third floor, but that would have required setting up bright lights down there, ruining the beautiful pitch-blackness that covered that entire floor. More like some sort of converted room than an actual cell, this new room was easily twice the size of your old cell. Of course, an iron collar attached to a short chain that was in turn anchored to a nearby wall preventing you from exploring much of the room itself, not that you would have gone far crawling about on the floor like an animal: once knocked down you found it quite hard to get back up onto your feet with your arms strapped across your chest like they were now.

You also suspected that your new accommodations, up in one of the Tower Spires of Ironheart, had quite a view – if it were not for the fact that you were currently blind, and there was probably no windows in this room anyway. Why else would the guards have set up so many lanterns about the room to light it, instead of simply allow natural sunlight to come in through the room’s window? Of course, it was possible that some of the more foolish guards thought that only artificial light, and not pure sunlight, kept you from transforming into an avatar of death. But many of the mages now doing research on you seemed to be fairly intelligent, and it seemed unlikely that they would believe such folly.

You had been brought up to the Spires four days, or at least sleep cycles, ago (time was always so annoying hard to keep track of in this place). Apparently the mages had recently developed a few new ways to restrain prisoners, and they had selected a more powerful prisoner, namely you, to test the limits of these restraints for them. You would have told them to test these restraints themselves after jumping off the top of the tower, but they didn’t give you any real choice in the matter. Similarly, simply lying limply within the restraints and not attempting to break free was also strongly discouraged by increasingly painful penalties that the mages assigned.

Even in this you might have persisted against, until the mages finally gave up on you in disgust and ordered you killed or returned you to your cell below Ironheart. But one thing did motive you to struggle against the restraints: except for your visor, all of your other restraints were removed during the experiments. Thus, all you had to do was break free just once, and you could run amok and kill everyone in the room before more guards were summoned to subdue you.

You know you could accomplish this, because the mages wanted you at your strongest, and so snuffed out all light but a few dim candles within the room, so that they and the guards could watch you struggle to get free. So far, even with Shadow’s power boosting your own, you had disappointingly failed to break free so far, but the mages were always trying new methods each day, and sooner or later one of these new methods would prove insufficient and then you would tear them apart.

“So, Prisoner #16,514, are you ready to try to escape from us once more?” A reedy voice asked from the door with a dry chuckle, the voice of the mage who was overseeing all of your tests.

The Cells – Floor One

gnome_4ever

A loud banging on the bars of your cell door jars you awake, and you curse inwardly as it takes you several seconds to awaken enough to open your eyes. Poor nutrition, illness, and age had all dulled your reflexes over the long years you had been here, and it had been years since you had held a blade in your hand. Sometimes you removed your small dull knife out from its hiding spot under the grate and attempted a few practices swings with it, but it just wasn’t the same. The cells was hardly big enough to hold you, let along practice sword techniques, and you could feel your blows getting feebler each time you tried to practice anyway. You were getting soft . . . soft, slow, and weak.

Had it really been years since your imprisonment here? Surely, it had to have been: you can dimly remember your first days here, back straight, eyes clear: confident in your ability to escape your cell and fight your way out of this cesspool. But the days dragged on, your golden opportunity never arrived, and finally the days began to blur into an endless monotony.

Some time ago, the guards had begun to drag prisoners out of their cells to put them to work digging in the mines. Craving any sort of exercise that might kept your body and wits sharp, or at least from dulling any further, you had gladly volunteered. Shortly thereafter, the guards had set up some sort of Arena, where prisoners actually got to fight.

You had never been the gladiatorial sort, although the chance to swing a blade again was a tempting offer nonetheless. However, you had already consigned yourself to mining details, and now there was no going back. Oh well, at least you were often in the slave chain as Amraf, the little fellow whose words may now be slurred by the metal bit shoved into his mouth, but are still full of the same light-hearted wit as ever. This was perhaps the one and only bright spot in your day, toiling down in the depths below Ironheart with your friend until you all collapsed from sheer exhaustion. You were slowly resigning yourself to the fact that this might be how the rest of your life went, you who had once charmed nobles and thumbed your nose at the law while it stared incomprehensively at your smuggled cargo.

Another loud bang from the cell door shakes you out of your reverie, and the guard out in the hallway beyond snarls, “Present your bowl for breakfast and make it snappy, Prisoner #15,355! You don’t want me coming in there to give you a taste of my club for breakfast instead!”

ubersquid

You were a victim of circumstance, you told yourself over and over again. The pigheaded guard wouldn’t listen to reason, and his overzealous friends had refused to let it slide when you had been forced to pound some sense into the man’s head with your own. Rotten ingrates, the lot of them, especially since more than one of them had been in that poor drunk’s position on more than one night, and you had provided them with a small back room to sleep it off in.

Once, you had even hidden a guard away for a day in the back tap room after he desperately begged you to let him stay when he realized that he was going to be reporting in late for morning roll-call. He had been one of the ones there that night to take you in, although at least the young lad had been sporting and kept the other guards from slapping you around too much when they brought you in.

But the magistrate had never really liked you, being a prissy snob who looked down his nose at honest working folk like you. That was fine, you didn’t like him much either, and you certainly didn’t like him at all after he took advantage of the situation and had you sent to Ironheart.

But oh well, life goes on. You may not have been in a worse situation in your whole life, but some previous days had been quite grim, and you had seen those through to watch the sun rise the next day. Somehow, you’d get through this nightmare as well. The idea of adding the tagline to your inn of being owned by the only man ever to escape from Ironheart also tickled your fancy, and you certainly had to survive long enough to see that.

So you tried to keep your hopes up through the cold nights and occasional beatings, and remained optimistic that someday your chance would arrive. You kept yourself in-shape for that inevitable day by volunteering to work on a mining crew: exceedingly hard work to be sure, but work that keep your muscles from completely wasting away. It also kept your mind occupied on a task other than counting the stones that made up the walls of your cell, which was a good way to go crazy fast.

You were already awake when the food cart came around: a small two-wheeled wagon that held a large iron tub of the thin gruel they called food around here, and escorted by no less than a dozen guards. Who the guards thought was going to try to steal the gruel, you had no idea, but there was always about a dozen walking down the hallway with the cart and the two general staffers who handle ladling the gruel out of the tub and into your wooden bowl.

“Morning, Prisoner #16,211! Ready to teach those rocks a lesson?” One of the staffers chirped at you as he filled your wooden bowl with a ladle of gruel, although his cheerful expression quickly turned somber at a glare from one of the nearby guards who had overheard him.

The Cells: Floor Two

Engineer

Your teeth ached and you had a kink in your neck. These were the first messages your body sent to you as you slowly awoke, which were pretty much the same first messages your body always sent your brain when your first awoke. It was all the damnable bit’s fault. That, and the miserable iron necklace locked tight around your throat, pressing a warm gem the size of your thumb right up against your windpipe.

It was only warm now, but you knew that the instant it detected you attempting to summon magical power to create an illusion, it would flare to life, feeling as if it was searing your throat to the bone. You suspected that this sensation was actually an illusion, ironically enough, but the pain felt so real and your mind simply couldn’t ignore it for very long.

Still, you tried to practice a few of your simpler spells, stumbling over the words as the bit slurred your speech. You were growing used to the pain though, and perhaps someday you’d even manage to conjure up a pretty little illusion for yourself: a picture of someplace far, far away from here.

Part of you regretted ever coming to Narle, because if you hadn’t come you might never have gotten into this mess. No, you couldn’t have given up coming to Narle without giving up all of your greatest successes, from establishing yourself as the premiere illusionist within Narle’s capital city of Larrem, to taking over the thieves guild in one fell swoop, to standing on the cusp of bringing the entire royal family within your power.

The fact that you had nearly conquered an entire kingdom without even resorting to violence, really, that they could never take away from you nor matter how hard they tried to cover it up and lie to themselves. Of course, now you were stuck digging in the mines, struggling to keep up with the tall humans as they marched along down the tunnels with the guards strongly “encouraging” them all to move faster and work harder.

How you were expected to work harder when you were already always exhausted by the day’s end, you had no idea, but at least there was one bright spot. Your former smuggler friend Desot was usually in the same slave chain as you, and he helped you move the heavier rocks. Now and then the two of you would be placed right next to each other in the line of chained prisoners, and could share a few whispered sentences of conversation while you worked and the guards weren’t paying attention.

It seemed that today would be another such day, as a group of guards appeared at the entrance to your cell, escorting the food cart. “Prisoner #1,240 present your food bowl for breakfast.” But first, it was breakfast time.

Warshrike

Really, it was rather ironic. You had gotten sent to Ironheart for attempting to tunnel into the Baron’s treasury, and now he was wanting you to tunnel for him. Of course, your mining expertise was really being squandered, hooked up with a bunch of ignorant human and told to slam your pick against a granite wall until it gave way. And oh, how it gave way before you: you were probably one of the best miners this sorry lot had. You wouldn’t mind a chance to “mine” through some of the guards, either, but so far such an opportunity had failed to present itself.

It would though: you’d force Fate to give you a chance to escape this place and messily teach those arrogant guards a few things about mining, if you had too. For now though, you were content with mining your ways through the bowels of Ironheart, attempting to piece together a map of all the tunnels in your mind – a valuable tool when the time for escape came. And whatever wealth the Baron gained from your work, you’d be sure to take back plus a whole lot of interest when you got out of here too.

But before any of that, your stomach was telling you that you needed some food. Right on cue, the breakfast cart rolled up, the staffers already scooping up a ladle of the thin flavored water they called gruel to put in your bowl, while the guards looked around, quite bored with the whole process. One of the guards was apparently new, though, as he simply stared at you when you moved into the light to slide your bowl over to the cell door so the staffers could dump the gruel in.

“Hey!” The guard hissed, elbowing one of others in the back to get his attention. “Is this the dwarf you were telling me about? The unstoppable mining pick that goes straight through granite?”

“Yeah, that’s Prisoner #14,326. You’d have to see it to believe how fast it swings its pick, it’s like a fiend from the darkest depths of the earth!” The other guard mutters back, one of the guards who is frequently on your mining detail and has seen your handiwork first-hand.

The Cells – Floor Three

MrEdwardNigma

For a few minutes, you thought that the screams were actually part of your dream. The dream was a pleasant one, and the screams weren’t out of place so it took awhile for your mind to realize that you were, indeed, dreaming and that something noisy was going on out in the “real” world.

The dream was a distorted version of one of your memories: the capture and taming of a merchant’s vibrant young daughter. She had a particularly lovely scream, and had even been willing to scream on command later after you had giving her the priceless gift of eternal life. Well ok, eternal life was something a bit different in alchemical terms, since you had really just strangled the life out of her and then breathed life back into it through electrical current.

As a homunculus, the girl still had most of her memories and personality intact, making her quite high above a mere zombie, as your first projects had been. You had taken great pains to keep her essence intact during the process, something which you had been less careful about before, but had now wanted to conduct experiments to see if it made a difference.

It certainly had made a difference: with her mind mostly intact the girl was eventually able to override the obedience commands you had implanted in her brain. As a result after several years of living happily with her around as an assistant you awoke one night to find yourself and the rest of your laboratory on fire. The girl was also on fire, but unlike yourself was content to sit down in the flames and allow them to cleanse her of life. That had been the last time you had worried about keeping a person’s mind intact when making a homunculus.

But in any case, back to the matter at hand: the screaming that was going on outside your dream. This was quite odd, as generally the silence down here in the blackness of the third level was positively stifling: the guards very strongly discouraged anyone from making much noise at all. Figuring this was at least worth a look, you shook yourself out of the dream despite the fact that it was about to have a rather happier ending, and opened your eyes.

Again, you were surprised to find that instead of seeing nothing, you saw somewhat bright lantern light as several guards stood around just outside the cell across from yours. Blinking your eyes to clear them, you came to full awareness just in time to see a pair of black-robed and hooded figures drag a struggling female with long flaming red hair out into the hallway.

Although thin as a broom with her hands chained tightly behind her at the small of her back, her legs held together by several thick leather straps, and her feet chained together and connected to her bound wrists by a taut chain, she was still putting up a fairly entertaining fight. Finally managing to twist her head around enough, she manages to reach one of the robed figure’s hands and bite down hard on a finger, getting unceremoniously dumped onto the floor and backhanded across the face for her trouble.

“Put her in the wagon!” The hooded figure grunts, gesturing at the guards as he steps back to nurse his bleeding hand, clearly having had enough of this. Meanwhile, however, the other cowled figure was looking around, and in a potentially bad event for you, suddenly stopped to peer directly into your cell, his face completely hidden in the darkness of his cowl.

“You . . .” He hisses, raising a bony finger to point directly at you, even though you were not directly illuminated by the guards’ lanterns.

“Take this one as well! Quickly!” The figure hisses, motioning for the guards to open your cell.

Frozen

Pain. It was your constant companion, your only companion in the utter blackness of your cell. And really, your cell was just the coffin you had been sealed and locked into, but judging by the sounds of a cell door scrapping open and your dim memories of being dragged down here, your coffin was located on the floor of a cell.

Not satisfied with this, the guards had also wrapped your body in cold iron, snapping several cuffs made out of the hated substance around your neck, waist, elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles. Still not satisfied, they had driven rods of the stuff through your body, twisting the rods around until they could use them to connect the bands around your body together into a web of metal.

Even if you were contained in your little full-body cell with full freedom to move about, you doubted that you would be able to move much, not with sliding the cold iron rods under your skin around, causing untold amounts of pain. Even the small movements you occasionally made within your coffin, even breathing, caused you pain as your skin pulled tight against the cold iron rods.

The fact that you had managed to retain your sanity after so long of this constant pain – days? Weeks? Years? Was quite an accomplishment. And every second you held on was one second longer that they didn’t win. You were not insane. You were not a mindless beast. And someday, someday you would be free of this endless torment. And then you would go find your sister, and reunite with the family you never had growing up.

You had experienced pain like this before, even far more excruciating pain than this. You had endured countless sessions of pain and humiliation at the hands of the mad wizards who had twisted you into what you were now, who had thought he could make you into a dimwitted beast that he could control. Well, you had showed him. Just like you were going to show these guards one day. They hadn’t won. You weren’t a beast. You weren’t insane. You were a person, an innocent boy who had done nothing to deserve this.

You suddenly realized that you were gritting your teeth and beginning to get worked up. Slowly, you took a few deep breaths, trying to calm yourself. Screaming and struggling at this point would do you no good, you had tried that already. The guards would come when you did that, scream, make a racket as you struggled wildly against your restraints. And then they would quiet you, jabbing the butt of a spear down into your coffin to rattle against the mask over your face, pour buckets of water down onto your face to drown you until you finally agreed to be quiet.

Presently, your cell door screeches open and you hear the quiet mumbles of Bart, the one staff member at Ironheart who had pity on you. Although it was still dark, you could hear him enter your cell and come to a stop next to the head of your coffin.

“Hey Lamont. It’s me, Bart. How are you doing today, son?” The old man whispered, keeping his voice as low as possible so the guards wouldn’t hear. The properties of your coffin amplified the sound of his voice, making his near-inaudible whisper as clear to you as if he was talking at a normal volume.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

As the flames that consume your home leap higher into the midnight sky, you push yourself onwards. The entire town was burning now, the air thick with screams all around you as everyone you once knew died horribly. This was all your fault, and although you hadn’t started it, the violence that you had continued had finally came back full circle to bite you in the ass.

But although your side was slick with blood and you walked with the stagger of a dying man, the bulk of your punishment hadn’t fallen on you. No, the bulk of the price for your actions had fallen on the people you knew, people you had trusted, people you had loved.

With a growing sense of foreboding you walked numbly to the town square, already knowing in the back of your mind what you would find there. As you rounded the final corner, you saw exactly what you had expected to see. Experience had taught you what to expect, as this recurring nightmare visited you almost every night since being locked in Ironheart.

Cowering in the shadow of the fountain that marked the exact center of town was your daughter. As you moved into the town square to warn her, to yell at her to run, a guard appeared out of the darkness behind her. Your daughter’s attention suddenly shifting to you, her eyes widen in horror at the sight of your wounds. She doesn’t notice the guard at all as, grinning, he calmly walks up behind her, pulls out a dagger, and slits her throat. And then, with a loud scream from your lips, the scream that your daughter can no longer give voice to as her lifeblood runs down her slender neck to drip onto the cobblestones below, you awake from your nightmare into the very real one that is Ironheart.

The guards are aware of your involvement in a rebellion against their Baron, are aware of how long you managed to irritate him, slipping through his fingers to continue stinging his hand, never stopping no matter how futile your fight was against the giant. They were also aware of how you had given up when the Baron finally discovered who you really were, and sent his men to your home to hold your daughter and entire village against you.

But no matter what they did to you, nothing could change the fact that you had given up. You had allowed the Baron’s men to take you without a fight, and so you had saved your daughter and your entire village from destruction. In the end, everything else, even your vengeance against the Baron, was meaningless when weighed against that. And that was one thing the guards, even with all their mockery, their cruelty, and their petty little torments, could ever take away from you.

But oh, how they tried. The guards dragged you down into the Torture Chambers frequently, so much so that you were kept there almost as much as your normal cell on the third floor of Ironheart cells. And then when you were too broken to continue to resist, too weak to look into their narrowed eyes and laugh to yourself, they threw you back into your cell to rest up and recover. But they didn’t wait long before dragging you back in.

And now here you were again, locked up in the Torture Chambers for another day of brutal torture. Exhausted from pummeling your body, the guards had called it a night some time ago, throwing you into one of the holding cells before going off to sleep. But the rest of the Torture Chambers were still active, the screams of currently tortured inmates mixing in with the screams of those in your dreams.

Suddenly, movement at the entrance of the room catches your eye, and you look up to see the trio of guards who had tortured you last night enter, grinning widely.

“There’s our boy, right where we left him. So what’s it going to be today, hero? Another trip over the hot coals? I hear you like that, the fire, the burning. Even got one of your arms burnt up to a crisp, you couldn’t get enough of it.” The leader of the trio sneers, striding up to your small cell to glare down at you.

“Yeah, lots of fire boss. I bet he would love it if we set him on fire.” The second guard, little more than the first’s toadie, giggles as he comes to stand and pose beside the first.

rubakhin

You dream of endless plain, of the gloriously hot sun beating down upon your bare skin as you run towards the distant horizon, free, finally free at all. Beside you runs the tiger, the glorious and beautiful beast that once ran up and down your arm, but now was finally able to run free too. But the dream doesn’t last, as mere dreams rarely do, and you are awakened by a hard slap across your face.

“Wake up! It’s time for you to answer my question!” A gruff voice snarls, a heartbeat before a heavy boot is brought up into your stomach, throwing you back against the wall and driving all air from your lungs. Gasping and sputtering, you slump back to the ground of your tiny cell, shocked awake by the sudden brutality of your attack.

Looking wildly about for a minute, you see three guards standing at the entrance to your tiny holding cell, the lead one looming over you and tapping a club menacingly into his open palm. Slowly, the memories come back to you: of you refusing to work in the mines, of refusing to even fight in the Arena like an animal for others’ amusement. You may have gotten caught, and thrown in prison, but even with the iron-shod boot of a guard on your throat, you still could not abandon the thieves’ code of honor.

And so they had dragged you down here, to the Torture Chambers in the very belly of their prison, to beat and whip and cut you until you gave in to their demands. They would have to wait a very long time to get their way, and you would probably be dead long before that. Fortunately, death would be a kind of freedom for you, and your soul could run away from this place and into the afterlife content in the fact that you had kept your oath.

Still, life was preferable to death, and sooner or later the guards would get careless. And then you would unleash your gift upon them, introduce them to the real tiger, of which the tattoo running along your arm was only a feeble imitation of by your hand.

“Guess the answer is still no, huh?” The guard asked, squeezing his club with his free hand as it impacted against his open palm for a final time. “Oh well.” He shrugs, and then with a sudden motion steps into your cell and swings down, bringing his entire bulbous weight down behind his club as it cracks across your lower back. “That’s fine with us, we enjoy listening to you squeal!”

The Labs

Iethloc

They were watching you. From every possible angle, at all times of the day. Those endless, tireless, reflections of yourself gazing back at you from every corner of your cell. Weak, old, feeble, with eyes that were beginning to dim and cloud over with age. That was you, as you had been in the final seconds of your old life, before your amazing transformation into your new life.

But now you were back, back as you had been, reformed into a feeble mortal man before the relentless gaze of your reflections from the mirrored walls of your cell. How you longed to dash forward and smash those mirrors, break them with a rock, or even your own body if you had to. The last time you had physically broken such a mirror with your hand it had cursed you with this strange vulnerability to them – you had no idea what a second such event would entail.

Even if it meant your own death, either from total disintegration of your mind and soul as the magic sustaining your immortal form gave out or simply bleeding to death, still held in mortal form by the other mirrored walls and ceiling as you lied amongst the blood-stained wreckage of one wall, you would do it. Smash the mirrored walls, fling yourself bodily against them until they finally cracked and shattered, broken by you, ground underfoot by you as things should be, an invulnerable being, an incorporeal god upon earth.

But no, the hated mirrors forced you to gaze upon your true form, upon the weakness your mind still clung to out of familiarity or some other perversity of the universe. Your skin actually burning as the magic sustaining your soul struggled against this self-inflicted curse you had accidentally inflicted upon yourself. And you could do nothing, chained prostrate upon the floor of your cell, forced to gaze up at all your naked reflections in a position of humility.

Sometimes you were able to sleep, an ancient practice you had done away with upon attaining immortality, but none was forced to re-adopt along with all your other human weaknesses and desires. Sometimes you were able to ignore the reflections, keep your head down while you thought about your unique condition. Could you really even die anymore, even while trapped in your human body? Could hunger, disease, the cold, still drag you before Death itself, or were these mere idle complaints of your mind as it pined for your old body, brought on by your sudden cursed transformation back into what seemed like your old human body? Most of the time, you neither slept not reflected, but instead simply lost control of yourself, screaming in impotent rage and slamming you head against the floor until you rendered yourself unconscious.

You were nothing but someone else’s toy now, taken out to be played with and poked and prodded, and then shoved back into your box, forgotten about until the next time. The very thought of it filled you with incomprehensible rage, and you considered telling your tormentors how you had done it: made yourself immortal, incorporeal. Better yet, you would break free of your cage and show them, grant them your elite status before stowing them away in an inescapable box as they had done to you, to be tormented by you for all time as retribution for what they had done!

The loud clunk of your prison cell door opening up startles you out of your scheming, and you look up. Although turned so that you were kneeling away from the door, you were able to catch the reflection in the mirror directly in front of you. Standing in the doorway, as expected, was him. Your personal jailor, the man who had willingly allowed himself to be turned into your host, your little mobile cell that allowed them to take you out of your cell to poke and prod at you, trying to figure out how to repeat what you did to yourself.

The bright light from the lab room beyond glinting off his bald, rune-tattooed head as he steps into the room, he smiles a predator’s grin. “Good morning, Sohssal. Ready for another exciting day of work?”

Ritual Chambers

WhiteKnight777

Blood. It is the source of all life and its currency. Without blood, Life finds itself unable to pay its debts to the grand debtor, Death, and so Death quickly comes to repossess its gift. To a greater or lesser extent, your people understood this, and thus were driven to collect as much of it as possible.

Even then, the grand debtor had still showed up to collect its final payment, because even for all their power, your people still had to contend with Fate, with Irony. And there was nothing that could be done to satisfy Fate, nothing that could be collected or offered up to it for appeasement. No, Fate came and took what it liked, often making you look like a fool in the process.

Your people are perhaps forgotten about Fate. Of course, when speaking of your people, you generally had to speak in the past sense, because as far as you knew they were all dead, their ashes scattered to the winds.

There were many vampires left in the dark corners of the world, of course, you were sure you were not the last of them around. But calling the degenerate filth that most vampires were one of your people as like calling a monkey human. Your people were the Lords of Blood, a race of only seven unique individuals who had sacrificed everything to cheat Death out of its payment.

Your people succeeded, to, for a time until Fate came to tip the scales. Fate turned your own people against you, some out of jealousy, some out of fear, and then Death came to collect your debts, plus interest.

You hadn’t come so far to be stopped by such petty things as Death and Fate, however, and had managed to escape where most of your brethren had not. Of the two others who had left your burning lands behind with you, you do not know what has become of them. Perhaps Death had finally caught up with them, too. Perhaps Death was about to catch up with you too. Actually, scratch that, Death had caught up with you – you were currently a pile of ashes sitting in an urn somewhere.

Still, you and the rest of your brethren had one final hand to play, one last trick that let you win back everything from Death. All it took was a single drop of blood to fall on your ashes, and you were back in the game. There didn’t seem to be any limit to how many times Death would fall for this trick, although Fate obviously had to play along with you to ensure a drop of blood actually did fall where and when you needed it.

And although you had been at last caught and caged, at least now you were sure to have a drop of blood when you needed it. Ok, scratch that – you had a drop of blood when they needed you. Some of the degenerate scum that cowered in the darkness, of what most people called a vampire, had managed to arrange for you to be captured and brought to them in the darkest bowels of the earth beneath Ironheart. They had hoped by questioning and studying you they would be able to gain your strengths and nullify their weaknesses.

But the one weakness they could never make go away was fear. They feared you, and so when they weren’t “requiring your services” they tore you apart and ground you back up into ash, awaiting the summons of a drop of blood in whatever sort of black limbo your soul was currently now in, and pondering just exactly how things go to be like this. Suddenly, you feel the call, the tug on your soul as a drop of blood fell on your ashes and your body reformed itself. It was time to live again.

Slowly, you become aware of your body again. Awakening from death was always a pain, and it often took awhile for your senses to come back to you, even back to normal human levels. Even in your dull, half-awake state, however, you can feel the burn of the accursed silver manacles and chains winking into existence around your still-forming body.

Slowly, as if shouted from far away, you begin to hear a voice address you.

“Lord Umber! Lord Umber, sir, can you hear me?”

While this voice certainly had an unexpected note of respect for once, it nonetheless clearly belonged to that of an idiot, quite unlike the normal idiots who greeted you normally upon waking.

Pwenet

The nightmare is back. Heat scorching your face, you stumble forward onto the path that leads up to a high pinnacle overlooking the entire world. You wish you could turn back, to curse, to scream, but your body is no longer your own as it marches up the pathway to the end, where two figures stand waiting.

You recognize the figures, of course, both of their faces forever burned into your mind: the Baron of Gast and his Baroness, your wife. Sitting at the Baron’s feet, the Baroness of Gast runs her hands lovingly up and down her husband’s legs, looking up longingly into his eyes. In return the Baron gently runs his fingers through her hair, exactly the same way you used to do, his face frozen in a vicious sneer that is altogether inappropriate for the situation, yet your mind evidently can’t imagine him looking any other way.

As you finally reach them, they both look up at you, their faces twisting up into exactly the same evil sneer the Baron had on his face a moment ago. Despite your every effort not to, you can feel the corners of you mouth move, and even without looking into a mirror you know that the same sneer is now plastering on your face.

“Welcome, my dear friend. You have done well! Tell me, have you ever met my wife?” The Baron suddenly asks you, looking back down at your former wife and offering her a hand. As the Baroness accepts the hand and is pulled up to her feet, you feel yourself answer.

For once, something goes according to plan as you intone, “Why, no my lord. I don’t know her at all.”

For a moment, an awkward silence hangs over the three of you, all looking at each other while still sneering evilly. But then the moment passes as the Baron laughs and claps his hands.

“No matter then! We have business to attend to, so let’s get on with it!”

You nod in reply, picking up the ludicrously ornate crown that has suddenly appeared on a small table next to you. As the Baron bows his head towards you, you gently set the crown onto his head, before dropping down on one knee before him.

“I now pronounce you, Lord of All You Survey.” You intone, lowering your head to stare at the Baron’s feet.

You hear the Baroness’s exclaim “Oh honey, it’s everything we’ve ever worked for!”

Whatever the Baron’s reply is, it is drowned out by a deafeningly loud roar that comes directly over your head. You manage to look up from the Baron’s boots just in time to see a massive but withered dragon flapping above the rules’ heads.

It grates out in your voice, “Thanks for the help! Couldn’t have done it without you!” Before with another loud roar, it opens its mouth wide, giving you a one second look at its approaching rows of teeth before it chomps down on you, picking you up off the ground and swallowing you whole. And then, finally, you wake up, the mocking laughter of the Baron, the Baroness, and even “Harvey” ringing in your ears.

Although you sometimes have a while after waking from this nightmare to lie on the floor of your cramped cell, trying to ponder this insane dream’s meaning, today you do not have such a luxury. Only moments after you wake from your recurring nightmare, there is a loud clunk from the door to your cell as the adamantite rods holding it into the door frame slide free. It seems that your torment for the day would be starting earlier than usual.

Voth
2008-01-14, 05:07 AM
Voth laughs dryly. "Hehe. When I get free of these things I'll enjoy killing each and everyone of you."

Voth begins to merge, attempting to rid himself of these feeble minded mages' newest experiment.

These fools MUST pay for their stupidity. I will have their heads.

I agree. They have grown too cocky for their own good. They must be shown the error of their ways, through violence.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-14, 05:39 AM
Victor snickered to himself. This goon actually thought he was scared of him. A trip out of his cell would be a blast, Victor suspected.

Who knew, maybe he'd even get a chance to get a hold of that needle he needed. It's all that stopped him from escaping right now. If he had a needle, he'd get out. Simple as that. Without one, things were risky.

For now, Victor decided to play along. He tried to look as scared as possible, and wilingly came along with the guards. No attacks, not even sinking his teeth into one of the guards' throats. He'd be good. For now.

Frozen
2008-01-14, 06:41 AM
Lamont's magical gem was glowing, illuminating the coffin with a dim blue light, allowing bart to see the mask on which he poured the daily gruel.
"Bacon and eggs? why bart, you shouldn't have."
Jamming his face up against the slot in the coffin, lamont slurped desperately at the gruel, only to fall back against the further wall once he was fed. looking out at the old man, Lamont notices a dark bruise along the mans' forehead.
"Forgive my manners....i didn't ask what YOU wanted. Perhaps the heart of the man who did that to you? Give me a chance bart, just one opportunity, and i'll gut the one who did it. Next time you come to feed me, tell them i'm choking, or having a seizure. Think about it..." Lamont hisses softly as bart walks away, just before grunting in pain as the mystical backlash takes hold, and arcane lightning whites out the inside of the coffin. "THINK ABOUT IT" he shrieks, before slumping down again, burnt and exhausted.

It's getting worse, these bouts of magical overflow. I need to free myself and get rid of all this energy, even if for a moment.

Lamont grits his teeth again, and focuses on healing the burnt flesh and organs, and trying not to cry out loud as the cold iron makes the process hurt more than the original burning

Dorizzit
2008-01-14, 07:20 AM
Korram smiles grimly. "You think I'm a hero. HA! Heroes are the ones who win. Them and their little stories of freedom and hope. Yes, once I was a hero, but now I'm not. Don't worry. As soon as I get this glove off, I'll give you a...personal demonstration since you have been so hospitable to me. Also, the arm isn't burnt to a crisp. It's an area of mixture between my flesh and a spirit of fire." He stands, unmindful of the pain coming from dozens of half-healed wounds. "Oh yes, I forgot to thank you. Before, I had little tolerance for pain. Now it is much less effective...so go ahead, burn me, cut me, strike me down until I can stand no longer. I'll become more and more tolerant each time. It adds up." His calm was due to his little secret: the beginnings of a stretch in the leather of his glove, which he knew from past experience would lead to a tear eventually. And the smallest tear was all he needed...Soon...but for now, the pain. Always the pain.

rubakhin
2008-01-14, 07:23 AM
Dima screams freely. It doesn't matter much to him whether the guards get off on it or not. Why should he care what goes on in somebody else's mind? Besides, if he tried to hold back, then they'd go on to something worse until they broke him. And they would eventually break him, making it a loss on his part. As it is, Dima had decided long ago that his screams are just the sound of pain leaving the body - no shame in it.

He rolls into the fetal position, wraps his hands in chains and hides them between his legs, taking care not to be too obvious about it. The last thing he needs is for them to know that he was afraid of them targeting his fingers.

As always, he considers surrender. Lets the thoughts flow through him and out him. No shame in thinking about giving up either, he tells himself, so long as you don't really do it.

It's the natural thought to have under circumstances like this. But no - no, never. Not just because of the code anymore, but because if he gives up now, it will make all of his past suffering pointless. He needs to justify this pain.

Half-consciously, he hears the other guards and Korram Alstan. Oddly enough, the first thought that floats through his fevered, pain-wracked mind is what a sin it is to ruin good skin - good canvas - with a burn.

ubersquid
2008-01-14, 08:56 AM
"Ready as always, Sir!" Elkwin replied in a soldierly fashion and added a hissed "Come on, sink it deep, lad." when the staffer dipped out the gruel. Of course, when a gruel was thin like that, the most nourishing bits where always down at the bottom of the pot.

Then he quickly retracted into the back of his cell. He already learned from that one time, when one of the guards "accidentally" stumbled over his bowl. No refills for accidents.

Poking around the bowl with a disgusted expression, Elkwin sighed and then started to eat hastily to finish before the guards would fetch him for todays mining duty.

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-14, 12:51 PM
Umber

Umber blinked in the sudden rush of sensation, feeling his newly-regenerated nerves screaming with pain in ways that his once human body was not meant to cope with. Frankly, he'd always felt that whoever designed said body was working on a rush with second-rate tools and leftover pieces. There seemed to be so many things that went wrong with it, so many squishy bits that didn't seem to do anything. He should know, he'd seen pretty much all of those bits in a long and colorful career (Though, admittedly most of the colors were shades of red or pink.), including the ones you weren't supposed to see when a person was functioning normally. Of course, when Umber was done a person was lucky to be functioning at all. After a few moments, his basic faculties began to reassert themselves... his eyes snapped open, and he looked around, searching for his captors with the crimson eyes of an age-old predator... oh, but for one minute with them free of these chains. He knew things about pain that would make a demon whimper in fear. And he'd had lots of practice.

The words, however... the words were new. And the smell. That was new too. Usually it was condescenscion, or else the pathetic, wheedling demands of children wanting a sweet as they tried every little trick they knew to tease the formula out of him. Pah. As if they had the potency necessary to distill the Blood Elixir even if they knew how it was made. Not to mention that more than a few of the ingredients were probably extinct by this point. And even then, it had taken the Seven all combined to make it... And in imbibing it they had each lost something. In his case, it had been his sorcery... But, of course, it had been well worth it. And now these whimpering little pups wanted for free what he had given countless tears, blood, and souls to acquire? He thought not. They could practice their pathetic torturer's arts till the mountain crumbled down around them. He sneered as he sniffed at the air... no, this scent was different. It contained fear, yes, but not the same fear, and it was not this time masked behind a facade of arrogant disdain. A paper-thin mask to hide the terror and desire that lay behind. Slowly he turned his face towards the speaker, his eyes searching.

What do you want? Come to conduct your laughable inquisition on behalf of your swamp-leech masters? Tell them to...

His next words, frankly, were unprintable, but involved several extremely archaic insults in dead language that would make a sailor blush, and involved diverse subjects such as one's probable descendants and the suggestion that one's malformed face resulted from the family tree mixing with mountain goats at several points.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-14, 02:17 PM
((Some questions I have:
Does my cell have rats, or any other critters, and ways for them to get in and out?
Does my cell have mold, moss, or anything of that nature? Sulphur on the wall would be cool too.
How high is my cell exactly, and how big?
What does the broth they feed us contain?
That is all for now))

Engineer
2008-01-14, 07:57 PM
Amraf

Amraf puts his bowl out, and waits for the guard to fill it before pulling the bowl in. He tries to eat it, spilling all over the place due to his bit. After that he tries to focuse on himself and feel some small amount of magical power as he waits for the guards to open his cell.

Pwenet
2008-01-14, 08:59 PM
Incom

Looking down at his chained hands, Incom sighs to himself as bits and pieces of the nightmear fades away. Feeling his long ragged hair fall in front of his face around the leather half-mask that covers the left side of his face, he wonders once again how long he had been in this inferno.

”What's the matter child? Homesick? Lonely? Want some light?”

Ignoring Harvey, Incom looks towards the general direction of the door. The sounds of the rods sliding free fill and echo throughout the cell. Part of him wonders what is going to happen today, what horrors they will unleash upon him, trying to make him give in, to give up, to release 'Harvey' from his prison.

”Again with calling me 'Harvey'. After all of these years, why do you persist in calling me by that name”

'Harvey' is bored this day it seems, for he is asking that question yet again. A small part of Incom finds that amusing, and takes hope that since 'Harvey' can't find that tiny little secret, that there is hope.

Hope.

Trapped in a dark rank pit, subjected to tortures beyond imagination, fused with a ancient evil creature that is slowly devouring him body and mind.

As the door starts to open they are greeted with maniacal laughter, that one could call insane.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-15, 12:29 AM
Desot smiled and opened the grate to the knife back into its safehole. At least I get this freedom. He lifted the small bowl over to the door and called out, sarcasm thick. "That you, Geoff? I know you wouldn't come in this early. Spoils your appetite." He slid the bowl out. "And besides, what's with this 15,355 stuff? You know I only answer to 'Your Greatness.'" Desot snickered a bit, and did his best to repress the cough. The cold was starting to get to him...

Iethloc
2008-01-15, 12:53 AM
"No such thing as a good morning around here," Sohssal hisses in a raspy, worn voice. He struggled up from his sitting position, trying to take a more dignified stance, but still ends up only kneeling, whispering angrily to the chains. Another day in this place. There's nothing more I'd like to do than to break out and make their lives a lot worse... he thought angrily. Shifting uncomfortably, he found this chains as strong as ever. "If you insist. Unless today you feel like I should have a choice..." he spat, turning to sarcasm at the end. Not having much to do physically, Sohssal resorted to going over several satisfying methods of human evisceration in his head.

Inspectre
2008-01-15, 01:28 AM
The Spires

Voth

The guards laugh uneasily at your comment, apparently confident enough in their mages’ power to laugh, but surely uncomfortably aware that the mages sometimes did make deliberate miscalculations just to see what would happen. As the guards roughly hauled you up onto your feet and disconnected the collar from around your neck, you and Shadow silently agreed that today would be one of those days.

Without any further ado, the guards drag you along the familiar path up to your mage’s personal study. Out of your holding room, down a narrow hallway, up two flights of steps, down another hallway, and finally into the experiment room. There are numerous lit lanterns in here as well, their light stinging your skin. As the guards pull you through the semi-circle of them they’ve arranged around one wall, the heat wafting up from the nearest one caresses your skin. Soon enough though, their light would be snuffed out, and then you would be free to try to escape your restraints and snuff out the lives of everyone else in this room.

Pushing you up against the wall, all four guards cluster around you, holding you still while they start to remove your restraints. For a moment you are tempted to strike out while the guards are so close to you, their bodies blocking a majority of the lantern light from reaching you. But you realize that as soon as you would transform, the guards would simply back away, allowing the lantern light to once again weaken you before beating you into submission. You couldn’t afford to be injured at the moment, so you’d bide your time until the guards snuffed all the lanterns out, and then it would be too late, much too late for them to relight them all before you and Shadow tore them to pieces.

The guards undo the straps holding your arms in place, tossing them off into some far corner of the room, with your manacles soon off and joining them, cluttering loudly against the floor. As the guards go to remove the irons around your legs, the mage calls “Removing those or his visor won’t be necessary for this experiment. Use the thread on the table over there to tie him up.”

Grumbling, one of the guards leaves your side, while two others force your arms around behind your back and the fourth apparently just watches, idly tapping his club in his hand. A moment later the guard returns, and you hear a grunt of disgust as something wet, thin, and sticky starts being wrapped around your wrists.

“Ugh! This stuff is all sticky!” One guard whines as the thread is wrapped up around your arms and torso, and then down around your legs.

“Just shut up and use it. Good. Now push our friend against the wall and use the thread to pin him against it.” The mage snaps, watching the proceedings over by his desk, the pen plopping into the inkwell before scratching across the pages of his experiment journal.

Sure enough, the guards run the string back and forth across your chest and legs several times, and you find yourself held in place against the wall as the guards step back, wiping their hands on their uniforms.

“Alright. Now let’s see if you break free, Prisoner #16,514. Put out the lights.”

Sure enough, the tingling on your skin fades away as one by one the lanterns are put out, leaving only a few dim candles glowing on the mage’s desk to serve as light for them to see by.

Show Time. Shadow says in your mind simply, and then you can feel your form start to shift, growing much stronger as Shadow directly adds his strength to yours.

Fortunately, with your hands simply bound behind you, you do not cut yourself to ribbons as your hands shift to razor-sharp claws. However, with your hands bound behind you and yourself pinned to the wall by this strange string-like substance, you find it difficulty to position your new claws correctly to slice through the thread wrapped around your body.

The thread itself is also hard as steel despite its thinness, initially refusing to give way as you struggle against it. But gradually it loosens as you throw yourself against it, still holding you to the wall but not quite as tightly as it was doing a moment ago. You still find yourself unable to work your claws around to get at the thread binding your wrists, but in a sudden fit of inspiration refocus your efforts on cutting your legs free.

With only a few strands holding your legs captive, it’s a simple matter to squirm around until the tips of your claws brush against them. For a few seconds the strands resist even your razor-sharp claws, but ultimately give way and fly apart leaving your legs free. As you begin to implement the next step of your plan, you hear the mage shout, “Alright, I think that’s enough for this experiment. Guards, the lights!”

Lifting your legs up, you now use them to brace against the wall, pushing yourself forward, away from the wall with all your might. There is a loud tearing sound, and suddenly you fall to your knees as you break away from the wall. “Now, hurry!”
With your arms free from being pinned against the wall, you are now able to work your claws around, quickly cutting your wrists and arms free, standing back up with a grin as the remains of the string clings in tatters to you. “Oh ****!” The mage exclaims, and you hear a chair crash to the ground as he stumbles back away from you and towards the door.

From elsewhere in the room, you can hear other muttered curses and the rasp of flint against steel as each of the four guards attempts to light a lantern. You even hear a dull crash off to your right as in his haste the guard knocks his lantern over, spilling its contents out onto the floor.

Suddenly, a flash of pain erupts from your skin as one of the guards does manage to light one of the lanterns, catching you in its warm glow. For a moment Shadow pulls away, and you can feel him starting to retreat back inside you upon exposure to his bane. But then you focus your rage and grit your teeth, forcing him to stay, to continue lending his strength to you because this was the only chance you had at revenge, and you couldn’t do it without his help.

Your transformed body wavers for a moment, but then holds, although this might not remain the case for long if the other guards manage to get their lanterns lit.

(You are essentially in combat now. Three guards are kneeling down on the floor around you, each attempting to light a lantern. The fourth guard is meanwhile rising from the floor, and you can hear him chuckle as he draws his club and starts to approach. Meanwhile, the mage is attempting to flee the room until the guards have managed to beat you senseless again and it’s safe to come back.)

The Cells – Floor One

gnome_4ever

As you expected, the guard in question was Geoff, a young little snot of a guard who had made it his personal duty to see that you suffered greatly. Occasionally, you deliberated baited him, knowing that it could someday cause you to wind up in the Torture Chambers, but chances were good he would have to ignore most barbs on your part. You were needed down in the mines, so until he got permission to drag you down there you were by and large safe from too brutal a beating as you had work to do.

Still, the guard was not without his petty punishments, a fact which Geoff proved a few moments after you made the ‘Your Greatness” crack. Storming over to the door of your cell, he smacked the bowl of gruel out of the staffer’s hands just as he was handing it back through the bars to you. This resulted on the bowl flipping end over end, landing with a soft clatter face down against the stone floor and pouring the gruel out all over the floor.

“Whatever you’re called, you’re nothing more than a dog Prisoner #15,355. Time for you to act like it.”

The guard then stalked off, dragging the rest of the breakfast patrol along behind him and leaving you with the choice of going hungry or licking the thin gruel off the stone floor before it ran down into a crack.

Soon thereafter, the mining slave chain swung by for you. Dragging you out of your cell, the guards attached you to the head of the line by way of snapping a cuff of your right forearm that was attached to the slave chain. Looking like you would be the mining leader today, which was always a joy because you got the blame if something went wrong. And the guards always found something wrong.

Only one spot left, the slave chain moves on past your cell, going down to the second cell level via one of the heavily guarded stairways. Sure enough, you stopped by Amraf’s cell to pick the stocky guy up. The thought of your bad day so far moved to the back of your mind as you tried to think of some new joke to tell him while you toiled away down in the mines. Even with him being chained to the back of the line, the prisoners generally worked close enough together that it didn’t really matter where one was, everyone could still hear everyone else speaking.

ubersquid

At your suggestion, the staffer actually did do as you asked, dipping the ladle back into the tub and pulling up a fresh batch of gruel. This looked a bit darker than the previous ladleful, suggesting that indeed some of the oats of whatever grain they had mixed into the water was slowly settled on the bottom.

As the staffer went over to your cell door to hand you the bowl, one of the guards grabs his arm and stops him. Hocking loudly, the guard then spits into your bowl of gruel, smiling as he releases the staffer and allows him to give you your breakfast at last. Such childish cruelties were common here, you had learned.

But food was food, and as the cart rumbled off you ate what you could of it. Like most other prisoners here, you made sure there was just a little bit of the stuff left on the bottom of the bowl, hoping to entice a rat into your cell so you could maybe have some meat from a change. You weren’t quite sure if you could really eat a raw rat carcass, but then you’d never gotten a chance, having never even seen a rat down here yet. Evidently, even the rats had gotten smart about what was going on in Ironheart, and steered clear.

Sighing, you prop yourself up against the back wall of your cell and wait for the mining detail to come get you. Soon enough, a batch of guards appear at the entrance to your cell, a rapidly forming slave chain standing dejectedly in their midst. Opening your cell door, the guards quickly drag you out and attach you to the position just one step from the very front of the chain by way of locking a single cuff onto your right forearm.

With only one position filled, the slave chain moves out again, only this time heading directly for the stairway leading down to the second floor, rather than swinging around to pick out another prisoner to fill the final spot.

“Cheer up lads. Today you get a dwarf to be chain leader. And you had all better keep up with him, and you’ll get the whip! Ahahaah!” The leader of the quartet of guards explains, cracking his whip loudly through the air as if he needed to demonstrate what a whip was.

The Cells – Floor Two

Frozen

Bart pours the gruel down into your mouth, although as usual a bit of it slips past and comes to rest along one side of your face. No matter, despite your best attempts to remain silent the mystical backlash would often tear a scream or two out of your lips, attracting the attention of guards who would only too happily pour a few buckets of water into your coffin to clean you up.

At your comments, Bart absent-mindly rubs the dark bruise along the top of his balding head. But he shakes his head vehemently. “No! No. You kill a guard and things will get much, much worse for you kid. Listen, I’ve been spreading word around that you’re a real animal, a killer without a soul. It’s got some of the guys talking, and I think the guards are going to come soon to make you fight in the Arena. You’ll probably die out there, but at least you’ll be able to get out of this awful thing for awhile. Go out fighting, instead of choking one day on your own vomit, that sort of thing. It’s the best I can do for you kid. I’m sorry.” With that, Bart turns away and is gone, not responding to your offer your help again with a scream as the backlash tears through you.

You were alone in the darkness again. Bart wanted you to fight in the Arena? Fight for the amusement of the guards and their guests, put on a good show, be one of their little animals that they set against each other to fight until death? It was hardly appealing to you, although the idea of getting out of your coffin, of being able to at least move again, now that was appealing to you. But would you be willing to become a beast again for that, to maim and kill in a mad fury before the other did that to you?

What seems like several hours pass, and then you hear the cell door unlock and scrape open again. “Prisoner #14911, I’ve heard a lot of rumors about you. I’ve come to see if these rumors are true.” A cold voice asks from the doorway, and then you hear footsteps echo until a unfamiliar face appears in the window of your coffin.

“Well, your condition certainly suggests that you would be a powerful competitor, but do you have the stomach for it? Would you put on a good show for us? Fight and kill until you could finally do it no more? Or would you be boring, simply meekly going to your death to the disappointment of our spectators? Hmmm?”

Engineer

You make do as best you can, eating slowly and carefully to get as much of the food into your mouth and down your throat as possible, rather than splashing off the bit and down onto the floor and everywhere else. Breakfast accomplished, more or less, you sit back and wait for the guards to come take you away for mining.

As you wait, you attempt to practice summoning your magical power, just so you don’t forget how as you wait for the perfect opportunity to appear to get rid of these miserable restraints that kept you from doing what you did best. The gem on your collar grows hot at a few points, but generally leaves you be as you simply try to tap into the magical power deep within you.

Thankfully, you don’t have very long to wait until a slave chain of mining prisoners shows up. Sometimes you were one of the last prisoners to be picked up, and you spent several long hours just sitting in your cell, waiting.

The guards open your door and drag you out without much ceremony, attaching you to the back of the slave chain by snapping a single cuff leading away from the heavy connecting chain to your right arm. Great, you’re at the rear of the formation, which means all the guards lashes to get you to move faster will fall on your back, and even better, you get to stare at the rear of the guy in front of you the entire time.

Still, at least mining gives you something to do rather than just sit in your cell and brood about what you would do if you could use your magic. And hey, you can seen the back of Desot’s head when you exited your cell, so at least you’d be able to chat with him as usual while working.

Without another sound save for the metallic screech as your cell door was slammed shut, the slave chain moved off into the darkness, heading towards the entrance to the mines.

The Cells – Floor Three

MrEdwardNigma

(
Rats do exist in the dark bowels of Ironheart, although they are surprisingly rare because, hey, they’re a good source of protein! And even raw mangy rat flesh looks good when you’ve been slowly starving to death on the flavored water the guards have been giving you called “gruel”.
There is no complex plant life down in the cells area, although due to the dampness occasionally small patches of mold grow here and there. Most such patches are picked off and eaten by the more desperate prisoners, although this often turns out to be a bad idea because most of the molds growing down here are poisonous. There are much larger patches of such mold found down in the Mines, which suggests that the rare mold culture in the cells are from spores that float up or are carried back up to the cells by the prisoners.
The standard prisoner cell is 6’x6’x6’.
The broth is usually just water, with a small amount of oats and barley mixed in. It’s barely enough to keep you alive, and even then after several years on such fare most prisoners die from dietary complications or disease. Player characters are a surprisingly hardy lot though.
You can have either some sort of pet rat, or a fist-sized culture of mold in a dark corner of your cell, but not both (unless your elaborate escape plan mandates that you have both, in which case I might be willing to make arrangements. :smallyuk: )


Still screaming, the woman struggles valiantly against her restraints, attempting to kick out feebly at the guards as they close in around her. As they drag her back up into an upright position to carry her over to the cart, currently out of your line of sight, she once again attempts to employ her teeth, and nearly succeeds on biting another hand, her jaw snapping shut just a second after the guard jerks his hand away.

Unlike the two dark-robed figures, none of the guards is willing to tolerate this, and the almost-biten guard’s club flashes down, striking the woman on the temple. She immediately goes limp, although judging by the lack of blood she is merely dazed, not dead as the guards bodily pick her up and throw her out of your sight to the left.

The madwoman taken care of, the guards turn to the black-robed figures. The leader of this band comes to join the black-robed figure who had pointed you out, and looks in. “Umm, that one. Yeah, we’ll be glad to get rid of him. Just need to go get his keys.” The leader motions to one of his guard lackeys, and the man picks up his lantern and speeds off into the darkness.

Hours seem to pass, with the guards standing idly around, occasionally peeping into cells near to your own and sneering at the inmates within. The black-robed figure meanwhile continues standing in front of your door, presumably staring at you from underneath his hood. It is likely only twenty minutes, if that, before a heavily breathing guard returns, holding up a ring of keys.

Without another word the leader gestures at your cell door, and the lackey opens it. Immediately he steps into the room, club drawn and eyeing you warily, another guard following in behind you. It is now quite crowded in your little cramped cell, but the guards don’t seem to notice as the lackey uses the remainder of the keys to unlock the chains holding you to the wall. This done, the lackey stows the keys temporarily on his belt along with his clubs, and together the two men drag you out in the hallway.

Having learned your lesson from watching the madwoman’s treatment, and because you were actually rather curious about what was going on, you allowed the guards to drag you out like a man-sized sack of potatoes without complaint. Just at the edge of the lantern light you were able to make out a small two-wheeled cart, the comatose body of the woman lying inside.

The rest of the guards now pitching in, they all work together to pick you up and carry you over to the cart, where you see the second black-robed figure is waiting. Head bowed, he is standing by the cart on the woman’s side, chanting something in a low voice, but he stops when he senses everyone’s approach.

Without ceremony, the guards dump you into the cart right next to the woman, pressed close together and face-to-face due to size constraints. The guards then wave a farewell to the two figures, who silently now move to the front of the cart. In the fleeing lantern light from the guards, you catch sight for an instant of two long wooden poles at the front. These nutjob cultists, or whatever they were, each picked up one of these poles, and then began to pull the cart forward into the darkness, beginning to chant softly as the cart rumbled along.

“Hey, you alright? What have they got on you for restraints?” A soft voice suddenly whispers in your ear, the person’s hot breath passing over one side of your face. Presumably, judging by the relative direction and gender of the voice, this is the madwoman speaking to you, and not one of the cultists or some sort of new delusional friend you invented just now.

Briefly taking stock of the situation, you note that although now free of the chains previously holding you against the wall of your cell, the leather sack that had been wrapped around you was still quite tight and capable of preventing most of your movements. And underneath that you still had those iron gauntlets locked around your hands, although that was only a small impediment, and actually an advantage should you choose to use your fists as a weapon now that you’ve thought about it.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

“That’s a good lad. We’ll stomp all the fire out of you yet!” The leader exclaims with a grin, the other two hyenas behind him bursting into laughter.

“That’s pretty good, boss! Stomp out? Fire? And he’s got a fire thingy in his arm? Ouch!” One of the two toadies giggles, suddenly cut off in a grunt of pain as the leader jabs his club into the man’s sizable gut.

“Well, why don’t we show you some more of our hospitality. We might be no mages, but I’m willing to bet we can mix some fire together with the flesh of your own arm pretty well.” The leader says as he opens the cell door, allowing his two toadies to reach in and drag you out of your cell.

Together, the three of them manage to drag you out into the center of the room, where a number of red glowing braziers and a thick wooden table with a tangle of heavy leather straps awaits. As is the usual procedure, the guards remove the restraints around your wrist and ankles, dropping the chains and kicking them under the table while they bodily pick you up and slam you down onto the table. While the two toadies pin you down to the table, their leader uses the leather straps to secure you once more: arms held straight out above your head, legs strapped together at the foot of the table.

“There we go. All nice and comfy.” The leader says, leering down at you while his two men go and start shifting the hot irons inside of the braziers, making sure that they are all nice and hot. “And you’re right. This is starting to get boring, even for me. That’s why we’ve got a surprise for you, Mr. Hero. You may have developed a good tolerance for pain, but I’m willing to bet your daughter hasn’t.”

Grinning at your shock, the leader reaches down to grab a hold of your hair, forcing your head around to look into his smiling eyes as he continues. “Oh yes, we know all about her. And as it turns out, you can’t change the nature of your blood. Little tramp was picked up a week ago for stealing. When they found out who she was, they sent her here straight away. She’s up in Prisoner Processing on the ground floor now, but the boys up there should be done with her soon enough. And then she’s coming straight down here to join her daddy. So consider this just a warm-up for us, chump. We’ll be saving the best stuff for your daughter later today.”

Cackling maniacally, the guard realizes his grip on you and turns away, walking over to his toadies by the braziers to pick out an iron.

rubakhin

The guards all seem crest-fallen when you suddenly seem to give up, just screaming as loudly as possible after the first blow. “Aw, I didn’t hit him that hard. That’s no fun.” The guard who hit you grumbles, but still seizing a hold of you by the hair to drag you out of the cell.

“Quiet you, quiet! You’ll disturb the others!” The guards admonishes you, shaking your head this way and that by your hair, before letting go and dropping your head unceremoniously back down onto the floor.

“Come on, let’s get him up and hang him. We’ll let him stew a bit while we go play with some of the others who don’t scream on command yet.” One of the other guards comments, as they all drag you up onto your feet.

You already knew what they meant when they said “hang him”. In one corner of this room, away from the large rack that dominated the center of the room, was a simple loop made out of leather and hanging down from the ceiling. A rather simple device, the guards simply boosted a prisoner up the couple feet off the floor, slipped the leather loop over his/her neck, and then let go.

Gravity took care of the rest, the prisoner’s weight pulling him/her down towards the floor and tightening the loop around the neck. Of course, there was a safety clasp involved: the guards didn’t actually want their prisoners to be strangle to death: just flail about helplessly as they struggled to breathe properly. Naturally, a few prisoners died due to misjudgments on the guards’ part, but generally it was just a singularly unpleasant experience rather than a fatal one.

Reaching the loop, two of the guards boosting you up while the third slipped the loop down over your head and around your neck. “Don’t go anywhere now. We’ll be back soon enough.” The lead guard says, and then the two drop you, the loop instantly wrapping tight around your neck. The tips of your toes hang perhaps several inches off of the ground, and you try not to move more than necessary and keep your neck muscles tight: it seemed to help a bit. One of the guards grabs you and spins you around, the entire room rapidly passing through your sight over and over again as you twirl around, the pivoted anchor point for the leather loop keeping it from twisting up on you.

Then the guards leave you alone in the room, your only company the screams from other nearby rooms. This was rather uncommon, guards leaving prisoners completely alone in a room. Apparently some were afraid that the prisoners would somehow be able to escape, and thus cause trouble elsewhere in the area, leading to a general policy of at least one guard remaining in the room at all times a prisoners was out of the holding cells. But your guards had been growing increasingly bored of you as of late, having been ordered to torture you until you agreed to work, rather than them having picked you out themselves. Was this your moment to escape, finally? Granted, it hardly looked like it with you dangling from the ceiling by your neck, still in chains, but at least you could move about now, and there was no locked door holding you in.

The Labs

Iethloc

Your walking cell laughed as he stepped further into the room, allowing a number of guards to enter into the room behind him, carrying the heavy cloths necessary to cover the walls and ceilings while the assistant bound your essence into his own body.

“I suppose I could beat you senseless first for a change of pace. It’s not like you do anything except maybe scream during all this anyway.” He sneered, coming to stand over you, clenching a fist but then relaxing it as one of the guards starts to approach.

“Hmph. I guess they don’t like the thought of you coming out the other side comatose. It’s fine, I won’t touch him!” The assistant snarls, gesturing at the approaching guard to continue with his work. Apparently satisfied, the guard turns away and moves over to one wall to help position a cloth.

Sitting down in a cross-legged position across from you, the assistant smiles. “I’ve been informed that the researchers think they’re nearing a breakthrough. Which means only a bit longer of this and we’ll both be free. I’ll be released from my imprisonment at Ironheart, and you’ll be dead. Would that make for a good morning for you?” The researcher says with a vicious smile, turning and nodding at the guards as they position the last cloth into place. “Ready.”

As the guards throw the last cloth up over the wall, your personal jailer reaches out, grabbing your throat with one hand while the other tips your chin up to look directly into his eyes. For a moment, you see only his piercing blue irises, but then you see your own reflection in them, and you bite back a scream as your body tears itself apart into incorporeal essence, which the man then inhales into his body with a deep gasp.

Suddenly, you find yourself looking out through eyes that reveal a different vantage point than the one you had seen previously, the iron chains used to hold you a moment ago clattering to the floor right in front of you. This suddenly swap of view points was disorienting for a few seconds, but you had gotten used to it, both during your time when you were able to move from place to place as you chose, and now when you were forced into another’s body.

Unfortunately, you seldom had control of this new body, except when you wrestling with the other presence you could now feel inside your head, tucked up against your mind. Or were you tucked up against his, since it was his body? In any case, you had little to no control over what was happening yet again, as the man stretches out face down on the floor, allowing the guards to chain him up like an animal just in case you did manage to one day wrest control of his own body away from him. As the guards drag “you” up onto “your” feet, the other presence pokes your mind.

So, what do you think they’ll do to you today? I’m personally hoping for forcing you into an object before setting it on fire again, exposing you to a mirror just before the whole thing collapses into ashes.

Ritual Chambers

WhiteKnight777

As your eyes gradually adjusted to the dim light provided within your cell by the lanterns being used by your captors, you realized several things about these new people.

First, there were seven of them, all heavily armed, and dressed head to toe in form-fitting black clothes with black cloaks, their faces concealed by strips of black cloth that covered their face from the nose down. Although usually heavily armed and numerous, your captors generally saw no reason to hide their faces from you. Afraid of you they were, but they did want you to know who you were dealing with. Perhaps it was some small matter of pride to some of them that they had actually been the ones to bring you down, to put you with all you strength into their power. Fools, all of them. Even if they didn’t die long before you did, sooner or later you would break free and hunt them down. You had seen their faces, and had committed them all to memory: there would be no escape for them.

Second, was the aura they each radiated. Fear, yes, but also awe and a strange sort of reverence. These were not the emotions of your captors, generally projecting a strong aura of fear tempered by arrogance.

Finally, they were all human. Humans didn’t overly surprise you much, because as it turned out only human blood was able to re-awaken you. Animal blood was not potent enough for whatever reason, and vampire blood too tainted by darkness to tear you fully out of death’s grasp. But the fact that it was only humans alone without a single vampire amongst them surprised you. Usually at least one of the degenerate filth was right there, badgering you with questions immediately upon awakening, no doubt fearful to keep you alive any longer than necessary.

Nonetheless, the lot of them undoubtedly wanted something from you, and the only reasonable group that could have sent them was your captors. So, you told them exactly what you thought, as usual. All of them stood, listening dutifully, like small children being told something important by their parent. None of them could possibly understand the full meaning of your insults, as you used a mixture of languages that had long since passed from the knowledge of all mortal men.

As he listened, the apparent leader of the group and the one who had awakened you wrapped a black strip of cloth cut from his cloak around the still-oozing cut in the palm of his hand, having already wiped the bloodstained knife off on his rapidly-ruining cloak and sheathed it in his belt. When you are finally finished with your insulting litany regarding their ancestry, the leader bows deeply.

“Lord Umber, we have been sent by our master to spirit you away from here. Not everyone wishes to see you pawed at by the degenerate filth.” At these last words the man winces, clearly uncomfortable with calling vampires degenerate filth. Which suggested a few distinct possibilities, the most likely one being that he was the servant of just such a degenerate vampire who thought himself better than what he really was.

“If you are strong enough to travel now, we shall carry you off into the tunnels below this place to make our escape. We managed to tunnel into this area but a short distance with great difficulty, as well as obtain the means necessary to open your cell door.”

Sure enough, the door leading outside of the room where your urn was usually kept was hanging wide open.

Pwenet

As the final rod pops out of its slot and the door swings open, you catch the final words of the conversation being carried out on the other side of the door.

“ . . . laughing again. Great, why don’t we get this guy a gag already?” A reedy voice moans, identified by you as that of Walters, one of the group of mercenary guards who usually dragged you to and from the ritual area where the dragon cultists toyed around with you. Called the Malevolent Seven, apparently by their own choice, the group of seven elite guards never really got involved with you beyond this. Occasionally, when you grew too wild for the dragon cultists to control, they were brought in to bring you down without serious harm, but these instances were few and far between. Therefore, these little morning strolls were generally the only contact you had with this lot of scum.

“Quiet.” Came a harsh voice, cutting Walters off. Ah, Arguile, the self-appointed leader of the bunch. It was he who had shot you with that crossbow the first time you brought free and ran amok. Since then, you had enough experience in dealing with him to know that he was the most cautious and cunning of the seven, and also a crack shot with his crossbow.

“Morning, prisoner prime. Ready to go see your little friends?” Jape, the wise-guy of the group grunted, taunting you with that little nickname the Malevolent Seven had come up with after learning you had actually somehow been the very first prisoner at Ironheart. That fact, you were sure, made it clear that you’d been here for a very long time, even if your memory of all the long years had started to blur together into one long endless stretch of torment and madness.

“I said, quiet! On your feet, Prime.” Arguile grunted, even he seemingly unable to resist taunting you as he gesturing for you to get to your feet with his crossbow. Unlike the cultists, who seemed to deliberate go out of their way to provoke you and then allow you to run amok once you broke free, the Malevolent Seven had no interest in being torn apart during one of your fits of rage. They were always very careful to keep their distance when escorting you to the cultists, and kept all of their crossbows pointed in your general direction at all times.

Even when they were called in, they generally waited until you had exhausted yourself against the other guards, cultists, and whatever else stood in your path of destruction before they moved in for the “killing blow”. Of course, such a blow never came, but oh how you longed for it. Thought your death would prevent finally getting revenge against the Baron and the one who had betrayed you the most, at least it would prevent Harvey from getting a new body.

Don’t be too sure about that. The dragon lord hissed from the dark corners of your mind. Perhaps I just need a body. Maybe when you die, my soul moves in to fill the void, and I get a free pass.

Warshrike
2008-01-15, 01:30 AM
Dwiggs

Dwiggs moved slowly over to the door, passing his bowl out to recieve the slush of poor nutrients. He looked the new guard over. He didn't seem a bad fellow, at least, no worse than the worst in this place. He spoke as his eyes fell to the bowl.
"I may be able to dig better than any of the others here, but we'd all be able to do better if you fed us something apart from this sludge!!"
He turned to the guard he remembered better.
"But then, I've asked you the same thing as often as I can and we still seem to only have a limited menu. And again, It's DWIGGS. You may be on the good end of this, but there's no need to be rude!!"
If there was one thing Dwiggs enjoyed in this prison, apart from mining, it was small talk with the guards. Whilst some of them would as soon beat him as they would reply, it was still better than the dregdes of various societies who made up the prisons population.

Inspectre
2008-01-15, 01:42 AM
The Cells - Floor Two

Warshrike

The guards simply laugh at you, clearly none of them caring if you worked yourself to death in the mines or not. If you died due to poor nuitrition, what was it to them? There was always more prisoners coming in, and some of the old ones always had to die to make room.

"Heh. Maybe we'll have them start chopping up the dead prisoners and feeding them back to yah. How would you like that, dwarf? A little side of your fellow countrymen to go along with your gruel, perhaps?" One of the guards jested, although the staffers sniffed in disgust. Clearly, they had no desire to prepare cannibal means for any of the inmates. Given the state of most of the walking corpses that the guards called prisoners these days, you could hardly blame them.

Nonetheless, the guards then leave you to eat in piece, and you down the thin slop, wishing there at least was some more of it. Mining was hard work, and you were always hungry.

Soon enough, a slave chain came around, and attached you to the front of it. Oh goody, you got to be chain leader today, which meant you were the one that got whipped the most in an effort to drive everyone else in the chain along fast as you dragged them behind you. Pity for the guards that you generally already did drag the rest of your sorry lot of a mining crew along behind you most days.

Still, a familiar face shackled in line just behind you catches you attention as you are connected to the slave chain. The human was Elkwin, owner of a small tavern you visited a couple times on your way to the Baron's palace. Good food there, and even pretty decent ale by your standards, which as a dwarf was saying something! So, at the very least, you'd have some good company now while you worked, although how the easy-going innkeep had managed to get himself dragged off to this place, you had no idea.

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-15, 01:50 AM
Umber

As Umber sees how events are resolving, his manner changes. Behind the silver muzzle, his mouth splits in a wide, predatory grin, and he has to stifle a soft chuckle... apparently some benefactor desires to use him for his or her own ends, and has sent minions to spirit him away to that end. Of course, it could be some sort of trap, but the situation is unlikely to get too much worse and, of course, this may be his last chance to escape for a very long time. His voice is now a low purr as he looks around at the clustered acolytes, regarding them with a bright, burning hunger behind his eyes. He managed to nod slightly despite the restraints, flexing his muscles within them... the silver burned where it touched his exposed flesh, but his strength would return... true, he was at a nadir of his powers at the moment, but with every fool he drained he would regain a little more of his strength... and oh how they would regret their arrogance, their stupidity... to think that they could chain a Lord of Blood like an animal... the very thought put the red rage up behind his eyes.. but he calmed himself once more, nodding at his "rescuers"

Ah, I see... mmm.. in that case, the situation is much different than I have imagined... yes, you've done very well indeed to get this far. Now let us escape with all due haste. I don't suppose you can remove these accursed chains? Mmm.. no matter. Just get me away from this place, and we'll see about them later... yes... and rest assured, once I am free, you will be rewarded most highly.. I will make sure of it.

Umber grinned again, and nodded, encouraging the group to make haste. It did not escape his notice, either, the number seven... it was a number of magic, true, but also one that held special significance... a coincidence, possibly... but then again, possibly not. He would just have to see.

Oh, but this was going to be sweet indeed.

Iethloc
2008-01-15, 02:02 AM
Sohssal

I, on the other hand, hope to finally gain control of this body and kill all of you wretched fools, or worse... Sohssal replied mentally, his thoughts being like claws compared to his mobile cell's mental pokes. Once again, he struggled against his captor's body, just hoping to be able to make one attempt at escape, as that is all he would need, even if he didn't recover all of his power after taking control. So you mentioned that they were getting close to discovering my secrets, eh? Well, I certainly can't let that happen... he hissed mentally, renewing his normally-futile efforts.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-15, 02:04 AM
You can have either some sort of pet rat, or a fist-sized culture of mold in a dark corner of your cell, but not both

I need neither, don't worry, I can escape without those things, they'd just be extra tools, that's all. As long as I can get back to my cell...

Victor looks at the woman lying beside him.
"Restraints?" he croaks, his voice not used to making conversation, "Plenty of those. Iron mittens, a bag. Nothing that could really stop me. But I don't think I mind this little trip. Need to wait until I get back to my cell"
He is silent for a while.
Then he asks her "So, what's your deal?"

Voth
2008-01-15, 02:45 AM
"HAHAHAHA!" cackles Voth, "Today is going to be very very fun."

Watch those lights! Kill those fools while they blunder with those lanterns.

I know, I know!

In a flurry of movement Voth, hearing the guards fumble with the lanterns rushes the nearest guard striking with his right claw at where he believes guards face is, racking across the guards vulnerable face. His left claw jabbed in towards the guards chest, easily piercing the chain mail, penetrating the guards chest.

"It has been sooo long since I had felt someones insides." Laughs Voth as he feels the now lifeless body slide off his claws and, with a sickening thud, collapses to the stone floor. "Now... Who's next?"

As Voth begins to turn towards his next target, he stumbles, and after a moment his claws begin to grow even longer. "Your Death Is Here Feeble Humans!" says Voth softly, just low enough that the guards could still hear.

Voth suddenly kicks the lifeless body at the mage scrambling to open get away. It impacts the mage with such force that he is flung against the wall with a loud *thud*. At the same time, Voth moves even faster than before bringing his claws diagonally down across one guards chest, tearing the flimsy chain mail into pieces. In a single deft movement, he brings a claw back around and decapitates the guard. Before the body has even hit the ground, Voth has moved on to his next victim. Voth moves slowly, deliberately taking his time. As he reaches the guard, he reaches down and grips the guards arm. Suddenly, he rips the arm off. Cackling with glee, basking the blood, he rips the guards limbs off, one after another.

The third guard, finally lighting his lantern, raises to his feet, wielding his club in one had and the lantern in the other. The light radiating out of the lantern, Voth begins to feel his claws receding, his speed dulling.

Crap. Stupid lantern, stupid light. You don't think you could stay here a tiny bit longer?

How is this MY fault? Your the idiot who took his time.

Shut up!

Finally noticing the approaching guard, Voth moves to the right, narrowly dodging a overhand strike from the guard.

How am I suppose to fight this guy if I can't see?

I don't know but how about you figure this out soon before the good 'professor' gets out from under that body?

If I get rid of that light, could you beat him?

Without a doubt, but how are you going to do that?

Not answering Voth turns to face the guard, using the smell of the burning oil and the shuffling of the guards feet.

I've only got one shot at this...

One shot at what? What in the 7 hells are you planning?

Suddenly, Voth bursts into action, diving straight at the guard, or rather the guards legs. As Voth impacts the guard, they both tumble to the ground. There is a loud *crack* as the lantern hits the ground and shatters. Once again the room is submerged into darkness.

"You almost had me there, too bad. Ah well, alls well that ends well!" Voth laughs as he begins to merge once more to finish off the guard.

After dealing with the last guard Voth walks over to the cowering mage, grabbing him by the collar Voth begins to speak.

"Where are the keys to this thing?" Voth demands, tapping on the metal helmet.

Frozen
2008-01-15, 04:21 AM
Lamont growls and bows his head, seeing the long hair he has grown in prison cover the eyehole of his mask. flipping it to the side, he looks at the figure, sizing him up. "Oh i could be your animal, make no mistake about that. The real question is, do you have the proper collar!" throwing his head back, lamont directs the magic coursing through his veins into his hair, hardening the ends into a bone-like structure, then whips his head forward, hissing as the spines clang against the coffin and flop down limply, the cold iron forcing them back into the form they were.

"Give me a free hand, or better yet, take this mask off....and you shall have your show." He says, shutting his eyelid and extinguishing the blue glow inside the coffin.

"I want the name of my opponent...I'll see you in the ring."

Dorizzit
2008-01-15, 07:30 AM
At first, Korram's only reaction is stunned silence. Then: "NOOOOOOOOOO!" He thought he had known fear when he had first come to Ironheart, with the merciless guards and the almost constant torture, and the knowledge that he would never return to his life as he had known it. That was nothing compared to what he felt now. He screams, crying out in rage and impotent fury, lashing futilely against his bonds. Little do the guards know that his ineffective lashing out actually had a purpose: he was rubbing the stretch against the rough leather restraints, trying to get it to tear, finally. Let the guards think what they want. They were all dead men, anyway.

rubakhin
2008-01-15, 01:57 PM
Silence.

Dima's heart beats faster. He needs a plan. But first -

"Come out," he softly calls. He doesn't feel it, or see it, but he feels a low and heavy weight drop, almost inaudibly, by his side.

The tiger, without even being asked, bites through his strap. Dima falls to the ground. He buries his hands inside her thick pelt. The tiger licks his shaved skull - almost motherly.

"Poor girl," he whispers. "Must have been worse on you. Watching. We'll be free soon. Don't worry."

He pauses for a minute and thinks. He needs as many people free in as short a time as possible. Give the guards more to worry about than just him. He draws crude outlines in the dust with his heel, from which rises a swarm of rats, of snakes and spiders whose bite can paralyze and kill. Silently, they move towards the door, driven by his orders, impressions faint as genetic memory, images of straps to gnaw through, of guards to bite. It didn't matter who.

He draws few dogs, too. Some - whose bite can rend steel in twain - he sends out, to save others. The rest he keeps by his heel. (The tiger flicks her tail in irritation.) Although they're strong enough to tear out the throat of a guard, Dima knows they'll stay under his control. Dogs are like that.

As for the tiger, however. The tiger was a part of his flesh, and as such, is bonded to him. He can have her do something a little more complex.

He takes her jowls in his hands. "All right, my friend. Listen, what I want you to do is go find Korram Altsan. Do you know his scent, the sound of his voice? Kill whoever's guarding him. Chew through the straps. Let him free."

He gives her a pat on the head, and the tiger slinks off. He has faith in her - the Manslayer. But if anything happened to her incarnation now, he could always call her up again from his arm. Dima turns his attention to the blood on his body, to the dust on the walls.

He's going to need some firepower. Can he risk calling up something that he can't control?

Well, whatever. It wasn't like he had plans to stick around this level, anyway. Create a little pandemonium up here once the freed prisoners started running around, then find the people he had tattooed and call up their beasts.

He dips his thumb in his own blood - if they came from his own blood, he figures, they will not, at least, try to attack him - and paints the walls with all manner of forbidden creatures.

Pwenet
2008-01-15, 06:11 PM
Don’t be too sure about that. The dragon lord hissed from the dark corners of your mind. Perhaps I just need a body. Maybe when you die, my soul moves in to fill the void, and I get a free pass.

Oh ho ho ho, if that was true, then why have your little friends not already have killed me, sent me to the great beyond. I know your dirty little secret, you need me to WILLINGLY give in and surrender, to break so completely. You may be ancient, but really, all of these years trapped in my puny skull, you should want to escape now! FLEE! RUNAWAY!

Laughing even more insanely as he stands up as he mentally taunts ‘Harvey’, Incom doubles over laughing all the more at the echoing silence within him, a tear leaving his eye as he sees one of the Malevolent Seven, Jape step into his cell. His mood instantly shifts and he starts screaming:

”My side your side my side your side! Give me my BREAKFAST!”

Gesturing as best as he can with his chains towards the entrance to the door and the interior of his cell, it is quite clear that Incom is missing bits and pieces of his mind, for he considers his cell his. Several of the Magnificent Seven chuckle at this display, for after all the years he has been here, they have seen most of his insanity. Jape looks at down at Incom and smiles as he swings with his armored hands, sending a bone-cracking sound echoing through the tiny cell, and a trail of blood as several of Incom’s teeth go flying from their mounts and a ragged tear in his flesh down to the bone appears. The leather mask covering half of his face nearly comes off, but the thin leather straps keep it in place, for now.

”Oh looo ou a atistic o woes at mea ou a ae a woan hay ow?”*

*Broken Jaw Translation: Oh look, you are a artist now. Does that mean you can make a woman happy now?

Needless to say the message is quite clear to Jape, for while Incom has been trapped here for…… how many years now? Five, nope they cut his hair then and Arguile was bragging about his kid just turning ten. Ten, nahhh they tore out his eye then as Jape stumbled with the knife, missing the eye several times as the odor of a strong drink emerged every time he breathed, complaining about the five year old brat of Arguile. Probably around fifteen years, yes, that’s it, fifteen years with the Magnificent Seven means that while they have tortured Incom greatly, he has heard many….. interesting stories and…. Deficiencies about the various members, namely Japes troubles…….. making a woman happy with him.

Incom’s reward for touching that sore spot, a swift kick in the gut followed by another powerful blow to his already mangled jaw. Falling to the ground he spits out even more blood, feeling his jaw twitch as the bone starts to regrow, the muscles pulling themselves taunt to guide the shape, the skin tingling as it regenerates over the wound and the painful sensation of new teeth growing to replace the old ones.

“Enough playing Jape. We have a schedule to keep today” speaks Arguile, his crossbow at the ready. Grunting slightly, Jape takes several steps back, the light from outside the cell giving him a more menacing figure as blood drops from his armored hand.

“Now, up Prime. Get stumbling” orders Arguile, gesturing slightly with his crossbow, but keeping the bolt in line with Incom should anything changed.

Despite his wounds now healing, Incom chuckles as he picks himself up.

Silly dragon, why would you put up with this fun and entertainment if you could simply tell them to slit my throat? And now that I have had my dose of poison, I want to have a tea, party, yes! A tea party with your minions. I want minions, can daddy dragon give me minions glad in pink and purple dresses dancing with cream pies?”

Breaking out into laughter, Incom emerges from his cell, none the worse for wear, except if one was to look closely several new scales have appeared on his cheek where it was split open. He looks up at Arguile, starring him in the eye, taking on a mock serious look before laughing.

”Which way oh great and power master? Which way shall I dance for thee?”

Engineer
2008-01-15, 08:47 PM
Amfar gets on the slave train obediently and moves with the other slaves. As we walk I try to remember what comes next on our path to the mines, and to see how many guards there are what side routes etc.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-15, 09:17 PM
Demot sighed and hung his head down. He wasn't going to starve today, at least, but there was another blow. As loud as the fastest whip and as painful as the most excruciating torture, they were breaking his soul. He had to do something or pretty soon he'd be reduced to nothing. While thoughts of grandeur and revenge flooded his sticken mind, he idly smiled and continued on. Today looks like it could be a good day.

Inspectre
2008-01-16, 02:01 AM
The Spires

Voth

Now free to wreck your vengeance at last, you rush over in the direction of the nearest guard, attracted by the sounds of flint scrapping against steel as the he tries to light the lantern. He is unfortunately, much too late as you reach him, skewering him on your claws before kicking his lifeless body at where you think the mage is. A loud crash and pained cry follows, suggesting that you hadn’t missed your mark.

The mage taken care of, you turn your attention back to dealing with the remaining guards. Just in time, as the soft footsteps of the approaching guard reach your ears. Imagining the guard’s club descending towards your head, you skip back a couple steps, a loud gust of air hitting your face just as you move: you had gotten out of the way just in time.

Now it was your turn, and you stepped in towards the guard again, slicing him to pieces and tearing off his head before he can pull back for another swing at you. This left two guards, one loudly cursing as he evidently drops the flint in his haste, it clattering onto the floor. Once more attracted by the noise, you knew exactly where he was, and you wasted no time in closing the distance.

Reaching down, you come into contact with a warm body, and knew then that this one was already dead as he screamed out in alarm and attempted to twist around to bring his club to bear. Catching his arm in mid-swing easily, you pull him all the way up onto his feet, and then twist and pull with all your strength, first dislocating the man’s arm at the shoulder, and then tearing it free from its socket altogether. Flinging the bloody limb off in a random direction, you grasp the guard’s other arm and repeat the procedure.

The guard’s screams are even louder now, and filled with pain and not just fear. This was even better than your dreams. Unfortunately, reality intruded as burning pain lanced through you: the last guard had managed to get his lantern lit. Worse yet, the clever fellow had though to bring the lantern along with him as he approached to beat you senseless. Two lanterns now lit in the room, Shadow leaves with a loud shriek inside your mind.

You deal with him, it’s too bright!

Relying on your still-acute hearing and quick reflexes, you manage to keep your distance from the guard, avoiding the first several blows from his club. But you can’t keep dodging forever, and with your feet still chained you couldn’t keep the distance open for much longer. Without Shadow’s help you were helpless: you needed to get rid of that light and transform again.

Suddenly, an idea occurs to you, and you act as if to dodge away again, but then instead throw yourself forward into the guard. With a loud grunt, the guard stumbles back from you, but you wrap your arms around him and push, driving you both to the ground. You land on top of the guard, and with a loud crash the lantern shatters. Unfortunately, instead of going out the suddenly exposed pool of oil comes into contact with the burning wick, and a bright pool of flame leaps up beside the two of you.

The two of you wrestle about on the floor for a few moments, the muscular guard clearly stronger than the malnourished human you. As the guard begins to gain the upper hand, you realize that the oil won’t burn for long, and so simply have to buy time. You also remember that the best way to put out a small fire like the oil fire was to smother it, so as the guard attempts to put you in a choke hold you twist in his grasp and roll over.

There is a brief sensation of intense heat, and then you are back on top of the guard, who in turn is on top of the still-burning patch of oil. He screams for a moment, but then is silenced by you as the last of the flames go out and you find yourself able to reassume demon form. Having no more time to play, you simply break the guard’s neck and push yourself back up onto your feet.

You wish a moment later than you hadn’t, as some bright bolt of energy slams into your chest, you and Shadow both screaming as you were flung back to the floor. Worse yet, for a moment you shift back into human form, Shadow once again cowering inside of you.

Some kind of light spell. This guy is getting annoying . . . and he’s also getting away.

Sure enough, you hear the mage dash over to where you remember the door being, hear something slam against the wall, and then receding footsteps.

Wait. The mage said that our guards wouldn’t have to remove all of our restraints. That implies that they could have removed them if they had so chose. Which means one of these bodies has a key ring on it. Then again, if that mage goes and gets help I’m not sure it’ll matter if we’re totally unchained. That light spell he had packed quite the wallop.

The Arena

Frozen

Seemingly impressed by your display, the man smiles coldly. “Very well then. I will send a team of guards to escort you up to the Arena shortly. I suggest that you behave yourself until you are actually in the Arena. And I’ll see what I can do about ensuring you have the capability of putting on a good show for the crowd.

The man then leaves, and you are alone once again. True to his word however, a team of guards appears soon after. They open up your coffin, hauling you up out of it and dumping you out onto the floor. Then, they expect you to walk. You hadn’t walked in quite awhile, having been stuck inside that coffin almost immediately after entry into Ironheart.

But you eventually manage to pull yourself up, greatly motivated by the guards’ curses and clubs. For a moment you consider showing them why you were put in your coffin to begin with, but remember your promise to the man and so behave yourself, walking stiffly out into the hallway, hissing with pain as the cold iron rods move and shift with your every step.

The guards lead you down the dim hallway, and up a set of stairs into a more brightly lit series of hallways: the first level of cells. Pushing you along now, demanding that you hurry up, the guards jab you in the back with their clubs. Still, you cooperate, willing your legs to move faster, despite the pain it caused. You could use the pain right now, it helped funnel your rage, made you eager to get turned loose to fight, and kill in front of those awaiting spectators. To let you become, just for a few moments when it was time, an animal.

Finally, you seem to reach your destination: a heavy iron door stands in front of you, two bored looking guards armed with crossbows standing watch beside it. One waves you and your escort through, while the one lifts an iron latch up and pushes the door open. Entering the room, you see that you won’t be alone in the Arena: numerous heavy wooden benches sit along either side of a central aisle running down the length of the room.

And sitting on those benches are several dozen prisoners, held into their seats by chains. Most look tired and worn, and more than one sports a nasty-looking injury on some part of their body. But none of the guards care about this injured ones, and even their fellows seem disinterested. Then again, from what you had heard of this place, prisoners often fought against each other; hard to care about an injury that the opposition has sustained.

As you are shoved inside the room, more than one turns to look at you with interest, clearly sizing you up. Even more look on with interest as one of the guards starts steering you towards a nearby empty bench, but is stopped by one of the others, one of the two that had been standing watch at the door.

“No. Bossman says the new guy is up next. Here, these are the keys that unlock all that stuff he’s got on him above the waist. Unchain him, and remove the rods you unlock. Bossman’s orders.”

He hands the lead guard of your escorts a ring of keys, and then slams the door shut behind you all. Shrugging, the lead guards looks at his team of four other men, and smiles. “Bossman’s orders.” He nods at you, and suddenly you are struck from behind as one of the other four slams his club into the back of your head.

You fall to the floor, barely managing to catch yourself with your hands, the impact jarring all of the rods in your arms and making you scream in agony. Before you can react to this sudden attack, all five of the guards are on top of you, holding you down.

“Alright, let’s get this animal loose!” The leader cries, going through the keys until he manages to find the key to unlock the manacle around your right wrist. Again, as the guards hold you down against the floor, you consider resisting, but see no point in struggling feebly against five people who seem interested in letting you go free. Except, of course, for your legs: evidently the Arena organizers still didn’t quite trust you enough to think that you wouldn’t try to make a break for it, transform your entire body into something small enough or fast enough to escape entirely.

Soon enough, the guards have managed to unlock the cold iron bands around your neck, elbows, and wrists, still leading your waist, knee, and ankle ones on. For a moment, they shrug and seem at a loss as to how to remove the cold iron rod from your upper body, now held in place only be your flesh.

But then the horrible idea comes to one of the guards. “Hey, let’s just rip them outta him!” So saying, he grabs the one of the two embedded in your back at one of the ends sticking out of your back, and simply pulls. You could not imagine a worse pain. Even all of the mad wizard’s torments were nothing compared to the sheer agony of this as the guard pulls and pulls on the cold iron rod until finally your skin rips apart, allowing it to leave your body.

A moment later, the idea that there could not be a worse pain than that was banished from your mind as the genius guard threw the first rod aside, and then they all grabbed a rod and pulled.

You can only imagine that you had passed out from the pain, for the next thing you know, you find yourself falling through the air. Limbs flailing, you open your eyes to find yourself heading down towards a sand-covered floor. You have just a moment to brace yourself before impact, your legs screaming as the impact jars the cold iron rods still in your legs.

But there is no pain anywhere else, except from the long ragged tears in your flesh, already slowly starting to automatically seal closed as your subconscious does that work for you.

The scent of blood filling your nostrils as you push yourself up, you wipe off the bloody sand that had been ground into your face. Looking around, you can see that you are trapped down in some sort of pit, the steer stone walls forming a rough circle all around you, the top edge of those walls ten feet above. Beyond those walls you could see the top few feet of another sheer wall, and then people, sitting up on wooden benches not entirely unlike that being used by the prisoners you had just seen as they awaited their fate. A moment later a loud voice assaults your ears.

“Ladies and gentlemen! We now proudly present to you our next match, with an untried combatant that is totally new to the Arena! We think, however, that you will very much enjoy this bout, as beast fights against beast! The Iron Shifter vs. The Chimera!”

The large iron grate at one end of the circle suddenly lifts up, and a massive creature straight from nightmare bounds out. A person’s first impression of the beast might be that it is simply a very large lion. But that impression would be oh so very wrong, as a long snake-like head rises up from behind that of the lion, fangs flashing as it belches a gout of flame. And as it turns to face you, you catch a glimpse of the third head, that of a goat, emerging from the body of the beast off to one side, just in front of its right forward shoulder.

As one, the three heads roar in unison, and then the beast leaps towards you. Although no longer able to actually fly as the guards had clipped the thing’s wings, thankfully, it was still able to produce mighty bounds with a powerful beat from them. Thus, it crosses half the distance between the two of you with just a single leap, and immediately takes to the air again, roaring once more as it starts its descent, aiming to land directly on top of you.


The Cells – Floor Three

MrEdwardNigma

With your superior vision, you are able to now see the woman’s face. At first, you had been blinded by the sudden bright lights of the guards’ lanterns, but now your nightvision was slowly returning. As such, you were now able to make out the woman’s face, who at least now showed no external signs of wild insanity. Her eyes were calm, her small mouth drawn up into a frown of concentration. Unable to see in the pitch blackness like yourself, and evidently these cultists for they carried no visible light, she squinted her eyes as she turned her head slightly, trying to zero in on your exact position through the sound of your voice.

Hearing this, she nods her head, nearly knocking foreheads with you through that motion. “Good.” She whispers, her voice now carrying a tone of urgency. “I don’t think we’re going back to our cells again: this is a one way trip. It was for the couple of people I noticed being taken from our area earlier this week – these guys grabbed them, and the people never came back.”

For a moment, she violently twists about, once again trying in vain to loosen her tight restraints. Relaxing again but her frown deepening, the woman continues. “That’s why I put up such a fight when I realized that they had come from me. Since I believe that time is of the essence, I won’t waste it by saying anything more than necessary. My hands are locked together behind me at the small of my back, the manacles fused together somehow: there’s no give when I try to move my hands apart. They’re held in place by a chain that’s attached to the manacles and is wrapped tightly around my waist. Five leather straps, two above the knee, three below pinion my legs together, with another set of fused shackles around my ankles. A short length of chain also connects the shackles around my feet to the ones around my wrists. As such, I’m going to be virtually useless to you right now but let me assure you that once I’m free I will be a very useful asset. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves: right now we need to get you free. Is there anything I can do, in my greatly diminished capacity, that would help?”

Suddenly, you start to feel useful begin to descend, the floor of the wagon starting to tilt downward as the two cultists lead the wagon down a steep ramp leading deeper into the blackness beneath Ironheart.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

Struggling wildly, you attempt to free yourself through sheer force of will. Of course, you mad struggles also had another purpose: continue working on that stretch in the glove over your fire-arm, and turn that into a hole. You had worked hard over many, many days to come along as far as you had, and you lived in constant fear that the guards would one day notice the leather growing softer and looser in one spot. But still, you knew that you had a long way to go before that stretch turned into an actual tear that you could make use of. Desperation gave you the strength and hope that you would be able to do in a few seconds what should have taken several more weeks.

For once, luck seemed to be on your side, as your leather glove caught hold of a burr sticking up in the wood of the table. Getting a few splinters in your back was often par for the course when getting thrown onto and strapped down to these roughly-cut wooden tables, but for once it was working in your favor.

Suddenly, you feel a small pain in your arm as the tip of the wood burr pushes through, pressing into your skin enough to draw blood. Before your arm can ignite into flame once again and vaporize the small wooden splinter, you push with all your might to one side, ripping the burr across your skin and pulling the glove further open along the stretch.

Now exposed to open air, the minor scrape from the wood burr is the least of your pain as your arm fully ignites, the patchy skin that had been starting to form over your arm due to the suppressed flames burned off in an instant.

Attracted by the sudden flash as a small gout of flame shoots out of the crack in the leather glove, blackening the edges, the guards look at you with a mixture of horror and shock. But their surprise doesn’t last for long as the leader of the trio cries out, “Get him, get him! Knock him, pour some water on his arm, do something!”

rubakhin

Summoning the tiger from your arm, you share its predatory smile as it quickly bites through your strap and licks your face before turning to guard the door, awaiting further instructions. Working quickly in the dust scattered about on the floor, you quickly draw numerous shapes – the outlines of rats and venomous creatures – on the floor, aware that the guards could unexpectedly return at any moment. Your tiger could deal with them, you were sure of that, but that would raise the alarm, and your surprise would be ruined.

Finally satisfied with your small army of vermin, you sent them out into the rooms beyond yours, with orders to bite through straps and poison guards. After a moment you realize that there was no way for the venomous vermin to distinguish between the prisoners and the guards, and the crude drawings you had to make meant that they could not share in your intimate knowledge that let you tell the difference between the two. Still, most prisoners would hopefully be fine, if they did not swat at the snakes and spiders as they passed, moving on to the rooms beyond the ones in your immediate vicinity.

Almost immediately, you hear cries of alarm and short screams of pain, but also a few triumphant shouts and the sounds of a struggle in the two rooms immediately beyond yours. Meanwhile, you continued to build an army to protect yourself, drawing up a quartet of hounds next. Like the other drawings, you realized that these would also be unable to tell the difference between prisoners and guards, and thus would attack everyone they saw without question. Still, you could give them basic commands, and they won’t attack anyone you explicitly told them not too. For now, they would make a good group of bodyguards as you sent your most powerful servant and friend to find the other prisoners, Korram, who you thought might be most useful in helping you escape. You knew he was somewhere near, although not sure of which room, but undoubtedly your pet would find him for you.

Still unsatisfied with your growing army of creatures, you turn to the nearby wall, biting your thumb to let blood flow freely. Sweat begins to pour off your brow, you had to work quickly, but so quickly that you forgot a crucial detail, a detail that would cause the creature to come out deformed, wrong, and angry at its creator for such failure.

Knowing you needed your deadliest creations now, you started to paint with your own blood “forbidden” creatures: monsters and other things too ugly to be called animals. These were even more dangerous and required more exact detail, but were powerful enough to warrant the effort.

Suddenly, however, you hear a loud grunt from behind you, and a curse. “Ssooz iz yu!” A voice cries, its words slurred and slow to form. Turning in surprise, you look to see that it’s one of the guards who had been torturing you before, his face and hands swollen with poison. Shouting a battle cry that was more like a scream, the guard stumbles towards you. Your hounds react immediately to this oncoming threat, one of them leaping up to spring for the man’s throat.

The hound is successful, sinking its teeth into the man’s throat as it crashes into his chest, but the man spins as he goes down, striking a brazier full of coals and sending them scattering across the room. A few hit you, disrupting your concentration, and worse yet, a few more hit your drawing. The scorch marks left behind by the coals hitting the wall fill in the last lines needed to complete your painting, fill in the last lines wrong, and the creature that steps out from the wall is thus wrong as well.

Looking like the Minotaur you were attempting to draw, but missing a horn from its head and one hand twisted up into a balled claw, the minotaur snorts angrily. Before you can react, it notices the hounds, and stomps over towards them, lowering its head and charging to gore the one still standing over the body of the guard, ensuring he was dead by tearing apart his jugular. Distracted by its work, the hound doesn’t notice the attack until too late, and sails through the air to smash into the wall, immediately dissipating back into the dust from which it was created.

Snarling, the other three hounds leap to the attack against this newcomer, circling it like a pack of wolves and dancing it to slash at it before leaping back. As you push yourself up to watch, however, you realize that you still control the hounds . . . and the half-minotaur. But for how long would you be able to control this unstable design?

The Labs

Iethloc

Renewed by the thought that these pathetic fools might be able to discover your secrets, which are worked so hard to develop in the first place, you tear into the other presence with wild abandon. Taken aback by your sudden assault, the assistant’s mind is surprised by the sheer viciousness of your mental attack.

As the two of you wrestled for control of the man’s body, currently on more or less equal footing for once, his body wildly convulses. The six guards who had entered the room with him and who were now approaching “you” from all sides were taken aback as “you” seemed to have a fit of seizure. One brave guard attempts to dive in anyway, covering the remaining ground between you in several quick strides. He bends down to try and snap a cuff onto your wrist, but you manage to grab control of your body’s legs for a moment, twisting around to send a good hard kick directly into the shocked guard’s nether regions. Crumpling in blind pain, the guard drops to the floor next to you and begins rolling around, almost exactly mimicking your movements as you and the assistant continue the mental battle.

“The . . . mirrors . . .” “You” grate out, the assistant’s last effort before you somehow manage to overcome him utterly, a feat you only rarely manage to do. Although not giving up, the research assistant’s mind was temporarily “pinned” by your own, allowing you to direct half your attention to threats external to your own. The five remaining guards, in this case, as they turn as one to start running back to the walls, attempting to pull the curtains away again and render you a helpless man once more. But they weren’t there yet.

Ritual Chambers

WhiteKnight777

Nodding in agreement, the leader motions for the others to pick you up, which they do with great haste, carrying you aloft on their shoulders. The little band quickly marches over to the door to your cell, careful not to dash your head against the doorway’s ceiling as you all exit out into the corridor.

Not being much to look at, you sigh and idly alternatively stare up at the ceiling a foot or so away from your nose, and the path that the acolytes were now carrying you down. Finally, up ahead you see a small tunnel joining with the main one, it’s crude rough edges indicating that the small tunnel was dug up to the wall from somewhere else, then your rescuers burst out through the wall into the main tunnel.

Arriving at the mouth to the tunnel, you note that in addition to apparently sloping steeply downward, the tunnel is also quite small: perhaps a little higher than what was necessary to let a man crawl through. Muttering in sudden realization that they couldn’t simply carry you out through the escape tunnel, the acolytes gently set you down while they debate amongst themselves how to take you down the tunnel safely without carrying you.

Unfortunately, it seems that your time has run out, as with a dry chuckle a man suddenly steps out into the light of the acolytes lanterns. A tall man with short-cropped blond hair and mismatched eyes, one icy blue and the other a dark red just shy of crimson, he carried a large warhammer loosely in his hands.

You recognized this man: Paladin Alexander Ross, a man who had been hired by your captors presumably to guard against you breaking free and taking revenge on them. Why he was working with the vampire filth when he was supposedly a “holy man”, you had no idea. You did know, however, that on those occasions when he had been tasked with grinding you back down into ash, he had done so with great gusto . . . and his heavy warhammer hurt.

“So, it be a jailbreak you lot are planning, eh? I thought I’d take a little stroll down to visit His Lordship and make sure everything was quiet, when what did I find but the door ajar, His Lordship’s urn smashed to pieces on the floor, but with no ashes to be found anywhere. My compliments on disabling the door’s magics: none of the alarm runes had been tripped.”

With a loud cry, one of the acolytes nearest to the paladin drew his dagger and leapt forward. With a snort of disgust, the paladin flicked his warhammer up, catching the man in mid-leap and slamming him against the wall. As he rebounded, the man fell to his knees on the floor, and before he could recover Alex had pulled his hammer back and let it fall for another swing. This time it caught the back of the man’s head, putting him face-first down on the floor before an instant later the warhammer broke through the back of his skull and continued on, smashing the acolyte’s head apart as if it were a mere ripe melon. Nonplussed, the paladin worked his weapon back out of the mess and back up onto his shoulder.

“Now then, you folks should know better than to go interrupt a man’s monologue like that. So let’s see, where was I . . .”

The paladin paused for a moment, and then shrugged. “Actually, I think I was done there. So, let’s have you pick up where your friend left off. From the top now, but with some more feeling. Make me feel like I’m doing more than crushing flies here.”

As one, four of the acolytes drew weapons and dashed towards the paladin. The leader and one other stayed back with you, watching the fight’s progress. It quickly became clear that it was not going to go well for your side.

“Hurry, get Lord Umber into the tunnel! He should slide the whole way down!” The leader hissed, coming to grab one side of you while the other acolyte bent to grab you from the opposite side.

“But, when he gets to the bottom, he’ll be going so fast. What if he is injured?” The other acolyte whined, stopping in his work to slide you into the mouth of the tunnel a moment to look over his shoulder at the battle against the paladin. As you all watched, another acolyte went flying back, crashing messily into the nearby tunnel wall to land in a crumpled broken heap. Only one acolyte now stood against the paladin.

“He’ll be fine. And I’m sure Lord Umber would prefer minor injury to recapture.” The head acolyte said, moving you the rest of the way into position, before turning his attention back to you. “Good luck, Lord Umber. The two of us shall remain behind to seal this entrance so this man cannot follow. I hope that you will give our master your finest compliments. Good bye.” With that, the two release you, and you go speeding down into darkness.

Down and down you slide, beginning to pick up quite a fair bit of speed in your descent. Finally, you shoot out of the tunnel into some sort of naturally formed room. Still moving with great speed, you barely have time to register that you’re on a collision course with a large rock: a stalactite rising up from the floor of the room. You hit the rock at an angle, your left leg slamming into it and snapping like a twig upon impact. Spinning around, you sail through the air, finally hitting the ground hard and sliding along until you crash to a stop against the wall.

For a moment, you are annoyed at this damage to your brand-new body, your left leg clearly broken as it sags at an unnatural angle: your chains preventing it from bending out away like the impact would have left it otherwise. You realize that you, of course, had other problems at the moment: you were alone in the depths of the mountain, and still helplessly chained.

You were about to start idly wondering how long it would be until your flesh shrived up from lack of blood and you entered a torpor-like state when the sound of soft laughter reached your ears. Twinkling like music, the laughter continues for a moment before coming to a stop as you hear footsteps approaching you.

Twisting around, you manage to see through the gloom a female figure confidently striding towards you. Tall and well-proportioned, the woman is clad in an elegant black dress with matching veil, a train of fabric gently swishing along the ground behind her. Coming to stand over you, the woman brushes a long strand of her black hair away from her face and greets you with a smile. Her unnaturally pale skin might suggest that she simply enjoyed living down here in the dark, but her lack of body heat or respiration revealed her true nature: vampire. Still, she wasn’t one of your captors: you hadn’t forgotten a single of their faces, and certainly none of them had been as pretty as this one’s.

“Well, I had been told you certainly enjoy making an entrance, Lord Umber, but I was certainly still most surprised by that one.” She says, a note of amusement still in her voice. But she quickly turns serious as she looks back at the tunnel you had just shot out of. “I take it then that you ran into trouble, and my servants are dead. A pity, they were most helpful. Still, I believe I can continue with the plan the rest of the way without their assistance. Now, to free you from those awfully tacky chains!”

Muttering arcane words of power, a bright glow suffuses the vampire’s hands, and a green ball of energy begins to grow between them. After a few moments of rapid growth, the ball begins to threaten to engulf her hands, but then with one last word she pulls her hand apart and ruptures the ball of energy. Ribbons of light stream outwards, flowing down to your chains and slamming into them.

At the point where the lowest loop of chain crosses around your ankles, the accursed silver chain suddenly shatters, leaving you a little bit freer, but hardly worth the wait. Sighing, the she-vamp mutters a curse in a dead language which you recognize.

“It would seem that the chains holding you prisoners are much more powerful than I had thought. This might take awhile . . . so please, if you have any questions that you wish to be answered while I work, ask away.” So saying, she begins to chant again, and another similar green ball of energy begins to grow.

Pwenet

At your taunts, you hear Harvey give a sort of mental sigh.

Why do I have to put up with this? I’ll be in the back until I’m needed.

This said, you feel the presence shift about a bit in your mind, no longer pressing quite so close up against your own. You knew from experience, however, the old dragon never slept, and was always quick to take over whatever new territory you left when you relaxed.

Meanwhile, the war outside of your head continued, although after Jape’s little assault the Malevolent Seven seemed content to hang back while you stumbled on ahead of them.

Coming out into the small ritual room where they left you to the tender mercies of your cultist keepers, the Malevolent Seven guided you over to the stone chair in the back of the room. Long gouges had been splintered into the stone all over: places where the chains holding you to the chair previously had been, torn free from the stone as you lost control and broke free to go on a rampage.

Cuso, the largest of the Seven, standing a full head above any of the others and supposedly part giant, wrestled you into the chair as he always did. Snapping the iron collar around your neck and the extra shackles onto your arms and legs, Cuso was quick to step back away from you once his task was finished. Although they had always been called the Malevolent Seven as a group, the membership had been forced to find a few new members over the years.

Their task done, the Malevolent Seven retreated into the darkness, as a single cultist emerged from a side room. Their numbers dwindling over the years, mostly in no small part thanks to you, the cultists had a tendency to only expose one of their number now to the daily danger of finally insulting and angering you enough to submit to Harvey long enough to tear them apart. As such the man was understandably nervous.

“Greetings, master. Well, of course, I meant the dragon lord and not you, whoever you were before your selection to be the host for our glorious lord.” Waving his hand dismissively, the cultist gulps nervously before continuing on.

“Since you so like puppet shows, we thought we would put one on for you today. Observe!”

The cultists stepped aside, as another three cultists entered the room, dragging three struggling prisoners into the room, sacks covering their head. More executions? Hadn’t they already done this, over and over before?

Forcing the three prisoners onto their knees, the cultists swiftly produced more rope to bind their legs, preventing them from rising and potentially getting away. The three cultists then beat a hasty retreat, removing the sacks from the three unfortunate peoples’ heads as they left. And . . . you had absolutely no idea who these people were.

Coughing loudly, apparently unsure what to do about your obvious confusion, the cultist thought a moment, and then explained. “Ah! You do not recognize these people. Well, you should know that these three are the remaining descendents of your friend, Bran! . . . You do remember him, don’t you? You were in the military together, defended the kingdom, all that? Well, these are the last of his line, so when they’re dead he’ll be dead too, not even a memory! Yeah, how do you like that?”

Although the three people were now terrified, looking wild-eyed at the cultists but unable to scream because of the rags tied across their mouths, you continued looking at the cultist with a surprisingly serene expression. This was the best they had?

Clearly shaken by your apparently unflappable calm, the cultist stood for a moment, again unsure what to do. But then, he seemed to remember his lines, and said, “Ah, but wait! There’s more. We knew just killing some people you never met wouldn’t affect you much, so we decided to throw some desecration into the mix. Behold, the next step of our plan!!”

Gesturing again, you look in the direction the cultist is pointing to see the same side door he had used suddenly open again. Led on leashes by three cultists, another three figures staggered in. But these figures were unbound, and there was clearly something wrong with them. They smelled of death, and it took only a moment’s examination to reveal that they were zombies. But who the zombies had been made out of was what shocked you. The kindly old priest who had married you, and your mother and father, their heads having been crudely stitched back onto the rest of their bodies.

“Ha ha! Yes! The descendents of your last friend are going to be killed by the zombified remains of those you once cared about the most! How does that feel, hmm? Doesn’t it just make you angry? Well, if you don’t do anything, you’re going to have to watch it! A ha ha!”

Gesturing, the cultist signaled for his three assistants to cut the zombies loose, who immediately began to stagger towards the cultist instead.

“Ack! Not me, stupid zombies! The other ones, the other ones!” Backing away from the zombies as they slowly approached, the cultist suddenly got the brilliant idea to run over behind the three struggling commoners, thus leading the zombies back in the right direction.

“Ha! Yes! Come, my undead children! This way!”

And so the zombies advanced towards the descendents of your friends, groaning and moaning as they went. As soon as the zombies were loose, the other three cultists disappeared, leaving you alone in the room with the zombies, this head cultist, the soon-to-be dead descendents . . . and Harvey.

Well, what’s going on here! Ooohhh . . . a good old-fashioned zombie feeding! Look at that old preacher go! I bid on him to get there first.



The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

(1st team DM, yay!)

The guards lead your slave chain quickly to the mine entrance now that your little mining team is complete. As is to be expected with Ironheart, the room that served as entrance to the mines was sealed off from the rest by a heavy iron door, several displeased and heavily armed guards standing, well, guard in front of it. They wave you all through without comment, one removing the heavy latches that held the door shut – interestingly enough, only against those coming from the direction of the Mines – while another shoved the door open.

Going inside, you see the familiar sight of a large mostly empty room, a sharply-descending tunnel at one end. Several guards stand about around wooden tables, apparently trying to mark off the location of newly discovered mineral veins on crude hand-drawn maps. A large number of others, looking like regular guards rather than someone with a more important job than telling prisoners what to do, hand each of you shovels and picks from wooden racks containing dozens of the things as you walk past. (You can each choose to have a shovel or pick – it really doesn’t matter much).

It looks like you would be working down inside the Mines themselves today, as with a few cracks from their whips your four guards hustle your small slave chain over towards the tunnel leading further down into Ironheart’s belly, instead of back out the way you came to work on expanding one of the cell floors.

Down, down, down, you descend into the mountain, your way lit solely by the feeble light of the lanterns that two of the guards were carrying. Finally, the tunnel came to a stop, leveling out to end at a four-way intersection. Going right, the guards hustle you on down the tunnel, avoiding several large side tunnels until finally your little group breaks left, heads downwards again via a short descending tunnel, and then right again.

You are making good progress down this tunnel as well, when suddenly the guards’ light reveals a rather small side tunnel, much smaller than the one you were in presently and too small for the human members of your band to precede without stooping, as you were generally able to do.

“That’s strange. I don’t recall seeing that tunnel yesterday.” The head guard says, motioning for your group to stop.

“Maybe one of the work crews did it last night?” One of the other guards offers helpfully, before being thumped into the chest by the butt of another guard’s whip. “No you idiot, our teams don’t dig tunnels that small.”

Suddenly, the faintest sound echoes to your ears, coming from the side tunnel that wasn’t supposed to be there: a soft scrapping sound, followed by an even softer hiss.

Frowning, the leader waves you all back a few steps, leaving the tunnel entrance only half-bathed in light, at the edge of illumination from the two lanterns. Pointing at one of the other guards, the leader motions he forward silently, while simultaneously motioning the man to draw his weapon.

Nodding in reply, the guard stows his whip on his belt and pulls out his club. In his other hand, the guard takes the second lantern, shuttering it fully so that whatever was hiding in the side tunnel wouldn’t see him coming by the light from his lantern. Pressing himself up against the wall, the guard then slowly made his way down to the tunnel.

“Come out, little prisoner . . . nobody’s going to harm you.” You can hear the guard whisper faintly, the sound echoing back to your ears. “AHA! AAAAAAAHHHH!!!” Finally reaching the entrance, the guard flings himself away from the wall to stand directly in front of the tunnel, flipping the lantern’s shutter up with his club hand as he did so.

His triumphant shout suddenly turns into a scream as he apparently sees whatever was down the side tunnel, but all you see is a single slender long back leg flash out of the tunnel, skewering the guard in the shoulder. Flexing a split-second after impact, the leg jerks back into the tunnel, dragging the wounded guard in with it. Not quite tall enough to accommodate him standing up, the tunnel is more than high enough to let him pass through unimpeded.

Now from the tunnel way, you can hear another short scream echo up from the tunnel, cut off mid-way through. Then, a low scrapping sound as something heavy is dragged further down the tunnel, followed by silence.

For a moment, everyone simple stands there, shocked, they explodes into shouting. “By the goods did you see that!!? He was there, he was right there, then nothing!”

“Come on, sarge, let’s get the hells out of here!”

The other prisoners meanwhile, simply cower back and whimper in fear, their wills already have long since been totally broken by the stresses pressed upon them by this dark place. As such, when the sarge turns back to look at the slave chain, he notices Desot and Amraf, if a bit shaking, certainly not cowering like frightened animals.

“Alright, you two! Go down there, retrieve the lantern, and go check out that tunnel. The rest of us will wait up here for you.”

For a moment you both just stand there, shocked at what you were hearing as the sergeant unlocked you both from the rest of the slave chain. Was he insane?

Glaring at you, he proved it beyond a doubt as he opened his mouth again. “Yes, I mean now! You bring my man back alive, I’ll see to it that you get double rations.” Still, you stand there looking at him incredulously, until finally in an exasperated sigh, he brandishes his whip.

“You can either go down there, pick up that lantern, and climb down after whatever that thing was, or you can continue standing there will I whip you to death. Now hurry up and pick!”

Cracking his whip, the sergeant steps a foot or two back, clearing the way for you to walk past him to the side tunnel entrance, but also to give him enough room to employ his whip to maximum effectiveness in slicing you to the bone. At the entrance to the side tunnel, the lantern flickers, casting weird dancing shadows onto the sides of the side tunnel’s mouth.

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-16, 02:23 AM
Umber

Umber had watched, helplessly as the acolytes were slaughtered by that bastard Alexander... Oh, but when he got free that one would suffer. Umber knew ways to keep him alive for years... those years would be as eternity to him... He spat at the paladin's feet as he smashed one acolyte after another, until they pushed him into the tunnel... He agreed, voiciferously, that injury was preferential to being caught and stuffed back in the urn. After all, Alexander's hammer would not be gentle in putting him back in. Well, back in wherever they put him. No doubt it would be equally unpleasant....

He grunted as he flew out of the tunnel, striking the stalactite and richocheting off... feeling the snap in his leg as it bent, the bone cracking and no doubt doing plenty of damage to the musculature... he would be able to fix that, if he could find something... anything, a rat, even... he would get free, somehow... Damn if he knew, but he would figure it out....

Such were the thoughts running through his head when he heard the footsteps, and that soft, female chuckle. He grunted as he turned his head, his eyes running slowly up and down the form, a confident smile on his face.

Women. It was always the women that got him into the most trouble. Oh, but didn't he enjoy that? Ah... Sweetest memory. But now really wasn't the time, especially when the creature in front of him, no matter how shapely... oh, ye gods but was she... Still, it had been a long time since he'd been ruled by such base and carnal passions, no matter how delightfully amusing they were to indulge in... no, such thoughts, regretably, would have to wait. No doubt she wanted something.

He remained silent as he watched her work her magic, unafraid... He smiled grimly as he watched the loop of chain shatter, nodding in agreement with the muttered curse.

You and me both, My Lady Fair... The impudent cretins who managed to get the jump on me did know a little something about proper binding procedure, and they had enough well-founded fear of me to use it. What should I call you, by the way? I know a few score words for perfection, but which one do I address you by? He grinned. Even in chains, he never could resist playing the game. Come to think of it, some of his best moment playing the game had involved chains. And, another pertinent question, if you'll forgive my black, cynical heart: Why go to all the trouble of rescuing me? Even I'm not so arrogant as to think it's just for the pleasure of my company.

He grinned wider, his ivory teeth shining in the blackness, blood red eyes nearly glowing with an inner light.

Sorry about your servants, by the way. They did a good job, particularly for mortals... I'll add an extra year or two onto Alexander's suffering for their sakes.

Voth
2008-01-16, 03:19 AM
We've been in these chains far too long. I say grab the key ring then take care of Mr. Magic.

Yea, I guess your right. Beside it will be easier to gut him like a fish if I can see.

Stumbling around the room, looking for the key ring, Voth finally finds it on the decapitated guard, blood still flowing from the stump that use to be his neck. Fiddling with the keys you finally find the correct ones to unlock and remove your visor.


"Finally! I'm glad to be rid of that infernal contraption. If I ever find who made it I'll skin them alive, and then I'll make them pay." laughed Voth as he tossed the visor aside. "Now off with these tacky anklets..." *click* "There we go!" Voth cries triumphantly as he kicks off his fetters.

Sorry to interrupt but there is still the slight problem of the mage who is running about, raising the alarm.

Right right. I was getting to that.

Covered in blood, reeking of death, Voth sprints after the mage. Skidding to a halt, Voth strains his ears in order to hear the soft footfalls of the mage. What he hears instead is much worse. Steel against stone. Guards, and a lot too judging by the noise they were making. One guard? No problem. Four guards? Piece of cake. Ten or more armed to the teeth guards and one very annoying mage? Maybe if he had a decent weapon... and he got the drop on them, and right now Voth had neither. Glancing from side to side spies a door just to the left. Rushing towards it he dives through and shuts it after him.

Who left the window open?

Turning around Voth finds himself on a bridge spanning the gap between two of the towers. It finally dawns on Voth how high up he is as he looks down into the darkness. Reaching behind him, Voth almost goes back before he hears the guards voices. They were close. Very close.

"Well no going back now." sighs Voth as he begins to walk across the bridge, gingerly placing his weight as if he stepped to fast the entire bridge would collapse and he would plummet to his death. Finally reaching the other side after what seemed like eternity, Voth slowly opens the door, finding himself amongst rows upon rows of keys.

Wow... there must be over a thousand keys here. I wonder what they all open.

Just in case you forgot, let me remind you about our current dilemma. We are currently being chased by guards in a maximum security prison that will soon be if it not already on high alert!

Ignoring the voice in his head Voth wandered from row to row looking from one key to another in silent awe.

"Oye! Over here! I think he went into Key Storage!" yelled a voice from outside, presumably one of the guards.

Oh joy! Our friends have returned. I told you to hurry up!

Would you shut up! I have another plan.

Running quickly through, Voth extinguishes all the lanterns and candles in the area. Then he climbs onto of one of the shelves by the door and waits. Slowly the guards file in one by one. "Hey someone get a lantern lit. I can't see my hand in front of my face!" whispered one of the guards. A few moments later a lantern is lit and an eery glow is cast to their surroundings. "This is spooky. Do you really think he's in here?" Asked on of the guards in a shaky voice. "Of course he's in here! Where else would he be? Stop being scared and keep an eye out." whispered another guard, presumably the leader of the group.

Eyes searching the shadows, the guards slowly move through the rows, searching each one carefully before moving onto the next one. Suddenly the lantern goes out. A low laughter fills the room, seeming to come from all sides at once. Struggling to relight the lantern, the guard fails to notice the clawed hands descending from above. With a loud crack the lantern falls to the ground. "What the hell is that? Where is Frank?" shouts the leader. "I.. I don't know he was here just a moment ago. Do you think... Urk!" suddenly the scared guard is cut off an eery silence replacing his quivering words. "John? Frank? Come on guys this isn't funny." The guard captain is on the verge of a breakdown, the darkness setting in around him. "Frank will be with you in a moment." comes a dark voice. Finally managing to light his own lantern, the guard captain swings it around looking for the source of the voice. Finding nothing he notices a wet dripping sound coming from the next row. Slowly he rounds the corner and runs in to Frank... or whats left of him. His body hanging from the ceiling, Frank has been skinned. His muscles and vital organs exposed to the world, his face contorted in pure agony. "But.. but how... when... where did he get the rop...." Looking up at the rope, the guard captain sees that it is not rope at all, its Frank's intestines.

The shock is too much for the guard as he backs away he trips and drops the lantern, once again submerging the room into total darkness. Crawling around, the captain bumps into numerous things trying to escape. Looking behind him he sees nothing and begins to relax. "Too slow." Turning around the guard sees two glowing red eyes amongst the darkness. As he looks deeply into those eye he sees Frank and John's last moments, how they were skinned alive. It was the last thing the captain ever saw.

Iethloc
2008-01-16, 03:24 AM
Sohssal

"No...!" Sohssal choked out, his mind going over his spells. Eventually he began waving his hands around, speaking ancient words as a thin layer of frost appeared on the ground around him. He gathered up whatever magic energy he could siphon, and then let the spell go off, hissing with effort as the spell came to be. Today is the day, you wretch! I shall be free, and you cannot stop me now! Sohssal screamed in his head.

Quickly, lances of ice flared into existence around Sohssal, surging towards the guards. Though not at full strength, the spell still pierced their backs, forcing many of them to collapse from pain, and certainly stopping them from pulling back the curtains. Must be careful to not use spells that could damage the curtains... he reminded himself.

Spurred on by the success of the spell, Sohssal renewed the mental assault on his human cell, desperately splitting his focus in order to gather up the energy for another spell. Once again, his spell let slip another display before completion, a low hum emanating from Sohssal, and the guards felt their metal belongings tug slightly towards him. This is it, mortal! Submit now and I may spare you! he mentally yelled at his counterpart. A rumbling sound then filled the air as his second desperate attempt ripped at the guards, sending a pulse of electricity, finishing off the wounded humans.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-16, 05:57 AM
I'm not going to be taken back to my cell???
Victor was stunned for a moment. He was being guarded while in transport, and his restraints were much harder to escpae from. He couldn't simply pop his thumb like he would have done in his cell, or if that didn't work pull off his hand and have it kill the guard for him. He was at a loss for what to do, but one thing was certain: he'd have to take action soon.

Victor really preferred having some preparation time and several tricks up his sleeve before entering combat. In fact, he preferred not entering combat at all. Instead, he'd usually just let a flunky do the work. One of his zombies. Or he'd prepare some traps, bombs. Or perhaps he'd sneak up on them, in the dark, and then quickly slit their throats. But none of those were options now.

He had an ally, but she was bound just like he was, and as soon as they'd reach the light, he was pretty sure she wouldn't like him anymore. He'd have to use her now, dump her afterwards. As soon as he was free, she wouldn't really be a problem anymore. There was no need for Victor to free her after escaping, as that would only lead to more trouble.

Using her help now was a very nice idea indeed, but he couldn't really thnk of any way of getting out of the sack safely, without the guards noticing. Especially not without a needle. Not really expecting much, Victor asked
"Any chance of you getting me out of this sack? I can't do much as long as I'm in it"

Dorizzit
2008-01-16, 06:14 AM
With the spells preventing his arm's flame gone, so to are gone the inhibitions on his monstrous strength. He rips free of whats left of his restraints and tears the tattered remains of his glove off. "Oh, this will be fun. I promised you a personal demonstration, did I not? Here it is." One of the toadies dies instantly, incinerated by a wave of heat. The other dies worse, his neck snapped by a vicious backhand from Korram. The leader gets a fireball to his mouth as soon as he cries for help, making his mouth unusable. Korram strides towards him. "You can hurt me." A flash, and the man's leg is gone. "You can hit me." Another flash, another leg. "You can cut me." One arm is gone. "You can even burn me." The last arm is incinerated. "But if you even think about harming my daughter, I will destroy you! Take that message all the way to hell!" Korram slams his hand on the other man's chest, over his heart. That is enough. Korram stands. He walks away, into the next room.

ubersquid
2008-01-16, 07:59 AM
"Nine hells be cursed, a dwarf in my chain, now that's gonna be a day..." Elkwin mumbles to himself when the guards drag Dwiggs to the mining chain.

"Ey lad, take it slow on the rocks there, you hear me? You don't wanna get us all whipped to death there if we can't keep up."

Ignoring the angry looks of the guards for now, Elkwin continues to babble on.

"Wait a second... Did my eyes already get so dull in this rat hole? I don't forget a face, at least not one of a well paying customer... Dwiggs? It has to be! Dwiggs!" The chains rattle as they prevent him from giving the dwarf ha hefty clap on the shoulder, as he was used to do when greeting someone familiar.

You old scoundrel! Did they finally get you? What a shame... OOMPH!" Elkwin is suddenly interrupted by the end of a club shoved into his stomach. One of the guards finally had enough of him talking so freely.

Engineer
2008-01-16, 09:44 AM
Amraf

(Question: Do we have our pick axes?)

Amraf nods, sullenly and turns to Desot saying "Whe gho", the bit causing him to slur his wards.. With that he picks up the lantern and moves forward into the passage his bound hand motioning for Desot.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-16, 04:27 PM
Desot looked around and walked toward the darkened section. Just as he dissappeared into the shadows he started laughing. "So... you're sending expendables down a rabbit hole, eh? Let's see how that works out for you..."

Continuing to smile, he walks past Amraf and whispers, "That looked like a spider, didn't it? I once had to deliver a swarm to some old noble's house while he was away. Let's just say the maids had more than a couple webs to try and clean up." He grabs the other lantern carefully and moves the light down the hole. "Looks... well, not safe, but what else are we gonna do?" He leaned down a little and started to make his way in.

Pwenet
2008-01-16, 06:42 PM
Incom & Harvey

Why do I have to put up with this? I’ll be in the back until I’m needed.

Feeling ‘Harvey’ slink away Incom giggles under his breath as he stumbles his way down the various tunnels towards their destination, the small ritual room, where many a year have been spent surely by now, maybe a even dozen like a bag of eggs running together?

”The chair The chair! Oh please let me sit, oh please let me have fun! I shall love the chair, the chair I shall love!”

Needless to say Cuso is not amused nor does not speak as he chains Incom to the chair. Looking at the scar tissue around Cuso’s throat, where during a rampage several pieces down the gullet, part of Incom shudders, another parts smiles and chuckles and yet another part wants bacon with the eggs.

”Silent yet giant! An obvious story of you! Say a joke to me? Or you like a lazy storyteller and only for show and tell? Pray a spell for me!”

Yet now getting their morning frustrations out, it seems that the Malevolent Seven are being careful, and once he is secured, they flee while Incom starts playing with the extra shackles, making a nice little musical number while the cultist appears. Attempting to make a beat, but missing key trumpets and other instruments, his musical attempt fails while the cultist goes on and on and on and on and……

Hold on a minute. STRANGERS! Let’s be polite and see what goes on?

Oh, they are going to kill them. Meh, I don’t know them, so much death, so much life, if death is a lake, the bottom must be deep, oh so very deep and clear. How to take a dive into it…….

…….

Mom?

Dad?

Kind Drunk Priest?

…….

Well, what’s going on here! Ooohhh . . . a good old-fashioned zombie feeding! Look at that old preacher go! I bid on him to get there first.

Time freezes. The zombies stop in mid-lurch, the sole cultist in midair as he runs away, the screams frozen on the faces of the three innocent victims. Focusing on a single tear hovering in the air, Incom watches it with a deadly calm expression as a giant dragon head moves around his shoulders and looks over his shoulder towards the victims, and more importantly, the soon to be cause of their death.

Your madness, while parts of it are genuine, is not complete enough to ignore this.

Nodding in agreement, Incom feels a tear weld in his exposed eye as he turns to look from the victims towards the zombies. The crude stitches on the necks of his parents flash him back to when the cultists kill them in front of him. At first he blocked the memories of what had happened following that, but as the years wore done, memories broke throught, bathing in blood, swallowing meat, burning those in his way, and how GOOD it felt.

All of this can end. You know that. You could be a legend, the host of me as I arise to power, far beyond that of my kin. Surrender, and their end shall be swift.

NO!

You can do it. Let me feed on your soul, let me take over, and you can save them for a time. Maybe we should see what happens……

Time resumes, and the zombies lurch forward. Struggling against his chains, Incom starts whispering under his breath.

”Nonononononononononononononononono…….”

Then the preacher falls upon the first victim, a young looking boy, and starts to messily feed upon him, covering the other prisoners with gore, for the zombie lacks table manners.

Arms shaking, Incom strains against his bonds. Part of him hears metal groan, noticing muscles filling up, scales starting to form. Despair fills him as he feels the kind figures that raised him to be a good man, twisted and perverted into cruel jokes of what they were.

Dragon! Lend me your strength! Now!

And why should I?

Because it will take you one step closer. Take it or I will force it from you!”

Force it? From me? Are you Joking!?!”

The only response of Incom is to scream in agony as he stuggles against his arm bonds, skin tearing against them, muscles ripping under the strain, yet the skin knits itself together, the muscles reform, stronger than before. Sweat beading over his body, he yells out a scream of frustration and despair.

Incom gives in.

The chains explode from his arms as he tears them free. Grabbing the collar holding his neck to the chair he tears that away, throwing it to the side and tears away from the stone chair.

Standing tall, his muscles start to swell as the essence of the Dragon fills him. Scales start to form over his skin, and his sole good eye takes on a red hue.

Harvey screams with ecstasy and moves into to take over his domain, but Incom steps in front of him.

I may be crazy, but there is no way I will let you free still foul beast! Fight and dance with me amide this opera of death!

Struggling for control, Incom spies with his eye the zombies about to move onto the two survivors. Sprinting forward, he feels his hands flexing as he thinks about how sweet it would be to lick blood off them.

Jumping over the victims with ease, he sprints forward with blinding speed, and punches the cultist in the back. And by punch we mean ‘penetrating the back of the cultist so that his hand emerges from the other side, pulling out a few bits and pieces’.

Despite this sound, the cultist manages to scream out in pain as Incom turns and grabs, and RIPS the cultist apart, throwing the pieces at the zombies.

The zombies being zombies move towards the pieces and starts eating them up while Incom looks down at his blood soaked hands, and takes a lick of blood himself. Oh yes, the taste of something to eat, how they loved to starve him.

You are having fun. You are losing though. Even now I am gaining control despite your best efforts

Looking over at the zombies as he hears Havey, something snaps within Incom. Raises his arms so that they cross in front of him, he positions his fingers, then with a swift sweeping motion he snaps his fingers.

The entire center of the chamber, where the zombies and victims are burst into flames. The two survivors don’t even realize they are dead, which is a mercy in this hellish place. The zombies last a bit longer, but as the flesh melts and flakes off their skin, for a moment Incom can see the pure smiling faces of his parents and the priest.

The flames continue to burn. Standing and watching them, Incom feels something within him. A twist in fate maybe? A chance? The stunned silence at the causal killings of the innocents seems to have thrown him off balance, for by selling part of his soul to a darker place, it seems to Incom that maybe he gained a small measure of control. Or is this a slide towards a deeper insanity and surrender to the dragon. Blinking back a tear that leaks from his eye, he looks into himself and stares down the Dragon within his mind.

Today Dragon, we start our final duel. I shall escape this hellish place, and together we will end this dance. Now, let the opening piece begin!

Seeing several long pieces of chain laying on the ground that had held the victims, Incom reaches down and picks them up. Easily ignoring the pain as they burn and sizzle into his skin, he wraps them around his knuckles and wrists as his flesh heals around them, holding them in place. Looking at the entrance, Incom smiles an insane grin, and sprints towards it, part of his mind locking a struggle, another wondering what awaits, yet another thinks about why he killed the victims, and yet another wonders how to write his story into a opera piece. Reaching the exit he screams out to whatever can hear:

”Now! Act One!”

Warshrike
2008-01-16, 06:49 PM
Dwiggs

Elkwin the barkeep!! Fantastic at making Ale, and a friendly face in a dark place, too!! It's about time I met someone worth taking with me when I go!! Plus, as a human, I can strap lots of gold to him as we escape!!
The barkeep was overly friendly towards Dwiggs, who had already knew that talking so loudly was never a good idea. He also knew he didn't want the guards beating the barkeep.
"Stop!! We're in an unstable area, and don't ye know it, the vibrations from yer club will travel through him and into the ground. It's a little known fact that impacts on human bones vibrate very differently t' other impacts, and that vibration could well bring everything that's up straight down onto us!!"
Hoping that would be enough for the generally idiotic guards to leave the poor man alone, Dwiggs turned to him.
"And as for you, Keep yer voice down, don't ye know talkin' so loud runs the same risk o' a cave-in?? Unless you brought some o' ye ale, be quiet 'till I tell ye we're in safer ground"
Dwiggs cave the Barkeep a quick nod, which he would know meant "I will talk to you later, but shut your mouth or there will be a pickaxe in every oriface you have and some you don't by the time I'm done with you." At least, Dwiggs THOUGHT it would be that easy to understand.

(( So smite me, poor dwarven accent, AWAAAYY!!
...
Actually, don't smite me. O.O ))

Frozen
2008-01-16, 09:36 PM
Lamont concentrates for a second, and a protective layer of bone grows over his gemstone eye, covering it for the deeds ahead. Letting his left arm drop to one side, he elongates and loosens it, letting it pool and form into a whiplike tentacle with a wicked claw on the end. His right arm enhances it's own musculature, bulging and growing hard leathery skin on itself. the fingers start to merge together and grow, sharpening and hardening into chitin, becoming a large pincer. Whipping his left hand up at the creature, he watches as it wraps around the goat's head, but grimaces in pain as the lion head sinks it's teeth.

Shortening the arm rapidly, lamont propels himself up and over the creature, hissing in pain as a gout of fire scorches his still human legs.
Why couldn't they just have pitted me against some guards, or a tiger or something...

Landing on he creatures' back, lamont starts lashing out with his pincer arm, attempting to sever or at least damage some of the heads. An eye forms on the back of his head to watch the snake-head tail, and he removes the bone plate on his eye for a few seconds to gather magical energy.

When the snake head moves in to strike, Lamont's back bursts open into a set of massive jaws, former ribs turning into razor sharp teeth, and the flesh stretching and growing, the jaws rising up to meet the snake head, snapping and gnashing with primal fury.

rubakhin
2008-01-17, 02:52 AM
Dima weighs his options. He could try to fix the drawing - but that might destabilize the creature. Best to deal with things as they are.

The minotaur skulks in the far corner, snorting and tossing its head every once in a while, full of muted aggression. It doesn't look too happy.

Dima kneels by the guard's body and searches him for the key to the room, or for anything else that might come in handy later. Maybe he could lock the minotaur in here, and then go and find the tiger and Korram. It would keep the thing from endangering him and his hounds, and protect the drawings from anyone who might, for whatever reason, try to break in.

Inspectre
2008-01-18, 12:43 AM
The Spires: Key Storage

Voth

(OOC: I would strongly prefer it if you did not post the results of your actions outside of combat. This is particularly true of movement, as I might have specific challenges set up between you and your intended destination that are obviously mitigated if you post that you get to your destination. Also, obviously only I know what additional things are in the various areas of Ironheart beyond what’s in the basic descriptions. In this case I’m willing to let it slide, but in the future I would like to be the one that describes what you see beyond the next door. :smallbiggrin: )

Fumbling around the corpses of the dead guards, you eventually locate a set of keys on one of their belts. With some more fumbling and a little bit of trial and error, you eventually find the key for your visor and work it into the lock, allowing you to see for the first time in quite awhile. Blinking your eyes to clear them and get them working again, you manage to free your ankles from their chains in record time. Now completely free, you turn your thoughts back to the mage who managed to escape your grasp . . . for the moment.

Pushing open the only door in the room which had been left ajar in the mage’s mad flight, you find yourself in a small stairway. Going down a few steps, your feet clanging off of the iron that they are made out of, you stop when you hear a mixture of loud shouts and armored boots clanging up the metal steps below. Evidently the mage had found some friends – too many friends for you to fight in this narrow hallway.

Looking around quickly for a place to hide, you notice a door several steps down, set into the left wall. Sprinting down to the door, you pull it open and step inside, just in time as a large number of footsteps run past you. That wouldn’t fool them for long, and you suspected that at least the lead guard had heard your descent over the ruckus his own group was making on their way up.

Bracing yourself against the door for a moment, you look over your shoulder to see where you were. And, to your confusion, you’re not entirely sure, being inside a long tunnel of iron running many tens of feet long. The first thought that occurs to you is that you’re in one of the bridges that connect the Spires together: you had heard some of the other prisoners describing the thin corridors of iron stretching delicately between the black masses of the Spires.

Realizing that it while the alarm was probably out already in the Spire that you were just in, you decide to make your way down the tunnel to the other Spire, where word of your escape hopefully hadn’t reached yet. Making it to the end, you hear the call of guards behind you, just exiting the door that you had been at moments before. Before they could react, you jerked the door in front of you open and stepped inside.

Marveling at the massive numbers of keys, hanging in shelving units and along the walls up to the ceiling, you blink as the bright lantern light in this room reflects off of all the metal, temporarily dazzling you. But then the sounds of your pursuers drawing near snaps you out of it, and you quickly extinguish all of the light sources in the room, preparing to set up an ambush.

And you do manage to ambush them, killing three guards in as many minutes and hastily skinning them before mounting them on the various shelving units, tying them in place with their own guts. You had just finished with the captain of this little band when the iron guard is suddenly kicked open again, casting the room in a low gloom as the light of the guards’ lanterns shine through the doorway.

For a moment you hear cursing, coming from a familiar sound voice, before some sort of spell is cast. A few moments later, a brilliant bolt of white light shoots into the room, heading up to the very ceiling before bursting into a somewhat dimmer ball of light that still manages to illuminate the entire room. Although a few shadows remain here and there where a shelf blocks out the light coming down from above, they are probably not enough to hide or fight effectively in.

Fortunately, the bright light also has the unintended side effect of showing you the exits from this room: a set of carpeted stairs leading down, with a similar set of cushioned steps leading up.

“Get in there quick! The Flare spell won’t last long, but it should be long enough to find the beast and kill him. The Warden will have our hides after this if we don’t have his head to present on a platter!” The mage’s voice rings out again, and from your position you can catches glimpses of guards entering the room, eight in all. More heavily armed than their previous compatriots, six of these fellows carry longswords in one hand and lit lanterns with the other, while the other two cradle light crossbows, sweeping the side aisles and tops of shelves as the party moves into the room and begins to break up into two man-teams to sweep you out of hiding. Stay and fight, go up into the unknown, or go down into the equally unknown seem to be your only options at this point.

The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

(OOC You can choose whether you have a pick or shovel)

Seeing little choice in the matter, both of you take the guard sergeant up on his “offer”. Brandishing your mining tools like weapons, albeit horribly insufficient weapons, the two of you carefully work your way up to the tunnel entrance. On your way there, Desot comments that the unfortunate guard’s assailant looked like a spider. Given that you had only seen a single leg of this assailant so far, this seemed like a wild guess, but Desot had dealt with spiders before. The more harmless household varieties were little more than a nuisance, but the monstrous species were deadly, and got worse the larger they grew.

Fortunately, nothing arachnid leapt out at you as reached the mouth of the tunnel and retrieved the fallen guard’s lantern. Having started to go out due to the lack of oil reaching the wick, you both breathe a sigh of relief upon seeing that titling the lantern back into its upright position causes the strong light to return.

Desot deciding to be the lantern bearer, he cautiously raises the lantern up to the mouth of the tunnel, peering down in and hoping he doesn’t meet the same fate as the unlucky guard. Meanwhile, Amraf stands ready with his makeshift weapon, prepared to smash anything that the light reveals. Fortunately for you both, the lantern light shining down into the tunnel reveals nothing save that it slopes steeply downward out of sight, and that a thin trail of blood shows the path that the guard took.

Looking back at the by-now impatient guard sergeant, you sigh as he angrily cracks his whip and motions for you to proceed. As upon first appearances, the tunnel was not nearly high enough for Desot to stand in, but was just high enough to move though at a low crouch. Aware that although he would not be burdened by the tunnel’s height, or lack thereof, but would make a poor character to lead out, Amraf stands back and lets Desot enter the tunnel first.

Gently setting the lantern down on the floor of the side tunnel, Desot works his way into the tunnel’s mouth, then stands slowly making his way down, lantern in one hand and his mining tool in the other. With a little bit of effort and a scramble, Amraf is about to climb up into the tunnel mouth, and then walks along behind Desot unimpeded.

Careful so as not to fall, both of you slowly work your way down the steeply descending tunnel. You notice as you move along that the edges of this tunnel are surprisingly smooth, not at all like the rough edges your mining picks and shovels often leave behind. What could make such a smooth passageway through solid rock in such short time, you have no idea, but whatever it was, it was clearly motivated. But for all of its impressive nature, the tunnel is relatively short. While long enough to take you both a few minutes to crawl through at Desot’s slow by necessity pace, and more than long enough to take you totally out of sight of the entrance, the tunnel does come to an end mercifully quickly.

Sadly, this exit tells you fairly little save for the fact that the tunnel does have only two entrance/exit points. Of great interest, however, is that this side tunnel you were currently in did exit out into one of the high-ceilinged tunnels that you were used to and that Desot’s back craved. The trail of guard blood, although by now quite faint, does also leave a few drops of crimson smeared on the edge of the tunnel, indicating that he had indeed exited into the large tunnel beyond. Likewise, the few drops of blood on the ground just outside the tunnel exit revealed that the guard had been dragged left after leaving the side tunnel.

Unsure of what to do next, but sure that neither of you wanted to be here, you both pause for a moment to consider your next efforts. As you do so, the light from your lantern catches a small tuft of translucent white material hanging down from the tunnel’s ceiling. Although not large enough to be any impediment to either of you should you choose to exit the tunnel, the ragged piece of clear silk suggested more evidence as to what you might find in the tunnel beyond.

Warshrike/ubersquid

The guards do not approve of loud conversation while down in the mines, and exhibit their disapproval towards Elkwin’s incessant jabbering by having their clubs start up a dialogue with him. At Dwiggs’s interference, they simply stand and stare in incomprehension for a moment, and then introduce him to their clubs instead. “You never said nothing about clubs on dwarves!” They sneer, two of them using their clubs to smack the dwarf back and forth between them for a few moments, but then clearly tire of this as they step back to crack the whips resting freely in their other hands. “Now back to work, the lot of you!”

Eventually, you make your way to the end of one long corridor, its rough sides and half-finished look indicating that this was a tunnel that the prisoners had just started work on. Slowly, you work, breaking off pieces of rock from the hard walls of the tunnel, those armed with shovels scooping these pieces up and loading them into a large wooden cart that the guards had brought along. When it was full, you knew, it would be “break time” as the guards had the prisoners push the fully-loaded cart back to the entrance where it would be shifted through and then ultimately dumped somewhere, either off the side of Ironheart’s cliffs or down one of the few endless shafts in the Mines that some say led down to the heart of Ironheart itself.

Dwiggs did not like the look of this tunnel, not at all. It seemed off to him somehow, and the air smelled ripe with disaster. But the guards didn’t care, proceeding beatings and whippings as needed to ensure that everyone keep working despite the dwarf’s protests. As is usually the case when the opinion of a dwarf is unheeded underground, disaster followed.

The cart is about halfway full of debris from the walls when Dwiggs pick suddenly goes all the way through the wall. Usually a sign that there was a hollow space beyond, Dwiggs knew that this could be a good or bad thing, but usually a bad thing in natural stonework as it typically meant some sort of air pocket. Air pockets tended to be fairly big, and of course hollow. Which meant that as soon as the shell of rock around them was broken, they would usually collapse, crushing any fool nearby if the collapse of the air pocket set off a chain reaction.

The Arena

Frozen

You manage to leap up onto the Chimera’s back, propelled by your tentacle arm. Several large bite marks mar the surface of that arm now: the handiwork of the chimera’s lion head. Nonetheless, you are now on the creature’s back, and with your one arm still wrapped around the chimera’s goat head, you manage to subdue at least one of the beast’s heads for the time being.

Meanwhile, you pinch and snap with your pincher arm, slicing several shallow wounds into the beast’s back but failing to snip something substantial. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye you notice the creature’s snake-like head rear back for a strike.

Quickly transforming your chest into a tooth-filled maw, you greeted the snake head as it darted forward with a large smile. From both mouths. Snapping shut on the snake head as it reaches your chest, where it would have plowed into and driven its venomous fangs directly into your heart has you not been prepared, you smash your new teeth into the snake head, ripping and tearing.

With a loud roar from the other two heads, the snake head of the chimera comes apart in your chest. Unfortunately, the organs inside the snake head that held the components necessary for its fire breath ruptured as its head came apart, and began to mix inside of your chest.

Feeling a killer (literally) case of heartburn coming on, you manage to reflexively vomit out the snake head’s remains a few seconds before it reaches critical mass. With a large explosion, you are sent flying through the air, crashing with bone-jarring force against one wall of the Arena. You slide down to the floor of the Arena, still alive but perhaps just barely.

Blinking your eyes to clear the sand and smoke from them, you notice with horror that the Chimera slowly pushes itself back onto its feet, back blackened and wings torn to shreds. Brining its goat head around, the beast then charges toward you with reckless speed, clearly intending on crushing you between its goat horns and the stone wall of the Arena.

???????

MrEdwardNigma

“I’m not sure.” The woman replied with a frown. “I don’t think the smallness of this cart will let me twist around to use my hands, assuming I could even find the straps holding that sack in place. And my hands are pretty useless right now anyway.” Sighing, the woman shook her head. “Alright, let me try using my teeth. I’m desperate enough to try anything right now.”

Worming her way close up against you, she leans in close and attempts to find a nearby strap with her chin. This she is able to accomplish, although it quickly becomes clear to you both within a minute that she will be unable to do any of the heavy buckles holding the straps in place using just her teeth and tongue.

Sighing in defeat, the woman slumps back and rests her head onto the floor of the cart. “I guess we can do nothing but wait, and hope that whatever they’re planning on doing to us, it’ll involve removing our restraints.”

The rest of the brief cart rides passes in silence, as a few minutes later you find yourself stopping at the bottom of another ramp, a large iron door directly in front of you. Abandoning the cart, one of the figures moves to the iron door and rests his hand on it, chanting briefly. In response, the iron door suddenly swings open, into the room and unbarring your passage. Returning to the cart, the figure picks up his carrying pole again, and your journey continues.

Beyond the door appears to be a simple entry room to a much larger complex. The ceiling extends up perhaps twenty or thirty feet, well high enough to accommodate an open staircase spiraling up to an equally-open balcony which appears to run around the entire outside of the room. Up on the balcony, smaller iron doors, built to accommodate only a person instead of a cart like the one you now ride in, are set into the wall every few feet.

Down on the ground floor where you currently are, you notice that much of the room’s center area is taken up by a circular pool of some kind. From your current position and the opaqueness of the liquid held inside the pool, you are unable to see to the bottom of it but do notice a spiraling staircase built into the pool’s sides that lead ever deeper into the liquid.

Also of particular note is the fact that although there are a number of similar black-garbed figures milling around the room, either standing by this strange pool or moving about along the balcony or down on the ground floor, there are no lights present. Which means that all of these figures share your two captors’ apparent ability to see perfectly well in the dark, much like yourself.

As your little band enters this entry room, another black-robed figure moves to intercept you all. Standing in front of the cart, he holds his hand up, bows at your two captors, and then extends a single bony finger to point towards a large iron door off to one side of the stairway leading up to the second floor.

Bowing deeply, both of your captors pick up the cart poles again and head for the door. Again repeating his little trick at the other door, one figure opens the iron door with a simple touch and short chant, and then your cart enters the dark hallway beyond. The narrow hallway stretches on for some distance, with iron doors lining either side, small grated windows allowing one to peep inside each room if so desired.

Now and then, one of the doors you passed had a good amount of sickly green light pouring out of the window, indicating that something was going on in the rooms beyond, and judging from the screams coming from these same rooms, it was unpleasant for someone. Other such rooms you passed were completely dark, but a cacophony of sounds echoed out from them nonetheless: agonized moans, horrified groans, bloodcurdling screams, the slapping of wet flesh, the tearing of meat, loud chewing, animalistic roars, and even a few quiet occasions of despaired crying reached your ears as you proceeded down this hallway.

You had heard most of it all before, although perhaps in not quite such great quantity as this. Your felt your level of respect for these cretins’ operation improve, although it did still have the troubling aspect that you were there as a victim, not a consultant. Looking over at your companion, you can see that she has turned pale, eyes wide with terror.

“No . . . the dream . . . I . . . I’m going to die here . . . I don’t want to die!” She mutters, continuing to blink her eyes rather uselessly, as a few tears gather at the corners of her eyes.

Finally, it seems as though you’ve reached your stop, as in front of one door your two captors stop. Squeezing around the side of the cart, the both approach the back of it. With seemingly little effort on their part, they each manage to pick one of you up, one of them slinging you over its shoulder without complaint and carrying you over to the door. Raising its free hand in benediction, the figure opens the door and carries you in.

A fairly nondescript room, its interior is as black as the hallway outside, and there is nothing about the room itself to pique your curiosity save for the thick wooden pole driven into the sandy ground at the far end of the room. Oh, and the bodies, half a dozen in all, strewn randomly about the room like blades of grass. All were in various states of decay, particularly given their odor, and you considered shutting down your olfactory nerve for a bit as you and your companion were carried further into the room by the two figures.

Laying you down next to the wooden pole, the two figures stare in contemplation at you both for a moment, and then a decision seems to be made. While one moves over to the wooden pole and picks up a coil of rope that had previously been hidden under a layer of dust, the other stands over your companion. Making a few arcane gestures and again mumbling some sort of prayer, the figure makes a final gesture and suddenly the length of chain connecting the woman’s feet to her hands snaps. As the figure bends down to pick her up once more, she springs into action, screaming wildly as she had before and flailing out with her feet, somewhat more effectively than before due to the somewhat enchanted freedom she now enjoyed.

Staggering back with a surprised grunt, the figure backs off as a few of the woman’s kicks seem to land, but then suddenly the figure leaps back in, simply reaching down to lay a hand on the woman’s stomach. Eyes going wide, she convulses once, then lies still, eyes still frozen open in terror as she stares at something on the ceiling.

Picking up the now complacent captive, the figure carries her over to the wooden pole where the second waits with the rope. Looking carefully, you can now see that the rope has some sort of runes burned down its length, and has numerous patches of rust-colored stains. Not good.

Taking the rope from the second, the first slowly loops the rope about the woman, chanting softly as he does so. The first part of this ritual apparently complete, the figure suddenly stops chanting and pulls the rope tight, pinning the woman’s arms against her back even more, before working the rope down to her legs and repeating the procedure. Finally, the figure positions her directly up against the pole, and uses several more loops of rope to tie her to the pole. There is about half of the coil left, and as the first and second figure looks over towards you, you get the feeling that now it’s your turn.

Coming over to you, the second figure looks down at you, and with a quick chant and gesture of his hand, tears the leather sack apart, leaving you free! But the sense of freedom is a momentary one, as the figure then immediately reaches down and lays a bony hand on your chest.

Suddenly, you feel a cold terror shoot through you, as the thoughts of a nearby alien presence fill your mind. This presence is most displeased with you, and you can feel that angering it further will result in the destruction of your very soul. Paralyzed with fear, your mind cowers in the fear of this presence as you numbly feel the second figure pick you up, drag you over to the wooden pole, and bind you in exactly the same manner as the first bound her companion.

Checking your bonds one last time, the two figures nod at each other in satisfaction, and turn to walk out the door. As they do so, one stops at the door and picks up a handful of dust. Turning to look back into the room, the figure blows the dust off of his hand, and a greenish grow beings wherever the dust lands. Spreading out along the floor, the glow transforms into a massive, ornate arcane signal of unfamiliar origin, filling the room with a sickly green light.

The overwhelming terror leaves you then, and you feel it is finally again to breath again as you take a shuddering breath into your lungs. Behind you, you hear a loud coughing as the madwoman similarly comes to. But you don’t have long, as you notice with new horror the six corpses stirring.

You instantly know what these creatures are as they all come to stand and start slowly shambling towards you: zombies. Zombies risen by some sort of arcane power, although whether during the activation of this signal now covering the floor, or previously reanimated before and simply given a command to stay down until now, you couldn’t say. You had a pretty good idea what was about to happen though, and it involved something very unpleasant happening indeed.

Apparently your companion also had an inkling of what was about to happen as well. “Oh gods! I am going to die here! But wait . . . this wasn’t in the dream! It lied to me!”

The ropes running across your chest and waist suddenly tighten, undoubtedly as your companion struggles wildly to free herself. “This is just not fair! Do something!”

(You are magically locked into a small stone room behind an iron door. Your hands are currently bound behind you, still incased in the steel gauntlets, as are your legs, and you’re also tied to a thick wooden pole while six zombies shamble ever closer. Better start implementing that escape plan. :smallwink: )

WhiteKnight777

You grin at the vamp and allow your eyes to wander over her shapely form while she continues to focus on freeing you. You finally do get down to business, however, asking her what she would like to be called out of the many names you had for her. And then, almost as an afterthought, you also ask her why she was helping you.

At your first question, she grins widely: enough that you can even see the glint of her fangs behind her thin veil. “Why, Lord Umber! Don’t you recognize me? I’m the youth who you seduced into darkness, thus prompting your incarceration into Ironheart!”

As she breaks into melodical laughter again, you recall with indignation that you had done no such thing. That had strictly been an excuse, a ruse used by the vampire filth who had captured you to justify sending you to Ironheart. And anyway, you would have certainly remembered such an event if you had been guilty in this particular incident.

Noticing your growing confusion and anger, the woman stops laughing with a shake of her head. “Forgive my bad manners, Lord Umber. It is true that someone else was responsible for my . . . elevation above mere mortals. And it was under the orders of my Master that I came here to free you. Like Him, you may call me Mellita if you wish, for that is the name that He gave me.”

For a moment she smiles again, looking up at the ceiling as if lost in thought, but she quickly shakes herself and returns to business. After another several minutes of work, the last chains encircling your legs falls apart, leaving you free from the waist down. You would now be able to walk at least, once your leg was repaired of course.

Staggering back, your rescuer raises a hand to her face, cradling that side of her head with it. “This magic is quite draining to me. I am afraid that I will need several minutes of rest before I can finish freeing you.”

“That is most fortunate, because I’m not sure I would like to meet Lord Umber unchained just yet.” A sardonic voice suddenly interjects from the darkness, moments before a tall man dressed in a grey cloak, and golden tunic and pants steps out into view. With hair the same color as his tunic and eyes as ash-grey as his cloak, the man’s face is unforgettable. Like everyone else present at this meeting, he was a vampire, but more importantly, he was one of the vampires responsible for your previous accommodations at Ironheart.

“Master!” Mellita cries, immediately re-energized by the appearance of her apparent sire, and she rushes over to embrace him. Throwing you a quick knowing smile and a wink, the vampire you knew only as Helion returns Mellita’s embrace, adding a passionate kiss along with a few inappropriate touches. After a few moments of this, however, your rival breaks off the kiss and turns his head to look down at you. You notice that as he speaks, he continues to embrace Mellita, and even turns them around a bit so that Mellita is more directly between you and him.

“I trust, Lord Umber, that my sweet’s attentions have bought me a few minutes of your time, without the threat of violence? We have much to discuss, you and I, none of which should involve those other fools who sought to bring you here.”

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

Breaking free of your restraints, you take your revenge upon the guards. So shocked are they at their sudden reversal of their fortunes that they don’t even attempt to fight back, staring at you in stunned terror. So great is your rage at the moment that your fire arm burns white hot, incinerating the flesh that it comes into contact with instantly. As such, the guards’ bodies explode into ash wherever your arm touches them, and you make short work of all three, taking your time with the leader.

As you start to walk out the door, two guards suddenly appear, their eyes wide with fear. Clearly, they were running from something, and had ducked in here to hide. Bad luck for them. As you prepared to fight these other two, you suddenly found you would not have to as a large tiger suddenly bounds into sight, pouncing on one guard in an instant.

Slashing out its throat with its teeth, the tiger doesn’t even pause as it turns on the other guard and swats him off his feet with a rapid swipe of its claws. Another quick bite, and it is over, the tiger turning to you.

Uncertain what this new arrival would do next, you hold your ground, and for a few moments both you and the tiger lock eyes, simply watching each other. Then it turns away, stopping at the door to look back expectantly at you. Trusting your gut, you follow the animal, and it leads you back to another nearby room, where another freed prisoner awaits, searching a dead guard while several hounds and some sort of bizarre half-man, half-bull creature stands quietly in the corner.

rubakhin

You search the guard’s body, finding a single key attached to his belt. Most guards tended to have keys to prisoner restraints, and since your manacles were fused shut this could only be the key to unlock your fetters. Unfortunately, other than the guard’s simple chainmail and solid wooden club, you find little else of value on his body.

The doorways between each of the little rooms in the Torture Chambers were completely open, and so you feared that another guard would chance by, attracted by the noise outside and see you still in here.

Nearing a soft growl from the doorway, you look up to find that your tiger has returned, leading a man behind her. This could only be Korram, who evidently had managed to free himself as not even the remains of manacles or straps clung to his limbs. One such limb, his arm, pulsed and glowed with fire with you watched.

The Labs

Iethloc

Waging two battles at once was draining at the best of times, but somehow you manage, maintaining control over “your” body long enough to send waves of magic emanating out to slow and kill the guards before one of them could pull a curtain away and render you powerless once more. Slipping and sliding on the ice that you had created below his feet, one guard manages to somehow remain upright long enough to still be standing when the bolts of fire arrive.

Skewered directly in the chest by one of these bolts, the man screams wildly as he bursts into flame. The impact from the magic, however, gives him enough momentum to reach the curtain that he had been aiming for, crashing into it and managing to dig his fingers momentarily into the cloth before rebounding off the wall and crashing down onto the floor. Fortunately, the guard’s grip is not strong enough to pull the cloth down off the wall on top of them, thus dooming you to impotence once more, but it does manage to set the cloth on fire. Although the fire spreads quickly until the entire thing is ablaze, the cloth is made out of a thick material, and thus you have perhaps a minute or two before it is comprised enough to endanger your freedom.

Fortunately, your last attacks render all of the guards dead, and the door to your cell is still hanging open. You are about to consider fleeing in that direction when you fall to your knees, clutching your head as the assistant attacks with renewed vigor. Drained from your recent barrage of spells, you were unable to divert sufficient attention to keep his mind subdued, and his presence quickly managed to make itself known through an attack from behind. Driving several punches into your metaphysical kidneys, the assistant drives your mind to its knees before wrapping an arm around your throat, attempting to hold you down both mentally and physically while the curtained burned.

A great show of power, but ultimately meaningless. The assistant’s mind taunts you.

The guards may be dead, but in a few minutes this cell will become your undoing once more. And even if you do flee out that open door, you already know exactly where it leads: down a short corridor to another sealed door, and then directly into the laboratory itself beyond that. There’s at least another half dozen guards waiting for you inside the lab, plus at least one of the Four Sages who’s going to be running the experiments, plus the big silvered mirror we use to suck your powerless soul out of mine. And even if you manage to get past all that, what then? You’re trapped inside of my body, and the only thing that can get you out again is a silver mirror which renders you helpless. Face it Sohssal: this is the end for you.

Although the guards probably wouldn’t be a problem for you normally, the addition of the silver mirror made things considerably more difficult. This is especially the case with the assistant continuing to fight against your own will, forcing you to divert your attention and slowing your actions considerably. But it was the fact that there would undoubtedly be one of the Four Sages, as the powerful mages who were studying you liked to be called, waiting in the laboratory for you that made you consider giving up. You couldn’t win against such odds, could you? Oh screw it: what choice did you have if you wanted to live?

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

Filled with the strength of the dragon lord, you easily tear your way free of the chains binding you, leaping up to chase after the cultist. He doesn’t get very far, tripping on his own robes in his haste to get away. He doesn’t even really have time to scream as you tear him apart with his bare hands. Making a sweeping gesture, you then ignite the entire center of the room in flame, catching the zombies and two remaining survivors in its area, incinerating them all. Watching the flames for a moment, you can hear Harvey cackle with your mind as he curls in around you tighter.

Haha. Final for you perhaps, but all of this is just the opening to *my* story. Everything that has come before is just the prelude to what shall come after this, if you will. But for once, I can agree with you. Let’s see where this little ballet of death takes us.

Apparently with Harvey’s approval for once, you turn away from the flames as they sputter out, having nothing left to consume of the zombies or the innocent victims. Rather than chasing down the few cultists behind the iron door, who by now had heard the screams and were definitely well on their way to being long gone, you instead pick a different door.

This iron door, substantially thicker than the others and marked with a large “Do not disturb” sign, was one that you had never been through. Curiosity taking hold, you reach out and tear the door off its hinges with some effort and fling it to one side, revealing what lay beyond.

What lay beyond was quite surprising, if a bit stereotypical: beyond the now-open doorway was another large ritual room. Only this one was decorated with all sorts of demonic memorabilia: human skulls, pentagrams, bizarre seemingly random-shaped hunks of black metal hung all over the walls. Perhaps even more stereotypical than this was the large bonfire in the middle of the room, a large pentagram etched into the stone floor a short distance away. Situated right next to this pentagram and titled in such a way that its top hung precariously directly overtop the sigil was a large stone slab made out of obsidian.

Still yet more stereotypical, there was a young teenaged girl, with blond hair and blue eyes and clad in a torn white dress chained by the hands and feet to this stone slab. Helpless and wide-eyes with fear, she cowered against the slab while six figures clad in crimson robes danced about the fire, occasionally coming over to menace her. Of course, that was what the six demon-worshipping cultists and the girl had been doing until you tore open the door and screamed “Now! Act One!” at them.

Now, they simply all stared at you in confusion. “Err, what the Hell!?’ You heard one of the cultists near to the fire mutter, only to be slapped by one of his compatriots. “It’s, What the Abyss, not What the Hell! We worship demons now, remember!?” He admonishes, before turning warily back to you.

The leader of the six, presumably from the fact that he wore a human skeleton stitched onto the back of his robe and he was the only one wielding a large sacrificial dagger, turning to you. “Oh! Um . . . why, hello there good neighbor! Ha ha, yes, we’re the local demon worshippers. We’ve been meaning to come over and pay you dragon worshippers a visit for some time now, really! You know, share notes over the best sacrificial techniques over a cup of tea, have a friendly debate about who’s really going to destroy the world, that sort of thing. But uh, as you can see, we *are* kinda in the middle of something right now, so do you think you could just put the door back and come back in an hour or so?”

There is a dead silence in the room for a minute as you both look at each other, and you hear the same troublesome member as before mutter “Stupid dragon cultists don’t know how to knock?” Before being silenced by his friend again.

“Um . . . I’ll take that as a no then. Alright, just give us a minute, and we’ll wrap this up right quick, okay?” The leader says, holding his hand up to you to display the number five, before gesturing for his minions to continue the dance while he ran over to the young girl.

“Alright now little lady, let’s get this over with quick! Now, as per our previous statement given during your initial interview, there are a wide variety of ways you can die right now. Pretty much, all that needs to happen for everyone to go home happy, well except you I guess, is for your blood to be spilled out and caught in the lines of that pentagram there, so just about anything goes. Personally though, I would go for one of three options. First, the quickest way to get this over with is just a throat slitting. Quick little sshhhttt! and your lifeblood is out there for our little fiends to lap up – they love the hot stuff! But it’s rather messy, and I can understand you not wanting to get that dress messed up. Heh, bloodstains are a pain to get out, believe me, I know. Why do you think we were these red robes? Anyway, option number two is I just slit your wrists, and due to the height and angle of the stone, your blood slowly drips down onto the sigil. Not a bad way to go, but not the quickest or the most fashionable either. Sorta middle of the road, I guess you could say. Now, the final way is, I just start making little cuts on all of your exposed skin: arms, legs, face, and so on. Eventually the combined blood loss from all those likkle cuts kills you dead, and most of the blood still pools out and fills up the sigil. Pretty slow way to go out, but I assure you the results are worth it! Your corpse even gets to keep all the foul runes carved into it saying the nastiest things in ancient long-dead tongues – a great classy look for a young female zombie like yourself! But there’s just one problem here . . . we’ve been getting some bad victims trying to sneak in recently, so I just have to ask: are you sure that you are 100% pure and undefiled? Because our demonic overlords demand only the cleanest souls, so if you’re a bit purity challenged, now’s kinda your last chance to admit that. Don’t want to make any mistakes here, no sir ree!”

Twisting her head away from the psychotic cult leader, the girl screams at you “HELP ME!”

Nodding, the cult leader said. “Alrighty then. Slow and painful it is!” And using his free hand, grabs the back of the girl’s head to hold her still while he brings his knife up to her face with the other. Stopping just a moment to look over his shoulder at you, he calls “This’ll just take a couple more minutes! Promise!”

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-18, 01:02 AM
Umber

Umber grinned back at the she-vamp, arching one eyebrow at her outrageous claim, but waiting for her to explain further... and when she does, and her master emerges, he involuntarily clenches one fist... indeed, it was probably fortunate for him that his little suck-puppet hadn't finished unchaining him, for Umber was not the forgiving type, nor one to delay revenge, and he probably would have torn out his throat, drained his vitae and consumed his soul before he got more than a few words out. Nevertheless, he was something less than surprised at this turn of events. He had suspected that it might have been inside word. After all, the minions had known a little too well how to circumvent all the defenses. He coughed slightly as the two embraced and began acting like a couple of hormonally-driven teenagers or characters from one of those insufferable romance epics. At the elder vampire's words, however, he nodded and began to speak in a slightly weary tone.

Certainly. Though there's precious little else I could do right at the moment, what with the half-ton of silver clinking about me like so much bad jewelry. Now, before you tell me what your plans are, let me guess. The intellectual exercise will do me good after spending all that bloody time floating in formless limbo between interrogation sessions, which, by the way, you and your fellows need to find some more effective techniques for. This is the part of the story where you tell me that either: A. This was your plan all along and you were just waiting for the right time or B. You decided somewhere along the way that you'd rather betray your allies and take the prize all for yourself. Then, you offer to free me and help me in some fashion or other to butcher your erstwhile allies in exchange for the elixir recipe. Did I get it right?

Umber grins and chuckles a moment before continuing.

Now, assuming I'm correct, this begets a rather obvious question: How do I know you're not lying? After all, you could be either planning to make me tell you the formula before releasing me, in which case you could double cross me immediately, or, more likely, stab me in the back at some point after I've conveniently done quite a bit of work for you and killed off your accomplices who, coincidentally, are probably your chief rivals for power in whatever little games you and your ilk play to occupy your time. And I'm also curious what method you've come up with to assure yourself that I don't betray you. Not that I would, because you're offering my freedom and I'm an honorable being, but let's face it, the eternal children of the night are not exactly the most trusting bunch of individuals. Oh, and do excuse me if I sound just a wee bit bitter. It's not been a good half-century or so, and my manners are a little rusty.

Umber arches one eyebrow, waiting for an answer.

Rather good thing I don't have to breathe, as that was incredibly long winded, wasn't it?

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-18, 01:19 AM
Demot, still brandishing the shovel, shutters most of the light and looks out from the smaller tunnel at the bigger one slowly. There didn't seem to be any guards who may or may nto know about them being let free, but he could never be too cautious. He smiled over at Amraf as his eye caught the dangling tendril. "See?" Then Demot entered the main room slowly, strides careful but confident.

Warshrike
2008-01-18, 01:25 AM
Pick goes in, chunk of rock falls, pick comes out. A simple enough concept, but for Dwiggs, mining was an artform. There were a hundred different ways to strike, varying how hard you hit, the angle the pick strikes, and how you swing, just to name a few. While many of the people in the mines weren't aware of the specifics of mining, Dwiggs still tried to educate them whenever possible. Of course, few of them ever took on board is advice, being so broken from their imprisonment it was all they could do to lift a tool, and the few that did usually died shortly after. Dwiggs, of course, thought digging was the best part of imprisonment, and would even go so far as enjoying it if someone took away the whips.
So it was that when he chipped away another piece, raised his pick-axe, and swung straight through the wall, he knew there was only one thing which could be done. If he was wrong, it meant a beating. Nothing new. If he was right, it could force the guards to listen to him, for once. He took in a breath as he turned, and in a booming voice that only a dwarf can muster underground safely, bellowed the dreaded words; "Cave-in!! Everyone, Back up the tunnels!!"
Before the last word escaped his lips he was moving back up the tunnels, even if it meant dragging his entire chain and being whipped all the way.

rubakhin
2008-01-18, 04:58 AM
Dima looks up from trying the key on his fetters. "Oh, hello." He gets up and brushes off his knees. He smiles amiably at the stranger. His voice is even and calm, as if they had run into each other in the marketplace and stopped to discuss an art exhibit or the weather. "My name's Dima Vostrog. You're Korram Altsan, right? I hear the guards talking about you a lot." He pauses, not wanting to damage the stranger's pride by saying he felt bad for him, exactly. "I'm leaving here today, if all goes well. You seem like a good man. Ergo, I sent my cat to get you. But it looks like you didn't need the help."

He steps back a bit, waves his arm in the general direction of the wall. "I made these. See - " He makes a pattern on the floor with the blood of the dead guard. A second later a tiny white mouse appears. Having come to life all of a sudden, for no real purpose, it sits there on the ground blinking stupidly for a moment - licks its whiskers, wrings its ears, a little nervous. The tiger growls and shows her teeth. The mouse squeaks and scampers away.

Good luck ... Dima thinks.

He holds up his tattooed arm, his hand balled in a fist. "And the tiger, of course, came from here."

He picks up the club and hits it against his palm. "This place is going to be lousy with guards in a minute. I suggest we leave - together. Strength in numbers and all that." He hesitates again, trying to think of something to say that'll affirm that Korram can trust him. "You don't have to worry. I'm just a thief - a thief-in-law. I follow the code." He nods, and taps his chest. "To the word. To the death."

Dorizzit
2008-01-18, 06:32 AM
Korram looks grim, responding tersely to Dima's questions and statements.
"Oh, hello."
*Nod of acknowledgment*
"My name's Dima Vostrog. You're Korram Alstan, right? I hear the guards talking about you a lot."
"Correct."
"I'm leaving here today, if all goes well. You seem like a good man. Ergo, I sent my cat to get you. But it looks like you didn't need the help."
"It's always better to have someone watching your back."
"I made these. See - "
O_O
"And the tiger, of course, came from here."
"Interesting..."
"This place is going to be lousy with guards in a minute. I suggest we leave - together. Strength in numbers and all that."
"Very well."
"You don't have to worry. I'm just a thief - a thief-in-law. I follow the code. To the word. To the death."
Korram merely sizes Dima up at this.
"Good. Now, it seems that we have little reason to stay. I merely need to gather my things. I will return." Korram walks into his previous cell and gathers the remains of his glove, tearing them into strips and tying them into the complex knot he once used before Ironheart to hide his condition. He returns to Dima. "I am ready. Do you have any particular direction you wish to go?"

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-18, 10:24 AM
In case the pole is only attached to the floor, and not to the ceiling, as it seems to be from your description, Victor simply crawls up, freeing himself, otherwise this will happen:

"Stop squirming, will you?" Victor shouts as he tries to think. His voice is raw, as if something is ripping inside his throat as he speaks, but this was just his normal tone of voice. The fact that something actually was ripping inside Victor's throat had little to do with it.

His head slumped forward in an awkward manner as he thought Ropes, it had to be ropes. Why couldn't they just use shackles? I'd have been out of those in five seconds tops, but no, it's ropes they like around here.

His mouth started chewing the rope as fast and hard as he could, but as soon as he realized it wasn't working (in case it isn't working, obviously, in case it is this won't be necessary) more started to rip inside Victor. His sewn together limbs pulled themselves loose from his body, one of his arms dropping to the floor, loosening the rope in the process.

The woman was stunned as she saw Victor's limbs move in impossible angles and he crawled out of the constrictive ropes in a snakelike manner. Meanwhile his loose arm had tackled one of the zombies. Victor jumped off the pole, using his elastic limbs to achieve maximum velocity, and bashed into the zombies, shattering one's head with a swing of his metal cased fist. Most of the other zombies dropped to the floor, struggling to get up again, but Victor wouldn't let them. he just kept punching them, over and over again. It was like a game of whack the mole, but if you missed a mole here it would probably eat your brain.

"You-made-me-rip-my-arm-off!" Victor shouted, as the zombie blood splashed over his in large gulps, "Do you even know how much trouble it is to sew that back on? Without a needle?"

Suddenly he realized he was just bashing chunks of bone into the floor, so he stopped. Then briefly started again, and stopped. He got up and looked at the lady who was accompanying him, in a way. He tried to evaluate how frightened he'd made her, and wether it would be safe to let her go.

ubersquid
2008-01-18, 11:01 AM
Elkwin tried his best to keep up with the dwarfs picking, shoveling load after load into the wagon, cursing and moaning at the rocks when they where especially large and heavy.

"Blasted!"
He didn't know much about mining, but he did notice that something was awfully wrong. Dwiggs last blow sounded totally different and it seemed like the mountain would suck in the pick, to not give it away again.

Following the dwarfs command, he hurried upwards.
"Come on lads, take 'yer heels! RUN!"

Engineer
2008-01-18, 07:50 PM
Amraf

Amraf nods and says "Yeth". He crouches with his pick axe and follows his larger freind.

Frozen
2008-01-19, 01:52 AM
Lamont shakes his head, clearing the dust from his mask, and backs away, gulping when he feels the solid wall on his back. he turns around, back facing the beast, and begins to run up the wall, feet scrabbling in terror, ready to do his next death-defying maneuver...

CRACK!

Lamont screams in pain as the beast smashes his legs into the wall, flopping backwards onto the thing, pain clouding his vision. He summons as much power as he can, and uses it all in a last ditch effort to grow shards of bone and spines from everywhere on his body he can.
Bone and chitin erupt from the small mans body, lancing everywhere and splitting off, fusing together into bigger pieces and jamming down into the chimera, growing and growing like the roots of a tree on steroids

Iethloc
2008-01-19, 03:22 AM
Sohssal

Have you forgotten WHO I AM?! I am SOHSSAL! Even spending time in this hellhole will only slow me down, but I cannot be stopped! You will see! Sohssal mentally screamed at his captor, bursting out of his mental grip and sending a mental kick to his imaginary chin.

Meanwhile, in the physical world, Sohssal's "body" slowly got back up to its knees, and he forced it to sprint out of the door as the room burned behind him. "Freedom...is close at hand..." he hissed. He stumbled down the corridor, taking breathing breaks, to both try to maintain control and allow himself to draw in and store more precious magical energy. That mirror might normally stop me, mortal, but today is different! Today, my magicks serve me again! The mirror, the guards, and that impotent Sage will fall! And once I can shed this wretched body, I will be FREE! he declared triumphantly.

Soon, Sohssal staggered next to the door, and began sucking in all the magical energy he could. Small, blue motes of light flickered into existence as he willed another spell into existence, one of his older ones made in the days where physical obstacles could still block his path. Quickly, the motes multiplied and coalesced into a translucent, pale dome, expanding and slamming into the walls around him, as well as the sealed door in front of him, hitting with considerable force. He spent the next couple of moments fending off his mental assailant, not wanting to lose control at such a critical time. Then he gathered energy again, either for another of the same spell, or something more suited to killing people should the door give way. This Sage had better be a pushover... Sohssal thought to himself.

Inspectre
2008-01-19, 04:58 PM
The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

The tuft of silken strands seems to confirm Desot’s original analysis, but there is little else that you can do but press on. Handing the lantern back to Amraf momentarily for safe keeping, Desot slides out into the main tunnel, legs first. Landing lightly on his feet, Desot brandishes his shovel awkwardly in one hand while using his other to accept the lantern back from Amraf.

Amraf scrambles out into the tunnel to join his friend immediately thereafter, and for a moment you look around anxiously, examining your immediate surroundings by lantern light. With the dim lantern’s light out in this main tunnel, you can now see the occasional droplets of smeared blood continue leading off into the darkness to the left of your side tunnel. Here and there along the walls and ceilings neither of you fail to note the patches of white silk that glitter in the lantern light. But these are just thin patches, and so you vehemently hope that this means there is perhaps only one spider down here.

Following the trail of blood, you move further down the tunnel, away from your only known escape point should things go horribly wrong. Suddenly, those mere patches of spider silk you saw before converge in the lantern light ahead. A section of the left wall ahead becomes a solid mass of glittering white, although no strands seem to stretch out across the tunnel to block movement past.

Neither of you saw any reason to continue moving past this section, however, as your goal appeared to be in sight. The blood trail leads directly to this portion of the tunnel, and you can make out the shape of a body hanging from the strands covering the one wall. Moving a bit closer, you can see that the body bears the uniform of an Ironheart guard, although it seems to have deteriorated quite rapidly. No, not deteriorated: dissolved, a good portion of its head having been eaten away by some sort of acid.

You both quickly begin to back away, your purpose here done, but a sudden rasping sound freezes you in your tracks. It comes from directly above you, and with warily eyes you dare to look up, afraid of what could happen if you don’t.

Now hanging from the ceiling directly above you is indeed a spider, as large as a dog, its eight green eyes shining like gems in the light. All eight of its legs are very slender, ending in razor-sharp tips that somehow embed themselves into the rock to allow it to climb about. Although its legs are solid black, the body is a wild, swirling blend of green and black, save for its overlarge, serrated bone-white fangs which it is currently scraping together as if to sharpen them.
Scrape Scrape Scrape.

A small droplet of liquid suddenly falls down out of its mouth, perhaps even a bit of drool from the thought of having three meals to digest. You manage to dodge out of the droplet’s way as it falls to the ground, fearing poison, but as the droplet splashes against the ground, it hisses loudly.

Hiss.

Then the spider releases its hold on the ceiling, gracefully dropping down towards Desot. It flips in mid-air, now holding all eight of its sharp legs down in front of it, fangs starting to work like saw blades in anticipation of tearing through the human’s soft flesh.

Warshrike/ubersquid

For a moment, everyone stands in shocked silence at Dwiggs’s words. Then the guards comes forward, tapping their clubs menacingly. “Ay, what’s this about a cave-in? You trying to make up stories to stop working?” One of them calls as Dwiggs turns and starts running already, ignoring the question.

Before the guards can move to stop the dwarf, now dragging the rest of the struggling-to-flee slave chain behind him, the answer to the guard’s question comes in the form of a loud crack from the wall. Thin cracks begin to appear around the point of impact where the pick was still stuck in the wall, and rapidly began to form into thick black lines which were visible even from a distance.

“That answers my question! Let’s get out of here!” The guard cries, and together guards and slaves flee the area as a cacophony of sounds begins behind them. Slowed by the chains around their legs and manacled together, Dwiggs knew that should the cave-in by a large one, none of the prisoners would be able to escape by outrunning the collapse.

There is a loud crash behind the fleeing group, and then a large cloud of dust envelops them, but nothing else. Coughing, everyone waves their hands in front of their face, trying to avoid breathing too much of the dust in, but is otherwise unharmed. The cave-in was a small one, and even the dust quickly settles.

“Yehah! We’re alive!” One of the guards shouts, before realizing such exuberance was unbecoming and coughs loudly. “So, uh, shall we go check and see how much damage was done?”

Carefully working its way back down to the end of the tunnel, the group is surprised to find that not much at all has collapsed, save for the wall that Dwiggs had struck. There, the previous wall of stone has crumbled into a pile of rumble, revealing another tunnel sloping sharply down into darkness. Miraculously, the shaft of Dwiggs’ pick is found sticking up a short distance up out of the rumble, and with a moment’s work is freed for use once more.

“Alright! We’re going to go down there and check this new tunnel to see where it leads. The lot of you are in front, move it!” The leader of the guard quartet shouts out, and with the crack of whips the slave chain is driven down through the descending tunnel.

Fortunately, this new tunnel is solid, preventing any further accidents as the sudden weight of travelers didn’t cause the bottom to give way or the ceiling to collapse. After several minutes of such travel down, down, down, the tunnel levels off and leads directly into a tunnel traveling perpendicular to the one you are now in, creating a T-junction.

The guards force you into going left, and after only a minute of travel the lantern light suddenly catches a figure standing in the middle of the hallway before you. “Oi! Prisoner! Identify yourself!” One of the guards calls, readying his club and approaching the figure. There is no response from the figure, who remains as he was, head bowed, back turned.

Continuing to approach the figure, the guard addresses him again, now angry. “I said prisoner, identify yourself! Now!”

Reaching the figure, the guard pulls his club back, but is too late as the figure whirls around, grabbing him in a loose embrace and biting deeply into his neck. Its face now caught directly in the lantern light as the figure wrestles the guard to the ground, you see only half of one, the other half having long since decayed away into bone: a zombie.

Continuing to gnaw into the guard’s face, the zombie is oblivious to the entrance of another three such figures shambling into the radius of the guard’s lanterns. For a moment, everyone watches the approaching trio in horror while the unfortunate guard’s gurgling screams fade to silence. Then the guards finally react, the leader shouting, “We must be down in the Catacombs! Alright men, time to withdraw! We’ll leave the prisoners behind as zombie bait!”

“Brains”

Comes a low hiss from behind, as one guard does an immediate about-face and whirls around to stare directly into lifeless eyes of another zombie. “OH N – AAAAAAAAARRRRrrrrrrkik” The guard has time to shout, before the zombie grabs a hold of him and bites into his throat, spraying blood everywhere and silencing him forever.

Still, the guard’s death has some purpose, in that it reveals the fact that in addition to the zombies approaching from the front, another trio of such reanimated corpses are slowly approaching from the rear, trapping you in a pincer movement.

With another two zombies feasting on the two downed guards, that leaves eight zombies in total, plus however many were still approaching in the darkness beyond the lantern light. Would this be the end for you, the Catacombs adding another batch of prisoners onto its tally of claimed lives? Perhaps, but you weren’t dead yet.

The Arena

Frozen

You attempt to scramble up the wall to avoid this next attack, but are too slow as the Chimera catches the lower half of your body. With a loud crack your legs are smashed into the wall, the bones pulverized. Even the cold iron rods embedded into your legs give way, tearing loose from their anchor points to stick out of your now-mangled limbs, their black color a sharp contrast to the white of bone also poking out of your skin here and there.

You scream, falling backward onto the Chimera. Underneath you, you can feel it starting to back up from the wall, no doubt intending to let your ruined body fall to the ground at its feet so it can finish mauling you with its claws and teeth.

In one last desperate attempt, you twist your upper body into a series of bony spikes and sharp protrusions, willing them to grow longer, piercing the Chimera’s flesh, then longer still, slicing through flesh until the protrusions dug down into the sand beneath you both, pinning the Chimera in place.

The Chimera twists and bucks beneath you, screaming as it is torn apart by your attack, its remains pinned to the ground. Held in place, the Chimera is unable to get away as you continue to push bony spikes down into it, and finally it shudders one last time before collapsing into a pile of dead flesh.

Now on the brink of unconsciousness, you hear the Arena announcer scream, “AAANNNNDDD HE’S DONE IT FOLKS! THE CHIMERA HAS FINALLY BEEN DEFEATED! BY! THE! IRON! SHIFTER!”

You hear a loud chorus of boos at first, indicating that the Chimera had been a crowd favorite. But then, slowly, even louder cheers began to envelop and drown out the boos, and then much of the crowd starts chanting your given name. “Iron shifter! Iron shifter! Iron shifter!”

You had no doubt that guards were already on their way to drag you back out into the prisoner waiting room. You had fought, and killed, as promised. But you had no doubt that they would make you fight again, perhaps even as their new favorite animal to unleash. Again and again and again until finally, they found something that could kill you, just like you had finally killed the Chimera.

???????

MrEdwardNigma
The pole only extended a few feet above your head, no doubt to accommodate sacrifices somewhat taller and larger than a human. But it was not sunk up into the ceiling as well as the floor, and so you were relatively confident in your ability to slip free.

The ropes holding you had been pulled very tight, and the knots holding them in place no doubt similarly expertly applied. But you were far beyond a normal being in flexibility of movement, and in the end the rope was just a normal rope.

Thus, it was only the quick work of a minute to worm your way out of the ropes holding your arms and legs together, and then up the pole to slip out of the loops of rope tying you to the pole. Using the top of the pole itself as a springboard, you push off and throw yourself down at the zombies below.

Simple and slow zombies, these pathetic things lacked all of the improvements you had devised over the years, but kept all of the same weaknesses. It was therefore a thankfully simple matter for you to disable all of them, smashing them apart with your iron-shod fists. But, because you felt it was necessary, you made sure that nobody could use the bodies for anything ever again, turning them into a meaty paste as you pounding chunks of their skulls into the floor, over and over.

At last, you hear the woman call over your shoulder, “I think you got them all!” Breathing a bit heavily from this exertion after so long lying inert on the floor of your cell, you turn back to regard the woman. You noted that she had surprisingly made some minor progress in freeing herself, managing to slip one of the loops holding her to the pole up past her shoulder, where it now hung loosely about her neck. She was about halfway to working a second such loop loose, it currently being roughly equidistant between the top of her shoulders and the crook of her elbows.

“Wow, that was amazing!” She cried, actually smiling as she continued to work the loop up inch-by-inch. “Where did you get the training to be so limber like that? I’ve had years of training, so I thought I was pretty good, but you got me beat! Just . . . wow!”

WhiteKnight777

Helion waits patiently for you to finish your theory, lips jerking up now and then into a confident smile, but otherwise not saying a word. When you are at last finished, he breaks out into a loud guffaw.

“Ha! Oh you are so intelligent, Lord Umber! You figured out my entire master plan in the space of a few minutes!” He waits a few moments, grinning down at you with a particularly whimsical smile that is not fitting for him at all. Then, he drops the smile, returning to his much-more typical smirk with a shake of his head.

“Actually, that’s not it at all. Well okay, maybe the suckering you into the killing off of my rivals bit since they’ll probably very much want to kill me after they learn of my betrayal. But, other than that, you’re pretty much totally off.”

Here, Helion pauses a moment to sigh and shake his head again.

“Yes, I was once interested in your silly Elixir, I will admit. But what little we have managed to learn about it has since convinced me that it will be more trouble than its worth. I mean, really. I’m already immortal and invulnerable to most sources of harm, and quite frankly I used to burn out in the sun even when I was a human, so that’s no real loss there. But some of the other Five Ancients aren’t so lucky, and after an incessant amount of whining for them I deciding to throw my lot in with them on a lark. Good publicity for a young vampire lord, capturing a Lord of Blood, right?”

During your various torture sessions over the years, you had managed to gleam that although there was a fairly good number of vampire filth involved in your capture and incarceration, only about five of them were of any real importance. These five vampire lords had taken to calling themselves the Five Ancients, being the oldest and most arrogant vampires in the region apparently. Helion was one of these five, and the youngest, but his insatiable drive for power had enabled him to gain enough resources to evidently be one of the group’s more influential members. The fact that he was willing to throw away his position amongst the Five told you a fair bit about his commitment to your escape . . . and his ambitions.

“You know what happens next, so I won’t bore with that. Although you probably don’t know the story of how I convinced my dear Mellita here into becoming a vampire, I think I shall let her tell that story. She enjoys it even more than I do.”

Looking at each other, the two vampires standing over you share a smile, and for a moment you think that they are about to start their embarrassing juvenile behavior again. But then Helion simply ruffles Mellita’s hair a bit, and then looks back to you.

“In any case, where our story gets interesting again is a few weeks ago. I had just finished feeding on some random prisoner - not very tasty and rather thin, believe me, but their blood is still better than guard blood, which is too bitter for my tastes in most cases – when I got an interesting vision from the memories stored in his blood. It seems that he had just recently had a dream, a dream about a certain vampire lord, locked deep away beneath Ironheart. Can you imagine?”

Helion simply pauses at this point to shake his head at you, making soft tsk noises. “In any case, rather than alert my comrades to the potential danger, I decided to act on my own. I had gotten bored with playing the role of captor, so now I was going to be the rescuer!”

Throwing his arms wide, Helion poses for you a moment, and then drops his arms back down around Mellita with a smile. “So, here we are. I expect to be quite well compensated for my efforts. And I know that you can pay, as your dream mentioned quite a large storehouse of wealth, scattered here and there across the world. We can negotiate an exact amount once we’re safe, but I want most of my cut to be in fancy jewelry and gold coins: you can keep the silver.”

He grins widely at you for a moment, revealing the tips of his fangs, but returning to his usual smirk. “As for how I can trust you to keep your word, that is simple. I will simply ask for it. I know you quite well, Lord Umber, and have studied you enough to know that you will feel compelled to keep your word if you give it freely. So, give me your word that freeing you from here will be enough repentance for my role in your capture and incarceration, and you will therefore not seek my death unprovoked. In fact, give me your word that you won’t seek my death unprovoked, ever, and that you will share a significant portion of your hidden-away wealth with me. That will be enough to ensure me entirely of your sincerity in this matter. Now, as for you trusting me.”

Helion gives a short shrug before breaking off his embrace with Mellita. “I’ve already thrown away my previous status by throwing my lot in with you. I imagine that it will quickly become kill or be killed for quite a few decades once the Four Ancients realize my betrayal. If you happen to run into one of them on your way out, would you mind being a sport and taking your revenge out on them immediately? Eliminating even just one of them should increase my own chances of survival tremendously. Beyond that, however, I have been known to change my mind, sometimes quite suddenly. To help put your mind at ease about that, I am also entrusting you with one of my treasures possessions: Mellita here.”

Melltia looks over at her master with a frown of confusion, which Helion only responds to by firmly pushing her away from him and towards you. “She would not be protected by your oath to me, and the thought of the horrors you could put her through should give me pause should I decide letting a Lord of Blood run free is a bad idea. Still, do what you will with her: she is your hostage. I would prefer for you to make use of her knowledge and abilities to escort you safely out of here and then return her unharmed to me, but that is not my decision to make, now is it? Bind her in the remains of your shackles if you wish. Inflict upon her all the injuries and indignities you want to put me through if that will make you happy. Drain her dry and leave her lifeless husk for the rats to feed off of if you must. Do whatever you want if it will make you feel more confident that I will not betray you. In fact, I now consider Mellita dead and gone to me, so don’t think your treatment of her will influence my behavior towards you in any negative way. Getting her back whole at the end of all of this would be a nice surprise, but knowing you I rather suspect she won’t be coming back at all. Now then, do you have any other questions for me before I leave you two alone?”

Wincing at every mention of callous treatment from you, Mellita seems to be on the verge of tears by the end. Voice quavering, she manages to croak out, “Master . . . I –“ before being cut off by Helion, who glares at her, his voice harsh.

“Silence, wench! I command you to be silent, just as I command you to do whatever Lord Umber requests of you from now. In fact, I also command you to call Lord Umber “Master” as well from now on: I bet he’ll like that quite a bit. Do you understand, blood slave?”

Silently, Mellita nods before turning away from you both for a moment, reaching one hand up underneath her veil to wipe at her eyes.

Helion glares at Mellita’s turned back for a moment, before turning back to you and relaxing into his confident smirk. “Good. Now, do you have any other questions for me, Lord Umber? Otherwise I’ll leave you alone with your new hostage.”

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

Now united, the two of you consider possible actions. Korram briefly returns to his room, tearing his former glove into a sleeve that he can use to suppress the fire running through and along his one arm as necessary. Then he returns, and you realize that wherever you do decide to go, getting out of the Torture Chambers would need to be your first priority. Even if you managed to get that far, however, you would still be stuck on the third level of prison cells, surrounded by countless guards in every direction. But you obviously couldn’t stay here for long, either: already the loud screams and sounds of violence from the other nearby rooms is starting to fade, no doubt the work of more guards coming in to see what the problem was. Soon enough, they would arrive here, the center of the disturbance.

(Feel free to move out into the surrounding torture rooms once you’ve agreed to some sort of common goal. In this specific instance I’m fine with you making up the description of a room or two immediately beyond your own. The torture rooms are pretty much all the same: one or two devices in the middle, with cells built into the surrounding walls which hold two or three prisoners while one suffers in the middle, anywhere from two to nearly a dozen guards in said room to watch or participate. You will be given further scene descriptions by me once you leave rubakhin’s room. :smallbiggrin: )

The Labs

Iethloc

Once again, you use your superior mental power to gain the upper hand, and reaffirm your control over the assistant’s body. Dashing out of the room, you enter the hallway just in time to hear the burning curtain fall to the ground with a dull thump.

Reaching the door at the end of the short hallway, you note with some annoyance that it is made out of adamantite, no doubt similarly enchanted against magic as the one leading directly into your cell.

Nonetheless, you summon one of your oldest and most powerful magics, creating a globe of force that slams into the walls around you as well as the door. The stone making up the hallway cracks and begins to give way, leading to a disturbing creaking noise from the ceiling over your head, and the runes etched into the door glow brightly. Shining brightly enough to fill the entire hallway in bright white light, the runes slowly begin to fade back to black as your spell’s energy dissipates.

You note with some great annoyance that these anti-magic runes had managed to absorb most of the energy, letting only a small amount of energy through into the underlying admantite. Still, the door had banged loudly from the impact of your spell, and you could note the smallest of dents in the admantite door where your spell had hit it.

Suddenly, you hear from beyond the door, “Coming! Geez, you don’t have to knock so loudly! We know you’re coming with the prisoner!”

“No, the prisoner is –“

“You” suddenly shout out, the assistant taking control of his body for the briefest of moments with great effort before you manage to shove him back down into the depths of “your” brain.

“The prisoner is what?” You hear the voice call from the other side of the door, as you hear the first rod holding the door into the wall slide out.

rubakhin
2008-01-19, 08:06 PM
Dima thinks.

"Ultimately," he says, "our problem will be leaving here. We'll have to go by air or by sea. That would be easy enough, if I only had time - I could create a water serpent or a sea bird large enough to carry us. But it would take me a few hours to draw something that would obey me. The more detail I put in the drawings, the better I can control them. If I rush it - well." He nods in the direction of the minotaur. "It's dangerous to risk anything less than complete control if I'm using one of the beasts to travel. The serpent could decide to sound, or the bird could just eat us. Now where could I get a few hours alone to hide? A mineshaft? Maybe one of the guards' quarters ... "

He shakes his head. "Either way, we need to leave the torture chambers. I suggest we go ... down."

He slides the door shut after them with a soft clack, shutting the minotaur in with the drawings. The dogs follow at their heels.

Dima's voice drops to a whisper as they enter the still-abandoned corridor. The screams in the distance bother him a bit. Guards are guards - as far as Dima was concerned, anyone who imprisons another living being gives up their own humanity. It was the worst sin, in his eyes. But surely those were also the voices of prisoners - his brothers, in a way.

"It's too bad we can't do anything here other than save ourselves. I wish ... there were something more that we could do."

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-19, 08:21 PM
Admiration?
Not a sentiment Victor was used to. Sure, he'd always felt he deserved some for his scientific achievements, but this was about his physique. It came completely out of the blue. Any normal human being would have probably been scared to death, but not this girl. Victor found his mind wandering toward zombification. She'd make a nice bride.

But no, he didn't have the equipment, he'd just mess her up this way. Besides, there was no way he could perform any sort of surgery upon her with his hands locked up like this. He needed out. But first, he needed some cannonfodder. He'd been a bit too hard on the zombies, he could have probably brought them back and made them work for him if he hadn't worked out his anger on them, but it was too late for that now. He could reanimate the other corpses, but he'd need voltage, and lots of it. Or chemicals. But he had neither.

He turned his attention back to the woman. An interesting specimen, surely.
"You're doing very well, for a human. You wouldn't happen to be a mage or anything like that, would you? There's got to be some reason they locked you up on the third level of the dungeon. It's not ordinarily a place for humans..."

Victor slung the rope across his shoulder as he spoke. Could come in usefull. He then bowed down to investigate both the corpses and the zombies for any irregularities. Any recently deceased bodies or bodyparts would also be usefull.

Dorizzit
2008-01-19, 08:44 PM
Korram remains mute while Dima speaks, taking everything he says in and thinking carefully about possible options, moving with Dima. When Dima finishes, Korram speaks. "Agreed. The safest place to go, in my opinion, would be the mines. There it would be easy to evade any pursuit while simultaneously readying an escape plan. However, there are a few other factors here. My daughter. She is here, in Ironheart, and I will not leave without her. The Baron, who comes here at times and whose death would be a great service for the entire barony. Ironheart itself, if we could somehow cause a mass breakout on, say, level three, the whole system would likely collapse. All of these are considerations, and I listed them in order of personal importance. What say you on the matter?"

rubakhin
2008-01-19, 09:02 PM
Dima's brow furrows at the mention of Korram's daughter. "I don't like that they keep women in here ... to do this to men is one thing, but women ... All right, let's make her priority number one. Do you know where she's being held?"

Dorizzit
2008-01-19, 09:22 PM
Korram nods. "Thank you. I don't know her exact location. She came here today, and was in prisoner processing about five minutes ago. They were intending to send her straight to the torture chambers to get at me, but it seems unlikely that that will be happening now that there are your creations running around. She would probably, then, be taken to level two, as her ostensible crime was theft. On the other hand, she may be taken lower if she has gained some form of unusual ability since I last saw her. Eight years is a significant period of time, during which a lot can happen."

rubakhin
2008-01-19, 09:52 PM
Dima nods. "Eight years. I trust you'll still be able to recognize her," he says, sympathetically. "Let's head towards processing. We'll free as many people as we can on our way there. As for the Baron - well, we'll worry about that if the opportunity presents itself."

Dorizzit
2008-01-19, 10:16 PM
"I should be able to. I hope I will...god. I never really thought about it before. Eight years. I only even know because the guards always had special anniversary sessions..." Korram shakes his head slowly. "Very well, we'll go to processing first. Do you want time to summon any additional aid? If not, shall we go?"

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-19, 10:34 PM
Umber

Umber just gives a little chuckle and shakes his head. He wondered if this whelping had guessed his true motives in going on that long, rather nonsensical rant about cliched and overdone plans. He might, and he might not. He wasn't stupid, not by any measure. And it seems he had learned much about him, Umber. Too much for comfort, actually. Something would have to be done about that. Having such information floating about was discomforting, to say the least.

And, thought Umber, he wondered if this little pup really understood the value of the Elixir. Certainly he didn't appreciate what it gave the imbiber. At least, what it gave if the imbiber was worthy and willing to pay the price... The power it granted, the ability to unlock the full potential of blood and soul. These lesser vampires, to them it granted but a pittance, a delay of time's ravages... but even they, over the ages, grew drawn and thin, needing more and more of the precious red ichor, their power growing slowly but death just as slowly claiming them piece by piece... but to a Lord of Blood... ah... true eternity. Youth and vigor and the power to take on the strength of those one fed upon. Feh, what he knew mattered little. What he thought mattered not at all. Umber would be free, and he would have his revenge. This whelp would be dealt with, sooner or later, though perhaps not by him. For now, there were more pressing issues to deal with.

After a moment of quiet thought, Umber grinned again, nodding.

Most... interesting. Very well, your offer is most agreeable to me, Helion. Though I see one particular flaw in your logic: If Melitia holds so little value to you, and you already consider her dead and dust, how does giving her to me as a hostage offer me any sort of assurance that you will not change your mind? Not that it matters to me, of course, because trust you or not, this is, as you know, I'm sure, my only option. Thus, I accept. I swear I shall not seek to harm you so long as you do not attempt to harm me, yourself or by proxy, and do not attempt to hinder me in any form or fashion. Also, I shall deliver unto you a sizeable sum of treasure upon my escape from this abomiable fortress. Umber chuckled a little at this. That part of the agreement bothers me the least. In truth. I have never had trouble earning or taking whatever riches I desired, and I doubt I shall have any in the future. Umber shrugged as much as he could through the chains, wincing a little as the silver chafed his skin raw. Now then... unless you have anything more to add, my only question is what the best route out of this place is.

He turns to Melltia And, if you would, my dear, kindly get the rest of these chains off of me as quickly as possible. I would like to be gone from here. I have a great many debts to pay, and I do so like to be prompt when balancing the scales.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-19, 10:58 PM
"Oh-" Desot manages to spit out as the creature drops toward him. He instictively drops to his knees and slams the shovel upward, the lantern falling to his side as his off hand also grabs the wooden hilt. He readies himself to swing the spider's weight away with the shovel's metal head in a hope to buy an extra second for... anything.

Iethloc
2008-01-19, 11:40 PM
Sohssal

"Ah, nevermind. We got the prisoner back under control. He has a lot of fight in him today!" Sohssal responds, crafting as reasonable a lie as he could. Sohssal couldn't help but grin after saying this. I, personally, find this situation hilarious. Don't you? Sohssal mocked mentally. He took the time needed to open the door to shove his former captor further from control, as well as greedily absorbing what magical energy he could feel.

As the last rod clicked out of place, the air in front of Sohssal began shimmering with heat. Wasn't that a refreshing break? Sohssal poked at the original owner of the body. As the huge door opened, Sohssal let loose a jet of flames from his hands, focused onto the body of the poor guard that revealed himself, sending him soaring backwards as Sohssal squeezed past the door. Hey, with some luck, he might even hit that blasted silver mirror. Wouldn't that be neat? Sohssal taunted his new partner, but he still kept a critical eye out for either the Sage or the accursed mirror.

Engineer
2008-01-19, 11:43 PM
Amraf swing his Pick axe down, taking care no to hit his larger freind. As he does that he says, "If I peirthe youh , wihhll youh burth?"

Voth
2008-01-19, 11:56 PM
Quickly weighing his options, Voth decides to descend into the darkness, rather than stay and fight.



((OOC: Sorry Writers Block hopefully the next entry will be much more detailed.))

ubersquid
2008-01-20, 12:25 PM
"By my mothers lousy beard! DEAD-UNS!"

Elkwin shouts as he sees the zombies devouring the guards.

He kneels down on the ground and hastily bends the chain that connects him to the other prisoners over a loose rock, while he watches the three creatures in front, crawling over the fourth and the dead guard.

"Alright Mister Dwiggs, show me what you really can do with that pick of yours."

Then he turns his head around and stretches it as far away from his hands as he can, to prevent his face from getting hit by any pieces that might chip away, and far more importantly Dwiggs' Pick.

Closing his eyes to a squint he recognizes the Zombies at the back as well, and the other prisoners already stumbling towards him in fear.

"HIT IT!"

rubakhin
2008-01-20, 06:55 PM
Dima sizes up the hounds. "It's fine for now. The dogs won't last long, I think, but I'll be able to create more on the fly. Let's go."

Dorizzit
2008-01-20, 07:00 PM
Korram seems almost sort of happy. "Good. Let's go." He treads away at a quick pace in the direction of processing, his long, powerful strides moving him quickly over the ground.

Frozen
2008-01-20, 10:45 PM
as he slides off the chimera, bones beginning to retract, lamont coughs wetly, falling down onto his back on the rough sand. The bones cushion his fall, and begin to envelop him, wrapping him in a loving protective cocoon, leaving only his face and the cold iron poking out of his legs free. He sprouts small spikes beneath his mask, then retracts them, consciously willing the wounds not to heal. Blood begins to drip through the holes in his mask, and he rolls up into a kneeling position, awaiting the guards to drag him away.
The cocoon enveloping him begins to harden, protecting him against further debilitating injuries while he internally repairs himself.

As the guards approach him, he coughs again, a small gout of blood splashing onto the sand.
"I need to heal if i'm to fight again, put me in the coffin and i'll be useless"
His vision swimming before his eyes, lamont blacks out.

Inspectre
2008-01-21, 01:48 PM
The Spires: Key Storage

Voth

Racing through the dimly-lit shelves of keys, you manage to avoid a confrontation with the guards as you make your way over to the stairs. Coming close to reaching your destination, however, you hear an alarmed cry followed by a crossbow bolt whistling past your head to slam into a nearby shelf. Picking up the pace and abandoning secrecy for the moment, you dash over to the stairway leading down and fling yourself down them.

Flying down the steps at top speed as they curl around and downwards, you don’t have enough time to react as someone suddenly appears in your path. Crashing directly into this figure, you bowl him over and together the two of you roll the rest of the way down the stairs with a loud cry from the impromptu roadblock.

Together, the two of you land in a heap at the bottom of the stairs a moment later, and you can see that the man is not a guard, but rather one of the unarmed general staff. Pinned underneath you, he reaches up to clutch at his head with a low moan, while the other reaches down to feebly pull at his left leg, twisted awkwardly and trapped underneath him.

Looking around the room, you see that you’re in what appears to be a small workshop, two more general staff members, a man and a woman, staring at you in mute terror from their positions at one of the workbenches. Sitting on the workbenches is a variety of tools, as well as a few thick strips of brass. One such strip appears to be a work in progress: numerous chucks cut out of it and the rough shape of a key beginning to appear in the strip.

Of the exits out of this room, there appears to be only two: another stairway nearby that continues to lead down through the Spire, and an iron door similar to the one that you used to enter the Spire in the first place. It therefore seems likely that beyond this door is another tunnel of metal leading you either back to the Research Tower, or over to the Aerial Mount Tower.

The loud footsteps echoing down from the top of the iron stairs that you currently rest at the base of suggest that you will need to decide where to go quickly though: the guards above are in hot pursuit.

The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

Kneeling, Desot drops the lantern to grip his shovel in a strong two-hand hold, thrusting it up to meet the descending spider. A shovel’s shaft is a little longer than the spider’s legs, and even with its dull edge the spider lands with enough force for the shovel to sink about an inch into its armored carapace. Several drops of bright yellow blood ooze out from the crack now running along the spider’s underside, which hiss faintly as they impact against the ground. One lands on Desot’s check, burning painfully for an instant before fading.

Between the danger of more drops of blood and the spider’s legs flailing wildly, their sharp tips only a few inches from Desot’s face and hands, Desot decides now would be a good time to get rid of his burden. Swinging his shovel around, Desot flings the wounded spider off his shovel and against a nearby wall, a loud crack echoing through the chamber as another section of the spider’s carapace is shattered from the impact.

As it tumbles to the ground, weakly struggling to stand again, Amraf rushes over and finishes the creature, driving his pick into its head. The legs twitch spasmodically for a few seconds, and then fall still as Amraf wrenches his tool out of the spider’s head. It is with some concern that you note the tip of Amraf’s pick and the edge of Desot’s shovel are now pitted and scarred, no doubt the work of the creature’s blood. While they still appear to be serviceable, further deterioration might become a problem.

From the spider’s mouth, a slow stream of liquid oozes, starting to burn a hole down through the rock. Other than the constant hissing coming from the growing hole, there are no other sounds in the tunnel for the moment.

Warshrike/ubersquid

Quickly realizing the need to be mobile and separate from the dead weight of the other prisoners who are already cowering between the two remaining guards, Elkwin bends the chain holding him to the other prisoners and calls for Dwiggs’s aid. The stout dwarf immediately nods with a grunt, driving his pick down into one of the links of chain. With the loud rasp of tearing metal, one side of the link ruptures under the impact, leaving a hole that Elkwin is easily able to slip the remaining links of chain out of.

Encouraged by that success, you realize that it’s possible to do the same thing to the shackles and fetters still holding you prisoner, but their iron is of considerably better quality and thus will likely take several such blows before crumbling. In any case, there would be no time for that just yet.

“Aim for the head!” You hear the guard leader shout, demonstrating by stepping forward and driving his club straight down into the skull of one of the zombies blocking your retreat. With a wet crack the zombie’s skull gives way, imploding under the blow, leaving the rest of its body to fall in a heap at the guard’s feet.

“Got it!” The other guard shouted back, stepping forward to copy the leader’s attack on one of the zombies approaching from the other direction. Unfortunately, his understanding of the process of zombie killing is left highly in doubt, as the zombie suddenly shifts to one side as it shuffles forward, causing the guard’s blow to impact against its shoulder instead.

There is a dull crack as the zombie’s arm visibly sags from the blow, but even such a debilitating injury is almost nothing to one of the undead. Snarling, the zombie plows into the guard with the “crippled” shoulder, slamming them both into the nearby wall of the tunnel. Holding the guard pinned against the wall by its broken shoulder, the zombie clamps down on the top of the man’s shoulder in retribution, biting down until his screams turn into shrill cries.

This clears the way for the other zombies, and they descend into the midst of the chained prisoners like wolves into sheep. “Brains!” They hungrily cry, one falling onto a hapless prisoner to hamstring him with a hard bite to his one calf before pulling the prisoner in closer. The other zombie, as it turns out, is a bit more discerning in its tastes as it descends upon Dwiggs, busy attempting to break another prisoners out of the slave line.

“Help!” He grunts as the zombie throws itself upon his back, driving him down to the floor. Before the zombie can sink its teeth in, however, the dwarf shows he won’t go quietly with a sharp elbow to the zombie’s nose, shattering it completely. Uncaring, the zombie uses one hand to shove the dwarf’s head down, pinning it against the ground as its open jaws start to descend.

The Arena

Frozen

Attempting to shield your wounded body with a carapace of bone, you feel yourself beginning to black out from your injuries. Seeing a few guards armed with crossbows start to appear at the rim of the Pit, you call out to them not to put you back into your shackles or your iron coffin. Doing so might prevent your recovery, which was needed to occur if you were to fight in another match. You then pass out completely, hoping desperately that the guards would follow your instructions.

You do not dream, thankfully, as most of your dreams involve your time back with the mad wizard, cackling maniacally and taunting you as you suffer through the most recent of his experiments. You do not know how much time passes, but gradually you become aware of your body again. It has reverted back into its human form, which implies that the unconscious repair of your damaged body was almost complete. Slowly, awareness of your surroundings returns as well, and you can feel that the cold iron has been completely removed from your body. In their place, you can feel heavy iron manacles wrapped around your wrists and ankles, which seem to be attached to the wooden table you are currently lying on.

Suddenly, you can sense a presence standing above you. “Ssshh. Lie still, you are badly injured.” A voice grates out, echoing painfully in your overly sensitive ears as you continue to slowly regain consciousness. Something damp and cool is pressed down onto your forehead, and then the presence is gone.

As your senses continue to gradually return, you can hear the sounds of low, pained moaning coming from all around you. Now and then you hear the voice return, whispering and soothing one source of the moans before darting off to another.

Finally, the presence and its attached voice return, and you can make out the blurry image of a face standing out against the grey stone of the ceiling. “How do you feel now?” The voice asks, no longer booming in your ears but still retaining a decidedly husky quality.

???????

MrEdwardNigma

Slipping out of another loop holding her to the pole, the woman shakes her head. “Not a mage, no. I am a monk of the White Wind Monastery . . . or was . . . in any case, I have certain skills that aid in attempting escape and crippling guards with or without a weapon. The guards got sick of it after a while, so they chained me up and threw me down into the third level. My name is Cassandra, but since my sisters at the Monastery have likely stripped me of even that, you may call me whatever you like.”

For a moment Cassandra hangs her head with a sorrowful frown, but shakes her head after a moment and turns back to the matter at hand: escape. While she continues to slip free from the pole, you start surveying what you have to work with. The zombie bodies are completely unusable, but you do note from the remains that they had been made fairly recently, and all of them were former prisoners judging by their tattered garb.

Looking down at the still glowing runes that form the body of the thaumaturgic circle, you manage to make out a few of the runes’ meanings: “life energy”; “corrupt”; “awaken”; “death without end”. Judging from this and the stiffness associated with the zombies’ first actions upon getting up, you theorize that it was indeed the circle that animated the corpses. This also leads you back to one of your memories from your first year of alchemical practice.

During that time, while researching means to bring back the dead, you stumbled upon a historical entry regarding one of the first means to awaken the dead. Ancient shamans would draw a thaumaturgic circle underneath the corpse to be animated, and then activate its magic. The weak necromancy of the circle would feed the corpse with enough magical energy to animate, but not enough to permanently reawaken: as soon as the zombie left the confines of the circle, it was change back into a lifeless corpse. The impracticality of using such a method limited its use greatly, and arcane studies into the matter went a different route after.

Covering the entire floor of the room, the circle now underneath you could be some sort of modern version of just such a circle. It would explain the zombies’ behavior, at least, and also suggests a rather frightening thought: after the zombies had finished with you, there would have been another two fresh corpses in this room, which the circle would then have obligatorily turned into zombies as well.

Still, the inefficiency of this method of zombie creation irritated you, and still didn’t explain why the cultists didn’t want permanent zombies. While certainly good for killing a couple of bound prisoners, the zombies were useless outside of this room and likely would revert into being just corpses as soon as the thaumatergic circle was deactivated. The only advantage to doing things this way was that the zombies didn’t consume magical energy beyond what was necessary to kill the prisoners and convert them into zombies as well . . . wait!

Turning back to where you had seen the “life energy” rune, you carefully examine the runes immediately next to them. Although beyond your ability to understand, having focused more on alchemy than on arcane mumbo-jumbo like thaumaturgy, you think that the rune directly in front of “life energy” is “siphon”. So, “something siphon life energy something something corrupt something awaken death without end”.

Although unable to make out any more, a new theory snaps into being inside your head upon this latest discovery. The circle was also there to absorb life energy, not just grant life to decaying corpses! No doubt upon your deaths, the circle would collect your remaining life energy in the same act as converting your bodies into zombies. But what does it then do with that energy, and why in such an inefficient manner? You knew more than one way to drain the life energy from a body, and they all involved starting with a perfectly healthy individual rather than one on the very brink of death, having been eaten by zombies.

Before you can ponder this further, the voice of Cassandra breaks into your thoughts. “Umm . . . do you think you could give me a hand here? There’s only two loops holding me to the pole now, and I’d rather not fall flat on my face when I slip out of both of them. If you’re not busy, that is – I know how to break a fall. But then I probably will need some help, because the rest of this rope is tight. Seriously, I think I’m starting to lose circulation to the rest of my legs here: how did you slip out so easily?”

WhiteKnight777

At your insightful comment, Helion’s mouth drops slightly, snaps shut, then drops again. Although silent for a moment, he then throws back his head and laughs, cackling maniacally before turning back to you.

“Oh, well done Lord Umber. You have indeed found a contradiction in my words. Perhaps we should say that Mellita then is less a hostage and more of a gift? A gift I would prefer back, of course, but with no expectation that I will. A sign of trust between us, as I certainly wouldn’t grant such a beautiful servant to someone I was planning to immediately betray, hmm? And I’m sure that Mellita has all sorts of secrets about me you could beat out of her, so I would be a fool to place such a weapon in your hands and immediately give you cause to use it against me. I do not know what more assurances I could give you Lord Umber, besides traveling with you myself. Unfortunately, I am needed elsewhere, to divert attention away from you and Mellita. Hopefully not everyone has learned of my treachery yet, and perhaps I can even pin the blame on one of the other Ancients. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Giving you one last toothy smile, Helion bows before turning away. “And now I shall take my leave of you, Lord Umber. With any luck, we shall meet again outside the confines of this prison, and can discuss how best to split your money up. Ta-ta!” Helion pauses a moment to give Mellita a kiss on the cheek and another grope-heavy hug, and then strides off behind a stalactite and is gone.

Wiping at her face one last time, Mellita turns back to you. “Of course, Lo – Master. I am rested enough now to continue.”

The work of another few minutes of constant casting, Mellita’s spells finally shatter the last chain holding you prisoner, leaving you free at last. Regrettably, this does not include the silver manacles encircling each of your wrists, a few links of silver chain dangling from each. Still, such things should not slow you down, but the feel of any silver against your body was aggravating.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

Your destination determined, the two of you set out, the hounds and tiger following. The Minotaur, meanwhile, is left behind as an unpleasant gift for the guards to deal with when they try to reclaim the room. It seems likely that peace returning to this section of the Torture Chambers won’t be much longer, as even now much of the hubbub in the surrounding rooms as died down. Screams haven’t yet replaced the shouts of alarm and sounds of struggle previously coming from the nearby rooms, but it seems inevitable that the guards will move fresh prisoners in soon enough.

Crossing over into the next room from Dima’s and one room further away from Korram’s, you find it thankfully empty. As one of the nearest rooms, it had been the epicenter of the vermin swarm Dima had unleashed. Countless smashed carcasses of spiders litter the floor as well as more than one crushed snake, all of them already crumbling away back into dust.

A bruised body, strapped into the rack that took up most of the room’s floor space, confirmed that the vermin had been indiscriminate about who they killed. With most of his exposed skin covered in purple bumps from the venom, the man looked more like a grape than a person. He unquestionably died in agony, his skin a mass of fire from the venom before it finally reached his heart and his brain.

Several of his straps also looked partially chewed through: no doubt the work of the rats Dima had also sent out. Several crumbling rat corpses also litter the ground, most of them clustered around the rack itself. It seems likely that the guards here had seen the rats and started smashing them with their clubs. Rat courage being what it was, the surviving rats had fled for less well-guarded prisoners, and then the vermin swarm arrived to sweep guard and prisoner away.

Nonetheless, for the moment the room is deserted, the guards evidently having fled before the might of the vermin swarm. Skirting around the still smoldering coals of a knocked-over brazier, your little band quietly moves over to the doorway opening into the next room.

Here you find a bit of a surprise: the space directly across from your doorway is solid wall, rather than a doorway opening into another room. An open doorway stands off to your left upon entering the room however, so that there are two entrances. Unless this is some sort of perverse deception on the part of the guards, you seem to have found a corner room.

You have no idea where exactly the door leading out of this place is, the guards frequently moving prisoners about the central rooms in a random fashion to promote just such confusion. But finding a corner room is potentially a good sign, as it at least will provide a boundary to your search.

There is, however, one problem with moving into this new unusual room. Just as one of you is about to step into the room, you notice two guards standing in the shadows along the wall to your right. Again this is a surprise, as you suddenly notice that this corner room is completely empty: no torture devices, no cells for holding prisoners.

Why are the two guards standing back in the shadows of the right wall? They do not appear to have noticed you, as guards rarely attempt stealth when apprehending fleeing prisoners. Their attention also seems to be on each other as they carry on some sort of whispered conversation that you can’t make out from the doorway.

Squinting, it is then that you manage to make out the outlines of a doorway in the wall behind the two guards. Made out of the same stone as the surrounding wall, the door is not perfectly concealed, but between its similar coloration and the shadows it is likely someone hurrying through the room would fail to notice it.

The theory that behind the guards is a door, presumably leading into a room beyond, is confirmed as faint muffled shouts of anger reach your ears from the direction of the hidden door. Hearing this as well, the two guards standing watch at the doorway stop their conversation, one elbowing the other with an evil grin.

The Labs

Iethloc

You reply to the guard’s inquiry with a call that all things are A-OK on your side, utterly amused at this situation. As the various bars holding the door shut are removed, you renew your control over the assistant’s body, driving his mind into the furthest corners of “your” brain.

Laugh while you can, freak. It’ll make your defeat on the other side of this door all the more refreshing.

Then the door slides open, and you greet the guard on the other side with an immediate burst of fire from your hands. Screaming, the man is propelled back through the air by the fiery blast, his charred corpse sliding to a halt several feet away from you.

The door swings the rest of the way open, allowing you to see the rest of the laboratory. Situated in the center of the room is a heavy wooden table surrounded by a variety of sharp implements: your bed while the Sages hacked your body apart to discover your secret. And at the head of this table is the accursed silver mirror, positioned so as to center the table in its reflection: enabling you to stare at your own reflection in hate as you watched what the Sages did to your feeble mortal body.

Standing close to this table are six guards, armed with a variety of restraints to slap on your human body once the silver mirror had torn you from the research assistant’s. All of them stared in silent shock at you and the charred corpse of their friend.

“Well, this is convenient. Now I can just destroy you both at once. Pity I won’t get to perform my final experiment though.” A voice calls from near the ceiling as an invisible force suddenly jerks “you” up off “your” feet and sends “you” flying into the room. Slammed into the floor, you skid to a halt just shy of the area reflected by the mirror. Pain blossoms along your right hand for a moment, as it swings it view of the mirror and the ghostly shape of your body is torn from the real shape of the assistant’s hand.

Now flat on your back, however, you can see the yellow-robed form of the Sage, Gene, floating fifteen feet up, his head just grazing the ceiling of the room. “Drat, I missed it seems. Guards, move the mirror to cover where our “assistant” is. Now!”

Voth
2008-01-21, 02:21 PM
Why not go back to the first spire? They'll never suspect that. But first, you need to kill these witnesses.

Always one for the bloodiest way aren't you?

Taking a moment to merge, Voth, in a tornado of claws and bloodshed, leaves the 3 members of the general staff torn limb from limb, blood pooling on the floor. After making sure they're dead, he rushes towards the Iron Door, while making sure he does not leave any tracks for the guards to follow, in hopes that it will lead to his salvation, or at least cause the pursing guards to split up.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-21, 03:26 PM
((I don't think Victor would have any trouble with the deciphering of the runes and such. He didn't specifically focus on alchemy, you'll see his character sheet specifies he knows all about magic, as far as theory goes. The signs might be very obscure, but Victor should be able to figure them perfectly out if a scholar or mage could))

Crude, to say the least. I'm sure this has some deeper purpose, but it seems there's lots of better ways to do this. Still, I should look into it. I don't appreciate them doing this the magical way, it's sort of half-assed doing this through magic, anyone can do it that way, and it hardly teaches you anything, but fellow necromancers are still appreciated. Them trying to kill me less so, seems they need to be taught by the master...

His train of thought was interrupted by the girl. A monk? So basically she could do what he could do, but less, and she was less good at it as well?
Well, help was still usefull, and keeping her as his companion was a good way to keep her with him without having her body rot. He could zombify her once they got out of there. He suddenly noticed she asked him something.

"How did I slip?"
Victor bended his arm backward.
"I'm a flexible person. Here, let me help you"
He helped untie her.
"Don't I scare you?" he asked, still in the process of untying her. ((She has seen me, right?))

Iethloc
2008-01-21, 04:28 PM
Sohssal

Grunting in pain, Sohssal jerked his hand away from the hated mirror, and quickly threw himself away from it. "Oh, things are going to go very differently than you seem to think!" Sohssal informed Gene. As quickly as he could, he began weaving his old, powerful spell again. Ohhh, this would be a bad time for my counterpart to take control! Sohssal thought to himself. Soon, the blue lights danced around him again, and he took this moment to get closer to the mirror, doing his best to stay away from the reflective side. Then the dome of force burst into being again, splintering the table and slamming into the mirror, shattering the blasted thing and sending the shards flying away, as well as knocking the nearby guards painfully to the ground.

"I'm back in control, Sage! You know, it's been a while since I've had a nice battle of magic. But I'm sure the magical energy you'd release upon your death will be a feast worthy of, well...me! So I'm afraid I'll just have to kill you here and now!" Sohssal informed Gene. Then his mind began going over his most powerful fire spell. Fire began dancing around his form as he readied himself to use a large amount of energy. He began stepping away from the Sage, and, as he finished it, quickly turned his head away and closed his eyes. Meanwhile, around the Sage, a bright light came into being, and then everything seemed to conflagrate as the air around him violently combusted. Sohssal took cover as little balls of fire rained down in the labs as he grinned maniacally. That took a lot out of me...it had better have done SOMETHING... he thought to himself.

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-21, 04:59 PM
Umber
Umber gave a wicked smile as the young vampire left. He wondered, for a moment, just how clever - and how treacherous - he was. Though at the moment, it mattered little. There was so much to do, and so very little time. With a grunt of effort, he reached down,pulling his shattered leg down, then forcing it back into place. He could feel it reknitting itself, and after a few moment, he rose, testing it, wincing a little at the pain. He was healing, but more slowly than normal - the small amount of blood used to revive him had not done wonders, and he was still weak - weak enough that he could not break free of the chains, at least, not yet... for that he would need a bit more blood. He was hesitant to drain his only asset for strength... not until he was in a true emergency. He looked at Milletia, giving her a grin as he tested his new leg, walking over to her, his motions fluid and easy, though his leg twinged with each step, the newly-grown bone and repaired flesh still tender. He refused to let it show, though. Pain was to be endured... he moved close to her, looking her up and down with a lingering gaze... he moved about her, then leaned in, brushing his lips accross her neck-

and planted a single soft kiss. Still grinning, he stepped back, speaking in a low, soft voice. Ah, there's no need to call me Master, my dear... I grew out of the need for such aggrandizements a long, long time ago. You may call me Umber, or Lord Umber if you wish. I'm certainly arrogant enough without others feeding the flame. He chuckled at that, a low, rich sound, and began to head up the passageway, beckoning her to follow, speaking as he walked along, getting a feel for his new-grown body.

So, now we must find a way out of here. May I assume you know the quickest way to depart from this dank and dreary dungeon? If my suspicions are correct, said path will involve climbing up through the rest of the prison. Not that I mind... I'm a bit peckish, and I have quite a bit of pent-up aggression that could use some venting A smile flickered accross his lips Not to mention the fact that a mass jailbreak would prove most amusing, as well as a delightful cover for my own exit. There's also no telling what delicious creatures are stored in the lower levels - some rare and potent vitae would be most excellent for building my strength in case I should be so fortunate as to run into one of the Four. His grin widened, displaying his fangs as he strode on in the darkness, his eyes adjusting easily now that his strength was flowing back And unlike them, I don't need the passage of years to build my power...

Gods but it felt good to move again! he'd missed this - the feel of a body, the sensations on his skin - the rich scents on the night wind, the feel of supple flesh, the taste of good food and wine - and, of course, most of all the sweet red nectar. There was nothing like it. Well, almost nothing, he thought with a mental snicker. Oh, but this was going to be fun

Engineer
2008-01-21, 05:09 PM
Amraf walks over to the spider and kneels. He touches a leg, and then pick it up. He pokes the leg into the strange saliva and sees what happens while calling back to Desot, "Perhpapth it will be able toh goh through my cohllar? Yuh seemed to be okayhhh after it touthed you..

Dorizzit
2008-01-21, 05:35 PM
Korram grimly looks upon the guards. He motions to Dima to stand back. Not bothering to undo the suppression on his arm, he slowly sneaks towards the guards, utterly soundless as he pads across the ground. Reaching the guards, he reaches slowly towards one, and then in a lightning fast movement snaps his neck backwards. Ducking a surprised roundhouse by his other opponent, he responds with a quick punch to the stomach, followed by a tight, clean kick to the groin. Dodging past the Guard, he wrenches the man's arm painfully behind his back and claps a hand over his mouth. "Listen very, very carefully. I am going to remove my hand from your mouth and ask you a few questions. If you try to call out for help, I will kill you. Now that we understand each other, here are my questions. One: what's behind this door? Two: why are you here? Three: which way is prisoner processing from here?"

Pwenet
2008-01-21, 08:00 PM
Incom & Harvey

“This’ll just take a couple more minut”

Time pauses for Incom as he hears the threats that the crazy demon cultist was saying to the young lady.

Zombies

An image flashes through his mind, that of the zombified priest chewing on the inner parts of the young boy as he screamed in agony. The zombified creatures that once were his parents shambling around, looking for food.

Zombies

Fists clench, muscles tightening, digging into the chains that he wrapped around his arms, the metal groaning under the strain as scales started to form around the burned flesh.

Oh yes! It looks like we found the source for some of those zombies there. Does that not make you mad.

“es! Promi”

Barely thinking, Incom leaps up and across the chamber from where he was standing, one arm whipping forward as he comes in for a landing.

“se! AHHHHH”

The additional “AHHHHH” sound comes from Incom landing next to the culstist with the knife, swinging his arm down with enough force to pulverize the forearm, sending it upwards at a sickening angle. The knife falls to the table, cutting a thin line on the victims face.

Bracing himself, Incom grabs the throat of the cultist and throws him at several of his companions. Gesturing with his other hand, he creates and launches a massive fireball at the fallen group. Seeing that they are momentarily distracted, he looks over at the victim and smiles a sick smile.

”You want help. Promise to kill me and I’ll help you live!”

ubersquid
2008-01-21, 09:48 PM
The abominable grimace that closes in on Dwiggs suddenly freezes with a metallic bang and the Zombies arms grow limp as Elkwin drags out his shovel from it's head again, allowing the Dwarf to push it aside.

There are only two guards in front of them, and they are already dead. With three Zombies left, there is one dead body missing to provide a slight delay for their approach.

As Elkwin does not want to fill that position, he swings around and pushes the shovel into the foremost Zombies chest. The blade goes in easy at first but finds some bones at last. Shoving as hard as he can and leaning himself against the other end of the shovel with his full weight, he manages to push it back down the tunnel, while the Zombie hisses and screams at him and flails it's arms at the grip of the shovel.

Finally they hit some resistance in the form of another Zombie who is in the middle of devouring one of the guards. With a roar, Elkwin lets go of the shovel as the two Zombies stumble over each other, leaving a pile of rotten flesh.

Now, while the two Zombies try to get up from the ground again and the topmost still struggling with the shovel in it's chest, Elkwin hurries back as fast as the shackles around his ankles allow.

"The pick!" He shouts towards Dwiggs, signing him that it was his turn to get freed now. Not being the proficient miner like he was though, he was sure he wouldn't hit the chain with the first swing, but at least he bought them some time now.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-22, 01:15 AM
Breathing a bit heavily, Desot stood up and picked up the lantern. He felt as though blood were flowing through him again, for the first time in ages. He smiled and closed his eyes, just letting memories flood him.

Shaking his head Desot turned to his emcumbranced friend. "Okay would be a good way to describe it. Just stings a bit, is all." He felt his cheek, the reddened spot still buzzing. Pain was already familiar, being trapped here, but this was different. This was being alive. "I'm starting to think that spider may not be all that useless..." he said, looking at the damaged shovel. I want to try to not only remove the bit with the acid but also sharpen the shovel, maybe to blade-like, just more for rememberance purposes than actual use.

Inspectre
2008-01-23, 02:34 AM
The Spires: Key Storage

Voth

Although the room you are currently in is fairly well lit due to the need for precision cutting, it’s not quite enough to stop you in your current enraged state. Forcing Shadow to merge with you, you can feel your exposed skin start to actually burn where the bright light falls on it, but you press on and complete the transformation anyway. This wouldn’t take long. Snapping the neck of the man underneath you, you quickly push off from the ground in a powerful leap towards the other two staffers.

Originally sitting at one of the benches around the worktable, the woman doesn’t have enough time to move out of the way as you bounce into her. In one smooth motion, you drive her face into the worktable with one hand, while savagely wrenching her left arm back and away from her body, pulling until it flies free in a shower of blood and an agonized scream. Realizing that speed was of the essence, you follow this attack up by grabbing her head with both hands and twisting, shattering the woman’s neck badly enough to twist it most of the way around so that she was now looking directly behind her: right into your eyes. There is a few seconds of horror as the woman witnesses her own death through your eyes, and then the light fades from her eyes completely.

Looking up from the woman’s body to locate the third staffer, you are shocked to find a lantern suddenly heading your way. Your impressive reflexes kick in, and instinctively one of your claws flashes out, swatting the lantern away before it could impact against your torso. Unfortunately, this had a cost, as one of your claws smashes through the glass pane of the lantern, splashing a fair quantity of still-burning oil onto your right hand as the ruin of the lantern is deflected to the ground.

The pain of this is fairly excruciating, but probably not quite as much as the pain the man feels a second later when you dash over and plunge your still-burning claw into his innards. This manages to extinguish the last of the flames clinging to your hand, although you can tell that even with your quick action your hand has still be somewhat burned.

There was no time for anything else, however, as you heard behind you the first guard thundering down the steps leading down to this room. Dashing over to the iron door as you left the man slowly dying on the floor, you hear a shout of alarm from the stairway just as you pull the door open. As expected, beyond the door is an iron tunnel, leading back in the direction you came from.

Ducking inside, you inwardly cringe as a crossbow bolt rasps against the heavy iron door a few inches from your head, glancing off the metal to shoot itself into a nearby wooden stool. You hear more guard storming into the room behind you as you slam the iron door shut, but are unable to find anything to bar it with, even for an instant.

Taking off down the hallway, you can only hope the guards don’t reach the doorway in time to pull it open for another couple potshots from their crossbows as you rush down the tunnel to the door on the far side. You aren’t quite so lucky, hearing the door behind you slam open and angry shouts when you are about halfway across the tunnel.

The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

(Note that Desot got hit with a drop of blood, and not saliva. There is definitely a remarkable difference in acidic strength between the two of them.)

Carefully breaking off one of the spider’s legs, Amraf dips the tip of it into the hissing pool of saliva starting to form around the spider’s mouth. The clearly acidic saliva doesn’t seem to harm the leg, confirming that these creatures are seemingly not hurt by their own acidic blood and saliva.

Handing the glistening tip of the spider leg to Desot, Amraf lowers his head and allows his human friend to go to work. Between the acid and the razor properties of the spider leg, the leather straps holding Amraf’s muzzle in place quickly fall apart, allowing him to finally spit that accursed bit out from between his teeth.

While the little man gingerly works his jaws, Desot sets the spider leg aside and carefully attempts to use the spider saliva to sharpen the edge of his shovel. Although it takes a bit of work, a few minutes later Desot can tell that the edge of the shovel shines in the lantern light in a way that it did not previously.

Now returning to efforts to free themselves, Desot dips the spider leg in the creature’s saliva again, carefully scrapping the glistening tip across the collar around Amraf’s neck. The results are somewhat disappointing: although the acid does eat a line down through the collar, it quickly becomes clear that the hardened metal will need several applications of the acid to be completely broken through.

Such a thing proves to have its dangers, however, as one drop of the saliva rolls down off the collar and onto Amraf’s neck. Although somewhat weaker after having eaten through some of the metal collar, Amraf still winces in pain as the acid eats into his skin, leaving an angry red mark across the back of his neck. It is likely that another two applications might eat through Amraf’s collar completely, and although care will obviously be taken, his neck is still likely to sustain further injury from stray acid droplets due to the poor quality of tools you have and the collar’s proximity to Amraf’s neck.

Warshrike/ubersquid

Once again Elkwin proves in proficiency in combating zombies, coming to Dwiggs’s rescue with a shovel to the back of the zombie’s head. Although its blade was quite dull to prevent exactly this from happening, the zombie’s decayed flesh did not provide enough resistance against the shovel to prevent it from smashing through its skull and into its vulnerable brain.

The dwarf grunts a thanks, but it’s clear that this is far from over yet as the remaining zombies approaching from the front close in with the prisoners. Shouting, Elkwin tears his shovel out of the zombie’s brainpan and jabs it into the chest of another zombie, pushing it backwards despite its considerably protests. The zombie careens backwards into another zombie, leaving the two of them in a moaning heap as Elkwin moves to return to the other prisoners.

Shouting for Dwiggs’s to surrender his tool, Elkwin quickly takes the pick in hand, preparing to strike a blow that will hopefully free him from the slave chain. Before he can, however, a sudden weight crashes into him from behind, driving him into the tunnel wall.

“Brains!” A voice grates in his ear, warm blood spraying onto the side of his face as the zombie hisses in victory. With a start, you recognize this zombie as the first, the one who had killed the guard and started this whole mess. Was he done with his guard victim already? Couldn’t be – it had only been a minute at most since the first guard went down, and zombies usually took awhile to gnaw their on their victims’ skulls. Which meant what? This zombie had finished early to come attack Elkwin? Why, to stop him from helping the others escape? This would most unusual zombie behavior if so.

But, such questions were for another time, as Elkwin heard the zombie gurgle in triumph, lowering its jaws in preparation of clamping down on his shoulder.

???????

MrEdwardNigma

(These runes are quite strange, either being exceptionally archaic or twisted versions of runes that you do recognize. With your studies, you’ve been able to puzzle out the meanings behind the runes that I gave you in the previous DM. The others . . . you’ll probably have to find the guy who made them or find an expert on ancient/modifying runes to figure out – and good luck finding either. :smalltongue:

Also, you are either in pitch blackness, tied to a pole opposite her, or across the room . . . until now. Now, she gets a good look at your face. :smallwink: )

“That’s . . . that’s quite impressive . . . how did you - ” Cassandra asks, blinking in surprise as you demonstrate the full range of your arm’s flexibility, still approaching her.

“I noticed you looking at this circle thing on the floor. Any idea what’s it for, other than magic obviously?” Cassandra asked, turning her gaze down to the floor as you close the remaining distance.

You quickly manage to work the remaining loops free, carefully lowering her to the floor before attacking the knots around her legs and arms. As you pick at the unbelievably tight knots, you realize that the rest of Cassandra’s restraints will still likely prove a problem. The straps around her legs you could probably remove without difficulty, but the manacles locked around her wrists and ankles would probably be staying unless you could figure out a way to break the chains or pick the locks.

Managing to work the last of the knots undone at her legs, you turn your attention to the rope pinning her arms. As you do so, Cassandra cranes her neck around, getting a good look at your face at last.

“So, I told you my name! What’s . . . yours . . .” For a moment, Cassandra falls silent, eyes widening as they trace the contours of the stitching running across your face and throat. Then she turns her gaze away, returning to looking down at the floor while you continue your work. A moment later, she softly speaks, a note of tenderness creeping into her voice. “I’m sure you, ah, don’t want to talk about it. But . . . your face . . . did the guards experiment on you?”

WhiteKnight777

With Helion gone along with the rest of your chains, you were now free to finally start making your escape for real. Twisting your broken left leg around, you expertly reset the bone, grateful that undeath had greatly dulled your sense of pain. Still, you have some sensation; the unpleasant feeling of bone slipping against bone, the throb of torn muscles. But it is replaced by the not entirely unpleasant feeling of your body rapidly healing itself, and you nod in satisfaction as a few moments later your leg feels good enough to stand on.

Pushing yourself up, you quickly realize in your first several steps in a long time that for some time or until you found a source of blood, you would be walking with a slight limp. Clearly, even without the signals of pain clouding your brain, your stride was just so slightly thrown off as your muscles struggled to reattach themselves to the renewed bone.

If Mellita noticed, she gave no sign, and you knew anyone else you met wouldn’t likely have enough time to notice. Head bowed slightly, Mellita watches her approach carefully, wincing slightly as you close in to kiss her neck. Her relief is almost palpable as you pull away with a chuckle and a correction. She nods her head, and responds with a note of her previous levity. “Yes, Ma – Lord Umber!”

Following along behind you at a respectful distance, Mellita shortly points out a tunnel leading out of the cavern, half-hidden behind a group of stalactites. “I was told by Master to escort you through these lower caverns to a secret tunnel exit out of Ironheart. Although fighting our way up through the fortress might be . . . fun . . . it would be considerably dangerous. Of course, Master wasn’t able to provide me with a map, but he says his consultation with his sources revealed the existence of this secret exit. I have, however, been led through this section of tunnels before by Master, so I should be able to lead us to the unknown area fairly quickly. Master’s plan is to go back and disrupt any patrols going through these tunnels to leave us as clear a path as possible without arousing suspicion. So, finding this secret exit may take some time due to my ignorance as to its exact location, but it will almost certainly be safer than traveling up. I am, however, your . . . hostage . . . so you can decide which way we go. I’ve spent most of my time down in these lower tunnels, not venturing too close to the surface for obvious reasons, but I believe with a bit of effort we could find a tunnel leading up into the fortress instead of the path leading to the secret exit.”

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

Moving swiftly but silently, Korram swings out from the cover of the doorway to assault the guards. Caught by surprise as he strikes from the shadows, the first guard is down before they’re even aware that they’re under attack, softly gurgling out his last breaths through his broken neck.

Dodging the instinctive blow from the second guard, you quickly subdue him as well. Even helpless, the guard glares at you with hatred, but is not quite courageous enough to ignore Korram’s threat.

“Private torture chambers. We’re the doormen. And it’s up from here – figure out your own way up scum!”

Before Korram is able to respond to the guard’s information, he hears voices from beyond the stone door again. Now much closer, he is able to make out what is going on in the room beyond with much greater detail.

First, there is a sharp feminine cry: a scream that cuts out into a soft constant moan as the pain becomes too great to even give voice to. Then a harsh commanding voice that Korram had only heard once before in his entire time at Ironheart, but still turned his blood cold: the voice of Captain Delran, captain of all the guards at Ironheart and the Warden’s right-hand man. The one time Korram had met the good Captain, it had been shortly after his arrival in Ironheart.

Equipped with a short sword and thrust into the man’s office, Korram barely had time to react before the Captain was on him. With his fire arm sealed by the glove and caught by surprise, Korram stood no chance as the good captain tore into him. Dressed in black plate mail, the Captain was a slightly unusual sight as one muscular arm stood completely bare while the other was covered by plate mail and ended with a gauntlet that was equipped with razor-sharp fingertips.

It was this gauntleted fist that the Captain used to pummel Korram, hammering him into the ground with the iron-shod knuckles, slicing shallow cuts all over his body from the razor fingertips, and even picking up by throat at several points, laughing as the fingertips slowly cut deeper into his throat and his vision began to grow dim. Finally, Korram was allowed to collapse into unconsciousness as the Captain bodily slammed him into the ground one last time with a snort of disgust. It took months for Korram’s crippled body to recover from the beating he had received, and he even received a month’s reprieve from the Torture Chambers out of fear that further injury would kill him.

A cold fear began to coil up in Korram’s stomach as he heard that same voice addressing some other hapless prisoner from the other side of the door. “Hurts, doesn’t it? You’ll be happy to know that although we’ve been instructed not to permanently damage you, we have all sorts of ways to inflict pain that wouldn’t leave a single mark on your lovely body. No one is going to come for you – no one even knows that you’re here. So we have all the time we need to break you in. This can take as long as you want, all you have to do is agree to submit and we’ll let you go. That’s why you’re here, you know, refusing his advances. So why don’t you just be a good little wench and agree to his proposal? Who knows, he might not even hurt you as much as we are now!”

Korram can barely hear a soft voice, shrill with pain, shriek back, “I’ll tear out the little twerp’s throat in his sleep before he gets to lay a hand on me!”

This is immediately followed by the loud slap of skin meeting skin, and a dry chuckle from the Captain. “Well, there you go, making me break my word. Oh well, a few marks here and there will heal, and the Baron is aware some damage might occur. We’ll see how determined you are after a couple more hours hanging like that. In fact, while I’m gone I think the boys have another little something to give you to keep your entertained. See she’s perfectly uncomfortable, you two.”

With that, Korram hears the faint footsteps of the Captain as he stomps away from the door.

The Labs

Iethloc

The research assistant is surprisingly quiet inside your mind as you begin weaving your first spell of the battle. Summoning the dome of force again, you watch as it expands outward rapidly, splintering the wooden table and shattering the hated mirror into a hundred shards that go flying about the room. One unlucky guard happens to be standing in the way of several said shards, and fist-sized shards of the mirror embed themselves in his neck and chest, killing him instantly.

The others are simply slammed back against the wall, momentarily stunned but not defeated quite yet. You would have to deal with them, later, however, as without the mirror they were a secondary threat at best. No, your next target with the mirror gone would be the Sage.

Looking up at the floating form of Gene, you begin to weave your next spell, summoning a massive blast of fire into being all around the mage. You see a bright flash from Gene’s location, and then the ceiling erupts into flame, small balls of fire tumbling back down to earth from the explosion.

As the last of the fire clears, however, you can see Gene still floating above you, virtually untouched. “Ugh . . . is that the best you have left . . . in you Sohssal? I was expecting . . . a bit more . . . effort . . . this being your final fight!” The strain in his voice as he shouts down taunts at you, however, suggests that he did not quite weather that attack as unscathed as his physical appearance would have you believe.

But you have other concerns, as you notice with a loud clatter a great many of the mirror shards lift off of the floor all around the room. Floating up into the air at various heights ranging from ankle to eye height, the mirror shards fill you with a great sense of unease. Although the broken reflections of “you” in them could not tear you out of the research assistant’s body, they would still affect “your” body in much the same way’s as the guard if they slammed into you. And that seemed to be Gene’s exact plan.

“Burn in Hell, demon mage!” Gene screams, as suddenly all of the mirror shards hovering about the room shoot towards you from all directions.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

Simultaneously, both the cultist leader and victim scream out in terror and pain as you cover the distance to them in a single leap. Upon landing, you smash the cultist leader’s arm effortlessly, although this does have the unfortunately side effect of knocking the sacrificial knife up into the girl’s face, slicing an angry red line across her left cheek.

Bodily picking up the cultist leader, who’s by now girlish screams of pain had drowned out the girl’s shrieks, you send him tumbling into the mass of the other cultists. You nearly manage to send all of them tumbling into the fire that they had been dancing around, and suddenly realizing that was a good idea, summon a blast of fire where they are standing.

Instantly, the bonfire in the middle of them explodes into a plume of smoke, the remaining wood all being entirely consumed at once and leaving only the dim light provided by the embers. Several such cultists solve the lighting problem nicely however as they are caught in the blast, their cloaks catching on fire from the intense heat.

Rolling around on the ground, the three of them scream in pain as they attempt to snuff out the flames. Surprisingly though, they still seem relatively fine for a fireball exploding in their midst, as do the others who had not been caught directly in the blast. One such unaffected member is the leader, who manages to shriek at you, “What is your problem!? We never bothered you, dragon-lover!”

“Guy’s a cultist!” One of the untouched cultists shouted, earning a slap from his buddy. “No, we’re all cultists dude. That’s really not an insult.”
“No man! I mean he’s a cultist, like, he thinks one cult is better than all the others and irrationally hates them and thinks all other cults are inferior!”
“Oh. Um . . yeah, he’s a cultist alright. Dirty cultist! Take your scaly butt back over to your side of the ritual chambers!”
“Yeah!”

Ignoring them for the moment as they continued to throw insults at you, you turn to the girl. The angry red line starting to become an angry red bar as blood starts to well up, the girl looks at you with a mixture of stark terror and desperate hope. Eyes somehow managing to grow even wider than previously at your demand, she hastily nods her head. “Ok! Ok! Whatever you say! I don’t want my soul to be eaten by demons!”

Apparently hearing this last comment, the cultist leader shakes his head. “Well too bad, because that’s exactly what’s going to happen! Bruto, throw this bum out!”

A sudden shadow falls across you as something massive descends from the darkness of the ceiling above. Looking up, you see to your surprise it is a stereotypical demon, with sharp teeth, ram horns, leathery bat wings, and a muscular physique. Swooping down on top of you, the demon boots you in the jaw with both feet, sending you flying away from the girl and into the nearby wall.

I hate demons. Harvey adds unhelpfully as “Bruto” lands and stands stomping towards you.

“I’m the bouncer here, bub. And you just made yourself very unwelcome at this here sacrifice.”

Stupid demons. Guy will probably be immune to fire. Seems like the cultists are pretty resistant as well – I imagine investing in fire-resistant clothing is a plus when you’re working with demons all the time.

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-23, 03:07 AM
Umber

Umber pauses for a moment, carefully considering the options. On one hand, this "secret exit" very well may be a trap. And he was hungering for the blood and souls of his enemies, most of whom would likely be found in the fortress... however, there was no doubt he was still weak. If he could escape from here, regain his strength, and return... Oh, the havoc he could wreak at his full power! The thought of the red ruin he would bring here put a shudder of pleasure down his spine. And, if escape via this secret exit proved impossible, his original plan was always an option. At last he nodded, gesturing for Mellitia to walk beside him.

Not, at the moment, though it pains me your plan is the more prudent one. We will move will all possible stealth and alacrity to this secret exit. Once I get out of this hole, I will pay off your master, and take stock of my options from there... you will, of course, have to guide me.

Umber moved on, as fast as his slight limp would allow, his ageless body untiring. He could feel his predator's senses sharpening again as he grew used to physical form once more.... ah, even down here, it was sweet to taste the still air, to see, to feel the rough, stone beneath his feet... yes, it was sweet indeed. He had sometimes forgotten the simple joys of existence. In that, perhaps, his long incarceration was a blessing: It showed him once more the joys of unlife. And, he thought with an evil grin, once of the principle joys was dancing. Specifically, dancing on the mangled corpses of one's enemies. As he walked along through the silent dark, he searched for a way to amuse himself.

I don't really know why you were so surprised at your master's behavior, My dear. Our kind, or rather, your kind, are not particularly given to bonds of sentiment.

Dorizzit
2008-01-23, 06:38 AM
Korram snaps the other guard's neck. He waits for the cold, hard lump of fear in his chest to subside. Captain Delran... He shakes his head. Enough thinking along those lines... Korram stands. Looking at Dima, he notices his restraints seemingly for the first time. "Do you want me to remove those for you?" Assuming an answer in the affirmative, he removes the bindings on his arm before carefully breaking the cuffs on each end. He then does the same on the leg fetters. If answered in the negative, he merely shrugs. Regardless, he then turns towards the door to the private torture chamber and opens it.

Warshrike
2008-01-23, 07:05 AM
Dwiggs

Stunned by the Zombie attack, Dwiggs is overly relieved when Elkwin comes to his rescue, but only reluctently hands over the pickaxe, only to see Elkwin alost immediatley tackled to the wall. Always a fan for an eye for an eye, Dwiggs thinks he owes Elkwin a neck, and so as fast as he can stands and rushes to the mans aid, grabbing another pickaxe from the ground where a prisoner had dropped it in fear.

Swinging sideways, Dwiggs rammed the pick through the beasts neck, in front of the spine. Then, using the curve of the tool, pulled the zombie off the man, yanking as hard as he could to break the zombies neck. As soon as the beast is a safe distance from Elkwin, he removes the pick and brings it down into the creatures head, using a blow he felt would split the strongest rock in half, let alone the rotting mockery of life before him.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-23, 08:59 AM
"The guards?"
Victor laughs, a sound more like a man choking than a laugh, really.
"Yeah, the guards did this, sure"
He's silent for a while, as he removes all the restraints he can remove, preferring to keep them intact rather than rip them open.

"Do I, eh, scare you?"
He looks down at the floor. She hadn't screamed. A new sensation, surely. But he didn't have any illusions about her. She knew she needed him to get out of here, as soon as they'd be out, she'd no longer need him. But it was a two-way street. Death at Victor's hands lay waiting for her, and then life, again, only better. She thought he was disfigured, but he felt she was the disfigured one. After all, only one of them had been able to make it out of the ropes by himself.

"Think you can get these metal restraints off my hands? I think bashing them into the wall wouldn't be a very scientific method of getting them off. My name's Victor by the way. Victor von Ravenstein the Third"

"The circle is for animating the zombies. They're prisoners, like us, or so I think. We'd have become like them. They'd kill us, and the circle would suck the life out of us, draining it to god knows where. Not so bad a fate, if it weren't that I'm not through with living yet. There's greater things in store for me than mere zombification, rebirth. See, before we make our way out of here, our way up, we need to visit someone. And for that, we need to go down. But we won't be able to do either, until we get that door open. How about it, think you can pick the lock, or should we wait until those amateurs return?"

Frozen
2008-01-23, 12:07 PM
the cold iron is gone, those fools fell for it!! Now i just ave to sit back and wait for my vision to clear...
Lamonts' eye opens, looking blearily at the figure. He raises one of his hands to brush hair from his face, but is stopped as it tugs against the iron binding him.
"Where.....where am i?....Who are you? oh no, the chimera!" he struggles to get upright, attempting to catch a glimpse of the room around him, before flopping back down onto whatever it is he's lying on.

"Oh..it's over. You're not sending me back yet are you?"

He asks, letting the fear creep into his voice

Pwenet
2008-01-23, 01:20 PM
Incom & Harvey


I hate demons. Harvey adds unhelpfully as “Bruto” lands and stands stomping towards you.

“I’m the bouncer here, bub. And you just made yourself very unwelcome at this here sacrifice.”

Stupid demons. Guy will probably be immune to fire. Seems like the cultists are pretty resistant as well – I imagine investing in fire-resistant clothing is a plus when you’re working with demons all the time.

Pulling himself up from the ground with a groan, Incom forces himself not to look at the indent in the wall where he was thrown into. Cracking his back loudly as he watches “Bruto” approach, he smiles and starts laughing.

What is so funny?”

I just realized, I could end you now, all we need to do is let “Bruto” there have some quality time with us.

Now that is not funny. We are in serious danger here. That demon....

Right! WE are in serious danger, yourself included there. You think I care if I live or die.

But what about your revenge? On the Baron, on her?

So? Those two living I don't care as much like seeing you done on this realm. Oh look, it's time to giggle.

Unaware of the mental 'discussion' going on, “Bruto” simple does what he does best, which is expelling naughty guests from the chamber, usually in multiple pieces. For Incom this involves being grabbed by him, torn and yanked around and with a spray of blood, he flies one way, and his left arm flies another. Yet despite this aerial journey, Incom continues to laugh and giggle as he crashes into the ground. Looking at the stump of his arm in mild curiosity, he barks out a long laugh.

Oh look. We are missing some bits. I hope that you didn't need that.”

INCOM! YOU MUST PAY ATTENTION!

“Bruto” approaches, and kicks violently, sending Incom flying through the air as he feels several ribs move around freely, several of them driving into his guts.

This is what I was hoping, that we would find something that could kick us into the curb, but would not know any better to stop. Hope you enjoyed the stay in hostel Incom, please tip the bartender on your way out.

Feeling himself crash into the ground again, Incom barely feels the impact as his fragmented mind continues to cause him to laugh and giggle manically. “Bruto” approaches, the footsteps of doom, and Incom wonders what the other side is like.

Now is that the son we raised?

Blinking in shock, the first part of shock was that the blink was a mental blink, the second part was that the voice was the one of his father.

Yes, it's me. What did I teach you about giving your word. Look at that poor woman, LOOK AT HER!

Moving his eyes, Incom sees the woman, chained to the stone stable, fear in her eyes. The blood welling on her cheek stands in stark contrast to her pale skin.

You gave her your word you would get her out of here. What are you waiting for. GET UP!

Groaning in pain as he pushes up with his good arm, Incom wavers as “Bruto” approaches. Cracking his neck he looks down at his bleeding stump.

About time you got back up and willing to fight. What took you? Anyways, I think we should find your arm, I don't think that demon likes the taste of flesh but enjoys punching it, so we are safe in that regard.

Eyes flashing, Incom follows the trails of blood in the chamber and finds his severed arm laying on the ground, far away, and then focuses back on the approaching “Bruto”, who seems confident in a easy victory. Raising his fist, he swings, only for Incom to twist out of the way and return with his own punch, one that sends the demon stumbling back. Bracing itself for more attacks, the demon looks and sees Incom leaping for his severed arm.

I don't think I'll tell you, but let's say you are right, I have unfinished business with some others in this hellhole. Let's bag ourselves a demon, what do you say?

Sense Harvey happy smile, Incom lands and grabs his arm, and places the respective stumps onto each other. The agony of the bone, muscles and blood vessels merging and joining sends him to his knees, a primal scream emerging from his lips at “Bruto” approaches. Yet the pain is transitory, and it fades. Flexing his left hand, Incom smiles a sick smile and turns to look at “Bruto”.

”Demon! Look into my eyes and know fear!”

Face winkling at much as possible in confusion, “Bruto” looks at Incom, who smiles and opens his mouth wide, sending out waves of flames. While the demon may be immune to damage, having bright flames thrown into ones eyes causes varying degrees of disorientation and blindness. Stumbling back from Incom “Bruto” swaps at his face as Incom moves forward, shutting his mouth and launching a series of devastating blows against the face of the demon, snapping off one horn completely, and even blinding one eye before a lucky hit sends him flying away.

Fool. We got to fight smart. Look at your arms!”

Looking down, Incom sees several scales having grown during the fight, weaving their way into the chains that are wrapped around his forearms. An idea forms, and he grabs the loose end of the chain on his left forearm, and RIPS, tearing away burned flesh, chain, and razor sharp scales attached to the chains. Whipping the chains around, he swings and catches “Bruto” in the chest, opening up several deep wounds. Stepping back from the armed Incom, Incom does not wait for the demon to recover, but rather swings again, catching parts of the chair into the demon's arm, and leaps up and over “Bruto”.

Landing behind “Bruto” Incom twirls the chain and forms a loose noose and throws it over the head of “Bruto”, and pulls taunt. Being pulled by Incom, with the other end driven into “Bruto”arm, it yanks “Bruto”arm up towards his head violently, and more importantly, digs the scales deep into the thick neck of “Bruto”. Demonic blood starts to leak as Incom and Harvey both scream and pull tight, hoping to drive the scales deep into the neck of the demon and to kill it.

Engineer
2008-01-23, 10:22 PM
Flexing his neck Amraf says "Excellent. My fee state is most complaisant. Perchance we should use some blood instead of saliva? This spider has been most useful."

Iethloc
2008-01-24, 12:55 AM
*Sigh* Being immaterial would be SO useful right now... Sohssal thought. As the glass shards began hovering, he immediately began weaving a spell of his own. A gentle breeze wafted through the lab, quickly picking up speed as it roared around Sohssal. As the glass shards moved through the winds, they were thrown about and knocked off course, at least enough to not significantly wound Sohssal. He continued pouring energy into the spell, causing the winds to grow and intensify. Focusing on the spell, Sohssal forced the winds to pick up a myriad of nearby small items, including the glass shards and perhaps a guard or two. "Do I hear weariness in your voice? Is your age finally catching up to you? Thankfully, after I get rid of this body, I won't have to worry about such things!" Sohssal hissed as the winds surged towards him, carrying everything they could with them. Two draining spells in a row. Need to conserve my energy more... he reminded himself.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-24, 11:26 AM
Desot eyes the little man's neck carefully. "I know we need to get this off, but that looks like it stings a bit more than my face does. I guess we could try the blood, but at what cost?" He looks around again at the web-lined wall and tries to determine another entrance to this chamber than the one they used.

Voth
2008-01-24, 09:35 PM
Well when in doubt...

Oh come on! I'm still sore from the light.

Whine all you want but if you like living you'll merge with me. Besides we're not fighting, I've got a better plan.

Beginning to merge, Voth takes off towards the end of the hallway, using his newly enhanced speed to accelerate him towards the door and any hope he has of escaping.

ubersquid
2008-01-24, 10:13 PM
"Aye, thanks lad. Almost thought i was done for."

"Over here..."

Elkwin signals Dwiggs to stretch the chains over a large lump of rock that stands out of the floor.

--- "Ya know..."
He takes Dwiggs pick and raises it,
--- "... I was thinkin'..."
to swing it at the chains but misses, only cracking off a few splinters of rock underneath
--- "With all the guards dead, and no one knowing where we are, this should be the perfect opportunity for an escape attempt."
Elkwin swings the pick again and hits the chain this time, effectively separating Dwiggs from the slave chain.
--- "There ya go... but we should probably leg it first to get somewhere safe where we can take care about these other shackles."

He hands the pick back to Dwiggs and carefully pulls out another shovel from the pile of dead guards and inmates, trying not to drag too much attention from the feeding zombies atop.

"Alright, so you're the tunnel specialist, what do you reckon where we should go. Up to the mines with probably more guards, or down which should lead us deeper into the crypt like the guard said?"

Inspectre
2008-01-26, 12:16 PM
The Spires: Key Storage

Voth

Merging with Shadow once more, you use your enhanced speed to dash down the corridor towards the door. Almost immediately, crossbow bolts begin flying past you, hardly a ceaseless rain of them though with only two guardsmen firing them. The guards seem to have trouble hitting a moving target, particularly as you start to throw a zig-zag here and there into your run, throwing their aim off even more.

One or two blinding beams of light also lance past, dazzling you momentarily with their brilliance but failing to strike you directly. This was good as it meant you weren’t temporarily driven out of your transformation like last time, which probably would have been a death sentence for you. Apparently the mage’s aim was as bad as that of his guards.

But as you approach the door, you here the familiar cry of the mage. “Aim for the door! Shoot the door!” The mage shouts, and a moment later you watch as the guards shift their aim to the door ahead instead of you. A few seconds behind each other, two crossbow bolts slam and shatter against the iron door. Of course, the guards might not be able to hit you, but they could shoot at where you would have to go to escape from this tunnel. And they would only have to slow you down for a minute or so before the rest of their melee-equipped companions reach you.

Another crossbow bolt strikes the door, followed five seconds later by the other crossbow bolt: the guards were now getting into a rhythm for hitting the door every few seconds. This was bad, as it seems you might have to either get lucky or risk being shot in order to pull the door open and escape.

The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

Looking around uncertainly, you try to determine what should be done next. In the small radius of light coming from the lantern, you do not notice any side tunnels feeding into the long tunnel that you are in currently. None reveal themselves after moving the lantern to the left and right, either, so it’s safe to assume that there no exits from this tunnel in the immediate area. You could always go back to the tunnel that you came from, but that would just be handing yourselves back over to the guards who presumably were still awaiting your return up there.

In any case, you would need to work quickly now to remove your chains: the spider’s blood is starting to go inert as most of its slowly drips out of its wounds and falls onto the ground, eating small pockmarked holes in the tunnel floor. The saliva, meanwhile, has continued to burn through the floor, but even the loud hissing coming from that is starting to quiet.

Warshrike/ubersquid

Waking out of his half daze, Dwiggs rapidly comes to Elkwin’s aid. Snatching up a pick dropped by one of the other cowering prisoners, the dwarf swings it up into the zombie’s neck, narrowly avoiding Elkwin’s own neck as he does so. With a mighty heave, the dwarf tears the zombie away from Elkwin, throwing the undead down to the floor before wrenching the pick free and bringing it down again, this time into the zombie’s head. Immediately, the zombie falls limp, the false glimmer of life in its eyes quickly fading.

The two of you then move a short distance away, Dwiggs holding the chain connecting him to the other prisoners over a loose rock while Elkwin tries to free the dwarf again. This time, the former barkeep is successful, and after several uninterrupted swings manages to connect solidly with the chain, severing a link and allowing Dwiggs to slip the remains of the chain free.

Handing the dwarf back his lucky pick to replace his liberated and now zombie-brain covered one, Elkwin picks up a new shovel from the pile of mining equipment now littering the floor. Unfortunately, a moment later Elkwin’s own shovel expresses its disapproval at his unfaithfulness, as the zombie he had skewered with it appears behind him to slam the flat side into the small of his back. As he stumbles into the wall in front of him with a surprised grunt, Elkwin’s back explodes into pain from the blow.

Meanwhile, the now shovel-armed zombie slowly brings the makeshift weapon back for another blow, and you can see that behind him the last zombie on your side is bending down to pick up one of the fallen guard’s club. The idea of “sides” to the battle is quickly dissolved, however, as the guard leader who had been holding the other zombies back falls, two zombies carrying him to the floor with them before crawling all over him and tearing him apart with their teeth.

The third zombie that had been approaching the rear begins to shamble directly for you, apparently attracted by the sounds of your escape. Before he can get there, however, one of the other prisoners leaps towards him in a fit of courage. Looping the chain between his manacles around this zombie’s throat, the prisoner drags the creature down to the ground.

“Go! You two get out of here now! It’s too late for us!” The man shouts, wincing as the zombie twists its head around inside its new iron chain necklace to bite down on the man’s left arm.

Already, the two zombies who have killed the last guard are struggling back up onto their feet, eyes solely on the two of you instead of the other prisoners. With the other unfortunate prisoner’s rather timely assistance, it would appear that you would have two zombies to deal with no matter which way you fled, three if you stopped to return the favor by saving the other prisoner’s life, and five if you wanted to try to save everyone.

The Arena

Frozen

“Sssh . . . lie still. You are safe for the moment.” The voice of the blurry form above you grates out, as surprisingly gentle hands press your head back down onto the table and restore the damp cloth to your forehead.

As the hands release you, your vision clears the rest of the way in a series of rapid blinks. You can now see that you are in a mid-sized stone room, evidently separate from the prisoner waiting area as you fail to see any long benches with lines of prisoners chained to it. Instead, you notice several such tables as the one you are currently chained to, three of which are occupied by other prisoners: men bearing hideous wounds on their bodies and who seem unlikely to live for much longer.

Standing above you is a woman, clad in white robes from head to toe. Although covered, here and there long curly brown strands of hair peek out from underneath her hood. She has a youthful face, but the wrinkles starting to form at the corners of her mouth and the despair in her brown eyes suggest life in Ironheart has an aging effect even on the staff. Of course, the twisted pink mass of scar tissue peeking out the top of her collar might also have something to do with that.

“The Chimera is dead. You killed it. Do you remember the fight?” The woman asks, her voice still as grating as ever and proving the sound of her voice was not a trick of your addled ears. At your question, the woman shakes her head. “No, you won’t be sent back yet. Most fighters that come here seldom return to the Arena, but those few that do justify this place’s existence to the Administrator’s.”

The woman sighs heavily and shakes her head. “But not enough return to justify them granting me additional aid or resources. You’re lucky that you are such a fast healer: I do not know if I would have been able to save you otherwise. I am Healer Sara. What’s your name?”

A loud cough suddenly comes from the direction of your head, and you manage to twist around just enough to catch a glimpse of a guard standing by the heavy iron door leading out of the room.

“Well then. I had better check on the other prisoners. Call if you are in any pain, and I will do my best to help you.”

With that, the woman turns on her heel and walks over to one of the other beds, shaking her head sadly as she comes to stand over the man chained there. Bandages wrap his torso from hips to armpits, and a large red strain along one side suggest something had wanted a look at his insides quite badly.

???????

MrEdwardNigma

You manage to remove the leather straps around Cassandra’s legs rather easily, although the chains around her wrists and ankles will be more difficult. Fortunately, the locks holding them in place seem to not be sealed with lead, which means it should be possible to pick or otherwise force them open.

At your question, Cassandra thinks a moment, and then shakes her head with a slight smile. “No, not particularly. I’ve seen worse things here . . . and in my dreams.” She finishes with a mutter, rolling over onto her back and sitting up to examine her chained feet critically. “Victor – that’s a good strong name. So, are you any good at picking locks, Victor? I’m not especially skillful but have seen it done a few times. I think the chain between my feet is long enough that we could probably bash it apart with a rock instead, but I think it’s going to require keys or a lockpick to get both of our hands free.”

At this, she bows her head towards you. “Some time ago before the guards realized how dangerous I was, I wove a small piece of wire into my hair. I think it’s still hidden up there, somewhere: the guards rarely conduct searches on our level.”

Shifting her downward gaze over to the door, Cassandra shakes her head. “No, I think that door is probably magically sealed: I don’t even see a door handle let alone a lock. We’ll have to figure out a way to break it down or trick the door into unlocking itself.”

WhiteKnight777

Now side-by-side, you and Mellita enter the partially obscured tunnel and begin to silently proceed along it, heading towards wherever it was that the tunnel was leading you.

For a few minutes you both proceed in silence, but this quickly grows boring with nothing to do but walk along in the dark. So with nothing better to do you start up a conversation with the young vampire, questioning her naiveté regarding Helion’s behavior.

Mellita turns to give you a sad smile, then sighs and stares at the ground directly ahead of her as you both continue to walk along. “Perhaps you are right, but you don’t know Helion. He is rarely cruel, and then only to make his point to me. I think he is worried about me – he has grown distant over the past several days, so I know that something is bothering him. He must be worried that I won’t come back, and has been steeling himself against that possibility. Oh, don’t give me that look!” Mellita fixes you with a hard stare for a moment, before shaking her head and dropping back down to gaze at the floor.

“You would understand if you had been there at the beginning. He was so kind, so gentle then.” Apparently lost in her memory of that “happy” time, Mellita wraps her arms around herself, running her hands up and down your arms several times as if to warm them. But then she shakes her head again, and is back in the present. “Never mind. We should be coming up to an intersection shortly – a side tunnel that winds around and up to the Mines. The guards rarely patrol down here, but – oh! There it is!”

As you round a corner in the tunnel, you are momentarily dazzled by the appearance of a point of light directly ahead. Perhaps a hundred feet away, you could see the mouth of a side tunnel bathed in the soft glow of a lantern. Even from here you can make out the small shape of a lantern resting peacefully on the ground at the tunnel’s lip, and two human-sized figures slouched up against the wall.

“Mmmm . . . we’re in luck. It would seem that perhaps we can have a snack before setting out to find this tunnel.” Mellita purrs in your ear, although she remains back, waiting to hear your opinion.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

Slipping down to join you at the door now that both guards have been eliminated, Dima nods. Carefully, you unwrap your fire arm, the skin re-igniting as soon as exposed to the air again. Focusing the intense heat radiating from your arm, you slowly work your fingertips down through the chains holding Dima’s manacles and fetters together. The focused heat melts through the rough iron chains quite handily, and except for working up a bit of a sweat Dima is unharmed.

Now gesturing for his animals to approach and take up flanking positions, Dima nods at you and waits. Sharing his opinion of not allowing some innocent to continue suffering, you move over to the door and examine it. For a moment it appears that the door doesn’t have any means of opening, but you then realize that the heavy iron ring stuck in the middle of it – clearly an attempt to disguise the door as an empty section of the wall to chain prisoners to – actually serves as the knob. Grasping the heavy iron ring, you give a sharp tug and after a moment’s resistance the well-balanced door whispers open.

Inside you see a room similar to the rooms you both have spent quite a bit of time in as of late, although much larger and better furnished. Perhaps the size of four or five of the rooms you have been tortured in, the room beyond has only one other obvious exit which is a curtained doorway on the far side of the room. Reinforcing the dead guard’s comment that these torture chambers were “private” is the fact that there are no holding cells dotting the outer walls of the room and only three occupants in the middle of the room, two of which are guards. Elite guards.

Clad in black chainmail with golden pauldrons and a red sash across their chest, an elite guard was unmistakable for anything else despite being a rare sight down on the prison levels. Typically the bodyguards and lackeys of the Warden and Captain Delran, the elites left the day-to-day management of the prisoners to the regular guards. They were therefore only seen when fetching a prisoner for the Warden or Captain’s personal amusement, or when called in to suppress a serious prison break. Such prison breaks didn’t last long after the appearance of the elite guards, and so they were rightly feared by the incarcerated of Ironheart.

The third current occupant is obviously a prisoner, as she is the only one bound and moaning in pain at the moment. The young woman’s long golden hair, which normally might reach all the way down to her shoulder blades, was currently hanging down over her face like an unruly mane and thus obscured most of her facial features. However, one interesting feature of her appearance that could be easily seen was her clothing: not the typical burlap tunic and pants of all prisoners, but a full dress that had once been a light blue with gold trim, now stained to a light brown in most places.

With her currently hanging off of the floor by about a foot, the source of the woman’s pain could quickly be deduced. The woman’s hands had been bound behind her, with a second rope then being tied around those bonds. The free end of the second rope had then been looped through an overhead hook. Pulling more of this second rope through the hook, the elites had forced the woman’s hands upward and backward. Eventually, her hands were almost up over her head, and with no slack left in her body further pulling on the rope by the elites had hoisted her up into the air to her current elevation. The end result of this was that both of her shoulders had been dislocated, and her hanging weight continuing to put a good deal of strain on the already compromised joints. Exquisitely painful, this method of torture nonetheless left few if any noticeable marks, unlike the hot irons and knives the guards typically preferred.

Apparently not satisfied with just this, as you watch one of the elites snatches up a green-tinted vial from the nearby table, which was covered in a multitude of such vials, all tinted with the various colors of the rainbow. Uncovering the vial, the elite grabs a fistful of the woman’s hair and twists, eventually managing to unlock her jaw enough to slip the end of the vial into her mouth and pour its contents inside.

Most of the blackish brew appears to go down, but at the end the woman chokes and sputters, spewing a small quantity of the liquid onto her face and an even smaller quantity onto the elite’s face. Incensed, he pulls back a fist, but lowers it after a loud cough from the other elite. After a moment’s thought, the elite reaches up to grab onto the woman with a vicious smile, before giving her a hard shove and setting her into a swinging motion. This sudden movement puts even greater strain on her joints, and the woman’s previous moans are elevated into shrill cries.

“Shut your mouth or we’ll shut it for you, wench!” The elite snarls with a laugh as he turns to give an elaborate bow to his companion. Unfortunately, turning to his fellow guardsman also means that the elite turns to face the door, and his eyes meet yours as he comes out of the bow.

“Company.” He grunts, drawing his long sword from its scabbard at his belt.

“Ah, good! No one worries about what’s done to escaping prisoners, so torturing them to death over the next couple hours ought to break up the monotony of this girl’s suffering.” The other guard responds, twisting around to face you as he draws his own blade.

“You pathetic wretches are already dead, but I expect to get a couple good screams out of you by the end. Put on a good enough show, and I might even kill one of you early, instead of waiting for the Captain to get back to decide how to end you. So how about it?” The first elite calls as he confidently begins to stride towards you, longsword held across his stomach in a low-guard position.

The Labs

Iethloc

Seeing the glass shards hurtling towards you, you counter with a powerful gust of wind, knocking the shards off-course. Only one shard manages to keep going, originally aimed for your head but knocked away enough for it to merely graze your cheek, easily slicing a shallow cut across your face as it soars past.

Swirling the glass-laden wind around you, you direct the wind upwards, towards Gene who was now hovering directly above you. You can hear his panicked cry as he sees his attack reversed against him, and watch as a softly glowing sphere of golden light surrounds him. This would appear to be the shield spell that he had used to survive the fire blast you had first thrown at him.

As before, this shield manages to weather the first few waves of glass, but then begins to flicker out of existence. One such shard of glass slips through the shield during its nonexistent phase, stabbing into Gene’s shoulder. This seems to disrupt his concentration on the shield, and it immediately fades completely as the next wave of glass approaches.

Screaming, Gene barely manages to complete a final spell before the glass reaches him, summoning a massive block of ice, about eight feet in diameter, into existence directly in front of him. This block of ice absorbs the last waves of glass, slivers of glass and ice raining down across the whole room from the impacts.

But this wasn’t all, as the ice block was doing this while falling down through your whirlwind of glass. And then once through the windstorm of glass, the ice block was descending towards you to do the same thing it had done to the shards of glass.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

As Bruto begins to throw you out, piece by piece, you can feel a mounting sense of panic from the normally unflappable dragon lord.

Traitor! Maggot! Leech! Out of your entire mayfly race you were chosen to serve as my vessel for the next thousand years! For millennium have I existed, waiting to fulfill the destiny foretold to me when I was but a hatchling! And you dare to stand against that, throw all that history away!? I will not allow my long life to have been for nothing!

Frantically, you can feel the dragon lord scrambling about in your mind, attempting desperately to assert control, to motivate you to do anything but lie there as the demon approached to finish the job it began with your arm. But in the end, there was nothing Harvey could do. He was just a passenger, and you were the driver as you drove this wagon of yours right off a cliff.

But then other voices whisper in your mind, and remind you of the duty you now had to that girl, to whom you had promised rescue. And that changed things quite a bit.

Bruto is most surprised as you, apparently nothing more than a cowardly but overly strong human, start to fight back, standing up and slamming your fist into his face. After reattaching your arm, you greet his face with several more such powerful blows, somehow managing to make the hideous fiend even uglier than previously.

Still, the demon is powerful and tough, and he finally manages to get another solid hit in, the blow sending you sliding along the ground away from him. After another of Harvey’s countless admonishments, you create a sort of spiked chain to use as a weapon. This appears to be quite effective against Bruto, and you manage to slice open several cuts across his chest and arms before deciding to bring this fight to a close.

Looping the chain around Bruto’s one arm and neck, you pull the noose tight, hoping to finish the monster off. But the demon is powerful and tough, and manages to keep the chain from digging fatally into his neck, your ripped off scales tearing into his clawed hands. Dropping down to one knee, Bruto suddenly throws his head forward and jerks his hands down.

Your hands still somewhat attached to those chains around the demon’s neck, and the rest of you attached to your hands, the sudden momentum jerks you over the demon’s head, crashing into the floor right in front of him. Snarling, the demon pulls a hoof back, and attempts to introduce your face to his foot.

Fortunately, you manage to roll to one side just in time, avoiding the attack. Breathing heavily, Bruto half-heartedly raises his hoof again. As you roll to avoid this one, your attention suddenly returns to the stone slab as the girl screams again. It seems that some people never learn, and the cult leader was again trying to carve her up like a roast, using his other hand.ey

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-26, 12:50 PM
"I can't pick locks. I know the human anatomy like my backpocket, but I can't make sense of the inside of a lock. Besides, do you really think I'll be picking locks with these things on my hands? No, I guess you'll have to do it"

Victor picks the wire out of her hair with his teeth and hands it to her.
"Could you try freeing my hands with that first? I think I know how we need to get out of here"

If she frees Victor, he will then place his hand on the door and chant like he had witnessed their captors do. He'll also harvest some ingredients off the corpses and put them in his pouch before leaving. The rope will be made into a noose for obvious purposes.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-26, 01:08 PM
Desot sighed. "I don't want to have to mine out my own escape..." He looked around the room again, seeing little to engage his interest. Finally he walked over to the spider and cut a thin line through its carapace. With a grunt he heaved up the corpse, taking care to have the now pouring fluids form a pool in the recession caused by the original saliva on the ground. He stops it before it completely runs dry. "Hopefully there's not just earth beneath us. Well, I saved what I could, but judging by the looks of things we need to get to work quickly." He then sat down and used what was left of the spider's acidic substances to remove his and Amraf's chains, not to mention the teethered necklace.

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-26, 03:19 PM
Umber

Umber chuckles once again at Mellitia's words, his lips curved into an ironic smile. Perhaps you are right. Indeed, I did not know your master at the beggining, nor can I say I truly know him now. But I do know that the children of the night are very good at seeming. After all, they are camoflauge predators made to live alongside humans... so their masks are very, very good... And so many times, that which they loose in the transformation from mortal to undead takes from them all the sensabilities and ability to empathize. And if the transformation does not do it, so often the long, cold years of immortality, bereft of the ability to truly be open with any other being, and missing so many of the pleasures and comforts of the mortal world, will turn them into beautiful monsters, beasts in velvet. He gives an evil little grin and chuckled I, however, had little enough of such sentiments to begin with. Still, again I do not know. I suppose we, or maybe just you, will see. He shrugs a little, a soft smile still on his lips, eyes searching forwards in the dark. At last they come to the intersection, seeing the two figures slouched against the wall.

Umber nodded at Milletia's words, but he was cautious. He noted the way there two figures slumped against the wall, and moved in slowly, senses alert, making sure there was nothing else lurking in the area, ready to pounce upon unwary intruders. Assuming, however, that no hidden dangers were present, he would give Milletia a nod, and move quickly to feed upon the guards.

Dorizzit
2008-01-26, 03:41 PM
Korram glares at the guards. Memories of all the times that he had been tortured over the long eight years he had spent in prison boiled to the surface of his mind, overflowing into a red haze of rage. The arrogance of these guards, so used to fighting normal prisoners that they assumed there could be no one better than them, taking glee in the fact that they could torture and maim escapees freely, rather than halving to take special measures to keep them unmarked. "No. I won't scream for your twisted pleasure. The question is, will you scream?" Korram charges one of the guards while leaving the other to Dima. He leads with his arm, shooting a stream of flame at the guard, who easily dodges. Ducking under a fast slice, he punches the guard with his burning fist, denting the armor and throwing the man back. The guard heaves himself to his feet before Korram can capitalize on the opening and stabs at Korram, who deflects it with his left arm, causing him to receive a superficial cut from knocking the sword out of the way. The guard retaliates by smashing his hilt into Korram's stomach, who doubles over in pain. The man lifts his sword over his head to finish it, but as the sword swings downwards Korram's ruse is revealed as his hand flashes upwards, grabbing the blade and melting it. Tearing the slagged remains from the guard's hand, Korram slams his palm under the man's chin, slamming his head upwards. Finally, he swings his arm, opened, into the man's side, his five fingers smashing through the Pauldron, before clenching his hand and ripping out a significant portion of the guard's midsection. The guard spends the next thirty seconds or so in agonizing pain before bleeding out. Korram cracks his neck. "Feh....I'm out of shape."

Voth
2008-01-26, 04:06 PM
This is going to hurt... alot.

Oh you can't be...

Before Shadow can finish, a bolt hits the door, signaling Voth to dive towards the door attempting to get through before he is inflicted too much damage. A bolt hit him in the shoulder as he goes to open the door and another in his thigh as he slams it shut, looking for anything to bar it in order to prevent himself being followed.

Iethloc
2008-01-26, 10:53 PM
Sohssal winced slightly as the shard cut across his cheek, but regained his composure and continued. As the glass rained down upon him AGAIN, Sohssal dived behind the same piece of furniture that saved him from the rain of fire. After seeing the result of his latest assault, he sighed. Clever... Sohssal commented in his head. As the giant block of ice surged towards him, he began weaving the same spell used to eliminate the door guard. The air between him and the ice shimmered with heat, and another beam of fire erupted from his hands, slamming into the ice, melting a good chunk of it and sending the rest away from him as steam cascaded from it.

Once that was taken care of, Sohssal quickly began weaving another of his potent magicks. "Just give up, little mage!" he offered as embers of fire flicked through the air about him. Glowing, searingly hot red mists faded into being and cascaded about Sohssal, and then quickly blew in the direction of Gene, giving off a horrible smell that was a blend of smoke and filth. "I can keep it up all day!" he shouted.

How much more can this guy take?! he thought desperately.

Engineer
2008-01-26, 11:46 PM
"I Thank you for removing my bonds",Amaf says grimacing in pain as the spider's saliva and blood is used to destroy his restraints. Perhaps we should look through the hole the spider's blood made.

Pwenet
2008-01-27, 08:12 PM
Incom and Harvey

Seeing that the girl was being threatened once again, Incom grunts as he rolls out of the way of Bruto's hoof. Looking up and seeing things that no mortal eyes should spy upon, both Incom AND Harvey give mental shudders of disgust.

”Okay, playtime is over.”

A hand flashes out and grabs the broken off horn from Bruto, and with another flick and blur, the hand holding the sharpened horn stabs upwards towards the area between Bruto legs, piercing his leather garments with ease and driving itself into Bruto unmentionables.

Needless to say, Bruto expresses the same reaction most male species have when they get something stabbed into that area.

With a giant roar of pain that shakes Incom to the bone, he smiles and twists and pushes up as he stands up. Incapacitated with pain, Bruto weakly swipes at Incom who is able to dodge the feeble blow. With Harvey feeding his strength, he grunts and LIFTS Bruto up into the air, one arm holding the horn stabbed into Bruto unmentionables, the other grabbing an armpit, and he spins and spies the leader of the cult.

”Hey boy, FETCH!”

Heaving, Incom throws Bruto through the air, and he glides over the screaming girl and crashes into the leader of the cultists sending the two flying away in a tangled mass of limbs.

Not waiting for them to get back up on their feet, Incom sprints forward, a feral grin on his face as he and Harvey share the same will, the same goal, the same desire for blood. Reaching Bruto first, who by this time is reduced to a whimpering curled ball clutching himself, it is far to easy for Incom to grab the remaining horn and Bruto shoulder and leans in close as Harvey speaks through Incom.

"Your masters will not look kindly on your failure. With luck, they may never find you, but if they do, you will know pain .."
".. and you will know fear .."
".. and then you will die. Have a pleasant flight."

With a grunt and a twist, Incom snaps the neck of poor Bruto, but not stopping with the neck, he continues to twist, feeding the anger and pain, and RIPS off the head of the demon. Turning to see the leader of the cultists having picked himself up, Incom swings the head at him, striking him and sending him flying.

”I am tired of playing games with you all.”

A cultists picks himself up and pulls out a knife, and stabs Incom in the back. Turning slightly to look at the annoyance, he reaches back and rips out the knife and some bits of flesh, and flicks it at the cultist. Turning back to the leader, he stalks towards him, his features rippling, changing. Flesh starts to fill in with scales, his pupils turn into slits, smoke starts emerging from his mouth and strange growths start to form on his shoulders.

Winding up, Incom starts to swing the severed head of Burto.

Swing

Swing

Swing

THROW!

The head flies at great speed towards the leader of the cultists. What will happen nobody knows.

rubakhin
2008-01-28, 05:58 AM
Dima's hounds charge the other guard. He stands with his sword ready, but, much to his surprise, they break apart and run past him. Before the guard realizes what they're doing, they turn on a dime, attacking the soft flesh in the back of his knees and thighs. The guard falls to the ground. The tiger pounces and finishes him off with one sweep of her mighty paw.

The dogs back off. The tiger picks the corpse up by the neck, and drags her prey into the corner to enjoy the meal.

"Leave it alone," says Dima warningly. The tiger twitches her tail, but obeys, and goes to stand behind him.

Frozen
2008-01-28, 06:59 AM
"Healer Sara! I need your help!" Lamont makes a show of coughing and convulsing slightly

"it's my chest, it hurts...come closer so i can tell you where" As the healer leans down and places her hands onto the bandages to feel the wound, he whispers into her ear.

<They treat you barely better than the prisoners in here....i can see you scars, milady. I am in pain all right, because it is horrible to see a lady treated that way.>
"I think that the stitches under these bandages have come loose" he says, gesturing down with his eye that she should check under them. If she does, lamont concentrates, forming a thin but sizable white dagger of bone, forming it from the blood in his wounds.
As saras' hand rests on the handle of the dagger, their eyes catch each others, and his intent is written all over his face.
<take out the guard for me, and i will free us both from this horrid place. I know you dont have to trust me, but what do you have to lose? And my name?? .......It's Lamont. Lamont Montenegro, wrongfully accused. And i will be free.>

Inspectre
2008-01-28, 10:03 PM
The Spires: Key Storage

Voth

Realizing that you have no choice, you steel yourself for pain as you wait for a bolt to impact against the door then leap forward. Sure enough, you receive a hearty dose of pain as a crossbow bolt rakes along the top of your shoulder, failing to fully penetrate but leaving a ragged tear across your skin nonetheless.

Grabbing for the door handle, you clamp down on it as you bite back a scream: another crossbow bolt had found your right thigh, and this one was a direct hit as it sank into the meat of your thigh. Ripping the door open, you stand in matching shock to the guard standing on the other side of the doorway, evidently preparing to go through the door just as you tore it open. Having no time for games, you use your free hand to give the guard a faceful of claw, throwing him back from the doorway as you leap through.

Once through to the other side, you pull the door closed, slamming it shut just in time as another crossbow bolt rings off the door’s metal. The immediate danger gone, you quickly turn your attention to the lone guard you had wounded, lying on the floor and screaming as he cradled his ruined face. You silence him for good with another swift stab of your claws, and then look around.

Once again, you are in a spiral stairway, likely just one room, if that, below where your escape started. The spiral staircase leads back up in that direction, but also down to parts unknown. Alternatively, there is an iron door directly in front of you, likely leading into another experiment room similar to yours. It might not make an entirely bad place to hide, if there was no one in there at present.

However, this still did lead the issue of your pursuers, who were undoubtedly closing in on the door behind you right now. Because the door opened out into the hallway, there was no way you could wedge it shut. Not that there was anything in this drab spiral stairway to use, anyway, except the dead guard . . . wait. Maybe you could tie the guard to the doorway somehow to make the door more difficult to open because of his dead weight?

The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

Using a mixture of the spider’s blood and saliva, you quickly remove your remaining restraints. Your chains are fairly easy, as it’s a simple matter to dip the midpoint of the chains running between your manacles and fetters into the pool of spider goo. Within seconds the acid melts through the iron chain, leaving you with lengths of chain dangling from each limb, but free nonetheless.

Amraf’s collar is a bit of a different matter, being directly bolted around his neck. You certainly couldn’t dip his head into the spider goo to melt it off, so you had to apply the mixture directly to the necklace. This results in several drops of the liquid running off the metal, burning Amraf’s skin as the acid uses the rest of its potency against his flesh. Amraf now has moderate acid burns to the back of his neck, the skin there inflamed to an angry and tender red. Still, a crude line is finally burned all the way through the collar, and with a loud hiss and dull clang the collar falls to the ground.

Unfortunately, any celebrations over your newfound freedom will have to be cut short. Beyond the light of your lantern, from the direction of the side tunnel you used to get here originally, a familiar sound echoes to you.

Scrape scrape scrape . . . hiss.

A moment later, a second set replies from the same direction.

Scrape scrape scrape . . . hiss.

Followed by a third.

Scrape scrape scrape . . . hiss.

The Arena

Frozen

Hurrying back over to you with a look of concern, Healer Sara’s expression quickly turns to an embarrassed smile as she uses one gloved hand to tug the collar of her robe back up over the scar tissue at the base of her jaw.

“These wounds of mine are quite old, but I thank you for your concern. And what’s this about your bandages?”

She quickly slips the bandages aside, allowing you to form and offer her the small bone dagger. A frown forms on her face, although she politely waits for you to finish before vehemently shaking her head “no”.

“I can’t. I swore an oath as a Healer not to harm a living being. I can’t take a life. I . . . I just can’t, even to save one.”

Before she can say more, the guard at the door comes to attention as it opens. A moment later, four heavily armed guards stride into the room, the administrator who recruited you following. Apparently noticing that you weren’t locked in a coffin of cold iron any longer, the administrator hung back, remaining only a short distance from the door while the guards advanced to positions themselves between the two of you.

“Ah, Healer Sara! How good to see you! How is our little beast? Ready for another match yet?”

Disgust evident in her voice, Sara shook her head. “No, of course not! The Chimera almost killed him! He’s still very weak, and you already want to send him back out there?”

The administrator smiles, a smile that carried through into his voice, like that of a spider welcoming a fly. “Well, he’s quite the fast healer, so I’m sure his injuries aren’t as grave as he wants us to believe. Isn’t that right, Iron Shifter? I bet, if you wanted to, you could hop up from that table now, tear your way free of your restraints, and proceed to savage us all before we could get away. But that won’t help you, you know. The guards beyond this room, or the room beyond that, would simply bring you down. And then without me to represent you to the Warden, you’d be locked away in that coffin again, never to come out and stretch your claws, to fight, ever ever again. Is that what you really want, to rot away? If not, then I suggest you make yourself ready to fight again, and soon.”

???????

MrEdwardNigma

Turning her head to look up at you with one eye, Cassandra nods in agreement. “Alright. I guess we’re going to have to hope that I get lucky then. I’m not even going to be able to see what I’m doing here. Drop the wire into my hands once you find it.”

Cassandra bows her head to you again, and you roughly comb through her fiery mass of hair until the glint of metal finally catches your eye. Leaning down, you manage to catch one end of the wire in between your teeth after several tries. The wire being entangled in her hair, you have to tug several times before it comes free: more than one long strand of fire dangling from it. Leaning down even further now, you carefully line your mouth up with Cassandra’s open hands, and release the wire.

The wire falls directly into her waiting palm, and immediately her fingers set to work twisting the wire into a solid enough piece to pick locks. “Thanks.” She says simply, although the tone in her voice suggests that she had not appreciated having some of her hair torn out with the wire. That was just too bad for her, and maybe next time she wouldn’t put the wire so close to her scalp.

Kneeling down behind her, you offer one of your iron gauntlets for lockpicking. Although a heavy gauntlet of iron, you knew that it would be a rather simple thing to remove once the small padlock near your elbow was removed. Holding the prepared wire gently between her thumb and forefinger, Cassandra attempts to slide the makeshift lockpick into the padlock. She misses completely the first couple tries, but with your verbal direction eventually manages to slip the wire into the padlock’s keyhole.

There are several more minutes of fumbling and curses of frustration from Cassandra, but then a soft click comes from the padlock. “Got it! Maybe I’m not so bad at this afterall!” It is only the work of another minute to work the unlocked padlock off, and then slip your arm free of the gauntlet. Although heavy and unwieldy, with the padlocks off you would be able to slip them on and off as necessary to use as somewhat effective bludgeoning weapons, assuming you decide to take the gauntlets along as a souvenir.

Waving the lockpick through the air, Cassandra smiles confidently as she says “Alright, next one please!” You present your other iron-encased arm, and Cassandra sets to work with a bit more confidence. The padlocks being very similar, Cassandra has a good idea what needs to be done. As such, scarcely a minute has passed before with a soft click your other arm is freed.

A few seconds after Cassandra extracts the lockpick, however, the sigil that had been bathing the light in an eerie green glow fades out. Cassandra, once again completely unable to see, curses loudly. “I get the feeling the light going out implies that we should be dead twice over already. Which means, those black-cowled freaks might be coming along shortly. I don’t know how we’re going to be able to get out of here without being able to see, but escaping from this room would be a good start. You go work on the door, see if you can break it down or something, while I try to pick these fetters.”

Rolling over onto her stomach, Cassandra proves that she is fairly limber for a human as she lifts her ankles up and back into easy reach of her hands. As you slip the other gauntlet off and heads towards the door, she is attempting to find the keyhole for one of the fetters locked around her ankles.

Approaching the door, you figure the first thing to try is to mimic the last one to open the door. Remembering the words that the cultist rasped while touching the door, you place one hand on the doorway and recite the words. It is perhaps not an exact mimicry, but you thought you pronounced most of the syllables correctly. The door seems to agree with this assessment as runes flare to life on its surface.

Suddenly, a lancing pain shoots up your arm, flowing swiftly to envelop your entire body. Following this pain is an intense feeling of cold, which your mind numbly registers as one symptom of life drain. Then, the pain returns, a blinding surge of sensation and images directly into your brain.

Hunger.
A black-cowled figure standing over a chained prisoner, the pale skin of his bare back standing in sharp contrast to the darkness of the cultist’s robes. With a simple gesture, the cultist rips the skin off the man’s back, his agonized screams echoing through the dark chamber. The cultist then steps forward, dumping a bucket filled with some sort of maggots onto the man’s exposed muscles. Another gesture and the man’s skin is replaced, shifting and churning from the movements of the maggots underneath. The man’s screams only intensify as the maggots rapidly eat him from the inside out.

Desire

A black-robed cultist standing at the edge of a deep pit, gesturing as two others drag a young girl kicking and screaming forward. Without further ceremony, the trio reaches the edge and the two cultists throw the girl into the pit. The girl does not fall very far, as the walls of the pit suddenly come alive and move to catch her. Lining the walls and floor of the pit are zombies, melded from the waist down into the stone. Passing the girl about, the zombies slowly convey her down to the bottom: touching, kissing, and tearing. The girl dies somewhere about halfway down, the stone of the wall surging out to engulf her up to the waist, and reanimating her corpse to join in the macabre display.

Anticipation

On an onyx ledge overlooking a pool of lava, dozens of black-cowled figures gather in loose ranks. At the front of this formation is another such robed figure, differentiated only by his black iron crown and scepter. Twirling his rod of authority wildly about himself, the figure dances around a large iron alter stained with thick crimson rivulets. Periodically, cultists approach from the rear of the formation, dragging a prisoner forward through the cultist ranks to stand before the altar. They then slit the throats of the prisoners, covering the altar in a fresh spray of blood before tossing the bodies off the edge into the lava below. No prisoners are laid down on the altar for sacrifice, but the process of coating it in blood happens over and over again.

Freedom

The fortress of Ironheart stands at the summit of the snow-covered mountain, resolute and unmoving. Suddenly, the Central Tower topples, allowing a gigantic geyser of black oil, streaked with red lightning, to arc up into the sky. The oil rains down onto the remains of the fortress, coating it and obscuring it from view completely. Then, the oil begins to flow down the sides of the mountain, and beyond, covering everything in sight with a murky coat of black oil streaked with red lightning.

When you come to, you realize that you are lying flat on your back several feet away from the doorway. Slowly, feeling comes back into your body, although your hands refuse to stop shaking uncontrollably. Lifting your head up, you can see that the door, thankfully, is now hanging partially open, although you are loathe to touch it to open it the rest of the way after your experience. A sudden soft scraping sound by your left ear draws your attention elsewhere in the room, and you turn your head to see Cassandra standing over you.

One leg is free of its shackles, and this she slowly slides forward until it’s in contact with your left side. “Victor! Where are you!? Stupid zombie!” Pain suddenly blossoms along your left side as Cassandra, her foot coming in contact with your body, draws it back and delivers a solid kick.

Hearing the grunt of pain that escapes your lips, Cassandra immediately steps back and gasps. “Victor! Oh, I’m so sorry! I’m in the dark here, and I’ve already stepped on more zombie bits than I want to think about. When I heard you scream I thought the worst, but couldn’t do anything until I got my feet free. So um . . . how’s the door?”

WhiteKnight777

Noticing the two guards, you realize how . . . thirsty . . . you were. Still, centuries of existence had taught you caution, sometimes the hard way. Motioning Mellita to follow, you carefully crept forward, eyes wary. As it turned out, your caution was correct in this case.

As you approached closer, you could see the faintest trances of white thread holding the guards in place against the wall. Approaching still closer, you saw the barest glittering in the darkness above the guards: two sets of multi-faceted eyes reflecting the dim lantern light. And finally, you notice just the barest glimmer in the air, but as you concentrated you were able to detect the faint trace of a large web covering the hallway around the guards. Some oversized arachnids had decided to bait a trap for anyone dumb enough to blunder into it.

Still, neither guard looked particularly damaged, so perhaps their blood was still good. And it had been a long while since you’d had some fun.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

(Pauldrons are worn on the shoulders, so I’m not sure how you managed to smash down through a pauldron into the elite’s side Dorizzit. I will assume you meant chainmail. )

Splitting the elites between the two of you, you move to engage them, both elites grinning as you approach. Neither is smiling any longer shortly into the fight, but both elites prove that their reputation is not just talk.

After their initial exchange of blows, Korram is left with a minor cut along his left arm and his opponent is slightly winded from the chest punch. Coming in again, the elite manages to strike Korram in the stomach, doubling him over. As the elite brings his sword down for a finishing blow to the back of his head, Korram reaches up with his fire-arm. Catching the blade, Korram uses the intense heat to melt the blade, leaving the guard weaponless. Not quite satisfied with just this, Korram uses his normal hand to snap the guard’s jaw up, and then finishes with a hard blow to the elite’s stomach again.

Amazingly, the exceedingly-well crafted chainmail holds as Korram jams his fingers into the man’s side, attempting to sear out a large chunk. Despite loud protesting squeals coming from the metal as well as several links melting, the worse that the elite suffers from this is serious burns along his side. Stumbling back, both in shock and from the sudden force of the blow, the elite careens into a table and trips. He crashes to the ground, and his helmeted head slams into a pile of heavy chain neatly coiled up at the foot of the table.

Smiling as he rolls back to his feet, the elite snatches up the chain, winding several loops from one end around his fist while he uses his other hand to twirl the chain’s other end. Suddenly releasing the chain, the elite snaps the loose end of chain towards Korram with a flick of his chain-covered wrist.

A sharp pain explodes just behind Korram’s right eye an instant later, suggesting that the elite’s aim had been to blind him, but he had missed by the narrowest of margins. Frowning, the elite twirls the chain around again, this time snapping the loose end in such a way that it coils around Korram’s neck.

The elite smiles viciously as he pulls the chain taut, causing Korram to choke, and then with a sharp tug sends him stumbling forward. “Nighty night, freak.” He snarls, stepping forward to meet Korram, swinging his chain-covered fist directly at Korram’s jaw.

Meanwhile, Dima is not fairing much better against the other elite. Although the dogs’ sudden movements cause them to avoid the elite’s first swing, he reacts quicker than expected. Whirling to face the dogs again as they twist about to snap at his legs, the elite manages to boot the first incoming dog in the snout, driving him back with a sharp yelp.

He manages to sidestep the next dog’s leap, sending the dog sprawling with another sharp kick to the dog’s side as it flies past. With his sword finally at the ready again, the elite manages to greet the third dog with a slice, chopping its head off and causing the entire body to collapse into dust. While he stares in confusion at the dead hound’s sudden decay, Dima’s tiger joins the fray.

Pouncing on the elite from behind, Dima’s tiger knocks the guard to the floor with a surprised grunt. As the tiger raises a paw to finish him, the elite does the unexpected by throwing his armored head back, cracking it into the tiger’s face. Snarling in confusion and rage, the tiger prepares to attack again, but is forced to back off as the elite manages to roll onto his back and start jabbing his sword at the massive feline.

Rapidly working his way backward on his elbows and feet, the elite slithers under a rack before the tiger can follow. Now on the other side, the elite rolls to his feet and grabs a torch from a nearby holder on the wall. Charging around the side of the rack, the tiger rears back with a snarl as the elite greets her with a swing from the torch. Twirling the torch and longsword in front of him, the elite begins to drive the tiger back, although at the cost of having to ignore the dogs for the moment.

The Labs

Iethloc

You manage to take cover under the same piece of furniture as before, although you doubted that it would manage to save you from the huge ice block now threatening to crush you. Popping out from behind cover, you vaporize a significant chunk of the ice block with a blast of fire from your hands, diverting it to slam into the ground and shatter into a hundred shards several feet away. Again, the piece of furniture you have been hiding behind takes the brunt of the explosion of ice shards.

Summoning another of your fire spells, you produce a thick fiery mist which begins to drift up towards Gene. Unlike your previous flashy fire, this mist was a bit longer in duration, which would hopefully give Gene difficulty in maintaining his defensive shield. As the thick mist blocks him from your sight, the Sage actually chooses to respond to your taunt.

“Then I guess it’s time to end this fight now!.” He shouts, and a moment later the fiery mists begin to dissipate. No, not dissipate: it was too soon for that. They were being cut through, and an instant later something burst through the mists, rocketing down towards you. It was Gene, the edges of his yellow robes smoldering and his face covered in minor burns. Floating directly in front of him were two massive, eight foot long swords made out of solid ice, although their points and edges were decidedly less defined after passing through the fire mist.

“Return to the abyss that spawned you!” Gene spat, as he made a chopping motion with his left hand, and the ice blade on that side swung down. You manage to roll away from your makeshift cover an instant before the blade pulverizes the abused piece of furniture, sending splinters flying in all directions. Rolling to your feet, you duck under the next blow from Gene as he directs his right blade into a horizontal slice. You wouldn’t be able to keep this dance up for long, but neither would Gene judging by now hard he was breathing as he relentlessly pursued after you, gesturing wildly as his two ice blades danced to and fro after you.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

You finish your little dance with Bruto, throwing his whimpering form into the leader of the cultists and disrupting his little sacrifice party once again. Approaching the downed forms of both, you tear Bruto’s head off, using it as a makeshift baseball bat as you strike the cultist leader with it. Seems likely to be a double or even triple as he sails halfway across the room before sliding to a halt, although why you label this event with these strange terms, you do not know.

In any case, one of the other cultists didn’t appreciate you demon-handling his boss, and finally does something about it in the form of a knife to your back. You quickly show the other cultists still watching why it had been a good idea for them to stay out of this, as you rip the knife out of your back and return it to sender. The knife arcs through the air, catching the cultist perfectly in the neck, and carries him back through the air before he impacts against the wall. The tip of the knife emerges from the back of his neck at the point of impact, pressing on into the wall and leaving the cultist pinned there like a piece of fruit. With the redness of his cloak, he even looked a bit like an apple, the kind knife juggles at fairs would use to stick to targets with various-sized blades.

Turning back now to the cultist leader, you wind up and throw Bruto’s head, a perfect pitch that strikes the leader in the chest and sending him flying back into the wall behind him with bone-crushing force. Slowly, the cult leader slides back down to the ground, limply holding Bruto’s head in his lap.

At the loss of their bouncer, their leader, and one of their own in as many seconds, the remaining cultists back off. “Hey man, we didn’t mean anything by the cultist remark, honest!” “Y-yeah. We’re sorry about the whole Bruto-tearing-your-arm-off thing too, guy didn’t know when to quit.” “Hey! Look at the time! It must be dawn or something! Can’t finish the ceremony now, no sir!” “Hey, w-why don’t you take the girl! You dragon guys surely could find a use for her!” “Yeah, you wouldn’t even have to sacrifice her, if that’s not your thing! We think she used to be a servant girl or something, so she probably knows how to cook or clean or . . . or something!” Then, as one, the cultists all nod. ‘Right! Bye!” And then they all run for the nearby door at one end of the room, yanking it open and fighting amongst themselves as to who would get to go through first.

Turning to let them go (or after you come back from running them down and killing them all), you find the young girl cowering against the rock. The uninjured side of her face is pressed into an armpit, the red stripe of blood down the exposed side of her face a sharp contrast to her pale skin. She seems to be fighting back tears as she opens one eye to fearfully regard you.

“W-what are you? Wah – What do y-you want? I . . . I know you want something from me. Y-you wouldn’t have s-saved me otherwise. And I don’t . . . don’t buy the “you want *me* to kill *you* thing”. Th-that’s . . . some sort of code, isn’t it? Some sick game! I’m not – not lucky enough . . . to be rescued with – without s-strings. So just . . . just get-it-over-with-and-KILL-ME!”

This outburst seemingly to have drained the last of her strength, the young girl sags against the rock and begins sobbing openly.

Voth
2008-01-28, 10:13 PM
Voth

Quickly tearing out the guards spinal cord, Voth uses it to bar the door, as well as propping the now mutilated body against the door, and using the guards intestines to tie him to the door. After feeling some what satisfied with the results, Voth yanks the bolt out of his thigh and rushes towards the door directly across from him, making sure to not leave a trail of blood.

Iethloc
2008-01-29, 12:59 AM
Sohssal desperately thought out several different strategems in his head, though he hadn't made many plans for a situation like this, since it was usually some non-magical, muscle-bound person swinging giant swords at him! Oh, this body had better not give out on me now! he thought, frustrated. Then his face lit up, an evil grin spreading across it as he finished another series of steps in this tango of a battle.

"You've made a critical mistake in your strategy, Mage..." he said in a playful manner. He chuckled a bit, taking a few steps away from Gene before continuing. "You got too close to me!" he announced as ghostly, ethereal feathers began dancing through the air around him, washing over Gene harmlessly, at first. One of my favorite spells...too bad it leaves a MESS! he thought as he finished the spell. Quickly, the feathers crystallized, their edges razor-sharp as they whirled through the air, spraying blood from anyone close to Sohssal as they did their grim work.

Low on both physical and magical energy, Sohssal stood panting after that last spell, finally taking a few moments to assess his situation. He wiped the blood off his cheek, mumbling to himself and glaring at the (most likely few) guards still around him. "Any of you still feel like stopping me?" he inquired.

Dorizzit
2008-01-29, 06:31 AM
((oops...I assumed they were some form of armor.))

"GoddammitIhatethesef***ingeliteguardssof***ingmuch !" His opinions made adequately clear, Korram manages to dodge the worst of the blow even in close quarters, although he still gets a nasty bruise. This done, he shatters the chain between him and the guard with a swat of his right arm, and then heaves the guard backwards, sending him flying. This done, he uses the moment's respite to focus on the Guard's armor, making it uncomfortably warm, then red, then white with shimmering heat.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-01-29, 08:34 AM
"Don't worry, I'll open the bloody door"

The visions, or whatever they were, had sent a chill down Victor's spine. Not because he thought them gruesome, he'd done worse himself, but in case they were some sort of indication of what was to come. If Ironheart was to be destroyed by some event, he'd prefer to have escaped by then. But first, he still had to find that vampire.

Victor slid the gauntlets back on. He wasn't planning them on using them any further, since his razorsharp fingertips were three times as letha and a thousand times less noisy, but they still were a convenient tool for opening the door without touching it.

He heaved the door open with all his might and sneaked into the hallway, quickly scurrying onto the wall with his sharp fingertops and agile limbs. Any single guards he sees will be killed by letting the noose drop across their necks and pulling them up.

ubersquid
2008-01-29, 09:19 AM
Elkwin moans as he slides down the wall but forces himself to turn around and bring the handle of his weapon above him, just in time to stop the second blow from the Zombie. With the zombies shovels blade right in front of Elkwins face, the booth pause for a moment, then Elkwin dives down to the side, as the zombie simply thrusts the shovel towards his head. Only leaving a slight scratch on Elkwins cheek, the Shovel impacts on the wall behind him, screeching against the stone. Manifesting his last power reserves, like only someone fighting for his life can do, Elkwin swings his shovel at the zombies legs in return, hitting them with a wet cracking noise.

Seemingly unaffected, the zombie raises its shovel again for a final blow which Elkwin, breathing heavily by now, wouldn't be able to deflect again. As the Creature moves it's feet to stay in balance, it suddenly hisses. One of it's legs bends down in an unnatural way (even for a zombie) and the undead sinks to it's knees first, then falls to the side.

Still not dead of course, it now tries to crawl towards Elkwin, but the sturdy human somehow managed to get up from the ground and is now standing directly above it, shovel above his head, already mid swing. With a now familiar noise, the blade dives into the zombies skull and after a few spasms, the still functioning limbs grow limp as well.

Elkwin now stands there with a tight grip around his weapon, catching his breath and frantically looking around which zombie would close in on him next.

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-29, 07:49 PM
Umber

Umber's grin flashed white in the darkness, and he slowly motioned Mellitia towards the hanging spiders, gesturing with his hands for her to take the one on the right, he would take the left. His old predator's instincts, honed in the endless nights of his existence, took over as he moved with smooth, even grace, though he had to supress a wince as he felt his leg twinge... he knew he would not be able to move as well as he might otherwise, but that was all right... hopefully, once he had some blood in him that would be solved... he licked his lips involuntarily, feeling the beast within him growl, eager for the sweet crimson nectar... with a sudden burst of speed, he hurled a pair of medium-sized stones at the spider he had chosen for himself, then launched himself into the air, he thought of what he would do in a bloody, half-instinctual way... land on the creature's back, wrap his legs around its body, and drive his hands inside of it... then pull it apart, showering its gore to the stone floor of the chamber as Milletia took care of its mate.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-01-30, 03:13 AM
"Er..." Desot says, looking around quickly again. "Fight it is." He pulls up the spear-like shovel and sets the lantern down, readying himself for the fight ahead. "Do what you will."

Frozen
2008-01-30, 03:24 AM
"Fine. You've caught me." Mutters lamont, softening his wrists and hands into cartilage, and attempting to slip out of the manacles with ease. His hands and feets snap back into their original hardness as he stands up, enlarging himself slightly to rip all the bandages off. Crouching down, lamont holds his hands out with the wrists close together

"Ready when you are, administrator. You can even manacle me, i wont.... Bite! his jaws enlarge and snap forward, then he retracts them and laughs.

As the manacles are being clapped onto his hands, lamont looks the administrator in the eye."Seriously though, i want to talk terms. I can put on better and better shows for you, if you can think about giving me better...living arrangements. It'd be a big help to the both of us, whaddya say?"

His features shift so that they resemble one of the guards in the room, albeit with a glowing blue gem for an eye.
"I could even make it look like your guards are stronger than they seem, give them a little more reputation, huh?"

He lets his features slacken back to normal and coils his muscles, waiting for the administrators' response

Pwenet
2008-01-31, 06:31 PM
Looking down at the girl, Incom tilts his head to his side, part of him wondering why he didn’t go chasing after the rest of the idiots.

”I am keeping you alive so that you may kimake me a cake for I am very hungry and please HELP ME!!! And who are you and what are you doing here?”

What are you doing?!?

Looking after my own interests. You gave a bit too much of yourself, I’m not changing things yet.

Frowning and developing a nervous tick, Incom starts working on freeing the girl.

Inspectre
2008-01-31, 06:58 PM
The Spires: Key Storage

Voth

You use pieces of the dead guard to hopefully bar the door, and not a moment too soon as someone on the other side attempts to pull it open. You hear loud cursing on the other side, and the door rattles in its frame as someone tugs furiously on it. The guard’s spine rattles and crackles, and will no doubt soon break: time to get out of here.

Gritting your teeth, you reach down and tear out the crossbow bolt, not having time to remove it properly. The barbed head of the bolt tears through your flesh a second time, leaving a ragged hole in your thigh. Blood begins to flow freely from the wound, enough that you will need to stop and bandage it soon or risk bleeding to death.

But there is no time for that now, and you limp over to the door directly across from you, one hand clamped down over the wound to stop the blood from dripping onto the floor. You can feel a warmth slowly spreading down your leg as you move, but manage to get to the door before blood begins to flow onto the floor and leave an obvious trail.

With your free hand you rip the door open and stagger in, closing the door immediately behind you and leaning up against it for a moment. Looking around the room, you see a set-up similar to the room you were originally held in, although with a few important differences.

The first major difference is that ten feet up from the floor is a circular catwalk running along the outside of the room. A simple metal ladder appears bolted to the far wall across the room from you, which leads up to this catwalk. At various points along the walkway, thick iron poles extend out into the middle of the room. These poles periodically pulse with some sort of strange inner light, and join together in the middle to support a large spherical object.

Jewel might be the best word for this object, as the brilliant red sphere appears to contain hundreds, if not thousands, of facets, all shining with the same inner light that pulses through the iron poles supporting it. The jewel itself is perhaps the size of a small cart, hanging in the middle of the room at the same height as the catwalk around it. The iron poles supporting it seem to go directly into the jewel, although where iron meets jewel, the area appears somewhat indistinct, as if the iron poles are passing through the jewel as if it wasn’t even there.

The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

“Right.” Amraf replies, already beginning to summon the power necessary for one of his illusions. For a moment, the tunnel is silent save for Amraf’s chanting, but then all hell breaks loose.

As one, the three spiders leap out into the lantern light from the walls and ceiling. Two head for Amraf, crashing into the ground a few foot away from him and viciously biting and stabbing with their legs at the floor: presumably attacking some sort of illusion Amraf had created.

That left only one for you to deal with, although that might be enough as it skitters towards you. It nimbly jumps back at your first jab from the shovel, thankfully not attempting to dodge to one side and then close before you could pull back for a second strike. It’s next several advances are thwarted in similar fashion, causing it to hiss in frustration. No, not in frustration: the hissing came from a large quantity of acid suddenly spilling out of the creature’s working mouth, eating into the stone floor. Before you could wonder what new trick the creature was up to, it suddenly jerked its head back and then forward, spraying a stream of acidic saliva directly at your chest!

Warshrike/ubersquid

(Hmmmm . . . gruesomely kill the perma-NPC’d dwarf, or leave him as a buddy? Decisions decisions.)

With considerable effort you bring down the shovel-armed zombie, although you know that this still leaves four tireless beings closing in around you. A fearsome shout of rage behind you causes you to turn, just in time to see Dwiggs plow into the three zombies coming up behind you.

Dashing up to the man wrestling around on the ground with the first zombie, Dwiggs barely pauses as he stands above the man and brings his pick down, a perfect blow that drives one end of the pick through the zombie’s forehead.

Ripping the pick through the zombie’s skull and out through the back of its head, Dwiggs brings the pick up and around into the legs of the second zombie as it shambles into range. The blow completely removes the zombie’s left leg at the knee, and an instant after the undead creature hits the ground Dwiggs has pinned to the ground with his pick, one end disappearing into the creature’s right eye socket.

Shouting some sort of dwarven battle-cry, Dwiggs rushes towards the third zombie, now unarmed. Charging directly into it, Dwiggs bowls the creature over and begins to wrestle around on the ground with it. You see the dwarf’s fists rise and fall several times, and then snatch up a nearby rock before falling a final time as the zombie goes completely limp.

A low groan interrupts your stare of amazement however, and you turn to find the last zombie approaching, the club of the dead guard in his hand. However, this groan is suddenly answered by moans from each of the felled guards, as well as the one prisoner who has already been killed. Slowly, their bodies begin to twitch as the perverse reflection of life takes hold. It appears you and Dwiggs either had a lot more work ahead of you, or it was time to get out of here.

The Arena

Frozen

Utilizing your shapeshifting, you are able to easily slip out of the shackles and then enlarge yourself, tearing off your bandages as a result and revealing the whole flesh underneath. The administrator impassively watches the rest of your display, smiling. “Impressive. Of course, prisoner living arrangement are not up to me, but I’m sure I can convince the Warden. If, of course, you put on another good show.”

The warden gestures to his guards, who step forward to snap manacles around your offered wrists – manacles made out of cold iron, you note with annoyance. Healer Sara has been watching this exchange with fear widened eyes, one hand cupped over her mouth, although at the administrator’s words she turns to regard him with a look of barely concealed disgust.

The administrator shakes his head at your last offer, however. “No, I don’t think we will need you to impersonate any guards. Not right now, anyway, as we have several guards already participating in the Arena, and they are all quite capable. But perhaps some sort of unique costume or heraldry for you? I imagine the Iron Shifter will become quite a renowned name amongst the crowds. If, of course, you survive your next fight. We can discuss all of the details after that.” The administrator says with a wide smile, as Healer Sara shakes her head and turns away to check on another patient.

“So, are you ready for your next fight already? It’s pretty rare for someone to fight two matches in the same day, but it would certainly excite the crowd to see their new favorite twice in one day!”

???????

MrEdwardNigma

Pushing yourself back up onto your feet, you put the gauntlets monetarily back on in order to open the accursed iron door. No more visions or painful magical aura afflict you, so either the door has gone inactive or your gauntlets are effective at protecting you from the door’s effects. Quickly twisting the gauntlets off of your hands, you spring out into the hallway, crawling up the wall before looking about. The ceiling here is not particularly high, perhaps eight or nine feet, which means it is unlikely that you would be able to get the drop on anybody before they noticed you hanging from the wall at about eye-height.

Fortunately, there are no guards out in the hallway at the moment, so your concerns are a mute point. As before, the hallway is pitch black, which will pose a problem to Cassandra although not to you. As if your thoughts had summoned her, Cassandra appears at the door, eyes closed in concentration as she gingerly slides one foot out into the hallway. “Okay . . . found the door. Now where?” You hear her mutter, as she steps fully out into the hallway, turning her head this way and that as if listening. “Victor? Are you there?” She whispers.

WhiteKnight777

Dashing forward, you move with superhuman speed as you snatch two fist-sized rocks off of the floor and fling them towards the glittering eyes. Although the web stands between you and the spiders, both of your rocks strike against the top, where it is anchored to the ceiling. The strong strands of silk look like they will hold, but then they snap with a soft whisper and allow the rocks to continue towards the target. One rock, diverted off-course slightly by the web, merely crashes into the ceiling, but you hear a soft whumph from the other rock, followed by a shriek and a vigorous scraping sound. Scrape-scrape-scrape-scrape-scrape hiss.

Compromised, the web begins to sag from its wall anchors, as Mellita rushes forward and slashes the center away with a long knife she had produced from somewhere. Your acute vision detects the sheen of silver within the blade, but there is no time for questions as the two spiders charge forward from their hiding spots to meet you.

It quickly becomes clear that these are not normal spiders, as their green and black body coloration is unlike anything you have seen before, and most monstrous spiders do not have thin blade-tipped legs like these do. Nonetheless, they are still just spiders, and although their venom may be potent enough to damage your flesh, your lack of heartbeat means the damage would be limited to around the bite wound.

You leap up at your target as it skitters towards you, two of its legs bent back in odd angles from what was likely your rock. Thrusting your hands up at the spider, you drive your fingers through its armored carapace and into its softer innards. As soon as your hands come into contact with the thing’s innards, however, strong waves of pain wash up from your hands as your skin starts to dissolve. The ugly beastie had acidic blood!

This is not all however, as the spider twists in your grip, managing to turn about enough to drive the tips of its dagger-sized serrated fangs into your right shoulder, drooling more acid down along its fangs and into your wound. Giving a familiar curse in a long-dead language you saved for just such occasions, you end the fight quickly by working your hands even further into its acidic innards, before pulling your hands back out and allowing yourself to fall down to the floor.

Your hands covered in the creature’s blood and body parts, you smile in satisfaction as you look up to see the creature shudder violently from its position on the ceiling. In death, the spider-thing loses its grip on the ceiling, and begins to fall down towards you. Not wanting even more of the thing’s bodily fluids on you, you roll away from the creature as it falls, getting out of the way just in time as it hits the floor and bursts open, spilling blood everywhere.

Wiping the creature’s blood along with a sizable portion of your flesh off on the floor, you try to get up but find your right arm no longer responding accurately to your commands. Looking down, you can see that the creature’s saliva has completed the job attempted by its fangs, having eaten a sizable hole completely through your right shoulder.

“Lord Umber!” You hear Mellita gasp as she comes to stand in your line of sight, her right hand curled up into a partially dissolved claw. Of the long-bladed knife, there is no sign. “Hold on, Lord Umber! I’ll go get the guards!”

Mellita then rushes out of your sight, returning a minute later dragging one of the dead guards with her good hand. Kneeling down beside you, she flops the guard onto your chest, and then presses his neck up to your lips. You could not remember a time when you had required aid in feeding, but necessity does often overcome pride.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

(Pauldrons are pieces of armor, but only cover the shoulders. :smallsmile: )

Twisting his head, Korram manages to mitigate the worst of the elite’s blow, although the rough chains bite into the skin of his cheek, leaving a nasty scrape along his left cheek. Before the elite can pull his fist back for another blow, Korram brings his fire-arm up and down, burning through the chain connecting his throat to the elite’s fist. A rapid backhand follows this, sending the elite flying back away from him and giving Korram a momentary respite to catch his breath as the chain around his neck loosens noticeably.

Not bothering with removing the chain, Korram attacks the guard again, this time using the power of his fire-arm to heat the elite’s armor to unbearable temperatures. Pushing himself up to his feet, the elite doesn’t seem to notice the effect on his armor until he has finished grabbing a torch from a nearby wall bracket.

Looking down in horror at his red glowing armor, the elite immediately drops the torch and begins clawing at it, attempting to tear it off before the heat becomes even more unbearable. He has it perhaps halfway off when the metal begins to glow white hot, and not even the elite’s strong discipline is about to stop him from screaming in agony then.

The clothing underneath the elite’s armor catches fire a moment after, turning him into a human version of the torch starting to smolder out at his feet. The red sash across his chest also starts to smolder, apparently made out of much more durable material as it had yet to catch fire until now. It ignites a few moment’s later, a brilliant band of yellow flame running across the flailing elite’s chest that mingles with the duller flames from his other clothing.

Finally, the elite collapses, the white hot metal bunched up around his head as he had attempted to bodily pull the chainmail up over his head. This had dramatically increased the heat around his head, and Korram had no doubt that if he lifted the chainmail he would find only charred remains of the man’s skull.

Looking over at Dima, Korram finds that he has also dispatched his elite, at the cost of another hound. The fearless creation had leapt upon the arm the elite was using to wield the torch. Although the elite had managed to swing his sword around and gut the dog as it hung down from his torch-bearing arm, he was not fast enough to bring either weapon back around to hold back Dima’s tiger.

The great beast had driven the elite to the floor with a brutal swipe of its claws again, and this time it didn’t hesitate to chomp down on the man’s face and neck with its powerful jaws, leaving only a bloody mess behind.

Both elites now dead, the room is deathly silent save for the keening moans from the woman. Although no longer swinging wildly back and forth, the woman randomly twists and kicks out, seemingly to no effect save increasing the strain on her shoulders. Her hair now hangs limply down, covered in sweat, although it sways to and fro as the woman jerks her head this way and that.

“Help! Must get free! Must get out of here!” She cries, seemingly to no one in particular as she continues to wildly thrash about.

The Labs

Iethloc

You cast the spell, and watch with no small satisfaction as the crystalline feathers shred Gene, leaving him a bloody mess that collapses to the floor at your feet. Upon his collapse, the magical blades of ice simply melt away into pools of water that rapidly turn dark as Gene’s blood flows into them.

Looking around for the other guards, you can see that they have all fled by now or have perished: several charred and shredded corpses indicative that not all of the guards were smart enough to leave when they had the chance.

Suddenly, a sharp pain stabs through your mind, and “you” collapse to your knees, holding “your” head. The assistant’s mind has returned, and with a vengeance. Drained from your struggle with Gene, you do not have the strength to overpower his disciplined mind anymore. “You” manage to choke out one loud shriek of rage from “your” lips before the assistant has driven you into a back corner of his brain, and regained full control of his body.

Strangely, he does not immediately return to your cell where he could make your physical shell cower powerless before him. Instead, he moves over to the body of Gene, who responds with a low moan when he kicks Gene’s body. Apparently the Sage wasn’t quite dead yet.

The assistant rolls Gene over onto his back and then takes hold of the collar of his charred and blood-stained golden robes, heaving him up to stare directly into the assistant’s eyes. “Come on, come on. We don’t have much time here. What were you thinking, attacking with lethal force like that? You would have killed me too, and I thought we had a deal. I hold the freak’s soul, you study it, and then once you figured out how you could kill him, the freak would be dead and I’d be set free as compensation!?”

Gene moans as the assistant shakes him awake, but manages a dry chuckle at the assistant’s outrage. “Fool. The plan . . . all along . . . was to kill . . . you both! Neither of you . . . are needed . . . anymore!” At this point, Gene breaks down into a coughing fit, spewing flecks of blood into the face of the assistant.

Snarling, the assistant drops Gene back down to the floor before delivering a hard kick to the Sage’s side.

I do not like this one bit, freak, but it seems I have been betrayed. I despise treachery, so I will make you a deal. If we escape from here, you will spare my life and we both go our separate ways. Do we have a deal? Oh, and is there anything you need to know from this wretch before we leave here?

The assistant indicates Gene with a wave of his hand, and then his mind stands silent, awaiting your response.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

The girl looks up at you with a frown, tears still silently streaming down her face. “I’m not an idiot. I-I can’t stop you . . . from whatever i-it is you’re planning to do. But please . . . please don’t patronize me. Is – Is it so much to ask for you not to trample what’s left of my dignity?”

Little brat! I can remember that cake line working on a number of noble maidens! Although . . . most of those that fell for it were rather addle-brained. Guess the little snack has a bit of spine after all. Hmm . . . perhaps we should try the noble knight in shining armor bit? I bet you’d just love that, this one chance to pretend to be what you were before coming here, wouldn’t you?

You consider searching the cultist leader’s body for keys, but decide instead to go the more expedient route of simply tearing the girl’s shackles apart for now. Reaching up, you take firm hold of the chain just above the girl’s left wrist, and then pull down. For a moment, the chain holds, but then with a loud shriek the rusted metal snaps. Moving to the other chain, you repeat the procedure, and this time it’s the obsidian stone that gives way as the anchored end of the chain tears free of the stone.

Wrapping her arms around herself, the girl slumps down into a crouch with a sigh of relief. Her feet are also chained to the stone however, and here the chain is so short that you decide pulling it apart might injure the girl’s feet instead. So, you go visit the cultist leader’s body, and after a few moments of searching find an ring of iron keys hanging off his belt.

You quickly return to the girl and use the keys to remove the chains holding her ankles to the stone, as well as the remains of the manacles hanging off her wrists. The girl now shifts positions again, coming to sit with her back against the stone, legs tucked underneath her.

Rubbing her hands up and down her bare arms, she looks up at you with a forced smile. “Thanks. I . . . I’m sorry.” Here, her smile falters, and her eyes start to brim with tears again. “Maybe . . . maybe she was right? Maybe I – I’m an . . . ungrateful . . . brat? M-Maybe I . . . I deserve . . . to be here?” Leaning forward, she buries her face in her hands, now sobbing completely uncontrollably.

What the devils? Now our little snack has completely lost her little spine? We don’t have time for this, friend! Those other cultists are going to go get the Malevolent Seven, and when they get here it’ll be sleepy time again!

Voth
2008-01-31, 07:20 PM
Voth

Taking a glance at the crystal, Voth moves towards a concealed area in which he can bandage himself.

*Whistles* That is one big rock.

If you haven't noticed we're bleeding out here!

Oh right and I am suppose to do what now?

Just shut up and help me heal this thing!

Oh okay, let me just use my crazy fairy magic... Oh right! I don't have any!

Will you just shut up! How about you think of a way for us to get out of here?

Looking around the room, Voth spies a torch. Limping towards it, Voth falls once and after saying several curses that would make a grown orc blush, makes his way to the torch.

"This should do the trick." Voth says as he picks up the torch and moves it towards his leg. Carefully applying pressure and closing the wound with his hand, Voth seals the wound using the torch to burn the skin shut.

WhiteKnight777
2008-01-31, 08:00 PM
Umber

Umber snarled as the beast's acidic venom bit deep into his newly reborn flesh... true, he had suffered many worse wounds in his lifetime - the breath of mighty wyrms, the holy blades and hell-forged weapons, terrible spells of unearthly power - but rarely had his own potency been at such a nadir. He cursed himself for his slowness, for the weakness of his newborn body as Milletia pushed the guard down on him. In his anger, he bit deep into the guard's throat, drinking deeply, hungrily... ahh... but that felt good. He groaned in ecstacy as his world shrank to a small, brief dot of red bliss as he drank every last drop from the guard's veins. It was far from the most potent nectar he had ever sampled, but at the moment it was incredible. After so many years of lack, the sensation was almost overwhelming. After a time, he realized he was suckling at an empty husk. He tossed the cadaver aside as he felt his arm and leg both begin to mend a bit, flexing and stretching as he stood. The wounds were regrettable - the vitae that went to heal them would have been better used increasing his own strength a bit more - but he could feel the blood doing him a world of good as he felt the stolen lifeforce suffusing his body. He smiled at Milletia, favoring her with a gentle caress on the cheek.

Well done my dear... yes, very well done indeed. That... was just what I needed.

Dorizzit
2008-01-31, 08:07 PM
Korram cracks his neck. "Out of shape..." he mutters. Shaking his head, he stretches. This done, he walks over to the Woman and quickly outlines his plan to Dima. Assuming Dima agrees, he burns through the rope holding the Woman up while Dima catches her and sets her down. "Now that that's done..." he begins. "Who are you, and why are you here?"

Frozen
2008-02-01, 05:26 AM
Lamont snatches the cold iron mask up from where it was discarded, pulling it onto his face with a grimace and doing up some of the leather straps as best he could, hands bound. Just before the mask goes on, he drops his fake facial expression of confidence to give her one last pleading look mouthing silently to her
"you'll wish you'd accepted, someday when i am free and you're still here"

He puts the mask on and grins beneath it, blue eye glinting out of his left socket. Looking around, he tries to look for viable exits or escape routes as he walks towards the arena

"Okay administrator, let's get this over with"

Pwenet
2008-02-01, 08:38 AM
Incom & Harvey

What the devils? Now our little snack has completely lost her little spine? We don’t have time for this, friend! Those other cultists are going to go get the Malevolent Seven, and when they get here it’ll be sleepy time again!

Frowning slightly at the comment regarding the Malevolent Seven, part of Incom wonders why 'Harvey' would care about them, for they served in some part. Yet by his comment, it seems as if he does not want them to do their jobs, poking Incom along more and more. The thoughts start to cause a nervous twitch to develop, giving the impression that Incom is winking/spasming at the young girl.

Meatbag! Now is the time to focus! You might want to see what you can do about that little brat there.

Looking down at the young girl now wasting precious moisture by crying, Incom sighs and clears his throat.

Okay Harvey. Try not to do any cake lines and we should be okay.

Then don't ask complete strangers, especially little girls to kill you fool! Though it would be interesting to see what she would try to do.

Feeling Harvey fade a bit into his subconscious, Incom sees the tear streaked face of the girl looking back at him, and thinks upon her words.

Maybe . . .maybe she was right?

M-Maybe I . . . I deserve . . . to be here?

”Little one, first of all I need your name. Second of all, stop crying and focus. Who sent you down here, why are you here, and how did you get down here? Do you remember and could you find your way back up to the surface? Finally, if my status here is of any indication of wisdom, nobody deserves to be down here.”

With the final sentence Incom twists one of his arms slightly, showing the burned “1” mark on his arm indicating his status as prisoner prime to the little girl.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-02-01, 02:20 PM
Victor grumbled. His darksight wasn't an edge here, and the girl seemed to be more trouble than anything else. He preferred the dark, but if he had a chance he'd have to produce a torch for the girl. The dark didn't seem to bother the cultists anyways. Making himself some fire with the wooden poles hardly seemed efficient, so for now, he'd have to guide her by the hand, making sure not to cut her with his fingertops.

He followed the hallway, onwards, not back to where they came from. Meanwhile he looked out for fungi, moss or chemicals on the walls. He also tied one of the gauntlets to one end of the rope. Having something heavy to swing around was crude, but it had often proved effective.

Iethloc
2008-02-01, 09:34 PM
Sohssal

Hmmm...all right, it's a deal. Sohssal agreed mentally, looking at the defeated Sage upon the floor. He thought for a few moments, thinking about what his dying torturer could give him. All I want to know right now is the shortest way out of here. Let's finish him off and go... he concluded. Sohssal then grinned to himself mentally. I guess I'll let him leave. If that was the only reason he did this to me, maybe I could let him leave. If only so I can escape without having to vie for control of this...body... he thought out to himself, then shuttered mentally at the thought of staying in a physical body for even that much longer.

rubakhin
2008-02-02, 03:14 AM
"Good lord, Korram, she's just had a panic attack, give her a moment," says Dima, setting her down on the back of the tiger. "Whenever you're ready, miss."

Inspectre
2008-02-02, 04:57 AM
The Spires: Key Storage

Voth

Vowing to make the guards suffer for every drop of your blood that was lost, you look around for something to stop the bleeding, as well as a hiding place. Once the guards broke through your barrier in the outside hallway, it seemed likely that they would at least send one or two guards into this room to check it first.

Fortunately, there were a number of torches set into brackets along the wall at roughly eye level, and one is easily removed by you. Not having a lot of experience in cauterizing your own wounds, and lacking any other tools, you simply hold the lit torch against the wound and hope for the best. The flames lick at your torn flesh, searing the skin around the wound but also cauterizing the wound and stopping further loss of blood.

You are about to begin looking for a hiding spot where you could ambush any lone guards from, but suddenly you have other things on your mind as you hear footsteps ring off the catwalk above. A man in dark grey robes with red lining steps into view from around the giant jewel a moment later, clapping his hands in delight at the sight of you.

“Ah, excellent! Prisoner #16,514! I’ve heard so much about you from my brother and was most disappointed when you got assigned to his restraint project instead. But now here you are, just in time for a demonstration! Tell me, do you like magic?”

Before you can react, the man extends one hand, revealing the golden ring on his ring finger, into which was set a large red jewel similar to the one hanging in the middle of the room. As the jewel on the man’s finger began to glow, so too did the much larger version in the middle of the room. “Well, allow me to show you a magic trick! Abra-Kadabra!” The mage shouts, waving his hand at you and then clenching his fist.

A moment later, one of the thousand facets of the gem glowed brilliantly, and a reddish beam snaked out to envelop you. Instantly, you felt your muscles become rigid, leaving you standing paralyzed in the middle of the floor.

“And now for my next trick!” The mage cackles as he raises his clenched fist into the air. Following his direction, the beam lifts you several feet up into the air, still unable to move.

Adding to this unfortunate series of events, the door to the room suddenly bangs open, and guards pour into the room followed by the mage who had been dogging you ever since your escape. Surprisingly, he was not angry that he was not the one to bring you down. Instead, he grinned widely as he called to the other mage, “Well done brother! I see your method has grown refined enough not to tear this fool’s soul apart!”

“Oh, I can do that to, if I wish!” The new mage replied, twisting his hand slightly. Instantly, the brightness of the beam intensified, and it felt as if your entire body was on fire. You heard Shadow screaming within your mind, and although you wished that you could join him, your paralysis prevented you from even giving voice to this incredible pain. Then, the mage turns his hand back, and the pain disappears as the beam dims.

“But I think permanent incarceration for his soul would be a much better punishment. Let’s let the Judge decide how he should be punished. So without further ado, I think it is time to conclude this little show! Farewell Prisoner #16,514! Give the regards of the Volesin Brothers to the Judge when you see him!”

The mage makes a final elaborate gesture with his hand, and suddenly you are drawn in close to the jewel. Several more facets gleam, shooting out energy beams of their own that wash over you. Again, the incredible pain returns, and from the corner of your eye you watch in horror as your fingers, then your hands, and then your arms start to melt away into dust. Then the pain intensifies further still, and you lose consciousness.

********************

You awaken an indeterminable amount of time later. Your entire body slowly reports in as a series of dull aches throughout your body, but eventually even this fades to nothing. Pushing yourself up, you open your eyes to find yourself in a bizarre landscape. You are in a hallway, stretching out on either side of you for as far as your eye can see. The floors and ceiling are made out of a smooth red glass, although you find that the floor is not so smooth as to make walking on it difficult. The walls are made out of a similar substance, but instead of being flat and smooth, the walls on either side of you are extremely rocky. Rather than being a flat plane, the walls seem to be made out of an endless series of crystalline pillars running floor to ceiling and stacked perfectly next to each other. At the moment, there does not appear to be anything else of particular note in the hallway.

The Arena

Frozen

Sara is too far away to make out what exactly you mouth to her before replacing your mask, although she seems to get the gist of it as she looks away from you. Turning her head, she busies herself with a nearby patient; not looking at you the rest of the time you are in the room.

This amount of time happens to be sort, as no sooner have you replaced your mask, than the administrator steps aside and allows his four bodyguards to prop you out of the room. Three guards walking behind you with crossbows leveled at your back, the fourth leads you out of the room into a short hallway. This hallway appears to have only one other exit: an iron door at the far end. Going through this door, you find yourself back in the prisoner waiting room.

“There’s a match still going on right now. Let’s chain this guy up so he can make some new friends while he waits.” One of the guards grunts, and so your little band moves over to a nearby bench. The lead guard motions for you to sit, and then wraps a length of chain around your manacles and threads one end through a nearby iron ring bolted into the wooden bench. The chain is locked in place by a heavy iron padlock, and then the guards leave, apparently satisfied that you wouldn’t be able to escape. Fools. Of course, there were a number of armed guards patrolling throughout the room, quickly breaking up any altercations between chained prisoners.

“So, friend . . . what is your story?” A voice suddenly whispers from your left, and you turn to find a nearby prisoner addressing you. Deeply tan with an even darker beard and long ragged hair, a look common amongst the prisoners, the man stands out amongst a majority of the other prisoners who have become deathly pale from lack of sunlight. His brown eyes also set him apart from most other prisoners, for they seem to shine with vitality and perhaps even a bit of merriment.

“Of course, it would be rude to demand something from you without giving of myself first.” The prisoner begins with a chuckle, sliding down to be as close to you as the chain holding him to the bench would allow.

“I am known as Rawya, and several years ago I came to these lands from the Western Deserts. I am a poet and traveler by trade, but sadly even those peaceful pursuits were offensive to your Baron. Several months ago while passing through I was seized and brought here. But even in this dark pit of despair there is opportunity, and I have heard a great many interesting stories which I will be sure to record once I am free one day. Would it be possible for me to hear yours? There is certainly little else to do while counting out what may prove to be the final minutes of our lives.”

???????

MrEdwardNigma

Crawling down off the wall, you take Cassandra by the arm, careful not to cut her with your sharp fingertips. You fashion an extremely crude flail by attaching one of your gauntlets onto one end of the rope, and then leave the room behind, hopefully for good. Leading Cassandra on, you follow the hallway, moving away from the entry rooms you had passed through before.

As you moved further on down the hallway, you eyes noticed it gradually beginning to brighten by almost imperceptible increments. Shortly thereafter, a powerful stench assailed your nostrils, a noxious scent that seemed to be equal parts compost and rotting cadavers. You had learned to appreciate the aroma of a slowly decaying corpse, but this was different. There was a foulness about it that made even you gag.

Not really having any choice, both of you press on, and by the time the lighting in the room has become roughly equivalent to a moonless night rather than absolute darkness, you have arrived at the end of the hallway. Here, the hallway feeds into a wide circular room, at the center of which is a large pit.

Peering down into the pit reveals the source of the stench: an uncountable number of body parts in various conditions and states of decay are piled up into a mountain of body parts, the top of which is perhaps ten feet below the edge of the pit. Small patches of bioluminescent fungus are visible here and there on the bodies and walls of the pit, with a particularly bright patch marking the entrance to what appears to be some sort of tunnel leading from the floor of the pit to parts unknown.

“Are those what I think they are?” Cassandra asks, visibly looking ill after several minutes of exposure to the stench wafting up from the mountain of decomposing body parts and feasting fungus.

At equidistant points around the outside of the room are three additional hallways similar to the one you had just left, essentially marking out the four cardinal directions. Of course, you had no idea really this far underground which way exactly was true north, so from your perspective you had exited out into this room from the “south” hallway.

“Company!” Cassandra hissed, a moment before a trio of zombies, each pushing a small cart loaded with severed limbs, appeared from the “west” hallway. Totally ignoring you, the trio of zombies pushes their carts up to the edge of the pit, and dumps the contains onto the top of the body part pile. This task complete, the zombies back up and turn around, heading back the way they came.

WhiteKnight777

You immediately begin to feel strength return to your body after drinking the guard’s body dry. Although a bit soured by death, the guard’s blood was still fresh enough to be useable. Within a minute the hole in your shoulder is gone, although the movements of your right arm are still a bit stiff as your body continues to fill in the hole that had been burned through it.

Pushing yourself back up to your feet, you compliment Mellita, who grins sheepishly at your praise. With her non-crippled hand, she gestures at the corpse of the other guard, still propped up against the wall and held in place by several strands of spider silk. “Please, Lord Umber. Take the other guard’s blood if you require it. My injury is . . . regrettable, but it will not prevent me from continuing to serve as your guide. And there may be additional obstacles ahead that will require your strength.”

Looking down at the corpse of the spider you disposed of, Mellita frowns in concentration. “I am surprised to find these creatures this far down – evidently the territory of their infestation is expanding. I apologize for not warning you about their acid ahead of time, Lord Umber. As I said, I had not anticipated encountering them along our route.”

Actually looking annoyed, Mellita shakes her head in frustration before bending down to fumble with the eaten guard’s corpse, removing his short sword from its scabbard. “I recommend arming ourselves with these guards’ weapons as well, in the event we should encounter more of them further along. Their acidic blood will render more weapons quickly useless, but as you’ve seen it is better than using bare flesh. I believe the other guard had a crossbow with him, and twenty bolts.”

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

You quickly coordinate with Dima, and together you manage to cut the woman down without much difficulty or further injury. Dima rests the woman on the back of his tiger, a bit unconventional of a resting place but certainly much better than the hard stone floor at this point. Arms hanging down limply with her hands still bound behind her and sweating profusely, the woman appears to be in poor shape.

Her somewhat rapid breathing and occasional twitches or outright muscle spasms suggest that Dima is right in saying she is suffering some sort of panic attack, although she shows no sign of improvement for several minutes. But then she throws her head back wildly, managing to flip some of her hair back and out of her face. This act reveals most of the right side of the woman’s face, her nose on over to her left ear still obscured by the thick mane of golden hair.

Now exposed, the woman’s visible dark emerald-colored eye widens in shock, and then narrows in suspicion. She chews anxiously on her lower lip for a moment before starting to speak, her voice faltering at first but gradually gaining strength.

“I . . . I am not sure . . . that I can trust you. I mean, that awful man . . . he has sworn not to mar my body, but there are many tortures to inflict on the mind that leave not a single mark. I dare not hope that this is anything other than a sick game. I can’t afford to trust . . . danger lurks on every side . . . I have to get out of here. I have to!”

The woman shakes her head violently, and then bites down on her lip, hard enough to draw blood. Opening her visible eye again, the woman draws a shuddering breath and looks up at you again, forcing a smile on her face.

“I am sorry. I think I’ve been poisoned. The guards . . . ever since they forced that vile brew down my throat I’ve been overcome with the greatest sense of unease. My heart is positively racing, even as it should be slowing in this moment of calm. My every sense screams at me not to trust you; my sudden inexplicable rescue at your hands suggesting that this is a trick, for who would know to look for me here? And I would not expect most prisoners, if that is what you would claim to be, to act so nobly in this instance. Even if you could overpower two guards such as these, there are many more and escape from this place is impossible. I have heard that only the worst scum throughout the kingdom is sent to this dark place, and so should I not expect two such prisoners to seek to inflict as much carnage as possible before being restrained once more? The fact that you are helping me rather than taking advantage suggests that you both are something more than prisoners.”

The woman shakes her head again, smiling genuinely this time. “I am sorry, I seem to be rambling. Giving voice to my thoughts seems to be the only way I can keep my head clear of the fear. In any case, if you are guards in disguise, then you already know who I am and there is nothing to lose by playing along with your feigned ignorance. If you must know, I am the Countess Amelia Ashargrin. And I believe that my crime, if you could call it that, would be refusing to marry a certain son of the Baron of Gast’s. No doubt the Baron thought to ally our two provinces through marriage, and that I would be easily convinced after my father’s recent death. I refused to be manipulated into marrying that pathetic freak of a man, and thus angered him and his father both greatly. One night I was abducted from my manor, and several days later I found myself here. I was told that I could leave whenever I wanted, provided that I agreed to marry the Baron’s son. But I will not yield to abuse anymore than I yielded to the Baron’s less obtuse methods of coercion. So, now then, is this charade at an end or are you going to continue it by telling me your “names”?”

The Labs

Iethloc

Alright. The assistant responds, and then reaches down to wrap his hands around Gene’s throat. You feel a sense of satisfaction emanate from the assistant’s mind as his clenches his hands, choking the last breaths out of the helpless Sage. Then, Gene breaths his last, and now there are only Three Sages.

How long do you require to prepare yourself for another fight? The assistant asked as “you” purposefully stride towards the iron door on the far side of the room.

From what I remember, there are two more labs between here and the maximum security level of cells. Alternatively, we could head deeper into the labs, but I do not know what lies deeper in, only what is in the two labs that I have to cross through when being brought from my cell. If it will help you in making a decision, I can tell you that the first lab we’ll have to cross through belongs to Dr. Zarov. Interested in discovering the primal link between mankind and demons, the doctor regularly has prisoners delivered to his laboratory. Once there, he injects them with mixtures of blood taken from several different species of demons. Sometimes the results are instantly fatal, although apparently he has recently discovered one mixture that turns humans into mad, slavering killers with greatly increased strength and speed. Assuming we can’t bluff our way past him, which is doubtful since most of the surviving guards likely escaped through there, it seems likely we’ll have him, a couple test subjects, and the demons that he extracts the blood from to deal with.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

Sniffling the girl wipes the tears from her eyes, frowning as she focuses on your questions. “Umm . . . I don’t think I have a name. Unless you count “Girl” or “Slave” or “Harlot”. And it was the cultists who brought me here, after my mother handed me over to them. She was so happy that day . . . one of the only times she ever smiled at me . . . I should have known, but . . . it was the only time I had ever managed to please her. I was so happy, so hopeful that maybe my luck was about to change, I didn’t question. Just went right along with it, went with the “nice men”, let them tie me up and throw me into a sack, didn’t complain a peep even though the ropes were too tight. I just thought it was some sort of goofy game mommy was playing, and that patience would lead to understanding. I convinced myself that this was some sort of final test I had to endure, and at the end they’d open up the sack and my mother would be standing there, and she’d finally welcome me into the family for real; give me a name that wasn’t an insult, give me all those things my siblings all had but I never got, love me. What a fool I was!”

For a moment, the girl appears to be on the verge of a breakdown again, reaching up to grab and tug at a handful of golden hair. But then she continues.

“It took me two days for the lie to finally ring hollow enough for me to stop believing it. I overheard voices talking as we traveled somewhere by cart: not enough to figure out what they were planning, but enough to know that they were going to kill me. My mother had finally made good on the promise she used to shriek at me when she was in a particularly black mood. Then I came here, and oh gods, what I saw. The cultists rushed me through the upper levels, so I don’t have too clear of a memory of those. They didn’t even register me with the guards, saying that I wouldn’t be here long enough to matter.”

Some of the color draining away from her face, the girl covers her mouth with one hand as she relates the next part of her story. “When I first came down here, there was another girl about my age, Samantha. The two of us were locked in these little iron cages, so we didn’t have much to do but talk. The cultists were busy making preparations, so except for the guy bringing us food and water we were pretty much left alone. I know this is going to sound foolish, but those couple days, just sitting around talking with Samantha, making plans on how we were going to escape and go on to start our own merchant house . . . those were probably the best days of my life. So quiet . . . peaceful, even.

But then the day for the first sacrifice came, and they took Samantha away first, because she was a year older and a brunette, so they wanted to save me for last. She tried to fight them, but they knocked her unconscious and dragged her away. Then the chanting started, and I heard Samantha start screaming shortly after. And she kept screaming for . . . two, maybe three hours? Then suddenly it stopped, it just all stopped, the screaming and the chanting both and I knew she was dead. Samantha was dead, the only person who ever talked to me like a person . . . my only friend. And then a day later it was my turn, and well we’ve both seen how that turned out.”

The girl sighs, and then looks up at you, eyes finally starting to dry out. “Thank you for listening. You didn’t have to, but you did and I appreciate it.”

Again, the girl tugs on a handful of her golden hair. “Umm . . . I’m not sure what happens next. I wasn’t really expecting to live this long, even in a general sense. I guess now we escape, and I start up that merchant guild? For Samantha.”

Dorizzit
2008-02-02, 08:09 AM
Korram nods. "I am sorry. I did not mean to pressure you. Let me see if I can answer some of your questions. My name is Korram Alstan, and this is my..." Korram pauses, unsure how to define the nature of his relationship with Dima. "This is Dima. We broke free at around the same time, and we are currently attempting to Escape From Ironheart (:elan:). We weren't specifically looking for you, rather we stumbled upon the connecting chamber and decided to investigate, as neither of us are bad people, despite our current surroundings. I was a revolutionary against the Baron. Dima was a thief. As for your belief about us being guards...we just killed two elite guards. And we both have abilities which can only be described as...unusual." He motions with his fire arm. "Do you require any further proof of our identities?"

Frozen
2008-02-02, 10:17 AM
"you know what i hate most about this place? It's the smell. I have been choking here for 10 years, and i would do ANYTHING for a breath of fresh air. MY name is....is...well, they call me the iron shifter. Iron because of what i am bound in, and shifter....well, i guess you'll find out. I was a scapegoat for someone else's crime, an experiment for someone elses' magic, and now i am nothing short of a monster. You seem like a nice man, rawya.....I hope i am not asked to kill you. Tell me, please, what is it that you fight with? and how many fights have you been in? and lastly, are you any good at picking locks?"

<Incidentally, pretend that it hurts when i headbutt you>"

Lamont says and whispers all this,while hardening a few tendrils of his long hair, he butts his head forward towards the prisoner with a loud grunt, the trying to make a clean snap in the chains between the mans wrists. another tendril making a small nick on the mans face, not enough to do any damage but to draw some blood to disguise the lack of bruising.

He leans back, saying loudly "I told you not to touch me!"
Leaning ever so slightly closer, he whispers quietly <Sorry about that, but i hope this'll help you in the fight. It's difficult enough without being bound. Keep your wrists together>

Lamont smiles softly under his mask, the blue eye glinting sharply at the stranger, lighting up a fraction of the face within

rubakhin
2008-02-02, 07:45 PM
"Not just a thief," said Dima. "But a thief-in-law. I follow the Code." He clapped a hand to his shoulder, to the tattoo of the tiger along his arm. "No ordinary thief would have a tattoo like this. And anyway, you are also in this prison. We have no reason to trust you, either. You could be some kind of ... " He searches for the right word. "Enchantress."

He clarifies, "Whether you're a dangerous criminal or not, all I know is that it's not right to torture people like they were torturing you."

WhiteKnight777
2008-02-02, 10:24 PM
Umber

Umber nods, already moving around, briskly stripping the corpses of all the useful materials. He looks Milletia up and down for a moment, then nods, bending to sip at the second guard's neck for a moment. However, he soon stands, licking his lips and holding the man's throat-wound closed No, you should drink as well, My dear. We'll both need our strength, and I do not wish to spend your life so carelessly by taking you into danger in a weakened state. Drink of this mortal and repair yourself 'ere we move on. He smiles at her again, nodding her forward. As she drinks, he speaks again.

When you are ready, we can move on again. Do not worry, by the way. You cannot predict everything... and this is still much better than my previous condition, so I have no real cause for complaint.

Iethloc
2008-02-02, 10:31 PM
Sohssal

I just need a few minutes to recharge... Sohssal commented as he drew upon what energy Gene had released in both life and death. He stayed silent for a few moments as he concentrated solely on that, but eventually "spoke" again. Primal link between humans and demons? Sohssal said, and couldn't help but chuckle at the thought. I know quite a bit about that stuff... he thought to himself. Silent again, he stared at the iron door in front of him, thinking over what information the assistant had given him.Sounds great! Maybe I will have met some of these demons. Let's get going, then... he said, surprisingly enthusiastic.

Pwenet
2008-02-03, 07:40 PM
Incom & Harvey

Listening to the story of the girl, of the fabled simple yet happy life, part of Incom remembers who own initial desires to just have a simple life on the farm. Memories and feelings long since buried under years of torture start to swell up, and Incom's features shift as he relaxes, and the power of Harvey slips away from him slowly.

What is this? Is her little sob story touching you? Reminding you of things? You can NEVER have the simple life again, with me here next to you, waiting for my era of glory.

Twitching his head slightly, Incom kneels down in front of the girl and looks into her eyes.

”You desire a simple life. That is something forever denied to me. Yet this place is evil, run by evil, corrupted. Evil has soaked into the cracks, into the mortar, into the very foundations of this place. I will not rest until some of it has been excised from this realm. I have also promised you escape, so that you may enjoy a simple life. Promise me that you will lead a happy life if we are able to escape.”

Standing up and cracking his back, Incom looks around and rolls his eyes slightly into his skull.

Awe, you want her to be happy. To let her have a nice simple life forever denied to you. And she is useless! She knows nothing to let you escape! Kill her now like those other fools and move on. The more you rampage the more fun I have.

No.

No?

She is coming along for the ride, for the signing and screaming. Think of the education. Plus I sense that her part in the fates of life is not yet done.

Hmph. That cursed spine of yours. Don't blame me if she dies screaming in agony later on.

Blinking rapidly, Incom gestures to her.

”We are leaving, now. Stay behind me, and be warned, you will see things that will scare you, haunt you, and possibly shatter your mind. Yet that is the cost of escape, ready to dance?”

Not waiting for an answer from her, Incom turns and makes his way towards the exit where the cultists escaped from, not waiting for the Seven to find him, or at least, unawares.

Inspectre
2008-02-04, 08:14 PM
Elsewhere . . .

From the soaring heights of his office, the Warden looked down upon his domain. Located at the very top of the Central Tower, the Warden’s office was an impressive sight worthy of a man who had reached the pinnacle of Ironheart. Carpeted in red velvet to lessen sound, a series of iron steps lead up from the secure floor below, stopping about halfway between the wall and the center of the room.

From the top of the steps, the red carpet continued across the room, stopping just in front of the Warden’s large and exquisite wooden desk. Made from a specific species of ironwood, the unyielding black wood was utterly appropriate for a desk used by the master of Ironheart. A large red upholstered chair with black iron legs served as the Warden’s desk chair, although a joint between the chair’s legs and seat allowed the Warden to twist the chair about as he wished without having to move the legs as well. Quite a useful invention, that, as it allowed him to frequently turn away from his desk to stare out the window behind the desk.

The window in question was a floor to ceiling, wall to wall hole in the wall behind the Warden’s desk, resulting in an entrant to his office seeing only his black desk at first, standing out starkly against the image of the sky and horizon behind him. Of course, such a massive window could have been a liability, but a high iron rail running across at waist height preventing the Warden from ever accidentally sliding his chair back over the side and out the window. Additionally, some sort of magical energy field invisibly covered the window unless the Warden specifically deactivated it. This proved quite useful in keeping the Warden warm when he had no need of using the window to throw a prisoner out of his prison, watching in glee as he or she fell screaming to inevitable death hundreds of feet below.

After turning away from the desk, however, an entrant would notice the other furniture set up at either end of the room, allowing the Warden to live in total comfort up here in his own Office. On the left side was an ornate wooden table with several comfortable chairs, allowing him to entertain and sup with guests as necessity required. Concealed leather straps built into one of the chairs also ensured that the Warden could host dinner for prisoners sent up to visit him as well, although they seldom lived long enough to talk advantage of his hospitality.

Beyond the dinner table and arrayed against the left wall were a number of the more elaborate torture devices that the Warden had found most amusing over the years. Once, when hosting dinner for his Lord and Lady, he had ordered a prisoner placed in each of the machines, with attendants standing by to periodically operate the machinery throughout the dinner. The prisoners’ screams had been the perfect music for the dinner, and by the end of it several of them were even still alive and conscious enough to serve as good examples for the Warden to demonstrate the joy of flinging them out the window.

On the other side of the room were the Warden’s personal quarters. Cordoned off from the rest of the room by thick curtains, this private space included several wardrobes and chests for his personal belongings, a small table for private dinners, and a large four-posted bed. Like the special guest dinner chair, the Warden’s bed was also equipped with restraints for those prisoners pretty enough and with enough spit to survive long enough to justify staying the night. Sadly, no one had ever lasted long enough to see the dawn of the next morning, which really was quite a pity as the sight of the sun rising up through the Warden’s office window was quite spectacular.

Unfortunately, such petty amusements had recently become beneath the Warden, and now he lived only to serve. Still, the Warden was just a man, and so had looked upon this day with a great sense of anticipation. Now the day he had worked so hard for was finally here, and he had to admit feeling rather disappointed as his small role within it all. Perhaps later he would go down and assist with the preparations personally: the guards could always use a fresh set of hands moving the prisoners out of their cells.

Hearing the soft tread of footsteps on the velvet carpet, the Warden twisted his chair away from the window and back to his desk, just in time to see an elite guard reach the top of the stairway. Approaching the desk, the elite sharply saluted his commander, before dropping down on one knee before the desk.

“Sir, the Prophets report that the Ritual will begin in earnest shortly. Until then, however, they will require an additional number of prisoners to hold in reserve for the Ritual’s start. A greater than expected number of sacrifices have been required to maintain the energies needed to even begin the Ritual. The Hierarch also reports that he will visit with you shortly before the Ritual begins.”

Smiling, the Warden nodded. “Excellent. Inform the Hierarch that I look forward to his visitation, and that he may draw whatever resources are necessary to ensure the Ritual’s success. Is there anything else to report at this time?”

Frowning the elite momentarily looked up, and then returned his stare to the floor. “No sir. We’ve gotten several reports of prisoners attempting to escape, but so far none of the vermin have become enough of a threat to justify your personal concern.”

“Ah yes. Well, after today, I suspect that we shall not have to worry about containing the vermin any longer. Inform me immediately if the situation changes: nothing can endanger the Ritual. You may good.”

Saluting, the Warden dismissed the elite, and then turned back to the window to look down on his domain. Oh yes, it would not be long now until everything changed around here.

The Arena

Frozen

Rawya listens carefully to your story, nodding at points but otherwise not interrupting. When you are finished he smiles, flashing his bright teeth at you. “Thank you, friend. A most interesting tale. I would most certainly like to hear the exact details of your life, those that you remember and are willing to share, some other time. A good poem contains many details, if not the exact truth. As for your questions, I fight with the weapons of my homeland: the scimitar and the dagger. These dogs refuse to allow me the use of a bow as well, no doubt out of fear that I would foolishly expend any remaining arrows against the crowd. I would certainly much rather use those arrows against those that make me fight rather than those that watch me fight, but I suppose such a thing is even worse in their eyes. No matter, one day I shall be free to do whatever I wish once again. But what was that about pretending?”

A moment later you thrust your head forward, one thick tendril of hair slamming into the chain between the man’s wrists while another lightly cuts into his face. Leaning down, Rawya wipes as his face with his right hand, smearing the few drops of blood across his cheek. He then begins flailing his legs, trying to kick at you. “Beast! Get back!”

Within moments a guard has arrived, face twisted into an angry sneer. “Alright, you two, break it up or I’ll break you both!” The guard gives you both a solid thump on the back with his club and waiting to see if you would both settle both. When satisfied neither of you were going to continue causing trouble, he saunters off again, failing to notice the cracked link of chain now holding Rawya’s manacles together.

“An interesting ploy, my friend. I am afraid I do not have any experience picking locks, as I am not a thief and respect others’ property if they respect mine. Nonetheless, all of these guards wandering about have keys to unlock the chains holding us to the benches, and there’s bound to be a guard with chains to our individual chains, as they generally let us fight free within the Arena. As for my own experience within the Arena, I have only been involved in two fights so far. The first was as part of a group match against several guards. We lost that battle, and I was the only survivor: the guards chose one prisoner to live for a grudge match later, and I was the “lucky one”. Even so, I spent a number of days clinging to life in Healer Sara’s care. My second fight was a grudge match against one of the guards as intended. Fueled by rage, I slew the ignoble cur. Now I sit here, awaiting my third and possibly final match, for I have heard that I will face beasts next. And the guards do not like their pets to lose.”

From beyond the stone walls, you can suddenly hear a dull roar: a multitude of voices screaming in triumph and excitement. “It would seem that the current match has been concluded in some sort of spectacular and gruesome fashion. I suspect that my time grows near indeed. So, what of your experiences in the Arena? I do not recall seeing you before today.”

???????

WhiteKnight777

You take the guard’s crossbow and quarrel of bolts, but unfortunately find little else of immediate use on the corpse. Up close, you can see a large hole in the man’s chest and the chainmail worn over it: no doubt the fatal wound inflicted by the spider and its acid. Thus, both suits are useless having similar flaws, but at least the weapons are still in good condition.

Tasting the guard’s blood, you find that your previous limp has faded completely, and most of the tightness in your shoulder as well. Mellita watches hungrily, and thanks you with a smile when you offer the remains to her. She drinks hungrily, and moments later you watch as her fingers regrow their flesh and straighten. Holding them in front of her face and wiggling them, Mellita rewards you with another smile before starting off down the tunnel again.

“My thanks, Lord Umber. I hope that we will not encounter any more unexpected surprises in our journey. One such mistake is shameful enough for me.” A note of anger creeping into her voice, Mellita smiles sadly and presses on down the tunnel, leading you further into darkness.

You perhaps travel for another five minutes in relative silence before a piercing scream echoes up the tunnel. “What does the sun reveal now!?” Mellita snarls, her words the newest incarnation of an ancient vampire curse. She brandishes her short sword, and then turns back to you. “This is another something of which I was unaware, I regret. It sounds like it is only a short distance further along: there is a small cavern up ahead that could be the source of this newest distraction. I do not believe that there is another way past the cavern, so we will have to past through whatever is now there.”

Turning back to the tunnel, Mellita presses herself up against one side of the tunnel wall and then begins to cautiously advance once more. Up ahead, another agonized scream echoes off the walls.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

A smile briefly plays across Countess Amelia’s lips, although it fades quickly as she exhales heavily and draws another shuddering breath in. “My panic is telling me that you killed two men dressed as elite guardsmen. And the Warden and his master the Baron most certainly employ individuals with . . . unique talents such as yourselves. I do not know if there is anything you can say or do that will put my mind at ease right now.”

The countess then gives a short bark of a laugh, although immediately after grimaces as the movement travels through her dislocated arms. “Nor, do I expect, is there anything that I can do to convince you that I am a Countess and not an . . . Enchantress. If we somehow accomplish the impossible and are able to return to my home, then I assure you that I could provide a great deal of evidence as to my heritage.”

The Countess closes her visible eye for a moment and shudders violently as the drug continues to run its course. After the tremors pass, the Countess opens her eye again with a sigh and continues. “Now then, is it your intention to express your own distrust of me by keeping me prisoner? Otherwise I should very much like my hands to be untied and something to be done about my injured shoulders. Neither is helping me suppress the growing urge to run wildly about the room, screaming madly.”

The Labs

Iethloc

Very well. Have you considered how we’re going to circumvent the security present beyond the Labs? I understand that there are a number of powerful wards and magical sensors in place, with large teams of elite guards standing by to move in at a moment’s notice should an unauthorized visitor appear.

A few minutes later, you feel revitalized after bathing in the rapidly fading magical energy left in the air by Gene’s death. With the magic having finally faded to the point of uselessness, but with you feeling stronger all the same, it was time to move on. “You” walk over to the nearby heavy admantite door, covered in runes similar to those that adorn the door to your mirrored cell. Reaching out, you grasp the door only to feel a strong electrical jolt course through your body, sending you staggering back away from the door.

Hmmm . . . should have known that the exorcism runes would interfere in you leaving this lab, even voluntarily. I don’t think the runes remain active once the door is open, however, otherwise we’d never be able to remove you from your cell. So, if we can force the door open or get someone else to open it, we should be fine. I doubt the guards had the presence of mind to lock the door after closing it, so that’s a plus at least.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

The girl looks up at you with wide eyes, but nods a moment later. “Yes, I – I will try to live a happy life. I am ready to try escaping now.” She pushes herself up to her feet a moment later, shivering. “I’m cold. I don’t think they made this thing for warmth.” She says, gesturing down at her torn and somewhat revealing white dress. Walking over to the cultist leader, the girl undoes the belt holding his robes closed and starts working him out of it.

“Eeeww! He’s naked underneath! Pah, what an ugly smell! Don’t think about it, don’t think about it . . . “ Continuing to mutter this latest mantra under her breath, the girl stares up at the ceiling while she finishes working the dead cultist’s body out of the robe before draping it over her shoulders. Made for a tall mature man, the robe completely covers the girl from head to toe, while several inches draping down onto the floor. Clutching the robe closed at the neck with one slender hand with the other tucked away in the robe, the cowled form of the girl nods. “Okay! Ready to go! Hey, wait up!”

The girl hurries to catch up with you while you stride boldly to the door leading out of this room. In their haste to flee, the cultists had left the door wide open, and you can see a long tunnel leading off into darkness. No one is currently in sight, although you know that just means an ambush could be set up just out of sight up ahead. In any case, this door was the only way out of the room, and would take you further away from the dragon cultists and (hopefully) the Malevolent Seven.

“Oh, it’s dark! One second, I can fix that!” The girl exclaims, running off to momentarily return with an unlit torch. “You can create fire, right? Well, here you go! Just a little fire and we’ll be able to see!” The girl explains helpfully, handing the unlit torch to you.

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-02-04, 11:28 PM
Desot

Desot turned quickly and threw up his left arm. The thick acid covered it, the flesh beginning to hiss and boil strongly. He screamed and lunged the spear forward into one of the creature's bulbous eyes.

The spider, hardly phazed, lunged again as Desot fell back, the spear pulling free. As its thick jaws lay only inches away from his face, the saliva melted away at the wooden handle. He struggled to hold back to thing, until the handle was down to its last splinter. With a snap of breaking wood Desot screamed again and pushed the spider up and off of him, sliding the broken tip deep into the spider's underside.

He stood up clutching his battered arm as the creature squirmed and bled out nearby. He walked over to it and spat out. "Damn spiders..." His foot pressed down on the creature's carapace, shoving it to the ground and thus the blade further in.
:smallsmile: Spiders 1, Desot 2! OH YEAH!
Anyway I want his arm to be mostly physically hurt, but not really that permanently. He probably won't be using it much though...

Frozen
2008-02-05, 12:39 AM
"that's because today is my first day. My first day in a to have ever really fought someone or something, and the first day i have been let free to walk around in years. They pitted me earlier against a wingless chimera, a nasty thing with many heads and even more attitude."
His eyes water and he looks sadly at rawya
"I am ashamed to say that i did kill the beast. I am not one or being bloodthirsty, but i will do anything to get out of here. Speaking of which..." He leans closer <if you want to escape, i think in this room would be the place to do it. Whether before our fight, after it, or at the start of the next one, i think we should break free. All these men must be seasoned fighters to have lived this far, no? in the arena we are defenseless and open, but if we can catch them by surprise....>
Lamont grins beneath his mask, and cracks his knuckles, flicking his head back to get the hair off of his face.

Voth
2008-02-05, 01:50 AM
Well this is a fine kettle of fish you have got us into!

Me? I didn't do anything!

Well I'm just a voice in your head so how is it my fault?

Just shut up. Where are we anyway?

Oh yes because I know all! I can tell you exactly where we are. We. Are. In. Trouble.

It was a rhetorical question you sod.

Details Details.

Shaking his head in frustration, Voth gets to his feet, rather painfully, and begins to limp down the hallway looking for a way to escape this new found prison.

Dorizzit
2008-02-05, 06:22 AM
Korram exits the room for a few seconds to retrieve his suppressor, re-tying it as he enters the room. "I can't do much about your hands without hurting you, but I can reset your shoulders...it will just be somewhat painful. Acceptable?" If the Countess accepts, Korram sets her shoulders, and although indeed painful he does it quite well. If the Countess declines, Korram quirks and eyebrow but shrugs and says nothing.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-02-05, 12:34 PM
Perfect!

Victor ignored the zombies as they ignored him and started harvesting ingredients off the bodies and the fungus. He does this by fishing stuff out with the rope, not by descending into the pit.

After harvesting the ingredients, Victor will go the way the zombies went, trying to make some very simple explosives with a small blast radius along the way.

Pwenet
2008-02-05, 06:42 PM
Watching the little girl gather the robes from the corpse of the cultist leader, a stray thought flickers through Incoms mind.

She is right, it is rather chilly in here.

You mortals and you need to maintain temperatures. If I was in my full form....

Yeah yeah yeah, if I gave in, we would be much happier. Wait, is there not another reason to wear clothing?

Why are you asking me? I'm a dragon! We don't wear clothing.

I think it has something to do with.... protection maybe?

Why would you need it with me here?

Wait, modesty! THAT'S IT! MODESTY!

Realizing that he is pretty much clad in a loincloth that is barely holding together (being tortured repeatably and having a dragon fused with you rendering you immune to getting sick means that a clothing budget does not have much money in it), Incom looks around and sees the cultist that he impaled with a knife through the throat. Realizing that the dead body has a fully intact robe, Incom strips him of it and puts it on. Luckily enough it fits comfortably as if it was fitting for him.

By this point the girl has returned bearing an unlit torch, and talking about fire and generating it. Snapping his fingers, nothing happens.

What is this?

You are getting too calm. Ask me nicely, maybe with a touch of anger on the side.

What? You enjoy stumbling around in the dark being hacked to pieces. Obviously your little minions are not the only ones down here.

I know that foolish mortal, yet I demand some respect! I have kept you alive, I even allowed you to end that fight after you decided to start fighting again without too much arguing. Now, ask me nicely!

”Ask you nicely! You are a parasite! I overgrown lizard parasite that crawls around whispering fables of lies and blood that wants to usher in a age of fire!”

Blinking Incom realizing that he has started yelling out loud. He clears his throat and looks around a bit, almost crazy like.

Fine. May I have some power pretty please with sugar and hate on top?

Moving on it's own, Incom hand snaps its fingers, and flames emerge on the unlit torch, setting it on fire and illuminating the passageway.

WhiteKnight777
2008-02-06, 05:03 AM
Umber

Umber just smiles and gives a little shrug. He had expected, as it were, the unexpected. Life, it had always seemed to him, played by certain rules, despite its apparent disorder - one of the foremost of which was that nothing that sounded simple ever was, and anything that sounded complicated was probably moreso than one expected. He remained silent, his feat moving across the stone with utmost care. He had been many things in his time... and he had learned the arts of stealth long ago amongst the city of Zhjar, to the far south. Several millenia ago, the assassins of that same city had been famed throughout the world for their skill and merciless dedication. Once gold and blood had been paid, they would not stop until their quarry was dead. That had been the primary attraction for him - their dedication, their skill. Whenever he sought to learn a new trade, he never saw the point in messing about with ameteurs. The fact that for every death they demanded like payment was a plus. They had always used the victims for sacrifice to Death, whom they considered their only master. Yes, that aspect had always pleased Umber as well. He enjoyed irony, after all and, of course, the sacrifices provided a convenient method of feeding. Now, sadly, all that remained of the Zhjarites were a few old legends, the tales of historians, and a peculiar kind of mask affected by some assassins which had its ultimate origins in long-shattered Zhjar. And, of course, Umber's memory.

And so he moved through the darkness on catlike feet, padding silently behind his captive-guide, a predatory grin on his handsome features. His lips had tasted sanguine, and he felt in his unbeating heart that it was just a taste of the red glory that was to come.

ubersquid
2008-02-06, 08:58 AM
"Watch out!"

Elkwin tries to warn Dwiggs of the arising new threat, but it is too late already, as some of the new Zombies suddenly jump onto the dwarf and bury him beneath them.

Holding the shovel like a spear, Elkwin tries to keep his distance from the undead, by basically thrusting it at everything that moves, not killing any of them, but at least keeping their deadly jaws away from himself for the moment.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees another figure close by, and he brings the shovel around for another blow. Luckily, Elkwin is not completely overwhelmed by his agony yet, and he stops the shovel right before the pair of eyes that look at him in panic and Elkwin recognices them belonging to the Prisoner who was walking right behind him and Dwiggs before. The man who is apparently still alive then continues to frantically hammer the slave chain with is pick, shivering and whimpering in fear of death.

"Comeon lad! You can do it! I can't hold them back much longer!"

Elkwin continued too keep the Zombies away from him and the other survivor, but his efforts where futile, as everytime he turned around to shove away one of them, the Zombie on the other side came even closer. Then, with a distinct noise, the other prisoner finally managed to hit the chain at the right spot, breaking one of the links and setting him free.

"Finally! We need to run! NOW!"

Looking up the hallway that lead back to the mines, there was a huge pile of Zombies, old and new, approaching now, while the other direction only had four or five of them.

"We can't go up there anymore... need to find our way through the crypts, can't be much worse than now, eh?"

They booth run, or hobble moreover, as fast as they can, Pushing away the few Zombies in front of them and leaving their makeshift weapons behind in the process. Elkwin ignores their attacks for now, only evading the jaws of the zombies.

Both still carry manacles and fetters around their wrists and ankles and the second prisoner drags a few feet of slave chain behind him, but they somehow manage to put some distance between them and the Zombies as they stumble into the dark, towards the crypt.

Inspectre
2008-02-07, 08:11 PM
The Mines

gnome_4ever/Engineer

(Been awhile since Engineer has posted: 5 DMs now by my count. Has something happened?)

Desot manages to kill his spider with the remains of his shovel before stopping to examine his injuries. Although perhaps only a small portion of the spider’s acid stream had actually made contact with his arm, the damage is still rather severe. Capable of eating through solid rock, the acid had little trouble eating through the man’s flesh as well. The entire arm is now covered in painful blistering flesh, and in several locations the skin is gone completely, exposing the reds and whites of muscle and bone. Nauseated, Desot looks away from the source of his discomfort to see how his companion is doing.

Surprisingly, the little man is doing quite well. As Desot watches, the two spiders suddenly turn and face off against each other. This is followed by one leaping in, stabbing its fangs deeply into the head of its companion and tearing it apart in a spray of acid and blood. As the false illusion of enemy falls from its mind, the surviving spider looks upon what has happened and hisses angrily.

As Desot observed before, this may not necessarily be an expression of emotion so much as preparation for attack. A moment later a stream of acid spews forth from the creature’s mouth, and it shakes its head, directing the spray in all directions. Although caught unaware by the attack, Amraf is nimble enough to dodge back out of the away enough to avoid the worst of the attack. Nonetheless, his right foot is still caught by the acid spray, and he screams as he collapses onto the floor. While Amraf seeks to cradle and comfort his wounded foot, his attention on his illusions lapses. This allows the spider to locate him once more.

“Desot! Help!” He cries as the spider begins to eagerly skitter towards him, bony fangs scraping loudly together.

The Catacombs

ubersquid

(Eeerrr yeah. No weapons and no light down here = death. Fortunately you still have a buddy. :smallbiggrin: )

You manage to keep the zombies at bay for the moment, watching first in horror as Dwiggs is buried under zombies, and then shouting at the other prisoner to hurry. With the strength born of desperation the man finally manages to land an unwieldy blow that somehow hits the chain just right anyway, breaking a link. The man quickly twists the chain apart, and then moves to join you.

As you rush past the zombies, running deeper in to the Catacombs, the man briefly stops where one of the guards fell. “Gotta get some light!” He shouts at you as you look back quizzically, before scooping up one of the fallen guards’ lanterns. Although most of the oil had sloshed out when the guard had fallen, its wick had somehow not yet gone out. You were most grateful of this fact as the prisoner raced to join you, dim lantern in one hand; mining pick in the other.

Hobbling along, both of you somehow manage to escape the zombie ambush as new and old alike turn to prevent the remainder of the prisoners from fleeing. Their screams of fear and agony chase after you, still able to reach you even as you flee out of sight, but not hearing, of the ambush point. At last, the screams end, and then there is nothing but oppressive silence as you both continue to hobble along, trying your best not to trip and fall as you move away as quickly as possible.

Shortly after leaving the ambush point, the smooth tunnel walls give way to worked stone, meaningless runes etched into every block. “Woah . . . we must really be in the Catacombs after all!” The man at your side whispers, looking around fearfully.

You have not advanced far down this new hallway before the prisoner at your side stops, dropping down to one knee. “Whew . . . I . . . gotta . . . take . . . breather!” Your fellow prisoner grunts, breathing heavily and evidently allowing himself to stop now that the immediate danger seems to have passed.

“Name’s . . . Marv. Yours?”

The Arena

Frozen

Rawya listens to your suggestion carefully, and nods. “I agree with your assessment, friend. The guards here have most, if not all, of the keys to everyone’s chains. This is our best, if not only, chance to rebel against our keepers. But it would seem we shall have to wait awhile longer – the guards come.”

Looking in the direction that Rawya is pointing, you see a large group of twelve guards appear at the far end of the aisle. They all immediately make a beeline for you and Rawya. “Showtime, freak.” The leader says, unlocking the padlock chaining you to the bench. Grabbing you by one arm and hauling you roughly up to your feet, he shoves you to two of the other guards before turning to Rawya. “You too, foreigner scum.”

“I am to fight him?” Rawya asks incredulously, shooting you a glance.

“Not as such, although I’m sure you’ll wish he was! Now on your feet!” The guard unlocks the chain holding Rawya to the bench, and then hauls him to his feet in much the same manner as he had done with you. As he is dragged up and tossed around, Rawya is careful to keep his hands together, hiding the cracked link of chain from sight.

You, Rawya, and the guards then set off for the door leading out into the Arena, although several times along the way the guards stop to free four more prisoners. The guards then lead you out in the Arena, the crowd starting to cheer immediately upon seeing you.

The guards lead the six of you over to a rack of weapons, all of which appeared to have been dulled or weakened in some way. There, they remove the rest of your restraints, including your mask and cold iron manacles. “Alright scum, grab a weapon and be quick about it. Then get over there by the edge.” The leader of the guards grunts, gesturing to a point around the rim of the Pit just above the iron portcullis leading to the monster pens. The same portal that the Chimera had emerged from, and what appeared to be the only way out of the Pit save for one of the guards lowering a rope ladder.

Looking down into the Pit now, you also see that some sort of wooden structure has been hastily constructed in the middle. A rough tower made out of wooden planks and beams, the tower goes up about ten feet before ending in a flat circular top about five feet wide. Winding up along the side of this tower is a set of wooden stairs, which is presumably the only way from the Pit floor up to the top of the tower without climbing up the side.

As he mentioned before, Rawya equips himself with a scimitar and dagger from the rack before walking over to the point indicated by the guards. The other four prisoners are a bit less certain about their weapon choices, two opting for simple longswords while the other two continue to silently weigh the advantages of each weapon. Or perhaps they both simply wanted to take as long as possible out of fear that Death would be upon them shortly after jumping into the Pit. Whatever the reason, one of the guards quickly sighed, stepping forward to crack both of them in the small of the back with his club. “Hurry it up maggots! Whatever you pick, it’s not gonna save ya! So let’s just get on with it already! You too!” The guard grunts, gesturing at you with his club, but not approaching to swat you in the same manner he had just done to the other two. Coward.

???????

Voth

You limp down the corridor, not particularly caring where it led you so long as it was out of here. You did not have to walk far before the corridor changed, although not in a manner that you particularly liked.

Within the pillars of crystal making up the walls, you begin to notice dark shapes. Stepping in close to one such crystal, you peer carefully inside and notice with horrified surprise that the dark shape is actually a person. The man that hangs inside the crystal appears to be unconscious: eyes closed, head lowered, limbs hanging loosely. He could also be dead, but small eye twitches suggest that he is instead asleep. The man’s dream must not be a particularly pleasant one, as his face is frozen in a mask of stark terror.

Moving on hurriedly after your discovery, you notice more and more of the people-holding crystals, although a great many more of the crystalline pillars remain clear. Suddenly, through the reddish-gloom you notice two dark shapes ahead: one the build of an average man, hanging in mid-air; the other a giant that holds the first up easily with one arm.

I PRONOUNCE YOU GUILTY OF YOUR SINS.

A loud voice suddenly booms out, reaching you clearly even from your position many yards away.

“W-Wait! I-I’ll pay you whatever you want, if you’ll j-just let me go! I’m rich! I have l-lots of m-money stashed away in hidden places!” A panicked voice cries out, barely louder than a whisper by the time it reaches your ears.

SENTENCE WILL NOW BE CARRIED OUT. IMPRISONMENT FOR ALL ETERNITY.

The giant pulls its arm holding the man back, and then slams it into the wall. Surprisingly, instead of either the wall or the giant’s arm being reduced to paste, the wall gives way and engulfs the giant’s arm, similar to water. A moment later, the giant retracts his arm, sans prisoner.

SENTENCING COMPLETE. WRITHE IN ETERNAL TORMENT.

The giant turns away from you and walks out of sight into the reddish haze that marks the limit of your vision in this place. A moment later, however, you hear a voice boom out from behind you.

PRISONER #16,514! THE TIME OF YOUR JUDGEMENT IS AT HAND! YOU STAND ACCUSED OF CONSORTING WITH DEMONS, MURDER, MASS-MURDER, RESISTING ARREST, AND ATTEMPTING ESCAPE. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO PRESENT TO REFUTE THESE CHARGES BEFORE SENTENCING IS CARRIED OUT?

Shooting a quick glance over your shoulder, you see a gigantic man looming over you. Easily three times your height and twice your width, the man’s tree trunk sized limbs bulge with muscles. Glowing veins of red energy flow across his skin from head to toe, and his eyes are nothing more than small gouts of reddish flame that burn inside his eye sockets. And the frown etched into his granite face suggests that unless you have some very convincing evidence, you are going to be found guilty on all counts.

MrEdwardNigma

Going over to the edge of the pit, you begin attempting to fish components out of the messy pile using the rope. This is surprisingly easy, as you are able to use the noose at the end of the rope to snag loose limbs sticking out of the top of the pile, which are naturally also the freshest. Using the noose-encircled limbs, you are then able to scrape off some of the fungus clinging to the sides of the pit with the limbs as you pull them up.

“What are you doing, Victor?” Cassandra asks, looking at you in confusion as she sees you dipping the rope down into the pit and pulling something back up. “Trying to get some of that glowing fungus?” Cassandra adds, the amount of fungus you have pulled up now illuminating your area with light equivalent to a crescent moon.

You have perhaps pulled up five relatively intact limbs and no more than a handful of the fungus when Cassandra curses softly and nudges you. Looking up, you see another trio of zombies pushing a cart out of a tunnel, containing a bound and gagged prisoner. The man appears to be in bad shape, his body covered in a thin sheen of blood from numerous arcane sigils carved into his flesh. Worse yet, a black-cloaked figure walks alongside the cart, loudly chanting in a language foreign to you, but that makes your skin crawl and your heart race nonetheless.

As before, the figure demonstrates that his kind can see as well in the dark as you, stopping immediately upon seeing you and Cassandra kneeling by the pit.

Intruders. None must threaten the Ritual.

The figure hisses, its voice thin and croaking. It gestures once, and the three zombies immediately stop pushing the cart and begin to shamble towards you.

More sacrifices for Decay to consume.

WhiteKnight777

As you and Mellita continue to creep forward down the tunnel, the screams continue unabated. Finally, you come to a sudden dip in the passageway, which opens up into a small cavern after it levels off again.

Looking down into the cavern from your higher position, you are able to immediately see the source of the screams. In the center of the small cavern is a tall, thick stalactite reaching up to the ceiling. Bound around the outside of the stalactite are six prisoners: male and female, young and old. Bound is perhaps the wrong word, for instead of rope or chains the prisoners are all held in place by smaller stalactites driven through their hands and feet. Larger stalactites have been driven through each of the prisoners’ chests, and as you watch they slowly turn, driving themselves deeper and eliciting another joint scream from all of the prisoners.

Strangely, no blood flows from the wounds at the prisoners’ hands or feet; only from the large stalactites driven through their chests. Angled slightly downward, the stalactites allow blood to seep up from the hideous chest wounds, slowly flowing down the length of the stalactite to drip down onto the floor. Cut into the floor in a wide circle around this stalactite is a thin channel, which directs all of the blood along into a shallow pool off to one side.

Two black-robed figures seemed to be directing this show, one muttering some sort of foul prayer, slowly turning his hands in the air as he would to twist the stalactites deeper into the prisoners’ chests. The other kneels by the pool of blood, also muttering something as he sprinkles dust and ash into the pool, slowly turning the blood into a thin mud.

But it is the bloody symbol smeared onto the central stalactite over the prisoners’ heads that is most interesting to you. Kas’nal’ar – “Let the Blood Flow”, in your own ancient tongue is what that symbol means. It was one of many that your people, the Lords of Blood, had designed and used in your collection of the raw materials necessary for your transformation. It had been lost long ago, destroyed from all knowledge after you all agreed that no one should attempt to follow after you into immortality. What the devil was going on here?

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

The Countess sets her jaw, lips quivering in fear, before nodding. “Do it.” With great care, Korram resets her shoulders, one at a time. Both times the Countess shrieks in agony, but the pain is fleeting and an uncertain smile returns to her lips after Korram finishes. “You have my gratitude, sir. I cannot imagine any guard showing such kindness or care. In spite of my feelings or the impossible coincidence of your sudden arrival, I shall trust you both with my life.”

Forcing another smile on her face, the Countess rolls her shoulders a bit, testing her range of movement. “They both still hurt, but it seems that they both work fine. You did a good job Korram. Now then, is it our intention to remain in this room indefinitely, or shall we depart by way of one of the doors? I do not know what lies beyond the secret door from which you both emerged, but I do know what is beyond the curtain. There is a long narrow hallway, with numerous curtains marking entrances into rooms similar to this one. At one end of the hallway is an iron door, which leads out into a large common room with several more doors and steps going up to the next level. I know one of the doors there leads to a small set of holding cells, which is where I spent my first night here. I know that the door leading into the common room is guarded by a pair of guards, and I think the stairway is guarded as well. I don’t think that the guards are elites – at least not the ones that I have seen – none of them have those red sashes or black chainmail.”

The Countess gasps and hangs her head as another set of shudders wracks her body. “I . . . I’m not sure how we are going to get past them. And I’m sure there’s more that I didn’t see. Those unseen will be attracted by the sounds of fighting, and those will bring in yet more. We’ll be overwhelmed, and then I will find myself back here and – no! No, I will not surrender to these thoughts!”

Angrily, Countess Amelia pushes herself up off the back of Dima’s tiger, bound hands trailing behind her as she stomps about the room. “There has to be something that we can do. Some way we can kill the guards quietly, or slip past them. Or maybe we could go back the way you came? Hmm . . . perhaps we should try to figure out where to go next before we figure out how to get there. Should we attempt to get aboveground? Find someplace to hide until the guards forget about us? Locate some prisoner that’s in the process of digging an escape tunnel?”

Apparently done thinking out loud, the Countess turns back to you, chewing anxiously on her lips. “Well, you both are supposed to be prisoners here. I’ve only seen the inside of these torture chambers since coming here really. Do you know what the best way to escape would be?”

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

You dress yourself using the other dead cultist’s robes, and then light the girl’s torch with a flick of fire – after asking Harvey nicely for the power to do so.

Okay. The dragon says simply in your mind, clearly pleased that it had gotten its way for once. But next time, I expect you to show me the proper respect. *I* chose *you* for this honor, mortal, and even if you don’t appreciate it you *will* respect me.

The passageway now illuminated by the girl’s torch, you both quickly exit the room and proceed down the tunnel. Although you follow along in the cultists’ footsteps, of them you see no sign. Eventually, the tunnel up ahead of you curves sharply around out of sight, and from beyond that bend you can hear the shouting of angry voices.

Having little choice except to go back the way you came, you motion for the girl to stay back and remain quiet, while you sneak ahead to check things out. The warm glow of torchlight flickers out from around the bend, and so you do not take the girl’s torch for light as you silently creep forward.

Reaching the bend, you crouch down and press yourself against one wall, listening at first. There are many voices, some sounding like frightened humans, others . . . less so.

You will move aside.

“I’m telling you, some crazy dragon freak just messed up our ritual! He’s going to be here soon!”

“Yeah! So you gotta help us deal with him!”

“He’ll ruin your **** too if you don’t!”

“Yeah!”

That is not our concern right now. You will move aside.

Deciding to chance it, you peer around the corner to see that just beyond the bend the tunnel widened out into a mid-sized cavern with multiple exit tunnels. Standing close to the mouth of your tunnel are five familiar looking red-cloaked men, their backs to you. Facing off a short distance from them were four black-cloaked figures, their faces obscured by the black cowls they wore. Cowering a short distance behind these black-cloaked figures are a slave chain of prisoners, men and women both and numbering eight in all.

Sighing in exasperation as the black-cloaked figures begin to move towards one of the nearby tunnels, the new de-facto leader of the demon cultists moves to stand directly in their way. “Stop! We aren’t done yet. Maybe we should just wait here a bit until he shows up, huh? Then you’ll be begging to help us!”

The apparent leader of the black cloaks moves to stand directly in front of the demon cultist, its thin croaking voice confident and firm.

You will move aside, or you will die.

“Hah, just you try it – URGH!” The demon cultist begins before gurgling loudly in surprise as the black cloaked figure raises a gloved hand and plunges it directly into the cultist’s chest. Jerking his hand back out of the cultist’s chest, the black cloaked figure holds the man’s heart aloft for a moment, before dropping it to the ground.

Send them to their dark lord. The figure hisses as the remaining four demon worshippers scream in anger and surprise, drawing daggers hidden in the folds of their robes. What followed would be better labeled as a slaughter rather than a fight as the other three black robed figures closed in, joining their leader in literally tearing the demon cultists apart.

When finished, the black cloaked figures meticulously piled the five hearts of the demon worshippers into the center of the cavern, their leader beginning to trace strange arcane patterns in the blood now covering the cavern floor.

The fools could have been referring to the Sacrifice.

One of the other figures hissed while their leader continued to trace sigils in the spilled blood. Finished with his drawing, the leader of the four stood up.

Irrelevant. We will continue with our purpose until it is complete. Then, and only then, will we inform the Hierarch of the possible escape of a potential Sacrifice. This golem of bone shall ensure that none pass through here until our return. The leader replied, as the sigils began to brightly glow, arcs of reddish electricity beginning to jump between them and the bodies of the five cultists.

A moment later, all five of the cultist bodies are lifted up into the air by bright arcs of lightning, and then in an explosion of blood each of their skeletons is torn from their bodies. As the masses of empty skin and muscle fall to the floor, the five skeletons shoot through the air, coming to hover over the sigils. Once there, they begin to spiral around the sigil, going faster and faster until the skeletons themselves begin to disintegrate into separate bones, and everything becomes a blur of blood-stained bone. Then, with a final crash of red lightning, the sigils evaporate and the excess bones fall lifelessly to the ground, leaving only a large . . . thing . . . standing where the sigils were a moment before.

A full head taller than the cultists, the creature is made entirely out of the blood-stained bones of the cultists; a hodgepodge of bones in only the vaguest shape of a man. It stands on four bent legs, with a whip-like tail made out of several spinal columns dragging along behind it. Its torso is a mass of ribs, their broken off and sharpened points jutting out wickedly here and there. Although it has two arms and hands like a man, the golem also has spinal columns extending out over its hands like scythes. Finally, the creature has a bizarre head: two top-halves of a skull: resulting in four empty eye sockets and two nose holes.

You will prevent all but our kind from passing through here. That is your duty child.The leader replied, earning a clack of teeth from the golem before it settled in place, twisting its head about to scan the room. The four black-robed figures then collect their slave chain of prisoners, and exit the cavern by way of the tunnel nearest to your own. After their departure, all is silent, the bone golem continuing to scan the cavern.

Dorizzit
2008-02-07, 08:55 PM
Korram shrugs. "It's been eight years since I last saw anything outside of my cell or the torture chambers. Currently we're trying to get to the prisoner processing level. My daughter was recently captured, and Dima has agreed to help me free her before we retreat to an area he can work on a way out of here for us. It sounds as though the way you came in will be more expedient for our travel, however. Coincidentally, do you want me to free your hands?" Assuming an affirmative response from the countess, Korram releases his arm and burns through the rope before replacing his limiter.

((Yay! First First response!))

Iethloc
2008-02-07, 10:59 PM
Bah, Sohssal thought, I won't even be able to drain the magic energy from the door if I can't touch it properly. Sohssal went over his spells and tricks in his head, thinking of just how he could get past this door. All right, with my newfound energy, I can use a spell to open the door. It might rip it of the hinges, instead, but that's still open. I never made a spell that just opens doors. I had hands when I was human and I could walk through them after ascending. Such impudent devices, these doors... Sohssal mentally informed his new partner. Dipping his new, large reserve of energy, he prepared to cast the successor of his dome spell.

A gentle force radiated outward from Sohssal as he focused some energy into the spell, frowning as he remembered that it wasn't a very efficient spell. With a flash of blue light, a beam of force, similar to his other force-based spell, though focused in a forward direction, slammed into the door. Pushed back by the recoil, he fed the spell more energy bit by bit to try to force the door open, watching it carefully as to not waste energy. I believe it's been established that guards aren't much of a challenge for me, and I can drain the energy from any wards, as long as I can touch them, as I demonstrated with the Sage. And if I can't touch them, I'll just destroy them! he deducted.

Voth
2008-02-08, 01:04 AM
Voth

I don't like the looks of this...

Quiet I have an idea.

Turning to face the giant, Voth begins his plead. "Noble Judge, I plead Innocent all accounts except for consorting with demons. While it is true that I have in face killed many, were not each of those killed destined to die anyway? For example, the village. Those people were starving to death. Did I not give them release from their torment? Are you to say that it would have been better to allow those people to starve to death?

As for Murder, I ask of you this. If someone some how threatened you with violence, would you not retaliate? If so, would you not do so in such a way to prevent further violence? Is it not the best way to prevent further violence by disabling the offender? I plead that it was in fact self-defense in which I killed those men. Would they not have tried to kill me for fun?

As for resisting arrest, those men had no intention of letting me live, whether or not they were ordered too. They had blood lust in their eyes, and would not have stopped until I lay broken and bleeding to death in front of their feet, if even then. There for I plead that I was only acting on self-preservation in running from the guards.

Finally, as for attempting to escape, if I remember correctly, the mage had ordered me to escape, and as such I was only acting upon his orders."

ubersquid
2008-02-08, 08:35 AM
"Elkwin Holmanson... from up north... had a tavern there at the border. Ever been up there?"

Elkwin takes a few moments to catch his breath as well, then takes the lantern, holds it up high and looks down both sides of the hallway.

"Seems to be calm for now... Gotta find a way out of this place. If I'd only know where we are..."

Looking at the lantern itself, Elkwin notices the flame getting even smaller.

"We need more light... There gotta be some torches around here, right?"

He takes a few steps forward to look a bit further, then walks back to his new fellow who is still on the ground, leaning against the wall and offers him a hand to get up.

"Come on Marv, we need to keep moving, the lantern won't make it for long. At least we don't have to run anymore."

"I say we find us some light first, then go to a quiet place where we can work on those chains. I can't tell you how much i long to get rid of them."

WhiteKnight777
2008-02-09, 12:41 AM
Umber

Umber creeps closer, seeking to get a better view, his curiosity aroused. Though he is, of course, still cautious enough to keep out of view of those performing the ritual, as well as the prisoners, his feet silent as a hunting cat's as he watches. How did these mortals come to know the old tongue? And blood... precious blood. This was disturbing. They should not know that sign. This looked too familiar, to similar to old rituals better left forgotten. When such prices were paid, terrible forces could be called upon by those who knew the correct ways. He thought most such knowledge lost to time, but if there was anything he'd learned, it was that such things always survived. In a way, power was a living thing, and knowledge was power. Knowledge of such potency was a cunning thing indeed, and oft found ways to survive even the most careful of purges. Hidden down through the ages in some musty tome or forgotten repository of forbidden lore, only to be discovered by some fool who knew not the forces with which he dabbled.

And so Umber took out the crossbow, ready to use it if opportunity arose, looking in particular for the leader of the ritual.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-02-09, 07:15 AM
Victor's grin broadens. These creatures were far inferior to him, the spar would be easy, unfair almost. He wasn't too sure about the cultist though, he might prove a problem. But right now, he just seemed to be standing around idly, so Victor quickly spun round the rope and lashed out with it (and the metal glove tied to it) at the zombies. Some cracks could be heard as the heavy metal smashed into their skulls, but they were dead, and could not feel the pain.

They shambled on, towards Victor and Cassandra. Victor lashed out again, but this time the rope spun round two of the zombies, tying them together. He tugged at the rope forcefully, and both of them fell down into the pit. Victor only just managed to cut the rope to prevent himself from falling in as well. The last zombie was no problem, as Victor simply jumped on his shoulders and sliced off his head.

"These creatures, they're uneffective. You are in dire need of help, my friend"

Victor let the cultist interpret this himself. It could be seen as a threat, but it could be seen as an offer of help as well. Either way, should he try to flee, Victor would leap off the shoulders of the dead man (before he fell down, off course) and onto the cultist's back.

Pwenet
2008-02-09, 08:32 AM
A construct, oh these things are fun to play with. How about we go knock it around, or heat it up until the bones melt or we offer it tea! Tea is good, how I miss tea, can you summon tea Mr. Dragon?

Quiet fool. These little ones, I may be wrong...

Wrong? Oh my, someone come over here and scribe that Mr. Harvey admits that he is WRONG!

Maybe wrong fool. But maybe they were planning on sacrificing us.

Us? But are you not the almighty leader of your little band, those that would do anything for you, trapped in the puny shell that is me?

Your race is mired in treachery, I am not fully surprised if my minions decided to serve another power.

WoW! I feel so bad for you, let me play you a fiddle.

Incom moves one of his hands up and starts fiddling away with his by moving his index finger and thumb together.

Are you quite done? We should probably find those new cultists and ask them to whom they were referring to. Now the best way to take care of this thing is too....

Hush, I'm watching

Hush!?! HUSH!?! YOU DO NOT TELL ME TO HUSH YOU

”Shut up you dragon.”

Surprised that Incom brought their little mental argument into the land of sounds, Harvey shuts up for a second while Incom watching the construct spin it's head around. It is quite possible, lacking eyes that the motion is purely decorative, yet why would it waste it's movement like that, since it was a simple construct. In fact, a construct would just stand there motionless if it could see in all directions at once, which probably meant that it would need to focus on a target.

Nodding to himself on a plan of action, Incom makes his way back carefully to the little girl, and kneels in front of her.

”You are about to view scenes of action, violence and terror that many parents would scream bloody murder over, but you must do the following, be as silent as the wind.”

Not waiting for her to comprehend, Incom reaches to the leather straps holding his half-mask on his face and releases them, taking the mask in his hand, revealing one eye yellow with a red slitted iris, ragged scars around it that have scaled over with something not flesh, but what one would expect to see from a dragon.

About time you lost that thing, and embrace your new heritage.

Ignoring Harvey for the moment, Incom picks up the girl and places her on his back.

”Hang on tightly, and remember, be silent, and if things turn peaceful, run away for now but watch out for evil dark teddy bears.”

Feeling the girl getting a good grip, Incom cracks his back, picks up the torch with one hand and holding his mask in the other, he then sprints down towards the chamber.

Emerging into view, he throws the torch end over end, aiming for the face of the construct. At the same time he throws the mask at the far wall, letting Harvey's strength fill his throwing arm. With luck between the torch in it's eyes and the mask making lots of noises, it will distract the construct enough for Incom to sprint into the chamber that the newest cultists went down.

If that fails, he will toss the girl towards the entrance, cue up some cheesy Star Trek Amok Time fight music and destroy the construct while whistling the theme to Kill Bill.

Inspectre
2008-02-09, 10:02 PM
The Catacombs

ubersquid

Looking up as you offer him a hand, Marv forces a smile and accepts your lift up. “Alright. But the first round of drinks is on the house when we get out of here. Can’t say I’ve ever stopped by your tavern, but right now any kind of ale sounds pretty good. Especially if its free.”

Handing you the lantern, Marv switches his grip on the mining pick, now cradling it in both hands. He motions for you to lead on, and follows immediately behind you, looking around in all directions anxiously as the light from your lantern begins to grow dim.

You walk on for several more minutes as the lantern light begins to flicker, when suddenly the rune-covered wall on your left gives way to a door. Looking rather sturdy, seeing as how its made out of granite, the single man-sized door stands solemnly out against the rune-covered wall around it. Unlike the walls, the door is not covered in runes, but instead in some sort of bas-relief carving: a rising sun with twelve rays, each of which ends in the shape of a sword.

“Hmmm . . . a door. Go in and investigate, or keep moving down the corridor to put some more distance between us and the zombies? We’re gonna be moving awfully slow once this lantern goes out.”

???????

Voth

(Because defending your case with something other than a boot to the face was unexpected and pretty cool, you’ll get away with your shoddy excuses for why you *had* to butcher all those people like hogs. Sort of. :smalltongue: )

As you speak, the creature who could only be the Judge towers impassively over you, his fiery eyes boring into yours. When you are finished, the Judge frowns and reaches one massive hand up to cup his chin.

HMMMM . . . MOST INTERESTING. YOUR ARGUMENTS HAVE UNEXPECTED MERIT. I SHALL REQUIRE CONSULTATION WITH YOUR ACCUSERS TO DETERMINE THE TRUTH OF YOUR CLAIMS. HOWEVER, YOU DO ADMIT TO CONSORTING WITH DEMONS? THE PUNISHMENT FOR SUCH IS LESS SEVERE THAN YOUR OTHER CRIMES, BUT NEVERTHELESS THE SENTENCE FOR IT MUST BE CARRIED OUT.

The Judge removes its hand from its chin, its frown deepening into a scowl as its eyes continue to bore into your soul.

I SENSE THAT ONE SUCH DEMON IS POSSESSING YOU NOW. ITS REMOVAL FROM YOUR SOUL MUST TAKE PRECIDENCE OVER ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS.

Kneeling down, the Judge extends one of his massive hands towards you, palm up, fingers extended.

TAKE MY HAND. WE SHALL REMOVE THE DEMON WITHIN YOU, AND THEN BEGIN YOUR PUNISHMENT FOR THE CRIME OF CONSORTING WITH DEMONS. MEANWHILE, I SHALL CONTACT YOUR ACCUSERS FOR THEIR REBUTTLE TO YOUR CLAIMS.

MrEdwardNigma

You handily dispatch all three of the zombies, careful to keep one eye on the cultist as you do so. For his part, he seemed content to watch the fight play out without interference, standing silently where he had been when he had ordered the zombies to attack. For a moment after you had dispatched the zombies and offered your assistance to the figure, he remains standing still. Then, he begins to move forward, walking confidently towards you. As he walks, he begins speaking, his voice thin and croaking, although you get the sense that he’s not really talking to you.

Intruders identified. One human female, one human male. Female’s hands are still bound. Male has minor modifications: fingertip claws. Removal of major organs or severing of spinal column will be fatal. Engaging now to determine combat threat level.

While you had been fighting the zombies, Cassandra had begun to swing around to one of the outside walls. No doubt hoping to flank anyone coming to attack you, Cassandra waits until the figure has crossed a little more than half the distance between you before making her move. Dashing forward from just behind and to the right of the figure, Cassandra slides to a halt with a yell as she launches a pair of kicks at the figure’s back: one low, one high.

Whirling as Cassandra approaches, the figure blocks her low kick with his left arm, then swings it up with blinding speed to block the second kick aimed at his head. Having blocked Cassandra’s attacks with his left arm, the figure retaliates with his right, delivering a hard punch to her sternum. The blow is powerful enough to send her flying back ten feet, landing on her side and rolling another five feet before coming to a moaning halt.

Addendum to female human. Skilled in unarmed combat. Threat assessment: slight.

The black-cloaked figure then turns his attention back to you. Slowly, he continues walking toward you as the same leisurely pace as before.

WhiteKnight777

You silently take up an observatory position at the top of the dip leading down into the room, watching as the ritual reaches its climax. All of the bound prisoners have started to grow quite pale by now, evidently prompting the figure directing the stalactites to decide it was time to end it. Raising both hands in front of him, the figure thrusts his hands out; the stalactites responding by ceasing their slow turning and instead plunging directly through each prisoner’s chest. The screams end abruptly, and for a moment all is silent.

Then the figure turns his hands over and motions pulling back, the stalactites now wrenching themselves out of the prisoners’ chests to hang motionless in mid-air in front of the victims. With one final motion, the figure flings all of the blood-covered stalactites into the nearby pool of blood.

His job apparently finished, the stalactite figure moves to stand beside the other, who begins to smear the thick bloody paste onto each of the stalactites. Then, the stalactite figure kneels down and joins him, the two smearing the disgusting mud carefully onto each stalactite. Kneeling down over the pool, both figures still have their backs to you and Mellita, although now both are off to one side of the cavern. If you wished to move on without confrontation, now would probably be the time to do it, else you may have to wait until the figures finish whatever else they were planning on doing here before leaving themselves.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

(Hmmm . . . it would seem as if rubakhin is considering joining Engineer on the pain train. Maybe I should stop putting people into two-man teams if one of them is going to run away shortly afterwards. :smallconfused: )

“Yes, please do.” The Countess replies, pausing in her pacing to allow you to approach. As you begin to remove your glove, she turns back towards you. “Wait. I have an idea. What if I lured the guards away from their posts? A woman with her hands tied behind her back would hardly be threatening enough for the guards to call for help, surely. And then you could slip past them while they chase after me. Wait, no . . . no, that wouldn’t work. I certainly don’t know this area well enough to lose any guards that chased after me. So they would catch me sooner rather than later, and then I’m caught again and you’re only past the first set of guards. Any ideas?” The Countess asks, chewing on her lower lip again as she nervously awaits a brilliant solution from one of you.

The Labs

Iethloc

Fine, fine, whatever. Let’s just get out of here.

Invoking your spell, you stagger back as the beam of force impacts against the door. As before, the protective runes running all along the door’s surface begin to glow brightly, absorbing the immense energy being thrown against the door. But eventually even these fail, and with the loud screech of tearing metal the adamantite door is blown off its hinges. Ripped free of the door frame, the thick door is shoved back into the room beyond by your ray of force.

With the door now successfully open, you cut off the flow of magic to the spell and watch as the door dips down towards the ground. It hits the ground with one edge and flips over, tumbling end over end through the air. It then lands flat on the ground, crushing some fool who had been standing directly in front of the door.

Through the now-open doorway you can see the typical mad alchemist’s room, long wooden benches full of bubbling alchemical reagents. What did catch your eye, however, was the long row of man-sized glass tubes positioned along one wall. Curved hatches were built into the front of each tube, and six of the ten tubes had their hatches open. Of the remaining four, one was empty, two had apparently lifeless bodies floating inside of them, and the last had its contents blocked from sight by a heavyset man hastily working on its lock.

Pausing momentarily in his work, the man looks over one shoulder to notice you and the destroyed door, visibly gulping as he did so. “Destroy the intruder, my children! Make your father proud!” The man shouts, and an instant later five humanoid forms step into view from either side of the doorway.

Although each possesses the rough shape of a man, the similarities pretty much end there. Impossibly muscular, each walks stooped over like the man-sized monkeys you had heard of from the distant southern lands: gorillas, you believed them to be called. Their heads are shaved bald, revealing the noticeably uneven contours of their skulls as well as their shriveled ears. Their bloodstained eyes bulge out of their sockets, lining up in color with their red irises so perfectly that only their pupils are not a shade of crimson. Each is clad in a simple leather loincloth, although the tatters of clothing hanging from their bodies here and there suggest that once they had possessed additional clothing.

Driving their knuckles into the ground in front of them, they swing their tree-trunk legs forward, leaping through the air to land next to the fallen adamantite door. Bending down, together the five creatures are able to lift it up off the floor, howling in rage when they see the broken and crushed form of one of their own beneath it. Turning their red eyes to glare at you in hate, they heave together as one, throwing the heavy adamantite door back through the doorway and directly at you!

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

The girl stares at you silently in horror when you reveal your full visage, one hand clasped over her mouth. At your instructions, she silently nods, wrapping both hands around your neck and holding on for dear life as you race down the tunnel once more.

Approaching the room with the bone golem, you hurl the torch at its head, following it up a second later by throwing your mask at the far wall. Its head turned away from the tunnel entrance when you first appear, the bone golem does not notice the torch speeding rapidly towards it until almost too late. With the torch only a few feet from its face, however, the bone golem suddenly notices it and reacts, the tip of its bony tail stabbing up in a blur to smash the torch to splinters. But this accomplishes little, and the burning toothpicks that the torch has been reduced into impact against the creature’s face, blinding its sight in a momentary flash of fire.

A second later, your mask impacts against the far wall, and the bone golem again reacts instantly, leaping towards the source of the sound and stabbing the wall with its tail, followed by raking the wall with both of its bone scythes. Before it can turn back to the sound of your footsteps, you dash out into the cavern, turn, and dash back into the next tunnel over. Strangely, the bone golem does not follow you, merely chasing after you until it reaches the entrance of the tunnel, clacks its teeth together in frustration, and stomps back over to the center of the cavern again to continue scanning for additional intruders.

You have not gone far down the tunnel until you reach the little convoy of black-cloaked figures and chained prisoners. Hearing your approach, they whirl about as one, although if they are genuinely surprised they give no sign.

Indeed this one is powerful to have defeated the bone golem so quickly. Our purpose will not be denied however. You two continue on with the prisoners. Us two shall continue to delay him. The leader hisses, motioning at two of the figures to keep moving while the fourth comes to stand beside him. As he moves to join his leader, the other figure also begins speaking in a monotone, and you are unsure who exactly his comments are directed to.

Intruders identified. One dragon-lord possessed human male, a potential Sacrifice. One human female child . . . unknown aura. Dragon-lord possessed male has greatly increased strength, regenerative properties, and can summon flame. Capabilities of female child unknown. Threat assessment: high, approach with caution.

With the slave chain of prisoners starting to move again under the direction of the other two figures, the leader waves his hand across the corridor. Directly in front of his feet, greenish flames shoot up from the floor, the tips of the flames licking at the ceiling.

WhiteKnight777
2008-02-10, 02:34 AM
Umber

Umber snarled silently. This was... unexpected. Whether these mortals knew what they were doing, or they were merely following instructions and dabbling in things beyond their ken, the fact that they had knowledge of that particular symbol at all was... unsettling. On the other hand, he was deep in an enemy fortress, relatively weak, and armed only with paltry weaponry. He sighed, albeit silently. He had a feeling Fate was playing games with him. It did have a habit of doing that. And whatever decision he made, he knew it would probably have unfortunate consequences. Still, he made a decision, and he'd live with it, whatever happened.

Silently he moved out into the cavern, his feet moving with slow, careful grace. Checking one last time to make sure it was clear, he signaled Milletia to come forward. Aiming the crossbow, he went over the motions one last time in his head: Aim for the subordinate's head, take him out with one shot. rush forward before the one that appeared to be leading could react, bash him over the back of the head with the crossbow, hopefully just knocking him out. Direct Milletia to bring the other cultist with them to feed on once they were out of this chamber, and to hide the evidence. Then move on down the corridor, until they found somewhere they could interrogate these fools...

Dorizzit
2008-02-10, 07:57 AM
(That is...vexing)

Korram thinks.

He thinks some more.

His eyes snap open as he thinks of a solution. "Alright, I think I have an idea," he says. "If you could go into the first guardroom, and then lead them back here, I could probably kill them before they knew what was happening. If not, I can still probably occupy them enough to prevent them from calling for help." He smiles unpleasantly and raises his flaming arm. "It's a bit risky, but I've pulled off worse. Does that plan work?"

rubakhin
2008-02-10, 08:04 AM
(Right, right. ><' Only there's not much for Dima to do.)

"Don't smile when you're talking about killing," Dima chastises. "I'll do what I can. Only, you want her to go down there alone?"

Dorizzit
2008-02-10, 08:12 AM
Korram shrugs. "I'm not smiling about the killing. And that's why I'm asking her, first. It's only the next room over...."

ubersquid
2008-02-10, 01:22 PM
"We'll be drunk as we have never been before, I promise you. What where you meddlin' in before anyway? And why are you here? You're not one 'a those baby-snatchers, are ya?"

For a moment, Elkwin throws his mate a distrustful look, but doesn't seem to take himself to serious about it and his face changes into a jesting grin shortly after.

When they reach the door, Elkwin sneers at the flickering lantern. Looking back and forth the hallway suspiciously, he motions Marv to prepare his pick for a swing, puts his hand on the door handle and hisses:

"I reckon the distance we put between us and those Dead-Uns puts us closer to any other wretched creatures that lurk down here... There better be something useful in there, be ready if not..."

With that, Elkwin leans his back against the door, pushes the handle and tries to open it slowly.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-02-10, 03:17 PM
So he's a skilled fighter. He's still human, I suppose. Still, no need to risk my hide. Let's see how fast this bugger here is, give the monk a chance to think, give me a chance to make some preparations...

Victor quickly ran, as fast as he could, which was quite fast indeed, and worked to keep the pit between him and the cultist at all times. He quickly poured some of the body fluids he had gathered together in the palm of his hand, and then rubbed open some fungus in his other hand. Together, the two would have the effect of a minor flashbang. Simply by clapping his hands together and closing his eyes at the right time, Victor would blind the cultist when he came too close and quickly jab him with his razortipped fingers, tossing him into the pit.

Pwenet
2008-02-10, 04:48 PM
”Intruders identified. One dragon-lord possessed human male, a potential Sacrifice. One human female child . . . unknown aura. Dragon-lord possessed male has greatly increased strength, regenerative properties, and can summon flame. Capabilities of female child unknown. Threat assessment: high, approach with caution. “

Watching the green flames shoot up, Incom grits his teeth, and he feels the dagger he is holding that he took from the throat of the one cultist whose robes he is currently wearing. The girl sensing that violence is about to take place crawls off his back and finds a corner to cower in as Incom looks at the two figures.

Sacrifice? ME? ME? We should make them pay, make them pay in blood!”

I fully agree, you know anything about these fools?

No I do not. We should do something quickly, now.

Incom flicks his wrist, and sends the dagger flying from his hand towards the throat of the cultist standing on the left. Leaping behind it he no longer pays attention to it as he wraps himself in the robes that resisted his flames previously, he jumps through the green flames.

The flames reach through the robes, touching him, draining him, burning him. Screaming in agony as it feels like all of his flesh is on fire, Incom lands and slams hard into the cultist without a dagger heading for his throat, knocking him over and he lays on the ground for a second in shock.

That was smart. Your next idea better be smarter.

Catching a glimpse of his exposed hand, he sees that the flesh has been burnt, in many spots clear to the bone. Part of him realizes that the same is all over his body, yet with his body covered by the robes it would not be readily visible. He decides to lay still for a second, watching, hoping that the cultists think he is dead.

What are you doing? This is not another death wish scenario?

Waiting for a second, they know we can regenerate, but not how much. Give it a second.

Feeling a tingling sensation, Incom knows that he is healing, recovering. Yet things seem different, as if his skin is dry, tougher, harder.

After those flames, I'm making some changes here. We are argue later. Oh look, they are coming back to finish this act.

Hearing a footstep near his head, Incom opens his eyes, both of them now yellowed with a slitted black iris. Hissing at the cultist, Incom swings out, seeing a hand completely covered in scales striking the kneecap of a cultist, and hears a crunching sound. Swinging himself around, following the blow, he grabs one of the cultist arms and punches hard again, yelling something untranslatable in an ancient tongue.

*CRUNCH!*

His hand punches clean through the shoulder joint and out the other side, and it is a simple matter to rip the left arm of the cultist clean off. Swinging around, Incom winds up and strikes the cultist in the back of his head with his own severed arm, sending him flying up and THROUGH the green flames.

Still holding the severed arm as he stands fully up, Incom looks over to check the status of the cultist he threw the knife at, ready to fight if needed.

Iethloc
2008-02-10, 08:38 PM
Moving his arms quickly, Sohssal weaved the spell again, with much more haste this time. Quickly, the blue beam of force erupted from his hands again, pushing him back once more and slamming into the door, sending it flying towards the five monstrosities. FIVE of them?! How many more are there? Sohssal thought, exasperated. Not giving himself any time to rest, he began weaving another spell as the air around him grew colder.

A few snowflakes fell into the area, innocently, at first. Then a fel wind began to blow, bringing in more and more snow until a little blizzard formed around Sohssal, obscuring him from view. Looking at where he last saw the beasts, Sohssal started casting another cold spell, its display masked by the diminutive snowstorm. Several lances of ice, one for each of the monstrosities, surged forward from the snowstorm, lunging at where Sohssal thought their bodies were, using his not-inconsiderable mind to calculate their likely positions. "Demon lackeys or not, you will not stop me!" Sohssal shouted, his voice partly muffled by the wind.

Frozen
2008-02-11, 01:31 AM
[sorry for the lack of posting i haven't been home all weekend! ]


Lamont walks over to the weapons rack, looking for either a whip or a net. Walking back to the others, he takes his place in the line, cracking his knuckles and glaring at the guards. When given the motion to go into the pit, lamont coils his leg muscles, then springs into action, running at the edge and attempting to leap onto the tower in the middle

Voth
2008-02-11, 10:12 PM
Voth

Pausing for a moment Voth looks up at the Judge. "My lord, unfortunately there is a problem with removing the demon from me. If you are to remove it, I shall perish. You see this demon was bound to me because as a small lad I was very sickly. My father who was a wizard hoped to heal me by binding a demon to my soul. It worked, but at a cost, for now if I remove the demon, I shall immediately return to that state and perish almost instantly."

Inspectre
2008-02-12, 06:54 PM
The Catacombs

ubersquid

“Oh, gods no!” Marv exclaims, taking your jest seriously. “Actually, I was a ladies man. Well okay, I bet you don’t believe that with a face like mine, do you? So ok, it was more like I was a lady’s man. She was a real sweet gal, one of those wealthy merchant’s daughter types, y’know? I don’t know what she saw in me, but she loved me all the same and I loved her back. And uh, well, our love was kinda the secret kind, but her father found out and well . . . I found myself here not soon after. I wonder what happened to her – it’s been, oh, nearly two years now.” Marv starts looking off into the darkness, but quickly shakes himself. “Anyway, let’s get back to the matter at hand: opening this door. Keep a hand on the light and stay out of the way.”

Walking up to the stone door, Marv grasps the thin iron ring that served as the door’s handle and pulled. It didn’t budge at first, but Marv persisted, patiently tugging back on the handle with all his might in short starts and stops. Finally, something gave way, and the door rasped open perhaps half an inch, and then another half inch. When the door had opened a crack about two inches wide, Marv let go of the iron ring.

“Okay mate, set the lantern down and give me a hand here. You push, and I’ll keep pulling. We’ll do it a little at a time, just like how I was doing it before. Alright? Now push. Push!” Marv directs you, and you oblige, setting the lantern down before sliding your fingers into the gap of the door and pushing with all your might while Marv continued to pull.

Together, the two of you manage to work the stone door all the way open, the work gradually becoming easier as the door’s hinges begin to loosen up from use. “Now, let’s see what we’ve got here!” Marv says, rushing over to pick up the lantern and holding the light inside.

Through the dim light of the lantern, you can see what looks like a fairly large supply room on the other side of the door. A thick layer of dust has settled on everything in the room, but you can still make out the shapes of swords, battleaxes, bows, shields, and various pieces of armor hanging from stands set up along the walls. In the center of the room several more stands have been set up, although these seem to hold more mundane supplies such as waterskins, backpacks, quivers . . . and torches.

The Arena

Frozen

You manage to find a ragged net amongst all the other weapons. Although only a crudely woven rope net with a few lead weights, it should serve to slow down an opponent until s/he was able to cut/break enough of the rope to escape the net. You then move to stand with the other prisoners, as the voice of the announcer begins to ring through the stadium.

“Ladies and gentlemen! We have another special match for you today! The Iron Shifter returns for the second time in one day to lead a group of prisoners in a hopeless battle to defend the bastion of humanity from the hordes of hell itself. Can even you favorite, the Iron Shifter, lead these unfortunate souls out of the jaws of the Hounds . . . of Hell!!? Let’s find out!”

As the crowd begins screaming in anticipation, the guards begin to kick or throw the prisoners down into the sandy pit below. Ducking under your guard’s blow, you flex your legs and leap through the air, sailing out into the pit and landing just in front of the set of stairs leading up to the top of the makeshift tower.

Looking behind you, you see that the other prisoners haven’t fared nearly as well, most landing awkwardly or even face-first into the Pit. One unfortunate prisoner lands on his own weapon, the dull tip of his sword still strong enough to penetrate all the way through his stomach and out his back. His screams are drowned out by the roar of the crowd at the sign of the first bloodshed of the match.

The other prisoners are quickly back up on their feet, however, and all immediately begin to run towards you and the tower as quickly as they can. Meanwhile, the iron portcullis covering the monster entrance begins to rise, and from the darkness of the tunnel eighteen sets of glowing red eyes emerge. As the portcullis finishes rising and locks into the open position, the creatures race out into the light, revealing themselves to be six sleek black-furred dogs with three heads each: Hellhounds.

They quickly begin to make ground on the other four prisoners as they race towards you and the tower, while one Hellhound stops to knock the wounded prisoner to the ground a few seconds after he had managed to weakly stagger to his feet. Opening its trio of slavering jaws, the Hellhound shoots out of burst of fire that flash-cooks the top half of the prisoner and leaving only a charred husk. The man doesn’t even have time to scream before he is dead and the Hellhound is off again, racing to join up with its companions in running down the remaining four prisoners before they can reach the Tower and you.

???????

Voth

IT DOES NOT MATTER. THE LAW MUST BE ENFORCED.

The gigantic man suddenly raises a hand to his temple, grimacing.

BUT THE LAW DOES NO GOOD IF THOSE PUNISHED DO NOT COME TO SEE THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS.

Snarling, the Judge slams his other hand against the crystalline wall, the hand noiselessly passing through into the crystal.

IRRELEVANT. THE GUILTY MUST BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR CRIMES NO MATTER THE COST.

But then the Judge smiles and lifts its hand away from its head.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO WORRY. THIS PLACE IS KNOWN AS THE PRISM, A SEPARATE PLANE OF EXISTENCE. TIME HAS NO MEANING HERE, AND EVEN IF YOUR BODY DIES YOUR SOUL SHALL REMAIN. ADDITIONALLY, ONCE PLACED INTO ONE OF THESE STASIS CRYSTALS YOUR BODY WILL BE TEMPORALLY FROZEN – IT IS ONLY YOUR MIND THAT SHALL SUFFER. ONCE YOUR PERIOD OF PUNISHMENT HAS CEASED, YOU CAN PERISH AFTER LEAVING HERE IF YOU MUST.

Shaking his head, the magnificent figure frowns.

BUT THAT WOULD STILL IN ESSENCE BE AN EXECUTION BY CONDEMNING YOU TO DEATH SHORLTY AFTER SERVING YOUR SENTENCE. UNACCEPTABLE.

The Judge throws his hands up, and then rubs his chin, thinking.

VERY WELL. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO BE BREAK CONTACT WITH YOUR DEMON, THEN WE SHALL SIMPLY IMPRISON YOU AS YOU ARE NOW. HOWEVER, AN ADDITIONAL CHARGE OF UNREPENTENCE SHALL BE LEVIED AGAINST YOU FOR YOUR UNWILLINGNESS TO REMOVE THE DEMON. IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?

MrEdwardNigma

You run away from the figure as quickly as possible, trying to keep as much of the pit between you and him as possible. He slowly follows after you at first, but then stops after a short while when it becomes clear that your mad dash is outpacing his sedate walk. He then begins to make gestures in the air, and the headless corpse of the zombie you killed lifts off from the ground to fly over to the pit before stopping to hover above it right in front of him. The cultist makes another gesture and bright green flames suddenly dance over the body, reducing its flesh to ash and leaving the bones intact. The cultist makes another gesture, and all of the bones shatter into sharp-pointed slivers. And then with a final gesture, the cultist sends all of these razor-sharp slivers shooting through the air towards you.

Fortunately for you, you had just completed your miniature flash-bang explosive, and immediately use it as the first bone shards whirl past you. The bright flash, although not quite as blinding as you would have hoped, is nevertheless somewhat effective, as the cultist’s aim suddenly begins to suffer. Even more fortuitous for you, Cassandra re-enters the fight with a flying kick to the figure’s back.

Staggering forward, the figure nearly pitches himself head-first into the pit, but manages to stop his forward momentum just in time. Whirling about to face Cassandra while balancing on the very edge of the Pit, the figure prevents any follow-up attacks by directing the remaining bone shards in her direction.

Leaping back and to one side, Cassandra is able to avoid the worst of the hail of sharp bones, although does not escape entirely unscathed as the top half of a femur bone pierces her left shoulder. She is able to bite back a scream, and then advances towards the black-robed figure again as it begins to move away from the edge.

The figure ducks under her next attack, a high kick aimed for his chin, and rushes forward to crash into her. Sweeping her back towards the wall, the figure clamps one hand around her neck as they move, and then stands back up to his full height when they finally reach their destination. Hand still clamped about her throat, the figure slams Cassandra against the wall, and then picks her up off the floor, raising his arm overhead until Cassandra’s flailing feet are more than two feet above the ground.

The lady monk thrashes about aimlessly for a moment, her face gradually starting to turn a dark shade of red, before an idea seems to come to her. Pressing her back and one foot against the wall for leverage, Cassandra raises her other foot to line up with the cultist’s shoulder. She then kicks out with all her might, directly striking the shoulder of the arm that the cultist was using to hold her up. That is a loud, wet popping sound as the impact dislocates the cultist’s shoulder. The rest of the cultist’s arm immediately goes limp, dropping Cassandra back down to the ground.

Cassandra lands in a crouch, pushing off the ground a moment later to send herself flying head-first into the figure’s midsection. As the figure starts to double-over, Cassandra snaps back up to her full height, driving the top of her skull into the figure’s face. Finally, as the figure staggers back away from her, Cassandra leaps up into the air, driving both feet into its chest to send it flying away from her. The two land roughly at the same time now several feet apart: Cassandra on her feet after she twists about in mid-air, the cultist flat on its back.

All is silent for a moment, and then a rhythmic rasping noise comes from the figure: a wet gurgling noise that you recognize after several seconds as laughter. Pushing itself up into a sitting position with its good hand, the figure somehow twists its dislocated shoulder, muscles pulling the joint back into place and giving the figure two good arms once again.

Cursing, Cassandra rushes towards the figure as it starts to stand up, but this time the figure is ready. It blocks her first kick with one hand, and then places the other, palm open, on her chest. Her eyes widen in stark terror, and Cassandra is suddenly paralyzed with fear as you both were in the ritual room when the figures laid their hands on your chests in the same manner.

Cassandra falls over onto her back, not making even a grunt of pain as she lands. The figure leisurely stands up, walks over to her prone form, and kneels down beside her. Reaching down, the figure takes hold of the gnarled end of the femur sticking out of her shoulder, and twists, working the sharp tip around in the wound. Cassandra does not react to this at all, save to quietly whimper in pain, staring up at something horrific somewhere beyond the ceiling overhead. Grasping the femur more firmly, the figure tears the bone out of her shoulder, eliciting only a soft gasp from Cassandra as blood begins to bubble out of the wound. Clearly relishing the moment, the figure shifts his grip on the blood-covered femur, holding it now like a dagger as he raises it over his head, and prepares to strike.

(While Cassandra vs. cloaked figure round 2 was going on, you could have been preparing your next surprise for him. Thus, it is possible for you to rush in and save Cassandra and get the jump on the figure while he’s preoccupied with finishing her off. Or, alternatively, you could run like a yellow-bellied chicken while he is busy finishing her off, thus getting a head-start of a minute or two before he runs you down like a dog. :smalltongue: )

WhiteKnight777

Creeping down silently to the mouth of the cavern, you run through the plan one final time, and finding no obvious faults implement it. As expected, at such close range the crossbow bolt flies true, striking the back of the cultist’s head and passing through it up to a point just shy of halfway down the bolt’s shaft. The cultist falls forward into the by-now mostly dry pool, and you pay him no more mind as you rush towards the second one.

Perhaps this cultist is more than a mere human, or perhaps your blood-starved body is still not quite as fast as it used to be, but the figure manages to turn around on his knees quickly enough to face you as you reach him and bring the butt of the crossbow down. The figure raises one arm up to meet the descending weapon, and when the two meet there is an explosion of splitters and metallic components as your crossbow shatters. Before you can react to this stunning display, the man brings his other hand up, driving his fist into your stomach with unholy might.

A moment later you experience a flying sensation as you soar through the air away from the figure. But the sensation is fleeting, as a few seconds later your back connects with the wall of the cavern, and you crumple in a heap to the floor. Rising gracefully to his feet, the figure takes a step forward, but is forced to go on the defensive again as Mellita lunges out of the shadows at him. Once again the silver knife flashes in her hand, but the cultist leans back and manages to avoid her first overhand slash before retaliating with a hand-chop to the back of her head that sends her sprawling.

Things go from bad to worse as the second cultist pushes himself back up into a sitting position in front of your disbelieving eyes. Reaching up and behind him, the cultist grasps the shaft of the crossbow bolt embedded in his skull and pulls. There is a wet tearing sound and a gout of thick blackish-red blood runs out along the shaft of the bolt, and then the cultist has removed the gore-encrusted bolt. He drops it casually to the floor and rises to his feet, turning to face you and Mellita.

The effort of removing the crossbow bolt from the back of his skull shreds the cultist’s cowl, as well as pulling its remains back down from his face. As such, after the cultist turns to face you, you are granted your first good look at his disgusting visage.

Although clearly once human, you are not sure if that is a fitting moniker for the creature standing before you now. First, all excess flesh seems to have been removed: the creature’s cheeks are gaunt and thin, its nose and ears are missing, and the flesh covering its eyes and teeth have been cut away. Although bald, a network of thin fleshy tendrils criss-cross over the top of his head, slowly pulsating. Nearing the holes left by his ears, the tendrils thicken, eventually merging into two thick fleshy rods that disappear into his skull, one going into each ear hole.

The pus-yellow orbs that serve as the thing’s eyes hang precariously within their sockets, their pupils focused on you but occasionally darting rapidly around to take in the entire room before returning. From within the gaping hole left by its nose you can dimly make out the dark shape of something occasionally moving within, although you cannot determine what that may be as yet. With its lips entirely cut away, the creature seems to be perpetually in a toothy grin; two thin tentacles energetically twitching at the corners of its jaws.

Cracking its jaws open to speak, the creature gives you a view into its mouth: tongue gone and some dark fleshy mass emerging from the back of its throat to stretch up to the roof of its mouth. With no tongue or lips, it is actually the hole cut into the creature’s throat that actually moves to make sounds, which in turn echo up and out of the creature’s opened jaws. Through the hole you can see the former man’s vocal cords moving to form words, encouraged by the thin tentacles that dart to and fro contracting and massaging the muscle.

Intruders encountered. He intones to no one in particular, beginning to advance towards you while the first moves towards the prone-form of Mellita.

Intruders identified. One male vampire, subspecies Lord of Blood, a potential Sacrifice. Decapitation or dismemberment with a silver weapon will prove fatal. Ashes must then be stored away from blood to prevent revivacation. One female vampire, subspecies Eternal Seer. Exposure to sunlight or embedding wooden stake into the heart will prove fatal. Reduction of body into ash will prevent revivacation.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

(Ah, sorry rubakhin. I figured I would give you both a little down time to plot and plan your next course of action. But now it seems that the time for action has come again.)

“I-I’ll do it.” The Countess says, walking over to the curtained doorway. She looks back at you both, forcing a nervous smile that quickly fades into an anxious frown. Then she ducks and pushes through the curtain, and is gone. The two of you pass a couple minutes in silence, before the loud sound of running footsteps approaches. You hear a shout of victory, and an instant later two figures burst through the curtain to crash to the floor just inside the room. As the curtain swings back into place over the doorway, the two figures reveal themselves to be the Countess and a normal, if slightly out-of-shape, guard who had tackled her. Pushing himself up, the guard jams a knee into the small of Amelia’s back before sliding his club under her jaw, using it to pull her head back towards his.

“Now then lass, let’s have that kiss you promised me if I caught you.” The guard sneers, puckering his lips and making smacking noises.

“I only got this one. Other stayed behind.” The Countess coughed, giving the guard the sudden hint that he wasn’t alone in the room with her. Looking up, the guard sees Korram, Dima, and Dima’s tiger all looking at him. “This just isn’t my day.” He sighs.

The Labs

Iethloc

Conjuring up the same beam of force that had dealt with the door in the first place, you send the heavy chunk of adamantite flying once more back towards the monstrosities. Unlike their dim-witted brother, the five quickly dived out of the way as the door as it crashed once again into the lab beyond. Then as one, they all rush forward through the door as you start your next spell.

Conjuring up a blizzard, you obscuring yourself from their view and vice-versa, although you can still hear their loud screams of mindless rage over the howl of the wind. You then summon five large icicles, one of each of them, before sending them all speeding off, one towards where you think each monster is at based on the wild screaming.

As the blizzard begins to fade, you hear their angry shrieks turn to pained ones, indicating that you hit at least some of them. The snow then clears, and you can see one pinned up against the nearby wall, the icicle driven all the way through his chest. He isn’t moving, so you turn your attention elsewhere, trying to find the others. Another is down, but only wounded as it cradles the bleeding stump of its right leg.

Not seeing the other three in your immediate line of sight, you turn just in time to get a faceful of fist as one descends upon you, swinging as it lands from its powerful leap. The blow is incredibly strong, sending you flying dazed back through the air. Amazingly, you avoid hitting the door frame in your flight, thus avoiding any broken bones from a sudden stop as you sail through the doorway into the lab, land on the floor, and slide to a halt just in front of the admantite door.

You don’t have very long to relax, however, as another of the creatures charges into the lab after you, leaping high into the air above your prone form, and raising a commandeered icicle over its head.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

You set the girl down, and she immediately goes to find someplace to hide as you face off from the two black-robed figures across the green flame. Then, you spring into action, throwing the dagger through the flame at the leader. The flames lick at the dagger as it crosses through, caressing it and leaving several small flicks of greenish fire to burn along the length of the blade as it breaches the barrier and crosses the remaining distance to the leader. Your aim is true, and the weapon embeds itself in the leader’s throat, sending him flying back into the wall of the tunnel. As he crumples to the ground you gather the fire-resistant robes around you and leap through the barrier of greenish flames, intending on crashing into the second figure.

Although you feel only the barest sensation of heat as you pass through the barrier, you quickly come to realize that the green flames have other magical effects involved as your skin begins to blister, wither, and melt anyway.

Great. Unholy damage. This is gonna leave a mark. You hear Harvey grumble in the back of your mind, a moment before the first wave of pain receptors light up, and you can think of nothing else but the pain, the incredible pain all over your body as you crash to the ground on the far side of the barrier. You had manage to ram into the second cultist on your way down, knocking him down with you but he is quick to return to his feet while you continue to lie on the ground, writhing in the incredible pain of your wounds.

You force yourself to lie still for a moment, pretending to be dead as the second cultist moves to stand over you. He begins to raise a foot to bring down in a hard stomp to your back, but you regenerate quickly enough that you are able to stop him. Your replaced skin now covered in scales, you swing one such scaled hand up to slam into the kneecap of the leg that the cultist was standing on. Although he makes no cry of pain, you know the blow was most effective as there is a wet crunching sound.

Off-balance, the cultist begins to fall over, but you rise to catch him, ripping off one of his arms and using it as an implement to swap him back through the air, passing through his own green flames as he flies through the air.

Turning, you find that the leader has amazingly stood back up, dagger still protruding from his throat. Casually, the leader reaches up to grab hold of the dagger’s hilt, ripping it out of his throat with a gout of blackish red blood that quickly slows to a trickle. He begins to advance towards you, but is the sudden wet gurgling from behind you that captures your attention.

Turning, you watch in shock as the black-robed figure that you literally disarmed walks through the wall of green flame. Flicks of the greenish fire dance along his black robes, burning ever-widening holes into the fabric as he finishes crossing the wall. He then gurgles again, which you suddenly recognize as laughter, and then reaches up to grab the neck-clasp holding his robes shut with his good hand.

Pulling, the figure pulls his flaming black cloak up and off, whirling it around in front of him before throwing the burning garment to one side and fully revealing himself to you. Although still clad in simple black silk pants which extended all the way down to the floor and held up by a simple belt of black leather, the figure is bare-chested. Carved into the pale flesh of his torso is a mish-mash of arcane diagrams, sigils, and writing in an ancient language that you don’t recognize but nevertheless fills you with an ancient dread as the words seems to dance and shift across man’s body.

The man’s one arm is gone, reduced to nothing more than a stump that slowly oozes some blackish red blood. But sticking out of that stump and flailing angrily about in the air are several thin grey tentacles, which directs your attention up to the growth on the man’s back.

Hanging off of the man’s back is some sort of growth, a black cancerous mass of armored flesh with meaty red veins that stands out sharply against the pale white skin of the man. The growth extends down to the man’s waist and up to the top of his shoulders and the back of his neck. Thick fleshy tentacles extend out from the growth everywhere along its length to bore down into the man’s flesh, and especially thick ones appear where the man’s shoulders, legs, and neck meet with the growth.

Tucked up against the growth’s surface are a pair of powerful arms, each ending in three long taloned fingers, one set opposite of the other two to serve as a “thumb”. With the cloak now gone, they unfurl, twisting and flexing in ways similar to a tentacle rather than a more-human limb. Finally, the taloned “hands” come to hang two feet above the creature’s head, directing your attention up from its body to its face.

The creature’s face is a sheer mockery of a human. First, all excess flesh seems to have been removed: the creature’s cheeks are gaunt and thin, its nose and ears are missing, and the flesh covering its eyes and teeth have been cut away. Although bald, a network of thin fleshy tendrils criss-cross over the top of his head, slowly pulsating. Nearing the holes left by his ears, the tendrils thicken, eventually merging into two thick fleshy rods that disappear into his skull, one going into each ear hole.

The pus-yellow orbs that serve as the thing’s eyes hang precariously within their sockets, their pupils focused on you but occasionally darting rapidly around to take in the entire room before returning. From within the gaping hole left by its nose you can dimly make out the dark shape of something occasionally moving within, although you cannot determine what that may be as yet. With its lips entirely cut away, the creature seems to be perpetually in a toothy grin; two thin tentacles energetically twitching at the corners of its jaws.

Cracking its jaws open to speak, the creature gives you a view into its mouth: tongue gone and some dark fleshy mass emerging from the back of its throat to stretch up to the roof of its mouth. With no tongue or lips, it is actually the hole cut into the creature’s throat that actually moves to make sounds, which in turn echo up and out of the creature’s opened jaws. Through the hole you can see the former man’s vocal cords moving to form words, encouraged by the thin tentacles that dart to and fro contracting and massaging the muscle.

With a wordless roar, the man leaps towards you. As he lands, one of the growth’s taloned arms lashes out, catching you across the face in a powerful overhead blow. The talons slash across your face, cutting your cheek to the bone and striking with such force that you are whipped around.

Before you are able to turn back to face the creature, its taloned “arms” descend again, one taloned hand clamping down on each of your arms and holding them straight out from your sides. Taking his “normal” hand, the cultist grabs your right arm by the wrist and suddenly pulls down hard, snapping your arm with a dry crack.

By this time, the leader has also reached you, and with his free hand he drives his fist into your side. You feel your ribs creak in protest, and then shatter as he rapidly drives his fist into your unprotected side several more times. Then, the leader stabs the knife into your stomach, slowly working the blade upwards to disembowel you.

Dorizzit
2008-02-12, 07:50 PM
"Keen observation."

Korram grabs the man by the face with his right arm, lifting him entirely off the ground before crushing the man's windpipe with a left handed blow. This done, he turns the man around and snaps his neck, killing him more quickly than he would have by suffocation. "That was a very brave thing of you to do, Countess. Thank you." He gives her a hand up. He looks at the corpse of the man he killed. "I wish that was as hard as it used to be..." he mutters. "We'd better get moving."

Pwenet
2008-02-12, 07:51 PM
Feeling the blade digging around inside of him, Incom starts laughing, his mind slipping and wandering. The one cultist jerks his arms straighter, causing the broken arm to grind against the rest of his arm, tearing muscle within it. Gasping for breath after a particularly nasty twist and yank of something within him, Incom twitches his mouth.

”Come on...... that...... tickles...... try harder you FREAKS!” Make me DANCE!”

The response is another deep tearing with more blood emerging from the wound.

What are you doing?

Running fleeing jumping up and down with joy why is this not fun can we dance a little so that we can become a couple and one and set aside our agony for a ballet of death and brighten the future

Incom smiles as he feels Harvey understand, and gasps in pain once again, coughing up blood that is starting to leak from within himself. Strange feelings of pieces that are suppose to stay within him sliding out gives a moment of panic, the pain of his broken arm behind held to either side. Yet he raises his head and glares at the creature carving him up.

If you understand me..... burn.......

Inhaling as if to laugh, Incom makes a sound as if clearing his throat, then roars, a deep bone shaking roar that should not have been capable of being made by a human.

Yes! Give in! Let me flow through you!

For once Incom does not give in, his features changing, warping from humanity, towards something reptilian, dragon like. Still roaring, the rest of his mouth twists in a smile, and something deep within his throat twitches.

WHOOSH!

Ancient dragon-flames emerges from Incoms throat towards the cultist working on carving him up, flames with the intensity to burn armored knights into ask, flames that are mystical in nature, flames that have not been seen since the downfall of the dragons. Flames that race out towards the cultist and engulf him.

Not waiting to see what happens, Incom continues to breath fire, and twists hard to his left, harder than he would and with a wave of pain RIPS his broken right arm off at the break. The dragon-breath fades and is replaced with a scream not human nor dragon, but something in between. Blood and muscles spurts from the jagged wound with his arm bones sticking out of it, jagged and broken.

Freed on one side, Incom twists to his left with the off balanced cultist staggering as he shifts his weight, and STABS the cultist with the jagged bones of his forearm in the face, burying his arm into the face of the cultist. Twist and yanking Incom pulls his stump free from the face of the cultist, inhales and breaths dragon-fire into the bleeding face of the cultist that was holding him.

Good! Good! Give in!”

Frozen
2008-02-13, 02:52 AM
"OH COME ON!" lamont yells, eyes widening in surprise. Twirling his net above his head, lamont throws it at the hound who looks closest to catching a prisoner. He crouches slightly, waiting for rawya and putting his hands into a step, hoping to boost rawya and throw him higher quickly.

Gods help me, how can i keep them alive???

Lamonts' throat and chest begin to swell, veins and arteries popping out, sinews straining at the bulk. His voice box strengthening and enlarging itself. Sucking in a large breath, he lets out a deafening roar, the loudest he can conjure up, hoping to distract the hounds' sensitive ears for a few seconds and buy some time.

A pair of bone claws spring out on the back of lamonts' right hand,his left hand fingernails lengthening into wicked talons. Lamont stands before the hounds and takes a fighting stance....his blue eye glints with magic

WhiteKnight777
2008-02-13, 02:13 PM
Umber

Umber curses the creature and his own carelessness, quickly taking stock of the situation even as he darts forward, trying to get to Milletia and get her and himself out of a far more dangerous situation than he had anticipated. If only he had a fraction of his full strength - this thing was strong, though... very strong. It had tossed him around like a rag doll. Still... He had to escape, that was the key. Moving as fast as he could, pushing his new-forged muscles to their limits through force of will, ignoring the pain in his body he stooped to pick up Milletia. Even in his weakened state, she was not too much of a burden for him. That taken care of he turned to move down the tunnel. Hopefully he could lose the damn things in the tunnel. His endurance was unending - he could and had run for days, though he would need blood sometime - no, no time to think about that now. For now he had to escape and evade recapture.

Iethloc
2008-02-13, 11:19 PM
Sohssal

"Oh, dear. Can't let you do that!" Sohssal informed the beast as the air between them shimmered with heat. Quickly, a beam of flames soared from his hands, striking the thing squarely in the chest, the force of the blow slowing it down until it halted mid-air just a few feet away from Sohssal, then hurled it backwards and slamming it against the wall, leaving a sizable burn on its chest. Sohssal struggled back to his feet, one hand wrapped around "his" nose. Bah, I had hoped to again leave pain by the end of the day! Sohssal mentally complained.

Acting quickly, Sohssal began casting another spell, wisps of smoke collecting in the air in front of him. Soon, a silhouette of fire burst into being, its vague form a mockery of humanity. Immediately, it flew forward, warping and expanding, growing to engulf as many of the semi-demons as possible, burning them with its intense heat and choking them with thick smoke. Sohssal waved the column of smoke in front of him away. Egads, I had forgotten how...fragrant this spell was... he thought.

ubersquid
2008-02-14, 07:40 AM
"Not what I expected, but praised be the gods..."

Elkwin wanders around the room for a moment and grabs one of the torches as soon as he sees it, lighting it up at the lamp very carefully.

Then he motions Marv to help him with the door and by using the same method as before they manage to push it into it's closed position again.

"Looks like we can rest in here for a few moments and well, let's see what we got here..."

Elkwin walks around the room and goes over all the stored equipment.

"Could fit out a whole army with all that stuff... Ah finally, this looks like a hammer..."

Improvising again, this time using weapons as tools, the two try to remove the bolts of their manacles and bracers and dim metallic thuds reverberate through the crypts.

Free of the chains at last, Elkwin rubs his wrists and then stretches out with a satisfied groan.

Making an invitational gesture, Elkwin smiles at Marv.

"Take what you need, today it's all on the house."

"You a soldier of some sort? I sure ain't... don't even know how to put on most of this stuff"

A piece of armor in hand, he turns it around and holds it up to various pieces of his body, trying to find out where it would belong, then throws it back and sighs. Looking over the weapons again, Elkwin pulls out a few of the smaller Axes and inspects them closely, striking over the blade with his thumb and balancing it in his hand. After finding a suitable one he walks back to the center of the room to fill one of the backpacks with a pile of torches and some waterskins. He also looks out for blankets and clothing that he could exchange for his prisoner garment.

"Seen any food around here? ... Meh... I doubted it... I mean there are ways, right? I know of sausages that don't get foul for years... But those dumbheads always tend to think with their fists and not with their stomachs. Bad habit if you ask me..."

"Ah lad, what would I give for a decent stew right now... And a mug of fine ale... But we gonna find us something, right? Let's just sit here and regain some strength for a few moments"

Elkwin sits down against the wall and leans his head back, closing his eyes for a minute.

"We need to find another way up, by now we should have about two dozen zombies against us from the way we came."

After they rested for a bit, they open the door again with combined effort and head out to explore the catacombs for an exit.

Voth
2008-02-14, 09:43 PM
Voth

"Your honor, if I may ask a question? Why is it forbidden to consort with demons?"

MrEdwardNigma
2008-02-15, 08:55 AM
So, what to do? Help the human? Or flee? Fleeing does seem more fun, but it might prove useless in the long run. Besides, I'll never get to zombify that pretty girl if I leave her to die out here. I've seen what these creeps call zombification. Amateurs, the lot of them.

Victor had decided. He'd been prepared too. He'd made some more of the flash bang mix, as it was one of the few things he could make with the materials given. A bomb would be more useful, but he didn't see any chances of doing that. This time though, the mix he had made was going to serve a different purpose. Instead of blinding temporarily, it would blind permanently.

He'd seen how the mix hadn't been quite as potent as he had hoped before, mainly due to the unexpected distance between him and the guard at that time, but still, just to be sure he'd made the mix that little bit stronger.

As the cultist was trying to kill Cassandra, and doing quite well, in fact, Victor jumped him as fast as he could, rubbed the mix in the guy's eyes before he could react, and then plunged two boneshards he'd picked up in the cultist's ears, or, at least, where he supposed his ears were.

Disruption of visual impulses, disruption of auditory impulses, disruption of balance, temporary confusion, pain. Enough to at leas temporarily take out any human, or even non-human.

But temporary won't cut it. Even if I would be able to get out of here without him raising the alarm, say by throwing him into the pit, I wouldn't. He's too interesting a specimen. I just have to know what makes him tick. Interestingly, the only way to do that, is to stop the ticking.

Victor's razorsharp fingers tracked their way across the cultist's chest, until they had found the place where the left and right part of the ribcage were joined together. His fingers quickly dug in, and he pulled with all his might, which was quite a lot for such a skinny looking man. Bone cracked and flesh snapped, blood gurgled up in fountains and Victor felt right at home. For a minute, he dreamt he was back at home, cutting up vagabonds or the neighbour's dog, all in the name of science, off course.

But the moment didn't last long, Victor snapped back to reality as he found what he had been looking for: his patient's heart. Three simple cuts, and it was all over. Surely, the cultist had struggled, even in his heavily impaired status, but it had been no use. He could be as strong and as fast as he liked, Victor was like the deadly spider that settled on just that bit of your back you couldn't reach, even if you did know where he was. And he worked disturbingly fast, with an unequalled love for his trade.

Cassandra was saved, but that was irrelevant now, the corpse was where Victor's interest lay. Quickly he began examing it, eager to find out how exactly the cultist had differed from a normal human. If he was done with this, he was planning to return the cultist to life, only slightly different than before. Very slightly. His life had only been one in servitude to begin with, it seemed.

I hope this is okay. You gave Victor an open shot at the cultist, so I assumed it was. Besides, Victor should be able to handle him anyways, given a chance like this

Inspectre
2008-02-16, 03:27 PM
The Catacombs

ubersquid

“Afraid I’m more of a lover than a fighter, friend.” Marv says, although he does go over to the armor, digging through the various pieces until he pulls out a lightweight chainmail shirt. He easily slips into it, reaching around behind him to work the clasps necessary to hold the armor tightly in place. “That said, I do know a little bit about how to wear armor. Enough to ensure you don’t get killed in some idiot’s idea of a friendly knife fight.” Marv twists about in the armor, making sure that the chainmail covering only his torso did not impede his movement, and then nodded. “I think I saw another of these chain shirts in here. No guarantee that it’ll fit, but if you want to try I think we could squeeze you into it together. It would just offer your chest and back some light protection, but it wouldn’t interfere with your range of movement much at all, unlike the heavier stuff.”

He then joins you in filling up a backpack with torches and more than a few weapons. Sadly, all of the bows have becomes useless, their strings having rotted away some time ago. Likewise, although the waterskins appear to be whole, whatever water they may or may not have once held in this room has since evaporated away, leaving them all dry as a sun-bleached bone.

Looking around, you likewise don’t notice any blankets or clothing. However, in one well-preserved chest in one corner of the room, you find several stacks of cloth tabards. Little more than long pieces of cloth with a hole in the middle of your head, the tabards would cover your chest and back but little else. Blue with gold trim, each of the tabards has the same golden rising sun with sword-tipped rays on the front and back, but nothing else.

“Hey, come look at this!” Marv said from the far corner of the room. Moving to join him, you see a large stand that once held quite a few glass vials. Now most of the vials have cracked open with age, their contents dried out to a thin layer of colorful grime along the sides. A few others are missed corks or shattered completely leaving only glass shards, but a pair of them at the very back of the stand still appear to be whole. Sealed within each vial is an emerald green liquid, slightly fizzy as air bubbles occasionally drift up to the top from within the dark liquid.

“What do you think, Elkwin? Potions for good, or evil?” He asks, gingerly picking the two vials up to hold them up in front of your face. Disturbed from their ancient resting place, the contents of both vials sloshed about a bit within their corked vials, starting to bubble a bit more than before.

The Arena

Frozen

Hoping to buy some time, you fling your net at the lead hellhound, catching it in mid-leap as it was about to bring down the rearmost prisoner. This does not slow the beast down for long, however, as with a growl of annoyance it lets loose a small breath of flame, setting the rope net on fire. The flames weaken the rope enough that the hellhound is able to break through the net completely a few moments later, but its momentum is gone leaving the prisoners to worry only about the other five.

Perhaps inspired by your example the rearmost prisoner, a tall muscular man who was unfortunately a bit slow on his feet, turns to face the onrushing horde of dogs as they begin to nip at his heels. “Go! I will slow them!” The man cries, whirling about to drive his handaxe into the throat of one of the lead hellhound’s heads. With his other hand he slaps at the second head, knocking it away as the beast tries to use its fire breath. The man winces as the third head, undistracted, manages to exhale a thin stream of fire into his chest, but then the man retaliates with a head butt that elicits a yelp of surprise from each of the hellhound’s heads.

The man then wrenches his handaxe out of the beast’s neck, raising it for another blow to the shoulder of the hellhound’s front-right shoulder. Before he could do anymore damage, two other hellhounds sweep in from either side of him, jaws clamping down on whatever bit of flesh they could find before the pair of beasts pulled the man down off his feet.

Now prone on his back, the man nevertheless continues to fight as best he could, swinging with his fists and kicking with his feet at the three angry hellhounds standing over him, before as one the three all used their fire breaths to cook him to a cinder. But the man’s sacrifice was not in vain, as the three he had distracted were the lead three, giving the rest of the prisoners valuable breathing space.

Although the remaining hellhounds closed quickly, it was too late as the three surviving prisoners reached you and the tower. Rawya was in the lead, and he tucked his weapons loosely into his belt as he reached you. You gave him a quick boost up, allowing him to catch the rough edge and scramble up onto the stairway about halfway up. The other two prisoners are forced to run around the side to the start of the stairway, the three other hellhounds immediately behind.

Growing your vocal cords, you give a ferocious roar, and the three pursuing hellhounds immediately stop to regard you in confusion. But this confusion is only temporary, and a moment later the three turn away from the other two prisoners to deal with you. Spreading out to surround you on the three sides allowable by the tower behind you, the hounds cautiously approach.

“Lamont! Your hand, quickly!” Rawya shouts from above you, lying facedown on the steps to extend his hand downwards towards you. As if taking this as a signal, the hellhounds on your right leaps forward, stopping a short distance away from you and taking in a deep breath in preparation to unleash its fire breath.

???????

Voth

Unlike before, when he struggled to answer your inquiry in a frustrated manner, the Judge is quick and confident.

IT IS FORBIDDEN BECAUSE DEMONS ARE EVIL. THEY LIE AND DECIEVE, LEADING HUMANITY AWAY FROM ITS TRUE PATH. TO INTERACT WITH THEM IN ANY WAY SAVE FOR THEIR DESTRUCTION IS TO COURT DISASTER. FOR THE SAKE OF INNOCENT OTHERS, NONE CAN BE ALLOWED TO CONSORT WITH THEM.

The Judge shakes its head, and then continues.

YES. THE FOULNESS OF DEMONS CAN NOT BE DENIED. TO CONSORT WITH THEM, EVEN IN THE GRAVEST NEED, IS TO RISK LOSING ALL. FOR THERE IS ALWAYS A PRICE THAT THEY SHALL EXTRACT FOR THEIR AID, AND EVEN IN CASUAL CONVERSATION THEY SHALL SEEK TO TWIST AND DISRUPT THE NATURAL ORDER. HOWEVER, THE DEMON WAS IMPLANTED WITHIN YOU WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD. PERHAPS IF IT WAS DONE WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT . . .

The Judge shakes its head and frowns.

NO. YOU SURELY HAVE HAD AMBLE OPPORTUNITY SINCE THEN TO DISCOVER THE DEMON’S PRESENCE WITHIN YOU AND SEEK TO REMOVE YOU. THAT YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO IS EVIDENCE ENOUGH OF WILLING CONSORT WITH DEMONS. YOUR GUILT CAN NOT BE DENIED, AND YOU MUST BE PUNISHED FOR YOUR SINS. NOW, UNLESS YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER EVIDENCE TO PRESENT, I SHALL NOW PASS SENTENCE ON YOU FOR THE CRIME OF CONSORTING WITH DEMONS, WITH YOUR GUILT IN THE OTHER CRIMES TO BE DETERMINED AT A LATER DATE.

MrEdwardNigma

(Yup, everything was fine. But you seem to have underestimated your opponent a bit. :smallwink: )
Mixing some more of the flash-bang mix into your hands, you dash up to the figure while he was distracted with Cassandra. As he prepares to bring the bone shard down, you strike, leaping onto his back and jabbing your hands up into his eyes to rub the mixture in. You are therefore a bit surprised when your hands meet little resistance: no eyelids, and soft exposed eyeballs that burst open upon digging your fingers into them. Oh well, a lot of harm done anyway, as now the figure had simply lost his eyes completely instead of them just being blinded by your chemicals. Snatching up the two bone shards you had picked up along the way, you then jab them into the sides of the creature’s head, going for the ears.

Although the figure does react to this very damaging surprise attack, he gives a hiss of annoyance rather than a scream of agony. Quite surprisingly given the fact that you had just disabled his eyes and ears, but no matter. Determined to end the fight quickly now, you tighten your grip on the man’s back and reach around to begin digging your fingers into his chest.

Although he flails wildly around at first, he is unable to dislodge you as you doggedly cling on, working your fingers deeper into his chest cavity as you search for his heart. Suddenly, your hands tears through his ribcage, but before you can finish the removal of his heart something surprising stops you. Although you can’t see what’s going on, you can feel thin tendrils of flesh wrap around your fingers and wrists, holding them immobile and preventing them from pushing deeper.

Then, the back of the figure’s cloak a few inches from your face suddenly ripples, and then heaves, the cloth tearing apart a moment later as something bursts out through it. Looking up, you see two massive limbs now emerging from the back of the figure’s torn robes, mulit-jointed and looking more than tentacles than human limbs. Tipped in three strong clawed fingers, with one finger set opposite of the other two, these two limbs appear to be set into some sort of armored growth covering the man’s back, just above where his shoulder blades would be. The two limbs flex powerfully for a moment, then bend back in a way normally impossible for normal human limbs, clamping down onto the tops of your shoulders. The claws dig into your flesh, although surprisingly just enough to get a firm grip as they pull and tug, ripping you off of the creature’s back as the tentacles within its chest release their grip on your arms, allowing them to be pulled out of the creature’s chest as you are likewise pulled off the creature’s back.

Dangling in mid-air from their two limbs, you are then swung around to the front of the creature as it reaches up to remove the rest of its tattered robes. It is only then that you get a good look at the creature before you as a whole.

Although still clad in simple black silk pants which extended all the way down to the floor and held up by a simple belt of black leather, the figure is bare-chested. Carved into the pale flesh of his torso is a mish-mash of arcane diagrams, sigils, and writing in an ancient language that you don’t recognize but nevertheless fills you with an ancient dread as the words seems to dance and shift across man’s body.

Hanging off of the man’s back is some sort of growth, a black cancerous mass of armored flesh with meaty red veins that stands out sharply against the pale white skin of the man. The growth extends down to the man’s waist and up to the top of his shoulders and the back of his neck. Thick fleshy tentacles extend out from the growth everywhere along its length to bore down into the man’s flesh, and especially thick ones appear where the man’s shoulders, legs, and neck meet with the growth.

Tucked up against the growth’s surface are a pair of powerful arms, each ending in three long taloned fingers, one set opposite of the other two to serve as a “thumb”. With the cloak now gone, they unfurl, twisting and flexing in ways similar to a tentacle rather than a more-human limb.

The creature’s face is a sheer mockery of a human. First, all excess flesh seems to have been removed: the creature’s cheeks are gaunt and thin, its nose and ears are missing, and the flesh covering its eyes and teeth have been cut away. Although bald, a network of thin fleshy tendrils criss-cross over the top of his head, slowly pulsating. Nearing the holes left by his ears, the tendrils thicken, eventually merging into two thick fleshy rods that disappear into his skull, one going into each ear hole. Two bone shards now stick out from each of these holes as they slowly ooze a blackish red blood, the result of your previous handiwork.

Both of its eyes are gone, nothing more than smears in the gaps of its eye cavities now, which prompts a dark shape to slide forth from the empty hole left by its nose. Anchored to somewhere within the hole by a thin tentacle, a bulbous green mass emerges from where the man’s nose used to be. A protective covering in the front of the mass blinks open, and suddenly you are starting into a bizarre eye, its pupil a cross-shaped pattern of two vertical slits arranged perpendicular to each other. The eye regards you for a moment, shifting this way and that with its tentacle anchor, until the creature appears satisfied.

With its lips entirely cut away, the creature seems to be perpetually in a toothy grin; two thin tentacles energetically twitching at the corners of its jaws. Cracking its jaws open to speak, the creature gives you a view into its mouth: tongue gone and some dark fleshy mass emerging from the back of its throat to stretch up to the roof of its mouth. With no tongue or lips, it is actually the hole cut into the creature’s throat that actually moves to make sounds, which in turn echo up and out of the creature’s opened jaws. Through the hole you can see the former man’s vocal cords moving to form words, encouraged by the thin tentacles that dart to and fro contracting and massaging the muscle.

You cannot escape your fate, prisoner. To resist it is futile.

Pulling back one of its human fists, the creature strikes your torso, and the impact hits with such force that with a loud tearing noise the stitches holding your right arm to your torso give, leaving the one clawed tentacle limb holding the rest of your up, with the other holds your right arm. With a casual unnatural bend, the tentacle limb flicks the arm over its back, landing some distance behind it.

But as the figure pulls its fist back to hit you again, Cassandra suddenly snaps out of her paralyzing fear. Still prone on her back, she kicks up at the figure, ramming her foot into one of the oozing holes you had left in its chest. There is a loud crack as the thing’s ribcage gives way, followed by a large gout of blood as Cassandra’s foot obliterates the creature’s heart. Although this finally seems to hurt the creature as it gives a wet gurgling gasp of surprise, the victory is short-lived as it remains standing.

“Uh oh.” Cassandra says simply as numerous tentacles emerge from the holes in the creature’s chest to wrap around her leg.

Twisting its entire body around, the creature whips Cassandra up and around with it, the tentacles finally releasing its grip just in time to send her flying through the air to land heavily at the edge of the pit. Howling in anger, the creature throws you to land heavily on top of her, knocking the breath out of you both.

Fools! I am eternal!

WhiteKnight777

Pushing yourself back up onto your feet, you dash away from the figure approaching you, using the central stalactite to put an obstacle between you. Running around to the other side, you reach Mellita, hastily grabbing her free hand and jerking her along the ground towards you and away from the figure approaching her. You then sweep her up and across your back, carrying her as you turn and head for the exit on the far side of your original entrance into the cavern.

Behind you, you can hear one of the figures begin to approach you, but the other calls him back. Stop. We must fulfill our purpose, not chase after a stray Sacrifice. The Herald must be awoken! And so, your escape is unimpeded, and soon you are out of sight of the cavern and its two surprisingly powerful occupants.

“Would you mind putting me down now, Lord Umber?” Mellita asks, sighing in relief when you finally grant her request. Once on the ground she pulls aside a fold of her dress with her free hand, revealing a concealed sheath which she slides her silver dirk into. Now in close proximity to the weapon, you can also see runes which appear to be ancient holy script etched into the length of the blade. So, a blessed silver dagger, hidden in the folds of her dress.

“My apologies again, Lord Umber. Of these . . . creatures . . . I have no idea. No one has ever heard of such creatures living down here, or at least not mentioned them while I was within earshot.” The female vampire coughs nervously, and then continues. “Now then, there should be a large cavern a short distance from here, with numerous tunnels leading into it. Several lead back up to the prison, but most lead further down into the depths of the mountain. It is one of those tunnels that we shall take that will eventually lead us into the unknown region where the secret exit lies.”

Brushing herself off, Mellita then starts walking down the tunnel, but freezes as the soft mutter of voices echo up towards you. “Someone’s coming!” She hisses, pressing herself into the shadows of the side of the tunnel as several armed figures walk out from around a bend in the tunnel ahead. They do not carry any torches or other light sources with them, but as they get closer you can see that they are human. “Master says we get good reward if we catch vampire!” One of the four figures hisses, earned a cuff to the back of the head from the one walking behind him. “Master always promise that! He promised the same to Larry and Gary, didn’t he? And what happens to them – they got chopped apart by that . . . thing’s . . . claws!”

“At least Master didn’t send the rest of us in to die after he saw what it did to them!” The first figure retorted, earning a snort of disgust from the third. “That’s only because the Paladin told them we weren’t good enough and to get in there and fight the thing themselves before he smashed us all into dust.” “Filthy paladin! What does he know of our ways anyway? How I long to listen to his screams as Master tears him apart!” The fourth spits, and then the four figures continue to draw closer in silence. Judging by what you have seen and heard so far, you strongly suspect that these four are Thralls: human servants bound to a vampire through blood. They had their uses, but other than the convenient ability to see in the dark as a result of the bonding, most had few strengths over the average human.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

Korram easily kills the surprised guard, and then helps Amelia up. She doesn’t answer at first, looking down and breathing heavily. Finally she takes one last gulp of air, and looks up. “Thanks. I got winded from the fall, but don’t think I sustained any permanent injury. There’s only one guard left out in the hallway, and would you please free my hands now? I don’t want to fall and be unable to catch myself like that again.”

You quickly free Amelia’s hands, and she stretches and rubs circulation back into her wrists. Then she walks over to the dead guard, gingerly picking up the guard’s club. “I have taken a few fencing lessons. I should be able to somewhat defend myself if we get into a fight.”

From somewhere out in the hallway, you hear a loud shout followed by a quieter clash of blades. Amelia starts at the noise, looking behind her at the curtained doorway with a momentary expression of fear, which she quickly quashes with an angry grimace. “It seems something is going on outside. It’d be safer to just wait here until it’s gone, especially if it’s involving the guards. But that shout sounded like the other guard in the hallway. If he’s distracted, this may be our best chance to slip past.” The Countess nervously chews on her lip, and then shakes her head. “We can’t afford not to take whatever opportunities we find along the way. Let us depart this awful place, hopefully for good.”

The Countess then moves the curtain aside with her appropriated club, and slips into the hallway. (To get you guys out of this room, I’m just going to assume you both follow her out. Correct me if you still want to cower in the room. :smalltongue: )

Exiting the room into the hallway, you can see that it is exactly as the Countess described. Several curtained doorways stand at regular intervals on both sides of the hallway, alternating so that no two doorways are exactly across from each other. The narrow hallway is perhaps wide enough for two people to walk abreast, and curves slightly so that the far ends of the hallway are out of your line of sight.

Walking forward towards the door out of here, you come into sight of the guarded iron door to find a surprise waiting. The iron door hangs open, the guard apparently having deserted his post. The cause of this is quickly located, however, as through the open doorway you can see a wild melee taking place in the room beyond.

Again as the Countess described, the room beyond the door features a wide stairway leading up to a landing, and then turning 90 degrees to the left and continuing up. A short distance to the right of the stairway is an iron door, currently closed. Another such door is set into the right wall, with two more doors set into the left.

Currently, at the foot of the stairway a massive melee is taking place, as nearly a dozen guards cluster around a lone grey-cloaked figure. Wielding a bastard sword in one hand and a handaxe in the other, the lone figure’s movements are precise and confident despite his desperate situation. Sweeping in low with his bastard sword, the man cuts one of the guards off literally at the knees, then spins around to deliver a high kick to the head of a guard approaching him from behind. Twirling his handaxe, he deflects a blow from a guard to his right, immediately retaliating with a thrust from his bastard sword. The blow does not penetrate the guard’s armor, but it does drive him back long enough for the lone figure to whirl about to confront the pair of guards coming in from his left.

The fight continues to rage, the figure continuing to defend himself expertly, but only occasionally dropping one of the guards. As the guards’ numbers dwindle down to “only” eight, one of the doors on the left side of the room bursts open, and another five guards spill out into the room.

The Labs

Iethloc

You blast the creature descending towards you, the impact of your fire blast melting its icicle club and sending it flying back to crash into the ceiling. A sizable hole burned into its chest, the creature lies still upon landing, evidently the second to die outright from your spells.

You then conjure up the being of smoke and fire, siccing it on the half-demons while wrinkling your nose as the fumes burned your already sore nostrils. The creature manages to engulf two of the creatures, which means with another three outright dead and the last crippled, you are safe for the moment.

A sudden pain lancing through your legs as they are ripped out from under you causes you to immediately discredit that previous thought. Looking down, you see that the crippled half-demon has managed to drag itself along the floor, leaving a bloody trail from its still-bleeding stump of a right leg. Now grasping a hold of “your” right leg and starting to twist, the creature seem intent on returning the favor.

Momentarily, the acolyte regains control of his body from you, raising his left foot to jab it into the face of the half-demon once, twice, three times. The powerful blows seem to do little to faze it despite reducing its nose into a bloody pulp. However, it does anger the thing further, and as a result instead of twisting your leg off it simply twists around, swinging you around and up into the air before releasing its grip and sending you flying through the air.

You don’t fly for ever long though, not having wings or any time of flight spell activated, and crash down onto the top of a bench to slide along its length, smashing over countless vials of chemicals as you go. What these effect these chemicals will have on “your” skin, you have no idea, although the wild mixture smeared all over your body is starting to tingle and burn a bit as you reach the end of the bench and fall over into a heap on the floor. In any case, you have more pressing matters to attend to than a little skin irritation, as the crippled half-demon begins determinedly dragging itself across the floor towards you again.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

As if understanding your comment, the lead creature stops its dissection of you, rapidly backing up. It is much too late, however, and an instant later you coat his cloaked form with liquid dragon flame. There is a loud, unearthly shriek of agony from the figure as it stumbles back, the last traces of its black cloak burned to ash to reveal a figure similar to the one you have already seen. However, there is one important difference: the growth is thicker on the leader, with a band of it going all the way around his waist. Below his waist, the leader has lost all appearances of being human, as a quartet of thick chitinous legs extend down to the floor. Two thin whithered shapes dangle down from the center of where the legs join with the body: apparently the remains of the cultist’s original human legs.

Regardless, your breath treats all flesh the same, and the charred body of the leader flies back to crash into the wall of the tunnel a short distance away. You then twist about in the grip of the other cultist, ripping your broken arm off but getting a cool bone spur in the process. This you use to jab into the face of the other cultist, the blow striking him directly in the left eye and continuing back into his brain. He sneers at this, but isn’t laughing anymore when you rip your spur-tipped arm back out and coat him in dragon fire. As the creature gives an unearthly shriek, the flame sears away the flesh on its face, charring the bones beneath before utterly reducing the thing’s entire head to ash. As it staggers drunkenly back away from you, you sweep the flame downward, managing to char most of its body to blackened bones but failing to accomplish the same spectacular results as you had with its head.

Both of the bodies lie still, the human flesh charred to the bone or worse, and large swatches of the growth blackened as well. But then something stirs inside the large growths along each cultist’s back, and thin tentacles burst out. These tentacles tear holes in the growth, allowing a goo-covered, head-sized object to tumble out of each. Each object is a large ovoid shape, with four long whip-like tentacles, the same that had ripped the growth open, attached to one end. It is difficult to make out anymore beyond that, but then the tentacles come to life again, quickly flailing the goo off of the shape. Then the tentacled end splits open revealing a powerful set of mandibles the size of small daggers, and the non-tentacled end blinks open, revealing a single massive eye the size of a human head. The pair of creatures then fly up into the air, and with an angry clack of their mandibles, zoom off at rapid speed away from you down the tunnel towards their companions.

“Are . . . are you alright!? Hello? Is it safe to come out now!?” The familiar voice of the young girl calls from her hiding place.

Dorizzit
2008-02-16, 04:03 PM
Korram raises his eyebrows in surprise upon seeing the cloaked figure's prowess. "That's...impressive." he says. "Still, it seems they will be overrun soon enough, and they could make a powerful ally. So...I think I'll go lend a hand." Assuming he isn't stopped, Korram charges out, driving into the flank of the approaching reinforcements. He takes out a guard before they even know what's happening, snapping his enemy's neck with the force of his blow before the other guards can react. This done, he ducks around the group, parrying a slash of a sword with his arm before tripping one of the guards. He rises with a powerful (and fiery!) uppercut, shattering the guard's neck. From there, he whips a small blast of flame through one of his opponent's helmets, meanwhile fending off the other two. He ducks a sword blow, and grabs one of the remaining guard's faces while knocking his other opponent's sword from his hand. Hurling the grabbed guard into the struggling guard he flamed, he strikes his opponent's stomach, driving his hand through the guard's body, blood sizzling as it comes into contact with his flames. He pauses for a moment, his hand stuck.

Iethloc
2008-02-16, 04:21 PM
As he was lifted into the air, his leg about to be twisted, Sohssal couldn't help but think one thing: This sort of thing wouldn't happen if I were never trapped in wretched physical form. Though he looked unamused even as he flew through the air, he cringed as he collided with the chemicals, though he wasn't put off enough to get up and brush off stray pieces of glass here and there. He shook slightly as his skin was irritated. "Oh, this had better not have any adverse effects before I get out of here..." he said to no one in particular.

As he watched the half-demon drag itself before him, Sohssal felt energy surge within him. "BA-HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh, HAHAHAHA! A-HAHA!" he couldn't help but laugh loudly and boisterously. Pausing only to rub at a particularly irritated patch on his arm, he looked at the half-demon right in the eyes. "You are both amusing and pathetic. Goodbye!" he informed it, then quickly began working on a spell. Static electricity built up in the air as he finished it, and suddenly electricity flickered into life, forming a rough sphere in front of Sohssal. While he grinned, the ball surged forward, warping into a small bolt of lightning that struck the crippled abomination head-on.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-02-16, 05:56 PM
Victor's mind was racing. The creature was less human even than he had expected, but a thousand times more interesting as well. In fact, it seemed the creature wasn't human at all, rather a parasite using a human corpse as a means of transportation. Victor and Cassadra had destroyed its heart, the bloodpump, and severely damaged its brain, and it was still going, still speaking. So its core had to be somewhere else entirely.

Victor's limitless knowledge of anatomy and the arcane told him that this centre was very likely the unnatural growth on the creature's back (and would this not be so, Victor's knowledge would probably lead him to a different, more accurate, conclusion). The fact that this hump was armored seemed to support this conclusion.

Eternal? Victor asked himself, as the creature spoke, Now I'll have to look into you for sure! I can't pass up a chance to investigate one of the goals of alchemy, the goals of my life. I was planning on doing this another way, descending into the dungeons, but if this doesn't work out, I can still do that. Right now, all I need is to buy some time. The thing is bragging. Good, let it brag, it's not the only enhanced freakshow out here. It thinks it can keep track of us both now, but it's wrong. Dead-wrong.

As Victor slowly got up on his knees, which quickly bended in the dust so he could jump up high fast if needed, he looked at the creature's skull, or at what was inside it, and spoke.

"I see how this works here. Don't worry, no more fighting back from me here, you got me. You're stronger than me, I get it. But one last request. A pledge, if you may. Why? I mean, I assume you suck the life out of people, fuel yourself with this suffering perhaps, maybe even the zombies, but why so ineffectively?

Whatever you're doing, wouldn't you want it to work at full potential? I can name two or three things wrong with your system just like that, and I'm not even completely clear on how it works yet! I can see how this sounds as silly, coming from such a petty creature like me, but we're basically the same, only you have much better resources. I could help you, you know. I could streamline your whole organisation. I know you can understand what I'm saying, I can see it in that eye of yours. Whatever you're trying to accomplish, I can make it go twice as fast"

As far as this theory is wrong, it should be corrected by Victor's extensive knowledge in both of the fields concerned. I'm not Victor, so I'm bound to make a less good guess at it than he is

During his speech Victor's loose arm had crawled up to the creature, and now it silently jumped onto its back, swiftly digging it's sharp fingers into the weak spots in the hump, digging to the very core. Victor had seen the creature in it's entirity now (except for the legs, but I doubt that's important unless his vital parts are there) and had been able to analyze it. All its weak spots had been stored in Victor's brain, and therefore his arm could make use of this too. The creature had met it's endgame. A final screech, maybe, and then Victor would finally get to examine this freak.

Voth
2008-02-17, 02:33 AM
Voth

Pressing the issue, Voth continues. "What makes deceit wrong, sir Judge? Does if it saves lives is it not the right thing to do? And what makes something evil? Is it still evil if used for a just cause? An axe for example can be used to take a life but can also be used to help build a home. Is it not what one does with an object that defines its quality?"

WhiteKnight777
2008-02-17, 10:57 AM
Umber

Umber fled quickly, swearing once again at his own weakness as he slipped into the dark, but allowing him some small measure of relief as he heard the creature's call behind him. It could be a trick, of course, but unless it was merely a veil of feigned stupidity, the creatures did not really seem to possess that amount of cleverness.... At her request, Umber set Milletia down once more, arching an eyebrow as she replaced the silver dagger in its concealed sheathe. My, but you are a brave one, aren't you my dear? I'm surprised. Few of your breed have the strength of will to carry something so... inimical so close to the skin. He was about to say something else, but was cut off when he, too heard the voices moving along the tunnels. He waited, letting them pass by. Normally he might have tried to take all of them, but his recent experience with the thing in the main cavern had disturbed him... Likely enough they were simply unwitting fools sent down to try to flush him out, but if their master had indeed sent them down to look for him, perhaps they had some other weapon at their disposal... or, perhaps, they were merely bait... no, there were too many risks, and his overconfidence had already gotten him into trouble once.

Pwenet
2008-02-17, 03:14 PM
Incom & Harvey

“Are . . . are you alright!? Hello? Is it safe to come out now!?” The familiar voice of the young girl calls from her hiding place.

Standing over the corpses, shaking with rage and pain, Incom looks at the badly burnt corpses, the darkness seemingly as bright as day as he views the details of the bodies. His mind flashes back to other incidents, looking down at similar bodies, bodies that had been wearing armor and carrying weapons and wielding magics. Bodies that in life had hurt him, prodded him, until the day he snapped, with Harvey laughing in the background.

Yet now there is only silence in his head as the bodies smolder, including the remains of his right arm, which were caught in his flames.

What were those things dragon?

Only silence reigns, which is strange coming from the normally talkative dragon. Pushing it aside Incom takes a look at the stump of his arm, and nods as he sees it already healing.

We must feed. Do so quickly, before she arrives.

Stunned slightly by the voice within Incom kneels and starts working on bits of flesh from the corpses without argument. His mind wanders mostly in self-preservation to avoid thinking about what he is eating while his enhanced hearing picks up the footsteps of the girl.

As she rounds into the area where the fight took place, Incom stands up, his stomach less empty, yet Harvey is still silent.

”Everything is fine. Brace yourself.”

Sighing Incom turns and looks at the girl, revealing his transformed state to her, his missing arm.

”I am fine. There are more down this tunnel with others. We must find out what is going on, for I fear simple escape is impossible with ones like those here.”

Dragon. What are those things?

Without waiting for a reply from either the girl or Harvey, Incom looks over the corpses for any items that may have survived or clues on what happened to the poor souls, before taking off down the tunnel where the other cultists and prisoners went down.

ubersquid
2008-02-18, 11:43 AM
"Aah, here we go, cloth is always good, even if it's just to make some bandages."

Elkwin takes a few of the tabards and stuffs them into the backpack as well.


"You think that thing would fit? Worth a try at least"

With a little help from Marv and a lot of wiggling and moaning, he squeezes himself into the chain shirt. After straightening it out and looking down onto his well shaped belly he grins.

"That's gonna be the latest fashion..."

Picking up one of the vials that Marv offers, Elkwin removes the cork and takes a smell, coughs and holds it away from his face again quickly.

"Whatever it is, it's certainly not brandy. Might come in handy still."

He closes the vial again and sticks it between the pieces of cloth in the backpack, then laces it up and flings it over his shoulder. He stands up straight and mocks a salute.

"Ready to go, soldier!"

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-02-18, 10:36 PM
Desot runs forward and sends a heavy kick at one of the spiders. "Get off of him!" he yells. He then immediately tries to pivot above the little man to pull him out of the spider's path, to a safer more magically-capable position.

Inspectre
2008-02-21, 12:49 AM
The Mines

gnome_4ever

Leaping forward, you kick the spider in the side, which skitters back in surprise at this sudden attack. Taking advantage of the situation, you turn away and run, snatching up Amraf as you go. You drag him several feet away from the spider, which is a much safer location although not especially so with their ability to spew acid. Nonetheless, it is far enough that Amraf has time to invoke another of his illusions, and the spider dumbly charges forward into the wall of the tunnel. Stunned from the impact, it is easy prey and quickly falls from a blow from your shovel.

Everything is quiet in the tunnel for a moment, but then in the distance you hear a loud hissing screech. The kind of screech only something big and pissed off could make, and that was no doubt heading this way right now. “Desot. Get out of here. I’ll buy you some time.” Amraf pants, clearly pained by all of his acid-inflicted injuries. “I’ll only slow you down, especially with my wounded foot. Whatever’s coming next can’t get us both. You have to get out of here, escape for both of us. Now go! Take the lantern, and my pick, and go!” The little man says, propping himself up against the wall of the tunnel while waving at you to depart.

The Catacombs

ubersquid

As you uncork the vial, the green liquid abruptly fizzles up and boils out of the vial and onto your hand. This doesn’t seem to have any adverse effects on your hand besides making it wet and slightly sticky, but it does significantly reduce the amount of liquid in the vial by the time the fizzing subsides enough to allow you to properly re-cork the vial.

“Hmmm . . . I think I recognize that awful smell.” Marv says, sniffing. “Reminds me a bit of the healing potions I’d come across now and then in my travels. Although, these smell a bit, ah, “riper” than those! Doesn’t look like there’s much in your vial anymore. Oh well, still got this one! Which I guess I’ll just keep in my pack in case of emergency, eh?” Marv comments, sliding the second vial of green liquid into a small pouch on the outside of his backpack.

He slings his own backpack across his shoulders, picks up the slowly burning torch from the lighting bracket he had set it into, and returns your mock salute with a grin. “So, where to from here? Do we keep going and see where this passage leads us, or do we go back and hope the zombies have moved on? I’m not sure wandering around in the catacombs is going to be very good for our health, but then again past those zombies is nothing but a path leading up into guard territory again, which is perhaps only slightly worse than the unknown.”

???????

Voth

The Judge frowns angrily and shakes his head at you.

THE GOOD THAT HAPPENS FROM A CRIME DOES NOT ERASE THE SIN FROM YOUR SOUL. YOU HAVE CONSORTED WITH DEMONS. IT IS UNDENIABLE, AND NO GOOD THAT COMES FROM IT CAN ERASE THE EVIL OF THE ACT. YOU MUST BE PUNISHED, IF ONLY AS AN EXAMPLE TO OTHERS NOT TO REPEAT YOUR MISTAKE.

The Judge extends one hand down towards you, but immediately reaches that hand back up to his temple. He looks upward with a sneer of frustration, and then back down at you.

BUT, IT COULD BE ARGUED THAT THE SIN WAS NOT INITIALLY YOURS TO BEAR. AND CONTINUING YOUR CONTACT WOULD BE A LESSER SIN THAN INITIATING IT. ONE THAT COULD BE FORGIVEN IF YOU HAVE BEEN TRUTHFULLY LOOKING FOR A WAY TO BREAK OFF YOUR CONTACT WITH THE DEMONIC ENTITY, WHILE USING ITS POWER ONLY FOR GOOD.

Lowering its hand, the Judge sneers down at you.

VERY WELL THEN. CAN YOU NAME ONE SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCE IN WHICH YOUR CONTACT WITH DEMONS HAS BROUGHT ABOUT ONLY GOOD? NOT CONFLICTED CASES LIKE THE ONES WHICH HAVE BROUGHT YOU HERE ON CHARGES BEYOND CONSORTING WITH DEMONS. BUT AN ACTUAL TRUE CASE OF BENEVOLENCE WHERE YOUR CRIME HAS ONLY BENEFITTED OTHERS?

MrEdwardNigma

Although the creature does not seem impressed with your offer, it is nonetheless distracted as it responds, its thin and croaking voice growing loud with each word.

You know nothing, lesser being. You flail and scream at the nothingness before you, but fail to comprehend its essence: nothing. Nothingness is all that awaits you, and you cannot escape your fate. Now, your soul shall be sent to meet its end, and be consumed by the onrushing End!

The thing takes a step towards you, but suddenly has a much bigger problem on its mind as your detached arm leaps up onto its back and starts to burrow into the hump. This thing was unlike anything you had ever seen, which made it most fascinating to you, but nonetheless it shared similarities to other things in nature. As such, you were able to identify where the weakest points in the growth’s armored shell were, and your arm picked the weakest of those to burst through into the guts of the strange growth.

The thing screeched and twisted, but even as the growth’s own limbs bend impossibly backward to snap at your arm, the thing was too slow as your arm completely passed through the shell. Now temporarily safe from reprisal, you begin to work your limb deeper into the growth, seeking the exact center of the thing. As your fingers work through the creature’s flesh, you have to repress an unnatural shiver of revulsion at the sensations being relayed by your arm. It was like pushing your hand through a barrel full of live worms, as countless tentacles floating in some sort of gooey solution flailed against your arm trying to push through them. Fortunately, your razor-tipped fingernails were most effective in cutting through the most recalcitrant of the tentacles, and you thought you were nearing the true center of the creature when suddenly everything went limb.

All of the tentacles around your arm went limp, allowing you to reach the center a few seconds later only to find an empty void. An instant after that, the growth at the back of the creature’s shoulders burst open, allowing an ovoid shape to float up into the air as the main body collapsed lifelessly to the ground. Floating in mid-air by means of some sort of magic, one end of the ovoid was equipped with four long whip-like tentacles and a large set of heavy mandibles. The other end was a large eye, which blinked open a moment later. It would seem that your theory of some sort of parasite corrupting a human body was correct. The creature clacks his mandibles angrily together, and then speeds off faster than you can react, zooming down one of the tunnels back towards the main complex.

Beneath you, Cassandra coughs weakly and mutters, “I don’t feel so good. That guy beat the hell out of me . . . and are you missing an arm!?”

WhiteKnight777

Mellita smiles nervously at your comment, absent-mindedly running one finger along the hilt of the now concealed weapon. “It was given to me by Hellion for this mission. Although silver does not have the adverse effects on my kind, others are not so fortunate. And of course, a holy blade is a dire threat to all of us. Therefore, it is an effective weapon against anyone that could prove to be a significant hindrance to your escape. Or at least, that is what I thought before encountering those hooded figures. What were they, Lord Umber? They reeked of death and utter . . . perversion. I have never sensed anything quite like them.”

After responding to your compliment, Mellita advances the rest of the way in silence, especially as the thralls approach. Leery of another ambush, you allow them to pass by unmolested, although much to the protests of your dry throat: you were getting quite thirsty. With them past, you and Mellita continue down the passageway, and an all-too familiar voice begins to echo up from cavern ahead.

“Come lads! Surely one amongst your pathetic number has the stones to face a true abomination! No? Then perhaps a simple choice will help: face it or me. Your choice; it has been too long since my warhammer has kissed the ashes of your kind. Ah, that’s a good toadie! Watch the tail now! Ouch!”

The voice is undoubtedly that of Paladin Alexander Ross, and as you reach the exit of the tunnel you can see his armored back, along with the backs of perhaps a dozen other figures. They are all facing off against another familiar sight to you, a Bone Golem, although its been awhile since you’ve seen one. Braced on its four legs, the creature gives a little hop forward as one of the figures sweeps in towards it, chopping it in half with its powerful tail. There is no blood from the massive wound, and an instant later the figure is reduced to a pile of ashes, a clear indicator that the unlucky figure had been a vampire.

“Ah well, he’ll be back come sundown. Now then, let’s see if the rest of your poor sods are any luckier! I’ll even come in and join you this time. All together now! Three, two, one!”

A heartbeat after the countdown Ross gives a bestial roar as he unslings the warhammer from its usual resting place on his shoulder, racing forwards towards the Bone Golem as another six of the figures flanking him rush in towards the construct. Although currently distracted by the guardian, there were a lot of combatants in the room who would be only too happy to return you to your initial state at the beginning of the day should you be spotted. But then again, as soon as the Bone Golem finally fell, those in the room would have one less distraction to keep them from spotting you. And you certainly couldn’t remain here forever, leaving you stuck until all of the cavern’s current occupants decided to leave.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit/rubakhin

You quickly move to join the fray, killing three guards before they are even aware that another opponent has joined the battle. Unfortunately, your hand becomes stuck in the body of the third guard you killed. A strong body blow, your fire-arm burns through the man’s internal organs in seconds, but as you move to withdraw your hand you realize that your hand is momentarily stuck.

It seems that you had plunged your hand in a bit too high, and now were caught up in the man’s rib cage. Unlike the flesh surrounding them, the bones were not instantly reduced to ash by your fire-arm. Instead, they merely blackened as the heat from your arm gradually charred them to nothing. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be nearly fast enough, as the disarmed guard approaches, now menacingly wielding a dagger.

Ducking under a pair of blows from behind, the lone figure crouches down to slide one foot behind him and to one side, placing his leg between those of the guard to his left, while he slips his handaxe behind the left leg of the guard to his right. Simultaneously he sweeps both his outstretched leg and handaxe forward, tripping both guards. As the two unprepared guards crash to the ground the man stands up, swinging his outstretched leg up to kick the chest of the guard directly in front of him. As this third guard also falls, the figure whips his handaxe back and then forward, releasing it perfectly to throw it through the melee swirling around him and into the back of the startled guard approaching you. The guard falls at your feet, dead and with a mystified expression as to how this was so.

Now gripping his bastard sword in both hands, the figure swings wildly in front of him, driving the other guards back momentarily. The figure leaps through the now opened gap in the ranks of the guards, pausing momentarily to boot the fallen guard immediately in front of him in the jaw. The guards hot on his heels, the figure dashes over to you, swinging around to present his back to you.

“Seraph.” The man says simply, dragging a dagger from his boot and using it to parry the leading guard’s attack, before responding with a snap kick to the guard’s face. As the guard stumbles back, cradling his bleeding nose, the other seven rush in to surround you both, joined by the sole survivor from your group of five. As they close in, another four guards appear on the landing of the stairway. “There he is!” One of them shouts, pointing, before all four rush down to join the fight. Although some are wounded by either you or Seraph, this still means that there are thirteen guards left standing.

The Labs

Iethloc

You better hope there’s no adverse effects from all this. *I* have to live with whatever’s left by the time we get out of here. Which won’t be much if this keeps up! The assistant mentally chides you, although leaves you alone to finish off the half-demons. Which you manage to accomplish a few moments later with a ball of lightning. Streaking out from your hand into the face of the creature, the ball breaks open to play electricity all over the creature’s form, leaving it in drooling convulsions before it finally lies still.

“Ha! You may have bested my sons, but my daughter shall destroy you! Now Omega, kill him!” The overweight researcher cackles as he yanks the glass tube’s door open, having finally undone the locks sealing it. A moment later a feminine figure steps out of the glass tube, although identifying it as human might be presumptuous.

Certainly, a young woman had been used as the base for the creature before you, but a hodgepodge of demonic pieces had been grafted onto her frame. Most notable of these was the set of leathery bat wings folded neatly against her shoulder blades, and the ram-like horns emerging from her temples, looping back and around to end in dull points along either side of her chin. Of course, the blood-red reptilian eye sitting beside its piercing blue human companion was also quite noticeable, as were her taloned feet as they scrapped against the floor. The last noticeable exterior difference was the modified right hand: long slender fingers ending in claws with a retractable bone scythe built into the wrist. However, the faint incision scars covering her body along with odd protrusions and hollows underneath the skin suggest that significant modifications were made internally as well.

Turning to face you, Omega raises her clawed right hand impassively, and flames instantly burst into existence directly in front of you. The heat drives you back a step, but you realize that retreating further might not help as the wall of fire begins to extend, moving to completely encircle you.

“Yes, that’s it! Kill him!” The researcher shouts, moving over to crouch behind a nearby bench to watch the battle from (relative) safety.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

Harvey is strangely silent despite your prodding, which is most unusual as he generally has at least a sarcastic comment to offer in situations as these. No doubt feeling that he must offer at least something, he simply commands you to eat.

We must feed. Do so quickly, before she arrives. But take care only to consume the flesh that is still human. I sense the taint of a most unnatural and foul corruption from these bodies. The results of eating such tainted flesh would surely be unpleasant, along with probably tasting pretty bad. I wouldn’t recommend even eating the cooked human bits, but we can’t go into battle on an empty stomach in our current state.

It is difficult to pick out the untainted human flesh due to the rubbery tentacles that you find throughout the things’ entire bodies, but eventually you manage to pick off enough charred human flesh to stave off your mounting hunger. Slowly, the pain burning in your ragged stump of a limb fades as your body works at regenerating an entire new arm. That arm wouldn’t be ready for quite awhile yet, and so with a little bit of resignation you turn to face the girl to reveal the full state of your condition to her.

Again, the girl raises a hand to cover her horrified face, although her eyes are surprising full of sympathy and compassion as they focus on your missing arm. “Wh-what happened to you? What *are* you? A-are you sure it’s even s-safe to move around like that, with your arm . . . missing?” The girl gasps, continuing to stare at your gaping but slowly healing wounds.

You quickly explain the situation to the girl, searching both bodies meanwhile for anything else that might be useful before you set out in pursuit of the slaves and their keepers once again. Most possessions, if the creatures had any to begin with, had been vaporized by your dragon breath or destroyed in some other manner during the battle. As such, you find nothing of use or even of note on the two bodies, save for one item on the leader. Hanging from the leader’s neck by a simple leather thong was a black iron medallion.

Etched into the medallion was an extremely ornate depiction of a setting sun. Unlike normal depictions of a sun, however, the rays were drawn on the inside of the sun, leading downward into its center rather than out and away. The rays were also twisted and distorted, overall giving the depiction more of an impression of a swirling vortex than an actual sun. And of course, what the sun was setting behind couldn’t be ignored: an endless mountain of human skulls, painstakingly individually carved out in detail on the medallion’s face. The thing radiated a palpable aura of evil, and at the sight of it one small corner of your brain argued vehemently to simply curl up into a ball and pretend that none of this was real, that it was all a dream and you’d be waking up shortly in a nice warm bed. The depiction also had a noticeable effect on Harvey, who stirred in your mind first with interest in your find, and then with a mounting sense of disbelief and hatred that you couldn’t help be feel radiate off from him.

No! It can’t be! That sigil is some sort of ruse, a trick! They probably found it in some old treasure chest somewhere and thought it looked cool to use as the symbol for their stupid cult! It can’t be them, thousands of years later! But even if it’s not really them, these creatures have chosen to associate themselves with that symbol! That accursed symbol, which flew on human banners millennia ago! That accursed symbol, which was the standard of the human army that came to my ancestral home when I was but a whelp! That accursed symbol, which flew above the ruins of my home after my family was slaughtered and I barely escaped! RRRRAAAARRGGGHHH! I don’t care where they got this from! They’re dead! They’re all dead! We shall exterminate every last one of this filth, and we shall not rest until they’ve all breathed their last! I will not brook any argument from you on this, human. I have dreamed of taking revenge against those of this symbol for dozens of your lifetimes. I was too weak then to defend my home, but now I am strong enough to avenge it! Let us find the other two that fled to start with!
It is therefore with considerable urging from Harvey that you race down the tunnel after the two other figures and their slave chain of prisoners. The girl races after you, trying her best to keep up as you drag her along, otherwise she would be utterly lost in the total darkness without her torch (which you used to distract the Bone Golem). You do not have a particularly long distance to run, as a minute or two after setting out again you find the tunnel slopping sharply around to lead into another cavern. From within the cavern you can hear the quiet sobbing of the prisoners, with louder chanting that is still barely above a murmur.

Peeking into the cavern, you can see that most of the prisoners are still in the slave chain, currently huddled against the one wall where the end of the chain has been padlocked to a heavy iron ring bolted into the wall. One prisoner, a young boy, has been removed from the slave chain and carried over to an obsidian black altar in the center of the cavern. One of the remaining black-robed figures has carried the boy over to the altar by the throat with one hand, and without particular concern for the boy’s wellbeing, body slams him down onto the altar.

It is here that the second figure takes over, driving an iron spike down through each of the boy’s wrists and pinning his arms to the altar. Picking up another pair of the slender rods, the figure drives them through the boy’s ankles, effectively pinning him helplessly in place. The boy’s wild panicked screams of agony echo through the room, causing the prisoners to huddle even more tightly together: evidently none of them were close relatives to the boy otherwise his screams might have had a different reaction.

Now chanting loudly over the boy’s screams, the second figure picks up another set of the iron spikes, preparing to drive their slender points into some other soft part of the boy’s body as blood begins to pool onto the altar’s surface from his already four serious limb wounds.

Iethloc
2008-02-21, 01:37 AM
"Kind of reminds me of that statue I acquired so long ago..." Sohssal reminisced as Omega revealed herself. Still, he couldn't help but shudder within at her visage. Pausing only to wipe the sweat from his forehead, Sohssal began weaving an old favorite ice spell. The temperature around him dropped slightly, though that would do little to stop the raging fires. However, the small snowstorm that ensued would do a lot more. Sohssal shielded his eyes as the snow whipped around him, but then used them to cast another spell as the snowstorm ended.

A small pool of water gathered around Sohssal's feet, though he didn't bother to step out of it or shake the water from his feet. The sound of rushing water echoed from the distance, and, soon enough, a torrent of water poured in through the door behind Sohssal, flooding the little lab, though oddly only covering the area a handful of yards around Sohssal. This was more than enough to submerge both Omega and her overweight father, however. Sohssal gurgled just a bit and, focusing on the spell, moved the flooded area away from himself so he had room to breathe, but kept Omega underwater. Oh, you humans need to breathe, don't you? Sometimes I forget. he relayed to his forced partner. Turning back to the scientist, he glared. "Now might be a good time to taunt you, but I don't think you can hear me with that water in the way. I hope your creations don't operate underwater very well," he said.

Bah, I hope this thing can't walk very fast underwater, or at least can't hold its breath well. Can't focus enough to move the water when someone's actively trying to kill me! he complained to himself.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-02-21, 12:31 PM
"He was no guy, Cassandra" Victor said, as he sped over to the corpse and gave it an examination as quick as he could. He pulled his loose arm out of the goo and had it tear the bit of rope he had left into thin thread as he himself gave the corpse further examination.

Victor tried to find a piece of bone amongst the rubbish which he could use as a needle. With it, and the thread, he would sew his arm back on. As this was done, he would find some pressure points on the fresh corpse before him and bring it back to life. He needed something to fight for him, so he didn't need to work this hard at every encounter. Besides, this had only been one creature, what if there had been several?

The parasite still interested him, but Victor decided it would be wiser now to pursue his other goal. He headed in whichever direction his dream had told him to go. He was going to find that vampire.

Dorizzit
2008-02-22, 02:34 PM
"Korram."

Korram parries a slash on his arm while simultaneously dodging another from a different guard. He gut punches a third, this time inflicting a killing blow without getting his hand stuck. This done, he whips his left arm across, smacking a guard back in a vicious backhand. He then wards off some of the guards by swinging his flaming arm at them. With this space he manages to focus enough to send out a heatwave at the remaining arms, a rippling tide of fire that ignites hair and scorches eyes. He then leaps at the disordered survivors, tearing through them like a very hot knife through butter.

WhiteKnight777
2008-02-24, 11:23 AM
Umber

Umber's heart, if it were still living, would have skipped a beat when he heard that bastard's voice. Oh, but that arrogant little whelp was annoying. Another arrogant cretin in the service of the so-called Powers. Feh. He was just another lackey, a peon with notions far beyond his wit, merit, or understanding... but he channeled power. Much power. Dangerous power. Particularly in Umber's weakened state... he sighed... but then again, there seemed to be no other way out, other than to try to slip through the chamber as quietly as possible. While these cretins were engaged in battle, he would take a moment to try to determine the safest, quickest route through the chamber, then take the chance, trusting speed, stealth, and distraction to protect them. Even as he thought, he whispered his plan to Milletia, so she would know what to do.

Pwenet
2008-02-24, 02:00 PM
No! It can’t be! That sigil is some sort of ruse, a trick! They probably found it in some old treasure chest somewhere and thought it looked cool to use as the symbol for their stupid cult! It can’t be them, thousands of years later! But even if it’s not really them, these creatures have chosen to associate themselves with that symbol! That accursed symbol, which flew on human banners millennia ago! That accursed symbol, which was the standard of the human army that came to my ancestral home when I was but a whelp! That accursed symbol, which flew above the ruins of my home after my family was slaughtered and I barely escaped! RRRRAAAARRGGGHHH! I don’t care where they got this from! They’re dead! They’re all dead! We shall exterminate every last one of this filth, and we shall not rest until they’ve all breathed their last! I will not brook any argument from you on this, human. I have dreamed of taking revenge against those of this symbol for dozens of your lifetimes. I was too weak then to defend my home, but now I am strong enough to avenge it! Let us find the other two that fled to start with!

Hearing the sudden hatred within the mental voice of Harvey stirs Incom into action as he races down the tunnels after the other two cultists. Looking down at his arm he sees that new flesh covers the stump, stopping the bleeding and covering the bones. Based on prior experiences the arm would slowly grow out, hopefully a bit quicker now that he had a chance to feed.

Arriving at the next cavern, Incom and Harvey watch as the cultists newest victim is slammed into an alter and pinned rather forcibly to it. As his screams echo throughout the chamber, Incom narrows his eyes as he considers his options.

They are too far away to make it there in time, our dragon-flame can’t reach that distance, we don’t have anything ranged. I guess it is time to throw yet another useless item as a distraction.

Still holding the medallion that he took off the corpses, Incom narrows his eyes and throws it with his left arm at the cultist about to drive additional spikes into the boy. As it flies out he emerges from the shadows.

These things are bad. I’m not fighting you now, as long as you promise to help me save those prisoners. I will not go along with this revenge scheme at the cost of blood and mayhem of innocents.

Not waiting for Harvey reply, Incom strides forward confidently, with his good hand indicating to the young girl that she should hang back in the shadows until this is over.

”Excuse me evil cultists. I have a message from your companions! Dragon-Fire Bad!”

ubersquid
2008-02-25, 03:08 PM
Elkwin - Catacombs

"Walking back up the way we came seems out of the question for me, if we don't run into our zombified mining chain, we'll just meet another one with guards still alive. And I'm not sure what would be worse. Additionally we haven't found any food on the way down, so we won't find any on the way back up. And as chances are that we'll get killed by something in this prison anyway, I say we find ourselfs a nice little pantry so we can die with a full stomach at least."

Elkwin sighs and forces a smile onto his face.

"Come on, let's go, bacon and ale are waiting."

Frozen
2008-02-26, 01:08 AM
Lamont whips his unbladed hand up, stretching the limb until it reaches rawya. Flicking his right hand palm up, he grabs rawyas' hand with his left and jumps, retracting his left arm and uppercutting with the right, attempting to slice up the center of the hellhound.

Reaching the stairs, he gives rawya a thumbs up, before turning and assessing the situation below

Voth
2008-02-26, 01:37 AM
"Yes, Yes I can." Voth says looking into the Judges eyes. "The assassination of Arch Duke Victor Von Kessel. That man advocated slavery, murder, and magic of the darkest nature. He was nothing but a cancer upon the this world and I do not regret killing him. Without the Demon's power as a tool that I used, he would still be spreading his evil to this day."

Gnomish Wanderer
2008-02-27, 11:50 AM
Desot grabs the lantern and pick and hesitates. "We can take it, right?" He gulps and looks toward where the sound comes from. "We can... we..." With wide eyes he looks at Amraf, watching the little man's bravery. I can't let his life be wasted. Desot begins to run out and escape. Finally he yells back, "You will not be forgotten."

Inspectre
2008-03-01, 03:11 PM
The Mines

gnome_4ever

Turning a few shades paler as the angry screeching comes again, now much closer, Amraf nods. “Go! Go, before I lose that courage!” He calls after you, waving you off even more desperately before returning to his spellweaving.

Taking his advice, you snatch up the lantern and take off down the tunnel, running for your very life. The sounds of Amraf’s magic-related mumblings soon fade behind you, although his sudden loud high-pitched scream still reaches your ears perhaps a minute later. This adds even more strength to your legs, and you race down the tunnel ahead of you, scarcely caring where it led you so long as it was away from whatever horror was behind you.

But in the end your haste leads to carelessness, and your flight suddenly ends as you are stopped fast in the middle of the hallway. Something sticky yet immobile blocks your path, and you have run directly into it. Several strands are plastered against your face, and they hold to your face just as strongly as do the strands now attached to your arms, legs, and chest. The horrible thought that you had run directly into a web immediately fills your mind, and your roving eyes now finally see the near-invisible strands stretched across the hallway and built into a strong resilient net.

Although the strands pushed closest to your lantern were starting to smolder, they did not immediately catch fire as you knew they should. And your shovel arm was trapped just as much as the rest of you at the moment, so it would be difficult to use that to cut yourself free as well. Underlining the desperation of your predicament was the sudden familiar sound coming from above you.

Scrape scrape scrape . . . hiss.

Looking up as the droplets of acid fall to the ground directly beside you, you see the black body of the spider as it descends from the darkness above the web. For a moment it simply hangs there at the edge of the lantern light, its eight black eyes glittering in the darkness while it continues to sharpen its fangs thoughtfully.

Scrape scrap scrape.

The Catacombs

ubersquid

“Ha, you said the magic word. Let’s go!” Marv says, buckling a weapons belt around his waist with one hand while the other continued to hold his torch. Reaching out to a nearby rack, Marv selects a long sword, running his eyes up and down the blade before nodding in satisfaction and sliding the length of steel into the scabbard set in the belt.

The two of you then exit the supply room, stopping only momentarily to push the stone door shut again. On the surface stopping to push the door shut in a place that probably hasn’t seen a living soul for many many years seems foolish, but Marv makes the convincing case that you may need to return to this place for additional supplies once food had been located, and neither of you wanted to walk back into the place to find zombies or other undead horrors had set up shop there. The door is much easier to move the second time, or perhaps shutting it was simply much easier than opening it. In any case, it is only the work of a minute, and then you and Marv set off down the hallway.

As it was before your arrival at the supply room, the carved stone walls of this place continue to be covered in strange runes. Some sort of magic, writing in an ancient language that neither of you could understand, or just simple decoration? Judging by the pattern of the carvings, you suspected it was some sort of ancient language, and whatever magic these chiseled words might have once had, it had drained out of them some time ago as here and there one or more of the words had been worn off of the wall, fallen away into dust.

Marv was similarly fascinated by the runic carvings, running his hand along the wall as you make your way further down the hallway. Eventually you come to a four-way intersection, each hallway stretching out into darkness. From the right corridor, however, you could hear a faint sound: feminine crying floating down from somewhere further up the hallway.

“What’s that?” Marv grunts, hand drifting down to his sword. “Sounds like somebody crying, but what are the chances of anybody being alive down here?”

The Arena

Frozen

Stretching your arm, you are able to reach Rawya’s offered hand, and when combined with a powerful leap you make it up to the stairs easily. On the way up, you make use of your other hand, stretching it out and sending it tearing up through the torso of the closest hellhound.

Caught in the midst of attempting to use its fire breath and unaware of your sudden attack, the hellhound makes no move to dodge and your arm rips up through the creature’s torso in a geyser of blood and gore. With most of its internal organs now missing or out of place, the hellhound collapses and dies, all three heads managing one last low mournful howl. Hearing their packmate’s howl, the other hellhounds throw back their heads and howl as well.

Settling in beside Rawya, you look down as the remaining five hellhounds move with increased determination, two sweeping around the side of the tower while the other three gather around the sides and directly below. A moment later the two other prisoners come stumbling into sight up the steps, breathing heavily but not stopping until they are past you. “They’re . . . coming!” One managed to shout, just as the lead hellhound appears from around the tower.

It is clearly the one wounded by the tall muscular prisoner, as one of its heads hangs limply and the man’s handaxe is still protruding from its shoulder. Growling, the hellhound lowers its two remaining heads and charges forward, directly at you. As it approaches, it turns slightly to present its uninjured shoulder towards you, clearly planning on bullrushing you off the ledge.

???????

Voth

Even the Judge seems slightly taken aback by your confession.

SO . . . YOU CONFESS TO MURDERING A NOBLEMAN!? THIS IS EXACTLY THE SORT OF THING I MEANT WHEN I SAID “USING EVIL TO ACHIEVE GOOD”! YOU HAVE VIOLATED NUMEROUS LAWS WITH THIS TRANSGRESSION, AND BY YOUR OWN CONFESSION SEAL YOUR GUILT. I NOW HAVE NO DOUBT THAT THE CHARGES AGAINST YOU ARE TRUE! I NEARBY PRONOUNCE YOU –

Suddenly, the Judge slaps one hand on his forehead, staggering back a step before continuing.

BUT IF THIS ARCHDUKE WAS TRULY AS EVIL AS CLAIMED, DID YOU NOT HAVE A CIVIC DUTY TO KILL HIM? PARTICULARLY AS WITH HIS NOBLE STATUS, HE WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO BRING BEFORE THE COURTS.

Angrily, the Judge throws his hand away from his forehead.

NONSENSE! NO MAN IS ABOVE THE LAW, AND YOU SHOULD HAVE PURSUED OTHER COURSES OF ACTION OTHER THAT MURDERING HIM. REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU INDIVIDUALLY THOUGHT OF YOUR ACTIONS, GOOD OR EVIL SHOULD NOT AND CANNOT BE DEFINED BY THE INDIVIDUAL. FOR EACH PERSON DEFINES WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT IS EVIL DIFFERENTLY. THUS, LAW CAME INTO BEING, AS A MUTUAL CONSENSUS BETWEEN THE PEOPLE OVER WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT IS EVIL. ALL ARE THUS SUBJECT TO THE LAW’S DETERMINATION ON THE EFFECT OF THEIR ACTIONS. AND THE LAW IS VERY CLEAR ON THIS MATTER: MURDER IS A SIN!

Shaking his head, the Judge grits his teeth for a moment and then continues.

VERY WELL THEN. YOU SHALL BE TRIED FOR THE CRIME OF THE MURDER OF THE ARCHDUKE AT A LATER DATE. BUT YOUR ACTIONS THERE DO NOT DETERMINE YOUR GUILT HERE. THE LAW IS VERY CLEAR ON THIS AS WELL. YOU MUST HAVE TIME TO PREPARE YOUR DEFENSE.

Sighing, the Judge stares up at the ceiling for a moment, then looks back down at you.

VERY WELL THEN. DUE TO THE CONFUSION SURROUNDING A NUMBER OF YOUR CHARGES, AS WELL AS THE SURPRISE ADDITION OF MURDER OF THE NOBILITY, YOU CASE CANNOT BE DECIDED AT THIS TIME. THEREFORE, IT SHALL BE POSTPONED UNTIL A LATER DATE, WHEN MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE. UNTIL THEN, YOU SHALL BE RETURNED TO HOLDING TO AWAIT YOUR NEXT TRIAL. I HEREBY ANNOUNCE A CLOSURE TO THIS TRIAL. NOW, TAKE MY HAND.

Dropping down to one knee, the Judge extends one of his massive hands towards you once more.

MrEdwardNigma

“Oh . . . well, do you know how to treat wounds?” Cassandra asks weakly, starting to pale as blood continues to seep up from her deep shoulder wound. Ignoring her for the moment, you walk over to the remains of the creature’s host body.

While prying your arm out of the mess and sewing it back onto your body should be relatively easy, you note with considerable annoyance that reanimating the host body’s corpse will not. First there was the systematic destruction of the creature’s sensory organs and other important bits, such as its heart. While zombies didn’t need most of those pieces, necessarily, it typically helped to make an effective one rather than a mobile sack of flesh.

The bits of the other creature, the parasite, had also begun a rapid and quite fascinating withering collapse into nothingness. However, due to the sheer number of tentacles running through its body as well as the growth covering a sizable portion of its torso, this rapid decay has significantly lessened the corpse’s body mass. Thus, what you had left of a corpse to reanimate essentially consisted of little more than stingy clumps of human flesh connected together by feeble scraps of skin. Even if you were able to reanimate the corpse, it would make an extremely poor servant. Of course, that did not take into account the fact that you had a very large pile of bodies in various conditions and pieces down a nearby hole. You could theoretically stitch new organs and flesh into place, but that would of course take a significant amount of time.

A sudden loud groan from the cart that the creature and his zombie servants had arrived with suddenly reminds you that there was another individual yet alive in this room. He could make a potentially useful ally, although judging by the severe wounds covering his body he would likely be more effective dead than alive. And there was also Cassandra to consider, still lying on the ground slowly bleeding to death. With your knowledge of anatomy you could probably sew the wound together without much difficulty and in a way that would prevent the wound from accidentally reopening should you get into combat yet again. Or you could simply wait for her to die and reanimate her, although without the proper facilities she would likely turn out as only a simple zombie, capable of carrying out basic instructions but little else. Judging from what little you had seen of her actually fighting, that might be a waste, particularly of your other plans regarding her.

In any case, you manage to make some thread out of the remains of the rope, and find a bone sliver slender enough to work well as a needle and hold thread. It is only a minute of quick work to restitch your arm back in place, with its full augmented range of movement. After dealing with Cassandra, the creature’s corpse, and the bound wounded prisoner in the cart, there would be nothing left for you here.

For exits, there was the passageway you came from, the other two tunnels, and the pit. From your dream you knew that the vampire’s prison was somewhat below your cell in the darkest depths of the prison, but you aren’t entirely sure where you are now. Definitely somewhere below your usual cell, but deep enough to be on the same level as the vampire’s prison? You weren’t quite sure at this point, and the only one that probably had any idea had only wanted to talk about your death, who not counting the parasite was now dead himself.

WhiteKnight777

Mellita nods silently at your command, partly to avoid making noise, but also due to the fact that she would nearly have had to shout to be heard over the din of battle as Ross and his vampires met the Bone Golem head on. Of all the combatants, only the Bone Golem was eerily silent save for the occasional clicking of bone; the rest screaming battle cries or just screaming in general as one of the Bone Golems numerous weapons temporarily ended their life.

You wait a few moments for the battle to be joined in earnest, and then start moving across the room, attempting to stay as far away from the melee as possible. You are nearly halfway across the cavern when a vampire is skewered by one of the Bone Golem’s scythes, and then thrown across the room to crash into the wall directly in front of you. Most of his chest torn apart by the serrated edges of the golem’s scythe, the vampire now lacks the ability to draw sufficient breath to shout a warning, but that doesn’t stop him from trying as he looks at you with wide eyes.

He manages only a few weak wordless squeals before Mellita silences him, drawing her holy silver dagger and hacking into his throat. The first blow bites perhaps halfway through his neck, but the second slides all the way through, the dagger ringing softly as it strikes the stone wall. Immediately the vampire crumbles back into ash, and Mellita shakes the few motes of dust off her blade with a disgusted expression before wordlessly sliding her dagger back into its sheath.

You manage to make it the rest of the way across the room without further incident, ducking into one of the tunnels on the far side. Turning back to regard the cavern one last time before pressing on, you note with minor disappointment that Ross was not killed, nor even wounded, by the Bone Golem. However, he was still in the midst of hilariously grinding the creature’s bones into powder, while replacement bones from the spares lying about on the floor flew up to take the shattered bones’ places. Four vampires also remained, helping out by reaching down to tear bones out of place before throwing them across the room. Naturally, the bones flew right back into position, but it was enough of a distraction to prevent further resistance from the bone golem while Ross continued to methodically smash every single bone that made up its body, along with the considerable number of spare bones littering the cavern floor.

Leaving this scene behind while the destruction of the creature continued to delay them, you and Mellita press on down the tunnel. You do not travel far before you come across the remains of another pitched battle. Numerous scorch marks adorn the walls, and the familiar stench of charred flesh greets your nostrils. But there is an unpleasant odor mingled into this sweet smell of fiery death: the stench of corruption and decay, not just of the body but the soul as well. This was also a familiar smell to you, having dealt with all sorts of unpleasant beings during your centuries of existence, but never before had it been so pungent.

The smell seemed to be strongest around the two charred remains of what looked like somebody’s sick joke of what a human corpse should look like. The torn and charred remains of black robes cling to each body, already in the midst of some sort of rapid decay. “Could these be –“ Mellita began, but before she could finish anguished screams echoed up from further down the tunnel. It would seem whoever had done this had been here recently, and was now causing further trouble up ahead.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

You parry numerous blows from the guards closing in around you, dropping one with a quick counterpunch to the stomach that turns a significant portion of his abdomen to ash. A fiery sweep from your arm at eye level disorients the others, allowing you to strike quickly and take out another two guards before they can recover.

Behind you, the man identifying himself as Seraph adds to his own kill count. Parrying an overhead swing by an onrushing guard, Seraph twists around as his dagger flashes up, slashing the guard’s throat open. As the guard falls to the ground gasping and feebly clutching at his bloody throat, Seraph continues to twist around, raising his right foot up to sweep around into the face of a guard on his left. After the blow connects, Seraph immediately stops his turn and reverses direction, swinging his bastard sword around into the dazed guard’s face.

But even as these guards fall, the rest continue to close in, fighting with reckless abandon. You hear Seraph grunt as he parries a guard’s blow too late, directing the blade down from his stomach and into his left thigh instead of blocking the attack entirely. The guard’s cry of victory is immediately reduced to gurgles as Seraph throws his dagger into the guard’s throat. He then tears the guard’s short sword out of his leg, using that as his off-hand weapon to deflect new blows from the other guards pressing in around him.

Then, it is your turn to be wounded as a guard rushes forward on the side opposite your fire-arm. Although his horizontal slash is wild and uncontrolled, it does manage to slip past your guard. At this last instant you manage to twist away from the blow, reducing it to only a shallow cut across your side rather than a potentially fatal blow.

Hearing an angry roar from beyond the circle of your fight, you momentarily turn your attention outside the ring of guards surrounding you. Past the guards you can see that yet more have attempted to join the fight, but were mostly stopped by Dima and his tiger. Unfortunately, the tiger can only stop men, and not arrows as one rearmost guards raises his crossbow and fires. Seemingly in slow motion, the bolt crosses the short distance to Dima’s chest, impacting in a spray of blood and throwing him off his feet. You hear both Dima’s tiger and the Countess scream, their shrieks of anger mingling together. Then, you are forced to focus once more on your own fight. Your last glimpse of the battle beyond your immediate circle is the Countess moving to stand over the downed form of Dima as a pair of guard push past his tiger and rush forward.

Seven guards remain around you and Seraph, and what appears to have been five more were now attempting to deal with the wounded Dima, his tiger, and the Countess.

The Labs

Iethloc

Summoning arcane power once more, you fill part of the room with water, floor to ceiling. The sight of water forming a vertical wall a few feet in front of you is a strange sight, but certainly no stranger than most of the other things you had already seen today, let alone in your lifetime.

Thanks for remembering. The assistant wryly comments after your confession that you had nearly forgotten an important part of your plan: not drowning yourself.

Both Omega and her creator appear to be taken by surprise at this sudden attack, although the researcher has time to cry out “Omega! Save me!” before being buried under the water. Through the sheen of the wall of water in front of you, you can see Omega turn to look at her “father”, narrow her eyes in concentration for a moment, and then she blinks out of existence to reappear right next to the researcher. She wraps her arms around him in what appears to be a slow-motion hug, and then narrows her eyes in concentration again and then reappears at the far end of the laboratory. “Now Omega! Kill that fool good!” The researcher manages to sputter as he coughs up what water he swallowed after Omega sets him down.

Turning back to face you, her eyes narrow in concentration again before she blinks out. She reappears right in front of you, wrapping her demonic hand around your throat. With little effort she picks you up off of the floor, although her hand is loose enough around your throat that you can still easily breathe, when with her strength she probably could have crushed it. She allows you to hang there for a moment, and then flings you across the room.

This time, you manage to avoid crashing into anything, hitting the ground and sliding to a halt just in front of the wall. On either side of you, walls of flame burst into being, running back a short distance to Omega and essentially trapping you in a hallway of flame. Rather than blink into position at the mouth of the hallway, Omega slowly walks towards it, possibly giving you time to escape from the hallway if you moved quickly.

Suddenly, a sharp pain rips through you skull, as a third presence pushes itself into contact with your mind. It is cold and detached, lacking any of the hot rage that flares up now and again within the assisstant’s mind.

I am Omega. I have no desire to kill you, human. You clearly have powerful magic at your disposal, and so I propose an alliance. You are a prisoner here, as am I despite what my “father” might say. With us allied together there is a chance that one of us might be able to escape this place. The problem is that my “father” is not an idiot, and has conditioned obedience into all of his “children”. And so because he has ordered it, I *must* kill you. But I can go about it in a most flashy but ultimately inefficient way, at least until my “father” starts to suspect and demands I kill you quickly. Therefore, if you could devise a way to convince him to revoke the order, and then kill him before he can utter another, I believe that we can work on escaping rather than fighting each other to the death. What is your answer?

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

Fine! Any terms are acceptable so long as my debt of blood with these cretins is settled in full!

Emboldened by Harvey’s surprising support and agreement to behave, you emerge into the cavern. Seeking to direct the creature’s attention away from the boy and to yourself, you throw the medallion at the back of his head. As the black chunk of iron leaves your hand, the black-robed figure drops the two spikes he had been holding, whirls around, and catches the medallion in one hand.

Refusing to be intimidated by this impressive display of agility, you taunt the creature, while its companion moves away from the altar but does not make any threatening moves . . . yet. Instead it begins to whisper in its familiar hoarse, croaking tone.

Intruder identified. The potential Sacrifice, dragon-possessed human. Sacrifice now somehow capable of dragon breath. Sacrifice extremely dangerous, remain at a distance if possible.

Together, both black-robed figures then raise their hands in front of them. Behind them, all of the remaining sharp iron spikes raise up into the air with a soft clatter. Then before you can react, both figures vigorously thrust their hands forward at you, and the iron spikes follow suit. Pain explodes all throughout your body as the swarm of spikes slam into various parts of your body, and a moment later your back slams into the cavern wall with bone-crushing force. As the veil of pain clears just enough to allow you to see your predicament, you notice that you are now pinned to the cavern wall by the iron spikes.

Nearly two dozen of the iron spikes protrude from your body, most clustered around your limbs but a few buried in your abdomen and chest as well. None of the wounds are fatal however, and you realize with awful certainty that this is exactly what the figures intended. Instead, now you would get to watch, helpless, while the sacrifices continued.

Apparently satisfied, the figures turn back to the boy still screaming on the altar. With another gesture one of them forcibly removes the four iron spikes from his limbs using the same telekinetic magic the figures had used to pin you to the wall like a bug. Turning back to you, the figure gestures again, and the four spikes race forward to stab into your face. For a moment you are sure that now you are dead, all four of the spikes penetrating all the way through your skull and into your brain, but such is not the case.

Two sail past your head, cutting shallow gashes into your cheeks before striking your ears, one passing through each ear and into the rock beyond, forcibly pinning your head into place. The other two stab less than an inch into the top eyelid of each eye, pinning them open and preventing you from closing your eyes. Thus, unable to look away or close your eyes, and pinned helplessly to the wall, you can do nothing but watch what happens next.

The first figure who had just pinned your head into place began to address you, while the second reached down to grab the boy, hauling him up into the air by both wounded limbs. Held aloft, the boy dangles feebly from the figure’s grip, although the figure is able to get a pained reaction from the child after working his fingers into the boy’s gaping wounds.

You think that you are a hero, someone who can help others, someone who can avoid his fate. But this is not the case.
Holding the boy up over the altar, the figure suddenly pulls in opposite directions, and against his immense strength the boy’s flesh cannot hold. With a blood curdling scream from the boy, both of his arms detach from his body, allowing him to flop down onto the altar, both stumps spraying blood. But is barely a moment before the figure tosses the loose arms aside and picks the boy up again, this time by his legs.

No, you are nothing but a tool, to be used by everyone around you and then thrown away.

Again, the figure pulls, ripping the legs off of the boy’s body. Already in a severe state of shock, the boy does little more than whimper as his limbless torso falls heavily back onto the altar. Again, the figure picks the boy up after tossing the limbs aside; one hand wrapped around the boy’s neck, the other plunged into his chest and wrapped around his ribcage.

But don’t worry. We’ve found an important use for you, and with your help we shall reduce this unfair world that has treated you so wrongly . . . we shall reduce it to nothing!

With a final effortless tug, the cultist tears the boy’s head from his torso, tossing both lifeless pieces onto the pile beside the altar and leaving it utterly soaked with his blood.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-03-01, 05:50 PM
Victor cursed as his hands dug into the lifeless body of his former opponent.

Such a waste of good materials! Such a magnificent creature, dead! Who-ever did this was a monster. Inhumane, that's what it is.

Victor ignored the fact that he had been the one responsible for the creature's untimely death and set to work on stitching up Cassandra. He didn't even talk to her, look at her face. He just started sewing her out of the blue. He didn't have any sedatives, so she'd just have to bear the pain.

He then walked off again, to the cart. He took a careful look at who was under there.

"Who're you?" Victor asked, barely expecting an answer. His eyes scanned the wounds quickly and carefully. If this person looked like he wasn't going to be any use alive, and he didn't have anything usefull to say for himself, Victor would start his work on him. The sinister arts. If Cassandra would ask, Victor would simply sigh and say "He's dead, I'm afraid. Might as well put the remains to use. Those sounds you heard? Yeah, well, he wasn't dead until two seconds ago. Guess I was just too late"

Victor's first job was to make sure the guy couldn't talk or move. Simple pressure on some nerves, jab to the vocal cords. No problem. He'd work on him while he was alive. the fresher the corpse, the better the zombie. this one would only die when he turned into a zombie. A point, as the French say.

Victor could only make one servant without more resources, and he was pretty frustrated about failing to reanimate this lovely creature he'd killed, so he decided to make this zombie count. He had loads of loose bodyparts and he used them to harvest more muscle tissue. This he sewed into his new servant. Four extra arms as well. Make it count, that was the idea. Shifting some bone, dragging some tissue, it was going well. Boneshards sticking out of one hand, metal gloves wrapped around two more. Enforced ribcage, three hearts for extra power. He was going to make it count.

When the work was done he, Cassandra and his new servant would head down the tunnel the parasite hadn't gone down and they hadn't come from.

Dorizzit
2008-03-01, 10:18 PM
Korram grits his teeth, as he can do nothing to help the Countess. DAMMIT! I hardly knew him, but no one deserves to die like that. And now I have no way out of here... His momentary distraction nearly costs Korram his life as he barely dodges a slice from one of the guards. He backhands the guard, knocking him unconscious and hurling him back. Korram then ducks another slash before grabbing the blade and crushing it, slagged bits of metal falling to the ground alongside the main blade halves. He slams another brutal blow into the face of one of his enemies, his opponent's neck making a sickening crack as it snaps. With his other hand, he crushes the windpipe of the guard with the broken blade. Finally, he sweeps his burning hand out in a horizontal chop, bursting his final enemy's stomach open, red mist streaming from his hand as blood sizzles and evaporates. He breaks from Seraph, assuming the skilled man can handle the other three guards, and runs to protect the countess.

Iethloc
2008-03-02, 05:39 PM
Before Omega sealed off the hallway, Sohssal quickly began casting one of his oldest spells, once obsolete when he was incorporeal. The sound of a gentle wind graced his ears, and suddenly raging winds came into existence around him, lifting him off of the floor. He flew forward, though hand trouble controlling his path. Bah, it's been over a hundred years since I've used this spell to fly! he mentally complained as he soared past Omega. However, he merely hovered in the air for a few moments as the presence was forced into his skull. I'm...somewhat surprised, but I'll accept your offer... Sohssal responded to Omega's proposal, honestly but pleasantly surprised. On the outside, Sohssal merely grinned. This should make things more interesting! he thought to himself. He directed the winds raging around his person to throw him towards the scientist.

After slamming into the wall behind the scientist, he quickly gathered what was left of his dignity and rushed up to the scientist. Static electricity caused his hair to stand on end as Sohssal cast another spell, an orb of electricity in one hand as he used the other to grab onto the scientist. "Call off your beast!" he shouted into his ear, pressing the orb of electricity closer to him, letting him feel the power in it. Sohssal, though nervous, did his best to try to keep it from showing, grabbing on even tighter to the scientist to use him as cover should he order Omega to retaliate, instead. "Do it NOW!" he added.

WhiteKnight777
2008-03-03, 12:14 AM
Umber

Umber gave a thin smile and a nod to Milletia. She'd done well in the battle-chamber to make sure the fallen vampireling had stayed down, permanently. His smile widened, displaying his fangs. Ah, the sweet music of screams... how many times he'd heard it in his own lifetime. So many different sources, so many different tones, variations on a common theme... you could form a whole choir out of them. He'd known nobles in a particular city called Udesh in the east had once been in the habit of doing just that. That was, of course, before the night of Soul's Judgment, when the mortal's gods had brought down terrible vengeance upon those same nobles for their decadence. He never would understand mortal forms of worship. The old gods were what one might call wicked, if one subscribed to such idiotically simplistic moral systems, but at least they were honest. All they wanted were simple exchanges of power. Nothing for nothing, something for something. Oh, they demanded high prices, but they followed the rules. These newer gods the mortal herd dreamt up - they seemed to spend so much time and energy repressing perfectly normal urges, instincts, and indulgences, such that mortals either became obsessed with avoiding them or equally obsessed with indulging in all the delightfully alluring forbidden vices. And the rot festered within. Societies arose from barbarism, flourished for a time, and decayed from decadence. Oh how often he had seen it. Still, the eternal dance did provide him a great deal of amusement, so best not to complain.

This tangent passed through Umber's head only a few short moments, during which he made his decision. He still smiled at Milletia, and spoke close to her ear in an almost intimate manner. "Well... interesting. The enemy of my enemy is... just as likely to try to disembowel me as my enemy, but I'd like to know what else is running around down here butchering these cretins. Let's take a look. But cautiously, of course." he slipped back from Milletia, still smiling enigmatically, and began up the tunnel.

Pwenet
2008-03-03, 12:51 PM
Incom & Harvey

Watching the brutal execution of the young boy, Incom eyes start to water, unable to blink, unable to move. Waves of pain from the two-dozen and four spikes holding him against the wall rip through his mental defenses.

You think that you are a hero, someone who can help others, someone who can avoid his fate. But this is not the case.

The words echo through his skull as several perforated organs decide to start bleeding within him, and Incom weekly coughs up blood, letting it drip slowly from him mouth. His will seems to start to leave him as he thinks back.

How many years have I been stuck here, how many tortures have I endured, this constant war. I have your surrender dragon but I do not want it. I am so tired, so very very tired.

His vision starting to blur due to his eyes not being able to blink, Incom struggles to focus on the remains on the youth. The expressions of terror and pain is frozen on the kid face that should have been smiling instead.

No, you are nothing but a tool, to be used by everyone around you and then thrown away.

Thinking back throughout his life, Incom cannot find fault with that statement. He was a tool of the King, a tool of his wife, a tool of the torturers, a tool of the Dragon. The Dragon that has stolen his life, and now at this pivotal moment is begging for help.

But don’t worry. We’ve found an important use for you, and with your help we shall reduce this unfair world that has treated you so wrongly . . . we shall reduce it to nothing!

Gritting his teeth, Incom makes yet another stand against the forces of fate. Starting with his good arm, he lets an anguished scream rip through his lips as he PULLS the spikes through his body, until his arm rips free of them, bleeding heavily from several open circular holes in his body that ooze blood. Feeling his head starting to spin, Incom braces himself with his freed arm, and pushes. His body moves forward, pulling the metal spikes through his body, tearing the wounds open further. His eyelids are torn away, ears shredded, extremities loose feeling and control. His screams echoing throughout the chamber, what feels like to Incom a war that lasts weeks ends in a matter of seconds as he steps down, freed from his horrific embrace.

A ugly sight to behold, standing hunched over, with twenty-four holes THROUGH his body. His internal organs can be seen, pumping, twitching, and bleeding.

Dragon, it is over. I have your desires in the palm of my hand. I have, won.

He takes a bloody step forward.

You are a foul creature, but nothing near as foul as these things that infest this place.

And another step, one leg not responding properly anymore.

I am a tool that can be broken, a tool that has been strained and abused for far far too long.

Stumbling and falling to his knees, Incom looking at both the cultists and within himself with eyes that are far too dry to see properly.

I bind you to your promise. I give you LIFE in exchange for your pledge to aid these prisoners, to aid humanity, to destroy these creatures utterly. I have learned from you, and know that with this I bind you forever to that promise. My life for everyone else, tis a far better bargain that I would have expected.

Incom pushes himself up, somewhat surprised that he has not been attacked yet, though his perception of time seems to be strangely off.

It is now that I release my grip, enjoy this body, enjoy the pains, the sorrows, the terror, and the happiness at being alive. I will always be here, but now, as you have foretold so many times, you win Akor.

Raising his wounded arms up, Incom makes an obscene gesture to the cultists, and spits blood at them.

”And with my last breath, a spit, onto thee.”

Stiffening suddenly, Incom heart stops. His brain stops its electrical thunderstorm of thought. His biological processes cease to function. He falls forward, facedown onto the ground, for all intents and purposes a dead man.



Akor



Akor jerks suddenly. Sudden pressure surrounds him, and he struggles to figure out what he should do. It has been so long, so very long as he plunges into his body. Seeing his lungs he gives them a swift kick, and despite them being perforated, they start to function, and he exhales violently, in an undignified coughing fit. With his good arm he pushes against the ground and manages to flip himself onto his back, and strikes himself with bone-breaking force on his chest, cracking a few ribs but more importantly telling his heart that break time is over and it needs to start working to earn its pay.

Muscles twitch that control non-existent flaps of skin that should have helped clear his vision. Focusing on himself he feeling an itching sensation, and the muscles twitch again, and two freshly regenerated eyelids blink, clearing away the dust and grime of the ground while moisturizing the eyes. Several blinks later and Akor feels less like a hatching and more like himself.

His body is already starting to heal itself. Without the host pressuring him anymore, let alone holding up the works with its essence, he finds it remarkably easy to manipulate, to tweak various settings. First up is to heal these pesky wounds, should take only a few seconds. Recreating the body into the proper shape will take significantly more time, but at the very least it will function as he gets payback for….. for……

The lifespan of a Dragon is very long, much longer than that of a mere human. A human like Incom only has finite capacity for memory, and while Akor existed as a spiritual parasite he retained everything, but now in control over the fleshy shell, he finds that accessing memories is taking time. Once the recreating of the body is complete things will be more normal, but this will be most annoying. Oh yes annoying, only knowing that he was bound to help these ‘humans’ against, the killers of his race.

Pushing himself up, Akor notes with some pleasure that the wounds have already sealed themselves, with fresh strong scales now covering them. He takes a cautious step and nearly falls, unused to the sensation of walking on only his rear legs. Looking down at his front legs, well, the mangled remains of one of them slowly healing, he sighs to himself, wishing that he had time to complete the rebuilding of his proper body.

His eyes wander towards the cultists and he smiles a sick smile, wondering what this must look like to a observer, the death of his host and his rebirth. Unlike his host he does not partake in pre-battle banter, for these creatures are dangerous, a significant threat to himself and to his [young/responsibility/friend/child] that he must protect.

For the first time in decades, the sounds of true pure dragon-fire can be hear as he opens his ill-fitted mouth and spits it out at the distant figures in a wave, knowing they will try to avoid the purifying the flames, and as he leaps towards them, the thoughts of tearing them apart with his claws while burning them filling him with happiness of sweet vengeance. He focuses on his throat and starts spitting out falls of fire at the creates as he works on approaching them before they can hurt anyone else.
IncomDeep within the twitching neural tissue that is starting to rapidly shift and change, through sights unseen by mortal eyes and requiring the aid of magic and mindscapes, within a stormy environment is a figure. Curled into a small ball, his body a mass of scar tissue, ragged hair to the waist, and oh so deathly thin, is a man. Opening an eye slightly, Incom observes the events going on, so terribly weak, but holding onto the last tendrils of life, remaining hidden, unseen and waiting for the moment where he will be needed and wanted.

ubersquid
2008-03-05, 08:30 AM
Elkwin casually leans against the wall, listening to the cries and pondering for a moment. Then he puts up a grin.

"Seems we got ourselfs a damsel in distress here. Heh, this is turning into an exciting adventure more and more. I told myself I'm too old for this once, but who can refuse to help a woman in need, right?"

"Whatever it is, that is calling us with it's pitiful voice, it can't be any worse than the horrors that await down the other hallways, aye? We have to decide for a direction anyway, so I say we check it out. If we are careful enough and keep it quiet, we can always turn around and try our luck with one of the other paths if we don't like what we find here."

They slowly start moving into the hallway where the cries are sounding from. If they eventually see light in the distance, Elkwin will stick his torch into a holder on the wall, if there are any, or just lean it against the wall and continue without it.

Frozen
2008-03-06, 01:16 AM
Lamont tenses, backing slowly until his feet reach the edge of the tower. As the beast rushes him, he lunges forward, grabbing the axe and using it as a handle to throw himself under the Hellhounds' belly. Tucking his feet to his chest, Lamont kicks up and back, attempting to lever the beast off of the edge where he once stood.

"YOU WON'T TAKE US DEMON HOUND!"

Panting, Lamont focuses, small nicks sealing up and his body fills with energy as the muscles fill with arcane power

Voth
2008-03-06, 01:18 AM
Well? What have I got to lose?

Your freedom for starters...

After hesitating for a second, Voth takes the Judge's hand.

Inspectre
2008-03-07, 03:13 PM
The Catacombs

ubersquid

Slowly walking down the hallway, you follow the sound of the crying back to its source. On your trek down the hallway, you do not notice any light sources ahead. However, you do notice doors similar to the one leading into the supply room, but slightly smaller, lining both sides of the hallway. After passing the first set of such doors to discover additional ones beyond, you and Marv dither a moment unsure what to do. It was entirely possible that you were walking into some kind of trap, and if so it was probably lurking somewhere behind all these doors.

But in the end, you decide that you’re already stuck in the trap regardless, and if it somehow is someone in need of help, they might fall silent forever if you tried to search each and every room behind the doors. So on down the hallway you press, drawing closer to the voice as it slowly begins to grow louder. Now halfway down the corridor, you can begin to make out that the crying is not even, but occasionally breaks off as the person mutters something.

Reaching the end of the hallway, you can see that it comes to an abrupt end at a door, similarly to the ones lining the rest of the hallway but embossed with gold trim. The door is ever so slightly ajar, allowing the sounds of crying and whispering to echo out of the room beyond. You have now gotten close enough to make out what is being whispered in between sobs, and its content makes your hair stand on end.

. . . took my eyes, but still I see . . .

. . . oh gods, why . . .

. . . you fall brother. You fall and I can’t catch you. No one can and you fall, fall forever . . .

. . . I hear footsteps. His footsteps, echoing, getting louder. He’s coming! He’s here! . . .

. . . Life is over. Oblivion has come. Prepare for nothingness. . . .

. . . oh gods, why . . .

Pulling you in close, Marv whispers in your ear, “I don’t know what we’re going to find in that room, but I’m not going to turn my back and just walk away. For one, that seems like a good way to get jumped from behind. For two, I don’t think whoever is in there is faking it to lure us in. They’re in a lot of pain, and something’s got them terrified. So, I’m going in there to have a look. I hope you have my back, but otherwise you can light one of those torches from my lantern and wait out here for me.”

The Arena

Frozen

Swinging yourself underneath the hellhound, you kick upwards and back towards your head, throwing the hellhound into the air and off the side of the tower. It manages one last pitiful howl as it flies over the edge, and then falls to crash heavily onto the Arena floor below. Although covered in soft sand to break falls, the hellhound lands at a poor angle, snapping its necks and breaking bones. The broken heap of flesh twitches a few times, and then lies still as the remaining hellhounds once again howl in mourning and anger.

You take a brief moment, still on your back, to heal the few small wounds you had sustained thus far and also to plan your next move. Unfortunately, although you manage to heal your wounds, having time to plan was going to be a problem as with a loud snarl another hellhound appears on the stairway, bounding up towards you. It gathers itself up to leap down on top of you, mouths open to immediately spray you with its fire breath, but it doesn’t get the chance to make that leap. From the top of the tower, Rawya leaps down on top of it, crashing into its side and sending it careering off the stairway. Its claws scrape wildly against the wooden edge, and then it too falls from the tower to land heavily below. This one fares a little better than its companion, but still lands awkwardly and clearly breaks its right foreleg. Struggling back up onto its three good foot, the hellhound snarls in frustration, and then vents its anger by breathing fire upon the side of the tower.

Immediately the wooden springs into flame, apparently having been treated by the guards to be especially susceptible to fire. You have all fallen for the trap, it seems, now huddled at the top of the tower as the flame begins to spread around the base and up towards you. Inspired by their packmate’s example, the other hellhounds also breathe on the tower, accelerating the process of its combustion into a towering inferno.

“Lamont! Now what do we do!?” Rawya asks, pushing himself up onto his feet with an uncertain expression as he looks down at the growing flames below.

???????

Voth

You take the Judge’s hand, and for a moment a brilliant reddish glow fills your sight. Then, it fades as quickly as it had come, and you find yourself standing next to the Judge in a roughly circular room. Although the walls, ceiling, and floor are still made out of the same faceted reddish crystal, a large pillar stands in the middle, running from floor to ceiling. This large singular crystal is more purplish-blue in nature, and transparent enough to see easily inside. Inside the crystal is not one, but two prisoners, entwined together in an eternal embrace. One is male and the other is female, and the skin of both of them is covered in faintly glowing blue runes that extend down to underneath their modest clothing. Both of their eyes are closed, but it seems there is enough room within the crystal to allow their mouths to move, as you see the male’s begin to move as the Judge addresses you.

AND HERE IS WHERE WE PART FOR NOW. YOUR TRIAL SHALL CONTINUE AT A LATER DATE ONCE YOUR ACCURSERS HAVE ACQUIRED ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF YOUR GUILT.

For a moment the Judge raises a hand to his face, and then continues speaking, as now the female within the crystal begins to mouth words.

ALTHOUGH YOU HAVE NOT BEEN JUDGED GUILTY OF ANY CRIMES TODAY, I HOPE THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED SOMETHING FROM THIS EXPERIENCE. WHILE YOU MAY DO WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT, YOU MUST BE EVER VIGILENT THAT YOUR ACTIONS ARE NOT REALLY LEADING YOU TO EVIL. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE IN YOUR CASE, BOUND WITH THE SOUL OF A DEMON.

Sneering, the Judge waves his hand and then points at the far end of the chamber, where a large red crystal stands, although its appearance is strange. The edges seem to twist and bend rhythmically, and within its surface you can see a reflection. However, it does not appear to be a reflection of this room but the one that you had been in before coming here. The male half of the crystal pair begins to silently speak again as the Judge commands you.

ENOUGH. NOW GO, RETURN TO THE PRISON. YOU SHALL BE HELD BY THE INDIVIDUALS THERE UNTIL THE TIME FOR YOUR TRIAL HAS COME AGAIN.

MrEdwardNigma

Determining the creature’s remains to be of no further use, you sigh and turn back to treating Cassandra’s wounds. Although the wound in her shoulder was fairly serious, it seemed to be more of a bloody flesh wound than actual tendons and muscles being cut apart. Thus, all you had to do was stitch one or two ruptured veins closed and the wound itself, and you were done. Sighing in relief as you finish, Cassandra shifts her shoulder around experimentally, wincing but not popping the stitches. “Thanks.” She says, but you are already up and moving, heading over to the cart containing the other prisoner.

Ripping the cloth gag out of his mouth, you demand to know who he is. “Hey, thanks man! Those guys were going to sacrifice me or something. Name’s Robert but you can call me Bob! So, hey, are we going to get out of here. ‘Cause I’d really like –“

Already bored with this conversation, you cut him off with a sharp jab to the throat, followed by striking several other pressure points to completely immobilize him. Although his rope bonds might have restrained him during the process of zombification, you wanted to make sure he didn’t flail around somehow and destroy any of your important work. You hated it when sudden muscle spasms tore off the extra limb you had just grafted on.

His face frozen in shock and horror, the man is forced to watch helplessly while you slowly tear his still living body apart and reassemble it into something much more useful. Certainly, you have the spare parts for your plans, although it takes some time to go back and fish out the requisite organs: most are half-eaten by the glowing fungus and thus are completely unusable. But you have all the time in the world, and eventually succeed in turning the man into a fairly impressive specimen of zombie. Not your finest work to be sure, but good enough for the task required.

You watch in satisfaction as the zombie manages to burst free of its rope bindings, and stands up. Aware of a sudden bluish bright glow behind you, you turn to find Cassandra grinding a small pile of the bioluminescent fungus with a leg bone. As it is crushed into smaller and smaller pieces, the fungus begins to glow more brightly, an interesting property that you took advantage of to make your flash bomb.

Apparently satisfied, Cassandra carefully grinds one end of the bone into the paste, looking over her unwounded shoulder as best she can to monitor her progress in covering that end with the paste. Once finished with this task, she grasps the bone as best she can and pushes herself up onto her feet.

“Hey Victor, look what I made! Oh – what, what *is* that? For that matter, what are *you*? Some kind of necromancer?” Cassandra asks, following after you as you sigh and proceed down the so far unused tunnel, your zombie just in front of you to serve as a meatshield should hostilities again break out. The chances of that seem high, as you have only proceeded a short way down the tunnel before the faint sound of chanting reaches your ears.

Up ahead you can see the tunnel going around a sharp bend before opening into some sort of chamber. A lighted chamber if the bluish glow is any indication. Quietly proceeding up to the bend, you see that the tunnel actually continues on into the darkness, while a doorway has been hewn through the rock wall just after the bend. Looking through this doorway from your position by the bend, you can see that this is the source of both the light and the chanting.

Inside the room beyond the rough doorway is what appears to be a small ritual room. A man-sized black iron bowl adorns the center of the room, filled with some sort of thick dark liquid. The room is lighted by several lanterns, all of which hold the glowing fungus within them to serve as light rather than fire.

Two of the black-cloaked figures are within, flanking the bowl while a third man, stripped bare to the waist approaches. While the two figures continue to chant, the third clambers into the bowl, disturbing the liquid as little as possible but splashing enough of it up onto himself to reveal the liquid as blood to your trained eyesight. Accepting a long-blade knife from one of the figures, the man begins to drag the edge of the blade across his skin, carving shallow cuts into his flesh.

The cuts quickly begin to take on familiar patterns, and you instantly recognize them as the same ones that were cut onto the torso of the creature that you had just faced. Apparently working solely from memory, the man continues to carve into himself wordlessly, occasionally wincing slightly in pain but otherwise stoically going about permanently disfiguring himself.

WhiteKnight777

You advance cautiously down the tunnel, now hearing the screams reaching a grand crescendo before falling silent. Which probably meant that you were already too late to catch in on the fun, or it was simply intermission in this play of violence and death. As you move on a little further, you come to the mouth of the tunnel leading into yet another cavern. Crouched down by the mouth of this tunnel is a little morsel of a girl, watching the events within the cavern intently. So intently, in fact, that she does not notice Mellita creeping forward until she struck.

Drawing her dagger quietly with one hand, Mellita reached out with the other, grabbing a hold of the girl’s right arm and jerking her up onto her feet and back. The girl manages one lovely surprised cry of fear before Mellita shifts her grip, pressing her dagger against the soft flesh of the girl’s throat while letting go of the girl’s arm to clamp her free hand down over the girl’s mouth. “Ssshhh little morsel, screams are for later. You have such a lovely voice, it would be a pity to spoil it by cutting out your tongue now.” Digging the point of her knife into the girl’s throat for emphasis, Mellita leans down to lick away the small tickle of blood now running down the girl’s throat. The smell of her fear was intoxicating.

However, it seemed fun and games were at an end, as suddenly a bright blast of fire and light wash through the chamber, nearly reaching the girl and Mellita. Hissing in surprise, Mellita recoils from the flames, loosening her grip just enough for the girl to throw her head back into Mellita’s nose, stomp on her feet, and twist her knife hand away from the throat. Ducking out from under Mellita’s other hand, the girl breaks free and rushes into the chamber as the flames subside, screaming loudly.

Curious to see what sort of mess Mellita had just bungled into being now, and just how bad it was going to be, you move to join her at the entrance to the cavern. Peering inside, you can see a slave chain of huddled prisoners off to one side of the room, looking somewhat singed and considerably the worse for wear, the girl, the smoldering corpses of another two black-cloaked figures, and another man (Pwenet). It is this other man who interests you, as although he appears to be human his features are decidedly draconian in nature. And this was very interesting to you, for you had heard that dragons and their kin had become extinct nearly a thousand years ago.

“Uh oh.” Mellita whispers as the girl rushes to the dragon-man’s side, pointing back at the two of you.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

Realizing that time is of the essence, you quickly hack your way through the remaining guards surrounding you, knocking one unconscious but killing the rest. Leaving the last three to be dealt with by Seraph, you move from your position at his back to join the Countess.

As the Countess comes back into sight, you are somewhat surprised at what you see. Armed with the club she had appropriated, Countess Amelia holds it loosely in one hand, extended out in front of her in a fencer’s pose. Snorting in disdain, one of the two guards rushes forward to deliver a lazy stab at her midsection. In a blur of motion the Countess swats the sword away, and then moves up to deliver a quick painful rap to the nose of the guard.

Stumbling back to rub furiously at his stinging nose with his free hand, the guard frowns at the mocking guffaw of his companion, and then steps forward again to deliver two quick slashes, back and forth. Rather than try to match her strength against the guard’s, this time the Countess hops back out of the way instead of trying to parry. But as soon as the guard has finished his second swing the Countess hops forward, rapping her club against his sword before swinging it up to jab into his throat.

Again the guard stumbles back from the noblewoman, choking, sputtering, and becoming red-faced with anger. As the guard angrily advances towards her for the third time, his companion swings around to the side, preparing to attack Amelia at the same time from the flanks. He does not get more than a few steps before he is stopped by an even bigger surprise than the Countess’s fencing ability: Dima.

Previously lying prone on the ground, as the guard passes close to him Dima springs back to life. In a blur he pushes himself up into a sitting position with one hand, while with the other he reaches up and tears the crossbow out of his chest. Screaming in pain and rage, Dima drives the blood-covered bolt up into the shocked guard’s groin. Squealing shrilly, the guard immediately drops his sword and falls to his knees, hands clamped around the wound. Reaching up with the last of his strength, Dima snaps the guard’s neck before falling prone once more, blood gushing out of his gaping wound and beginning to pool around him.

This left just the one guard against Amelia, but this time as he closed all confidence seemed to leave her. Eyes going wide and hands shaking, Amelia stumbled back away from the guard, falling back from his blows instead of attempting to parry and riposte as she had been doing. Finally, even her legs gave up, dumping her unceremoniously to the floor. Dropping her club, Amelia cries, “E-Enough! I-I yield! I yield!”

Sneering, the guard looms over her, raising his sword. “Alright. But you’re going to wish I had killed you before I’m through!” Before he manages to bring the sword down, however, you reach him, seizing his sword arm and spinning him around to face you. Pulling your fire arm back, you drive it through his chest, and then allow him to fall as you grunt with pain from your own wound.

Looking up at you with fear still in her eyes, Amelia asks, “Is . . . is that? A-are we s-safe?”

Looking around, you can see that the fight has finally ended. The corpses of dead and unconscious guards are strewn about the room; piled two or three deep where you and Seraph had made your stand. From its position over by the door Dima’s tiger stalks back over to you and its fallen master, fur blood-flecked and with a crossbow bolt protruding from its right flank. Seraph retrieves his two weapons from their resting places within dead guards, and then limps over to join you. And from his position on the floor, Dima continues to settle into Death’s embrace.

A quick examination of his wound reveals that it will most certainly be fatal: blood continues to gush from the ragged hole in his chest, and a faint gurgling has begun to appear in his shallow breath. Weakly rolling over onto his side, Dima dips his fingers into the pool of blood around him, and then reaches out to a clean part of the floor to begin drawing. He works quickly, but somehow manages to keep the growing shakiness of his hand out of the drawing, forming clear, bold lines. “Go . . .” He sputters, choking on the blood that has begun to drool out of his mouth. “I stay . . . stop . . . pursuit.”

Finishing the drawing, Dima pulls his hand back as it springs to life: another one of his hounds which immediately moves to block the door. Apparently not satisfied with just this, Dima dips his fingers into the blood and reaches out a bit further, beginning to draw again.

“Your friend is right, we must depart this place.” Seraph adds, pulling a pair of vials from his belt. He offers you one and downs the other, making a disgusted face as the brew goes down. “Healing potion. The herbs I used were very bitter, but get the job done.” Seraph explains as his leg wound immediately stops bleeding and begins to close as the flesh magically knits itself back together. “Unfortunately I believe that your friend is beyond all but the most powerful means of healing, or I would offer one to him as well.”

Turning his back to you all, Seraph begins to walk towards the door leading back to the private torture chambers. “I am afraid that here is where I must leave you as well, for I have urgent business to attend to. I am searching for someone – you wouldn’t have happened to encounter a young woman by the name of Rose during your stay here?”

As Seraphs twists his head over one shoulder to look back at you expectantly, you find that you unfortunately don’t recall hearing the name before. “She would have come here only recently. Tall, long black hair, blue eyes?” Seraph adds, but again your mind draws a blank. There must be thousands of prisoners at Ironheart, and you had spend most of your time in its torture chambers rather than getting to mingle. Fortunately for Seraph, at least you had never seen this woman in the torture chambers. Sighing, Seraph turns back and continues walking towards the door.

“I thought not. While you are welcome to join me, it seems likely that our destinations are in opposite directions, for I am going deeper into this place of suffering. Going up that set of stairs will lead you to where I came from, and as such most of the guards there are dead. Be cautious, however, for the alarm has been sounded and no doubt many more guards are already making their way here and above. I wish you luck.”

The Labs

Iethloc

Although the man gives a snort of disdain at your lack of proficiency with fly after so many years of not needing it, his expression quickly turns to fear once he realizes where you’re going. As you crash into the wall behind him he attempts to flee, but his noticeable lack of exercise leaves him a poor match for the assistant’s hardened body and you easily catch him. Summoning an orb of electricity to menace him with, you demand that he immediately calls off Omega’s attack. At first he doesn’t seem willing to cooperate, shrieking, “Omega, help me!”

However, you quickly react to this by swinging the researcher around to put him in between you and Omega, not that it would help much with her teleportation ability. You also make a big show of threatening the researcher with the orb of electricity, indicating to Omega what would happen if she did as the researcher asked.

Again, as planned, Omega took only a single step towards you before stopping. “But, Father, I have determined that attempting to rescue you has a very significant chance of leading to your death. I do not believe I could stop this intruder before he manages to kill you, if that is his wish. Perhaps now would be the time to call me off and attempt negotiation?” She recommends in what was presumably her sweetest voice, but which was nonetheless cold and emotionless.

Eyes widening slightly further as you brought the orb still closer to his face, the researcher finally cried, “Alright! Alright! Omega, stand down! Now then stranger, let’s talk! Surely, there’s something I could give you that would satisfy you and leave us in peace? I have a great deal of information!”

Now then, it is time to end this farce. Kill the old fool, but make it something painful. I have been waiting for this moment for quite some time, and do not wish to be disappointed by its realization.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet

As you fall and fade away, you hear the first cultist croak to the second.

That was unanticipated. It has perished.

And indeed you have perished, but as Harvey once predicted, your death shall simply lead to his own freedom. What he will do with that newfound freedom you do not know, but you are sure that the innocent boy’s death shall be avenged. That is all that matters as you close your eyes upon the world for the last time.

*********************

Opening your eyes to the world for the first time in a very long time, you quickly become refamiliar with the meaning of the word “pain”. But it is just idle complaints of weak flesh that does not know its own power, and you quickly manage to tell your body to shut up as the regeneration process begins.

Other than pain, your first sense of the world around you is sound: you hear something talking nearby.

Do not be so foolish. It is regenerating as expected. We must move quickly to restraint it more permanently before more harm befalls it.

As you attempt to stand, you can discern blurry dark shapes approaching, grabbing you and attempting to wrestle you back down to the ground. But no, this was not how you were going to spend your new life, in captivity to anyone. Summoning a bit more of your essence forth, you give your new body a portion of your draconic strength, and heave the two fools off of you, throwing them across the room.

As your eyelids finally regenerate, you blink to clear and moisturize your feeble eyes, quickly regaining your full sight as a result. Now you can see your two assailants, two human figures in black cloaks. As you look upon them, your memories of them come flooding back. The furious battle your human host had fought against ones of their kind mere minutes ago, summoning forth one of your most precious gifts in order to finally end the fight. The discovery of that accursed medallion, with the same symbol that . . . had what? Oh yes, that had flown over the ruins of your ancestral home as it burned behind you. The cloying smell of your family’s burning flesh choking you as you furiously flapped through the air, trying to get away and hoping no archer saw you through the smoke. The day of vengeance was finally at hand!

Wasting no time with these foul creatures, you call forth your most impressive gift once more: dragon-fire, a purifying flame that had not been seen on this world for many centuries. But this was not like the flame that you had gifted your host with, oh no. This was full dragon-fire, both in intensity and range. Both were engulfed in a second, shrieking in an unnatural tone you had never heard before. Striking the wall behind them, your breath spreads out through the room, nearly singing yourself and the other humans huddled against one wall. Not wishing to harm yourself, the humans, or even destabilize the cavern by melting one of its walls, you quickly cut out the breath of fire, leaving the two robed corpses to slump to the ground and smolder lifelessly. Or perhaps not quite so lifeless, as a moment later the charred robes suddenly fall away, revealing charred skin that rises and shifts as something underneath moves about. Abruptly, both corpses burst open, leaving two strange creatures, eyeballs with pincers and tentacles, to emerge. Immediately the two creatures zoom out of the room, shooting into another tunnel and disappearing from sight before you can prepare a second blast of fire to welcome them into this world.

You debate the merits of attempting pursuit with an alarmed cry comes from behind you. Turning, you see a young human girl dressed in a dark red robe running directly for you. You aren’t sure how you feel about strange human girls flinging themselves at you, particularly if they weren’t flinging themselves into your mouth. So, you consider killing her out of hand just to be safe, but then another memory bubbles up to the surface.

Ah, yes! The little morsel your host had found and rescued. Well, you had promised him to take care of her, or at least not eat her out of hand. So you allow her to approach without injury, and she slides to a stop in front of you, pointing back at the tunnel from whence she had come. Looking along the path of her finger, you can see two figures standing there; one male and one female. More humans? They looked a bit pale – vampires maybe?

Noticing that you had noticed them, the female vampire turns to her companion (WhiteKnight777) and mutters something. You hoped it was an expression of fear.

Dorizzit
2008-03-07, 04:36 PM
Korram kneels next to Dima, briefly. "Thank you. Good luck, my friend," he whispers. Standing, he moves quickly to catch up with Seraph, motioning the countess to follow. "Hold! I'll go with you. My tenure here is not yet done. They have my daughter somewhere in this hell hole. And we both stand a much greater chance of success if we travel together." He falls back a bit to talk to the Countess. "Where did you learn to fight like that?" He asks.

WhiteKnight777
2008-03-07, 06:02 PM
Umber

Umber steps boldly forth from his concealment, his hands open, palms out in what comes closest to a universal gesture of peace. He strides forward, though staying back far enough to respect this... creature's personal space. It certainly looked human, but it was spitting... could that be dragonfire? But hadn't the last of the dragons died out centuried ago? very strange indeed.... very curious. A captor? unlikely. such a unique creature, fighting the dark-robed things... more likely another escaped prisoner. He smiled, unabashedly showing his fangs, and dipped a low, courtly bow.

Good afternoon. Or evening. or whatever time it is. hard to tell in this hellhole. In any case, I mean no harm... my companion is simply a bit... over eager. Too many enemies about. But I'm willing to wager you're a recent escapee like myself, hmm? perhaps we can assist one another.

Iethloc
2008-03-08, 03:39 PM
Sohssal

As the scientist finally called off Omega, Sohssal floated backwards just a bit, affording his hostage just a bit of room. The orb of electricity in his hand dissipated harmlessly, and Sohssal breathed a sigh of relief. I've got something more painful than electricity... Sohssal thought as he remembered one of the cruelest of his spells. He walked around the scientist to face him directly, and opened his mouth to speak. However, instead of speaking, he thrust both hands as they glowed a faint green and grabbed onto his head, covering the researcher's mouth, completing the spell with physical contact. Immediately, acid surged into existence within his bloodstream, and was quickly delivered throughout his body, dissolving him from the inside out. Sohssal held on for just a few moments to make sure he couldn't cry out before he died. After he was sure the researcher was dead, he let his body drop to the floor.

"I originally made that spell for torture purposes, but acidosis is a nasty way to go..." he said aloud. He wiped the dead man's spittle off his hands, quickly checked the researcher's pockets and then turned to Omega. "The deed is done...hm. Maybe I should have asked for the way out before killing him, but I think I'd trust a map more. Have you seen any around here?" he inquired.

ubersquid
2008-03-11, 10:31 AM
Elkwin - Catacombs

Elkwin grins in response to Marv's offer.

"Yeah right, so you get to be the shiny knight who rescues the girl exclusively? I'm going in there with you."

He tightens the grip around his axe and leans against the door, peeking through the small gap and then looking back through the hallway one last time. With a quick nod he signals Marv that he is ready for whatever would await them behind.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-03-11, 03:36 PM
"A necromancer? Nah, I actually had to work to get that power in these fingers of mine. I'm a scientist, a man of the mind, not some guy who happened to get lucky and had some magic coursing through his veins"

Victor chose to move on along the hallway. There was nothing to gain in confronting these three.

Pwenet
2008-03-11, 08:17 PM
Good afternoon. Or evening. or whatever time it is. hard to tell in this hellhole. In any case, I mean no harm... my companion is simply a bit... over eager. Too many enemies about. But I'm willing to wager you're a recent escapee like myself, hmm? perhaps we can assist one another.

Listening to the words of the one that drinks blood, Akor stares at him with narrowed eyes. While his rebirth was long overdue, he was still 'adjusting' his form, making him vulnerable. Allies could be useful. Looking down at his right arm Akor smiles as it regenerates, then frowns at the burned number 1 appears on it once again.

"I am the first guest here. You can follow me, together we can escape, provided you do not feed on this morsel."

When he says morsel Akor makes a gestures towards the little girl. Part of him twitches, and he looks at the slave train, then back at the vampire.

"You may, use one, or two of them at the most, if need be, but do not overindulge, I must save them from this hellhole, take only those that are too weak to survive."

Turning Akor approaches the corpses he recently recreated and looks at them, looking for anything they might have held that survived his flames.

WhiteKnight777
2008-03-11, 09:20 PM
Umber

Umber nodded, tilting his head as he looked the strange creature up and down. My thanks, I appreciate your generosity. I assumed you must be something of a long-term resident here... I don't know how long I've been here, myself.. the nature of my binding has made the passage of time more or less meaningless... but it's been a fair time since the dragons flew, though perhaps not so long to those such as ourselves... mmm.. yes, you have the smell of a dragon, but you're human in form. Most intriguing. Some sort of magical experiment, perhaps? I have some expertise with such things... if you'd like, perhaps I might be able to assist you once we're out of here. Even as he spoke, he moved towards the group of slaves, looking for one or two to pick off and feed upon.

Inspectre
2008-03-18, 05:49 PM
The Catacombs

ubersquid

“That’s the spirit!” He whispers, slapping you on the shoulder before turning serious again. He waits while you peek inside the door, covering the dark hallway behind you both. Looking in through the crack, you manage to make out only a few details about the room beyond due to the gloom.

The room beyond the door appears to be a fairly nice bedroom, with an ornate four-poster bed dominating a fair portion of it. Against one wall stands the dark outline of an exquisite suit of full plate mail, which momentarily gives you quite the fright as you first think it’s an armored guard standing there. Fortunately, the suit appears to be empty, although the same can not be said of the bed. Despite the darkness cloaking the back half of the room, you can make out the dim outline of a figure lying on the bed, which seems to be the source of the disturbing whispers. Seemingly oblivious to you, the figure continues to weep bitterly while muttering.

. . . the mighty oak falls from the rot within, not the gale without . . .

. . . a hero you are not, brother. I can see the black bubbling up from your heart and out your mouth . . .

. . . oh gods, why . . .

Satisfied that you seem to have found your objective, for better or for a whole lot worse, you pull back to nod at Marv. Tightening your grip on your weapon, you slide your other hand into the doorway to pull it open, followed by slipping your shoulder into the widening crack to shoulder it the rest of the way. Although frozen in place with age like its brother had been, this door was considerably smaller and already partially open. With just the faintest whisper of stone on stone, the door slides open, allowing Marv’s torch light to now fill the room.

As you were able to make out in the previous gloom, a large four-poster bed takes up the center of the room. Next to it you can now see a finely carved nightstand, as well as several dust-covered chests that appear to be equally well-crafted. Hanging from the wall on the opposite side of the bed as these chests is the suit of full plate mail, trimmed in gold and still shining in the torchlight even through the grime covering it. The breastplate of the armor is decorated with the same sunburst as was painted on those tabards you saw earlier. The remains of a leather belt hang from the waist of the suit, bearing an empty gold-trimmed scabbard that has likewise nearly rotted away into nothing. And then your eyes came to rest back on the bed, which you could now clearly see indeed contained a feminine figure beneath the silk and fur blankets.

Covered by these blankets up to the armpits, most of the woman is hidden from sight: little more than shapely rises and falls of the blankets. Her face and arms are exposed, however, which reveal a number of interesting facts. For starters, both of her hands are manacled, with a length of chain running back from each wrist to the two posts at the head of the bed. Similar lengths of chain attached to the two posts at the foot of the bed and disappearing under the blankets suggest that her feet have been similarly chained. The lowest two fingers, that is the pinky and ring finger, of her right hand are missing, ragged little stubs suggesting that they were torn or cut off at some previous point in her life. Scars of various shapes and sizes mar the surface of both of her arms, and one long angry red line runs from the corner of her left eye, down the side of her neck, and around out of sight where her neck meets her shoulder. Shoulder-length blonde hair frames her delicate face, and she seems to be perhaps only a year or two into adulthood. Other than the long scar running down her neck, the woman’s face appears to be unmarred. Except perhaps for her eyes, which you would assume were similarly beautiful, but were currently missing. Instead empty black holes gaze up at you, the skin around each eye socket stained reddish brown with streams of dried blood. The final shocking piece of this puzzle was the hilt of an ornate sword sticking up from the woman’s blanket-covered chest, the covers stained red for a significant radius around the blade’s entry point.

Suddenly, the woman raises her head, pushing herself upright with a loud clatter of chains to regard you with her empty eyes. As she does so, your eyes momentarily swim with double vision as the image of the “alive” woman clashes against the image of a skeleton lying on the bed in the exact same pose as the woman a moment before.

“****! A ghost!” Marv yelps, jumping backward and crashing into the wall behind him, dropping the torch. As luck would have it, the torch is immediately snuffed out, leaving you in the pitch black dark with this woman’s ghost.

Although its voice still trembles, the ghost’s voice no longer seems to be drowned out by sobs as it begins to once again speak, its whispering voice echoing up from the probable location of the bed somewhere in front of you.

. . . the hero has come . . . I kept your blade . . . warm for you.

???????

Voth

MrEdwardNigma

“I see.” Cassandra whispers in reply. As you begin to slide down the hallway, Cassandra remains silent for a few moments before asking, “So why necromancy? If you weren’t cursed with some sort of magic power, why go into it in the first place?”

Moving onwards down the hallway, you pass several similar rooms, thankfully all of them unoccupied. Coming to the next doorway, however, you can see that this next room is different. Although deserted like the rooms before it, this room holds several stacks of thick leather-bound tomes in dirty-white colored shelves that appear to be made out of bones . . . possibly human bones.

Nearby these shelves is a brazier with a soft bluish flame burning, lighting up a small nearby podium made out of polished black stone. Previously where one would set one of the books and read it from, by the light of the brazier.

“I don’t like this place.” Cassandra hisses, nervously looking back down into the blackness beyond the light of her feeble fungus torch. “But . . . maybe those books could tell us something about these guys?”

Ahead of you, the darkness of the hallway continues to stretch. You could stop and perhaps learn something of these strange parasite-infested men via this library, but doing so would also carry the risk of being caught. Stopping to flip through thick dusty tomes was generally not your idea of a good time either, and somewhere out there the vampire awaited your assistance.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

Turning away from his work as he summons another hound into existence from his bloody scrawls on the floor, Dima reaches up a hand to stop you as you rise. He manages to snag the wrist of your human arm, holding on with surprising strength as excess blood is smeared off of his hand and onto yours.

“Wait . . . one last . . . request.”

With a pained grunt of effort, Dima twists around to show you the elaborate tattoo of a tiger on his other arm, a tiger that looks remarkably similar to his pet.

“I swore . . . oath . . . that she would see . . . the sky . . . again. Cut her from my arm . . . escape from here . . . and bury us under the open sky.”

Releasing his grip on you, Dima painfully rolls all the way onto his side, allowing you easy access to his tattooed arm. Looking up from your dying friend, you see that Seraph has reached the door and is about to disappear. Not wishing to see another ally disappear so quickly, you decide that searching for your daughter and escaping can wait, and call after him. Stopping at the door, Seraph silently ponders your offer for a moment, and then nods.

“Very well. But as a prisoner seeking escape, surely you are hoping to reach the surface and escape. Know that my intention is to descend ever deeper, into the very bowels of Hell if need be, until I find my wife . . . and my unborn child. Only death will convince me to leave this place before then. And with my sincere apologies, understand that locating and rescuing your own child is not and cannot be my own goal until I know my family is safe. I will wait out in the hallway for you, so you may both say your goodbyes in private.” Nodding to both you and the Countess, Seraph steps out into the hallway leading back into the Private Torture Chambers.

Although careful not to disturb his drawings, the Countess crouches down on the other side of Dima directly across from you. Tears fill her eyes, and her jaws continually saw at her lower lip while her hands fitfully ball several of the guards’ cloaks up to stuff underneath Dima’s head.

“I’m sorry I ever doubted your sincerity. You’ve saved my life twice now, and I can’t repay the favor. I swear to you though, that we shall escape from here. And then the Baron shall reap the rewards of his evil.”

The Countess stuffs one last cloak underneath Dima, gently brushing a lock of oily hair out of his face, and then looks up at you. “Do it and lets get out of here.” She says, handing you one of the guard’s daggers before standing up and moving towards the door. As she walks, she angrily throws the club away from her into the wall, and stops to snatch up one of the guard’s short swords. As she experimentally swings the sword through the air several times, her back still to you, she wearily answers your question.

“When my father realized he would have no sons, he taught me how to fence. He wanted to make sure that I would be able to defend my own honor if necessary. I’ve never . . . killed . . . anyone before, and never wanted to, but now I think it’s time to revise that belief.”

The Labs

Iethloc

Having managed to trick the researcher into calling off his “daughter”, you proceed to kill him in one of the most painful manners you know by turning his acid into blood. Although you generally turn only vary small amounts of a person’s blood into acid in order to use it as a torture rather than execution method, this time you decide to go for broke and turn all his blood to acid. The results are immediate and impressive, as his skin immediately starts to boil and blister, his eyes literally dissolving out of their sockets. He manages one gurgle of surprise before you release him in order not to get any acid on yourself, allowing him to fall and rapidly melt away into a disgusting puddle of melted flesh and sizzling bone.

Most impressive. Quite similar to what I had intended to do to you should you have failed to agree to our alliance, only with fire instead. Omega relays within your mind.

I do not know of anywhere beyond the confines of this room, but know of course that such places exist. My father’s assistant should know more, and looking around I cannot see his body so I must assume you have not encountered him yet. As such, he is probably preparing to release the demons from their cages. If we hurry, we may be able to reach him before he is able to release more than a few of them. Alternatively, we could simply exit this laboratory and find our own way without his coerced assistance. My father should have the keys to both doors on his keyring.

Moving to stand beside you, Omega stares as her “father’s” remains, and a few moments later a set of keys slowly floats up, dipping acid and liquefied flesh. The metal keys thankfully appear to be unharmed, as you had designed the spell with the intention for the acid to only dissolve acid, yet some creative prisoner attempt to cut himself on his restraints and thus break free. It had been entertaining on several occasions to deliberately drop such a hint and then provide the means for a prisoner to cut himself open, savoring the disappointed look on his face when all he accomplished was getting everything bloody.

The exit from here entirely should be directly ahead, while the demon holding pens should be through that door. Omega adds, pointing to the door directly across the room from the entrance to your own cell, and then pointing at a door set into the wall off to one side of the glass tubes that had housed Omega and her brothers.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet/WhiteKnight777

Proving his greater mastery of his own form than its previous owner the man, or maybe the dragon-man, regenerates his own arm from its previous torn stump. Vexingly, a moment after it has fully regenerated, the number “1” magically burns itself into existence on the arm. Apparently Ironheart’s guards had already thought of the danger regenerative prisoners posed to their numbering system, and had developed a magical way to ensure prisoners stayed marked for the rest of their lives.

Clearly not happy with the situation after her embarrassing entrance, Mellita frowns as she nods at the girl. “My apologies little miss. Lord Umber is correct, there is no end to the number of enemies that dwell down here. I was mistaken in thinking you one of them. I am Mellita.” Finished with her apology and introducing herself, Mellita curtsies, although this still somehow disturbs the young girl enough that she actually ducks behind Akor entirely, peeping out at the two vampires. Finally noticing in the dim torchlight the recent but dramatic changes her protector has gone through, the girl takes several steps back away from him as well a moment later.

“Oh umm . . . apology accepted. I . . . ah . . . don’t have a name, really. So I guess you can just call me whatever, although maybe not morsel or food? Please?”

Introductions now concluded, examination of the surroundings began. Of the two black-robed figures, there was virtually nothing left this time but charred bones and the remains of the fleshy cocoon that kept the strange eye creatures safe from harm.

Of the bloodstained altar, Umber notes that beneath the blood and gore now covering it, a familiar set of runes has been etched into its surface. Once again these runes were ones used in the various ceremonies necessary to become a Lord of Blood, although a few here and there appear to have been modified. Intimately familiar with the language of the runes, Umber is able to decipher their meaning.

Blood for blood, life to death, death to life.
This flow of blood shall turn the Great Wheel.
Drink of this river and return as you were, forevermore.
Consume this sacrifice’s essence down to its very soul.
Arise reborn, to rule and to destroy, forevermore.

Furthermore, the runes appear to lead into each other, forming a maze of tiny channels in the surface of the altar for the blood to slowly flow through down to the foot of the altar. There, another tiny channel has been cut all the way to the edge, which would allow the blood to fall off the altar and down into a small black iron bowl sitting at the altar’s base, nearly invisible against the black rock of the altar itself.

Of the prisoners, being able to finally examine them in detail reveals a somewhat disturbing fact: all of them are children. Granted, two of them appear to be approaching adulthood, but the other three are clearly young children with no ability to comprehend the evil around them. Together all of them huddle against the back wall, both teenagers attempting to protect the remaining children by positioning themselves between the children and the rest of the room. This seems to have cost them, however, as one of the teenagers is currently lying unconscious on the ground, skin blistered and hair singed from the heat of Akor’s blast of dragonfire. The young man lies on the ground unmoving, although the occasional twitch of an eyelid and the slow rise and fall of his chest indicate that he is still alive. This might not remain the case for much longer, however, as despite the protests and shaking from the other teenager, a young girl, the boy’s eyes do not open.

(Ah, from dead guards being used as bait to potentially drug-filled thralls to children. Umber just isn’t having any luck finding lunch. :smalltongue: )

WhiteKnight777
2008-03-18, 06:12 PM
Umber

Umber's eyes narrow as he reads the words written in an ancient language. He recalled them clearly; he, along with the other two of the most magically gifted Lords had crafted them originally. Even mundane words and letters had a great power - the power of thought trapped in solid form. But these... these runes were greater, by orders of magnitude. Disdainfully, he wondered if those who had scribed them truly understood what they had wrought, if they knew why these runes worked, the way the angles channeled the very powers that underlay the cosmos, bending and twisting the laws of reality, making it possible to, as he had once put it, pay the ferryman in advance and avoid his unwanted attentions... So many of these fireflies failed to grasp the significance under their actions. Feh. How many mages really knew magic? How many of them understood the wonders of the cosmic dance, the beauty of the music of the spheres. They just learned the words, but they never really knew them... Bah, enough of this maudlin rambling. There was work to be done. He turned to the curious creature, arching an eyebrow as he looked him up and down, a bit more understanding in his face now as he made a few intuitive leaps. He gave Milletia a comforting pat on the back to indicate that he was not angry with her. She was, after all, simply trying to protect him, something which he appreciated immensely.

Curious... it appears someone has been plagiarizing my work. Though, looking at you I must say it was at least partially affected... So where did they bring that fiery soul of yours back from? The realm of the dead? Or perhaps merely a formless limbo? That's one I'm recently acquainted with myself, and I know how... irritating it can be. And, unless I miss my guess, that frail body must be a terrible annoyance. As I said, I might be able to help with that, once we get out of here... a favor for a favor, if you will.

Dorizzit
2008-03-18, 08:35 PM
Korram swallows nervously. "Very well." He steels himself against Dima's impending cries and begins to cut, brutally, efficiently, carefully, quickly cauterizing the dripping flesh with a pat of his burning hand. "She will see the sky once more. I swear it on the unmarked grave of my wife. Rest easy, my friend." He sheds a single tear as he rises, and it falls onto his right arm. It evaporates with a quiet hiss. He looks at the Tiger, motioning it to follow. He listens to the Countess. "Probably wise. But take heed of my advice: as soon as you stop thinking about each kill, cast your sword aside." He heads towards the corridor Seraph is in. Entering, he begins speaking to him. "I understand. Your goal could not be to find my daughter any more than my goal could be to find your wife. Both of us stand greater chances of success if we travel together, as I said before. And yes, while I want to escape, I want my daughter safe. And the Baron dead."

Iethloc
2008-03-19, 12:43 AM
Sohssal

Sohssal chuckled lightly to himself as he remembered the times he tortured his victims with the spell, though it soon died down after Omega's comment. Then he merely cleared his throat and made sure to not step in what was left of the researcher. "Well, if we do gain his help, it'll mean more fighting with demons, and then we'll have to handle another human. But knowing the way out would be invaluable..." Sohssal pondered aloud. He took a glance at both doors, then nodded his head slightly.

"Right! Let's go torture that human!" he declared cheerfully. He directed the winds around him to lift him into the air, and floated towards the door leading to the assistant's chambers. He waved his hands out in front of him and another orb of electricity crackled into existence in one hand. He used the other to wrench open the door, and then floated in, his electricity hand held out in front of him in case of resistance.

Voth
2008-03-19, 01:38 AM
Voth

"I suppose this is farewell then."

Good riddance!

With that, Voth steps through the portal(?)

MrEdwardNigma
2008-03-19, 04:10 AM
"Why Necromancy? Is returning the dead to life, creating life where there is only rot not a noble purpose? Besides, have you ever heard of the three goals of Alchemy? There's transformation of one material to the other, traditionally lead to gold, there's eternal life, and then there's the homonculus. A living creature out of dead components. I was the first ever to succeed in the third, in the scientific way at least. The other two, no-one has been able to figure out as far as I know. I've devoted my life to science, you see, and before it ends I will have achieved those three goals, thereby proving that science is ultimately superior to magic, a force commonly used but not comprehended, where as science has to be comprehended to be used and is therefore not commonly used at all"

Victor looked up and saw that they had arrived at some sort of library, with many books, perhaps about the very creatures that wandered these halls.
"We don't have time to stop and read, but we can do a little take-away" said Victor, grabbing some of the books to read on the way and continuing along the hallway.

Pwenet
2008-03-19, 08:34 PM
Flexing his arms Akor looks down at his arm disapprovingly as the scarred number one appears again. A curse from the original owner of the body, it seems despite even his status they wanted to keep track of him. Still maybe it could be useful, being (as far as he knows) the last of his kind.

Turning to look at the little girl that his host body had protected, he tries to summon the will to leave her to her fate, and yet the promise burns within him. The process of rebirth in a new shell was not perfect, hence the years upon years of torture of the shell, breaking him down to nothing so that he could be molded into the perfect shell, giving complete control to Akor. Yet events had transpired to change that, to make it more of a symbiotic nature.

”Little human, you have nothing to fear. The previous owner of this shell bound me to protect you. And you could be useful someday, helping me gain my freedom. So relax, if these two try another I’ll let you play with their eyeballs.”

Turning to look at the vampires, Akor shakes his head at them. Yes he likes the taste of blood, but he does not share the weaknesses of being without it, yet despite that they are formidable enemies. Eying the numbers burned into the one vampires arm he realizes that this vampire must be another ‘guest’ of this fine establishment.

”Your guesses, while amusing are incorrect. Let’s say that things are changing, and this ‘frail body’, while an annoyance, serves its purpose and very soon will not be as ‘frail’. Maybe I will gift you with further information once you prove yourself worthy. Sadly it seems that this place broke its covenant with me, and are now host to foul creatures who you may have encountered, or at least can see their remains.”

With the final bit Akor gestures with his freshly regrown hand at the corpses.

”While I hate working with others, you have power and a desire to escape. I share the goal of leaving after taking my vengeance on a few people here, so yes, an alliance can be formed.”

Turning Akor strides towards the freed slaves, revealed to be little more than children. Examining them, he grunts and starts working on using his renewed strength to break the chains. Being human children he assumes that they are simple chains, nothing like the ones that were used to hold him previously. Assuming he can free those that are still alive he speaks.

”Little ones, those that can travel make ready.”

Looking down at the one who got singed with his attack, Akor shakes his head at him and turns towards the Vampires.

”I lack powers to heal others at this time. Perhaps you want to try your hand, or drain this one? I think saving the rest will fulfill my promise, but make quick, for the enemy will not cower for long.”

WhiteKnight777
2008-03-21, 12:39 AM
Umber

Umber arched an eyebrow at the dragon-thing's speech. The condescension made him bristle, but the vampire was diplomatic and patient enough to keep his irritation buried. He still had to get free of here... and then he had a long campaign of revenge to be planned. Far too many stratagems to plan and debts to pay to worry about one overbearing, arrogant, jumped up lizard with an inflated ego. Besides, Umber thought wryly, it wasn't often that he was the on the receiving end of condescension rather than the dispensing one. It was... different. He nodded slowly in agreement with the creature, looking over the singed captive, he sniffed. If it seemed clean enough, he would would drink, but he did not want to pollute his body. Normal toxins and poisons could do nothing to him, of course, but he had not survived all these millenia by being incautious.

Very well... an alliance, then, until we are free of this worm-ridden burrow. I owe a debt of pain to a few of the little maggots who writhe in this stony corpse myself... Perhaps. Perhaps. We shall see. For now, I agree, we need to move quickly.

Inspectre
2008-03-23, 07:39 PM
Elsewhere . . .

Drumming his fingers on his desk out of boredom, the Warden considered yet again having a prisoner dragged up here for his amusement while he waited for the Hierarch to make his appearance. The Warden was not a patient man, a flaw he had recognized in himself long ago. These servants of the Master, however, were the exact opposite and it was only now that the work of millennia was coming to an end. The successful end of this grand project, the Warden knew, would bring them all untold power and riches.

It seemed that the Warden would not have much longer to wait, however, as a blackish substance began to seep up from the floor stones of his office. As it started to form into a roughly circular pool in the center of his office, the Warden turned to his lieutenant, Captain Delaran, who was currently standing at one end of his grand window looking down upon the entirety of Ironheart. “He certainly knows how to make an entrance, doesn’t he?” The Warden remarked, earning only a noncommittal grunt from Delaran.

Although certainly his most effective subordinate, Delaran had not always been his most loyal. If the Warden’s flaw was simple impatience, then Delaran’s were arrogance and stubbornness. It had only been a short time ago that the fool had been convinced he would do a better job as Warden, and attempted to murder him. He might have succeeded as well, had it not been for the interference of the Prophets.

Previously the Warden had discarded them as yet another useless cult that had only recently begun to infest Ironheart like rats in a granary. However, their timely aid in thwarting Delaran’s plans, as well as convincing him to remain as a loyal and therefore useful subordinate afterwards, had opened the Warden’s eyes. Now, their Hierarch and he were, if not friends, then at least close allies in this grand endeavor.

The pool on the office floor had stopped growing, and after sitting still for a moment, began to ripple and bubble as something began to emerge from its inky depths. Slowly floating up from within the puddle was an iron crown, then a cowled head, and finally the rest of the Heirarch’s shrouded body. Drops of the black liquid slowly dripping off of his form, the Hierarch floated up until a few inches above the surface of the puddle, and then stepped out and down onto the dry floor in front of him. As he walked towards the Warden’s desk, the black liquid continued to drip off of him, and as the droplets hit the floor they wiggled their way back to the main pool, which even now was beginning to drain away into the floor. As usual, the Hierarch was succinct.

We have a problem.

“Do not worry. There are always little problems that crop up in projects as large as yours. I am sure whatever the problem is, we can fix it. How can I help?”

Several key sacrifices have escaped. Including the dragon-soul.

“Prisoner Prime? Yes, I remember you wanted him for the final sacrifice. The dragon cultists didn’t hand him over as instructed?”

No. They have betrayed our trust. I suspect they are aware of our plans. They too must be dealt with.

“Of course. But surely, wouldn’t your own men be best in capturing Prime again? He is very strong and thus difficult for us to contain once he gets loose and goes on one of his rampages.”

No, you must deal with him. He has somehow developed the ability to call forth dragon-fire, something you assured me was impossible.

“It was! The dragon cultists assured me such a thing could never happen.”

“Cleary then, they didn’t tell us everything.” Captain Delaran replied, turning away from the window to join the conversation at last. “Just before coming up here, I was also informed by one of my men that we have a major disturbance in the torture chambers. Apparently someone is cutting a swath through my men down there, and several prisoners have escaped. I’ve already dispatched more men to prevent a riot, but the situation could still spiral out of control quickly.”

Sighing in annoyance, the Warden waved his hand dismissively at his lieutenant. “None of it will matter after the ritual. Still, I have an idea on how to bring Prime to heel, and so perhaps your talents would best be served in managing the prison break. Although it shouldn’t be necessary to crush this riot before the ritual, keeping it from becoming a full-fledged prisoner rebellion would be best. Assuming, of course, that the ritual can be completed now?”

Do not make the mistake of patronizing us. The ritual shall be completed one way or another. Perhaps it would be best to dispose of the dragon-soul altogether before he becomes a greater threat. We have other sacrifices we could use.

The Warden nodded, a wicked smile forming on his face as he considered the best way to deal with his problem. “Do not worry, Hierarch. You may return to your rituals confident that we shall deal with these minor problems and any other threats that pop up to threaten our success. Now if you will excuse me, I need to make preparations for recapturing Prime, and my subordinate needs to go deal with the prisoner riot.”

Good. See that we are not disturbed any further.

With that, the Hierarch turned to go as the black liquid once more seeped up from the floor. Stepping into the circle of inky black, the Hierarch began to sink down into it in a reverse of his previous entrance, quickly disappearing into the blackness before the liquid once more drained away into the floor, leaving Delaran and the Warden alone.

“I will deal with this riot personally, sir.” Delaran said, idly reaching up to scratch at his chest with a grimace.

“Go. Relay to my adjutant that I require some keys for the Eternal Prison level.”

“Eternal Prison level? Sir, are you sure unleashing those individuals is wise?” Delaran asked, his shocked expression taking on a pained one a moment later at a glare from the Warden.

“Yes, they are perfect for this. And again, even if they attempt their own escape once released, it won’t matter after the ritual. Nothing will.”

“Very well sir. Anything else?”

“No Captain. Dismissed.”

???????

Voth

Without another word you step through the portal, grateful for the chance to get out of the sight of the Judge(s?). Immediately upon stepping through, your brain is filled with the painful sensation of your body tearing itself apart, only this time you also have to endure the following sensation of it putting itself back together.

Forcing your eyes open, your visions is momentarily filled with a swirling red light, but this quickly dissipates to leave you standing directly below the hanging crystal, back in the circular room that you had been in before. So, the idiots hadn’t even teleported you back into a cell. Perfect. There weren’t any guards waiting for you, although you imagined it was possible that the Judge(s?) had some way of contacting them to inform them that a prisoner was being sent back, so you might not have much time.

Looking quickly around the room, you note that there does not appear to be anyone in the room, aside from a very startled young woman with short fiery-red hair and clad in a simple white dress. Bolted around her right wrist is a bronze circlet inscribed with various arcane symbols, which she holds up in front of her like a shield as she skitters back towards the wall. Still staring at you in amazement, she cries out, “What? T-they sent a prisoner back!? Um, don’t move! You just stay right there! The, uh, guards are right outside, and if you come any closer I’ll scream! And you wouldn’t want that, right!?”

MrEdwardNigma

“Well I . . . suppose that’s a noble goal. If a bit icky.” Cassandra replies, wrinkling her nose in disgust at your newest creation and guardian.

Walking into the library, you quickly approach one of the bookshelves. Now directly beside it, you can see that it is even fashioned from the bones of humans, having intimate knowledge of several of these bones and how they looked from your work. The tomes were almost certainly likewise fashioned from human body parts, the covers and pages appeared to be made out of some kind of leather, likely made from human skin.

Set into the cover of the first book that you randomly pull out from the shelf, is what appears to be a miniaturized human skull, jaw opened as it screams soundlessly. Shrugging, you tuck the book under your arm and grab another which you tuck under your other arm. Both books are quick thick and heavy, and so you quit after only retrieving a third book which you hold in your hands. You consider having your guardian carry the books, but figure carrying such things would reduce its fighting effectiveness, as well as increase the risk of the books’ disappearance being noticed before you had gotten far.

Not stopping to page through any of the books’ contents, you make your way back to the door where Cassandra and the zombie await. As you near the door however, both the undersides of your arms sent out pain signs as something tears into them, causing you to reflexively open your arms and dump both books onto the floor. You discover the source of your pain a moment later as the skull on the cover of the book in your hands comes to life, biting down hard on the index and middle finger of your right hand, tearing them both off completely. This causes you to drop the third book as well, and as it clatters to the floor all three of them open their bloodstained lips to shrilly scream.

The piercing shriek persists for a moment, causing you and Cassandra to both wince, Cassandra sadly not having the luxury of being able to press her hands against her ears in a vain attempt to block out the high-pitched sound. Then, the screaming subsists, but it seems your troubles are not quite over as the blue flame on the brazier begins to move and shift. Flaring up in overall size and height, the blue flame begins to resolve itself into long coils of fire, piled one of top of another, with a snake-like head at its top. Through the flames, you glimpse what appears to be the skeleton of an enormous snake, complete with sharp fangs, but most of the time the entire skeleton is obscured by the blue flame.

A thin tongue of flame spurts out from the creature’s “mouth”, and then it springs out of the brazier with surprising speed at you, jaws agape.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

Dima does his best to stifle his own cries, although he still does cry out several times during your operation – but each time only weakly. It is clear that his strength has left him, and death is not far away. Still, he manages to mutter a “Thank . . . you.” As you rise with the patch of tattooed skin in hand, he falls over onto his stomach again, stretching out a limp hand to half scrawl a design onto the floor. Growling softly, the tiger refuses to accompany you before moves over to beside Dima, lying down in the blood next to him and slowly lapping at his wounds.

At your words Countess Amelia nervously bites her lip, but nods in understanding as she moves to follow you. She stops at the doorway to look back at Dima one last time, sniffling as she wipes more tears from her eyes. Then she exits out into the corridor after you, bringing up the rear as you and Serpah quickly move off down the corridor back the way you had came.

“It sounds that once we have found my wife, our goals shall be the same.” Seraph comments as he walks down the corridor. Suddenly he freezes, motioning for you to stop just before reaching a pair of curtained doorways, directly across from each other in the hallway. Padding silently up to the floor in between the two doorways, Seraph suddenly draws his bastard sword with a loud yell and plunges it into the curtain to his left, earning a scream from the room beyond. As the curtain on the right swings aside to reveal a guard, Seraph leaves his bastard sword hanging in the curtain and whirls to confront the guard, grasping his sword arm and slamming it into the door frame. As the guard drops his weapon with a surprised yelp, Seraph catches it in his free hand, twirls it expertly around until he’s holding it firmly by the hilt, and then drives it up into the guard’s chest before allowing him to fall back through the curtain dead. Retrieving his sword from the curtain, Seraph uses it to clean the blood from the blade, and then sheathes his weapon.

“We shall need to be careful of prepared ambushes from this point forward. I have been lucky so far, moving quickly and evading discovery until recently. Now, however, I fear that the full might of this prison shall be employed against us. Are you familiar with the territory ahead at all? Perhaps this was where they were keeping you?”

Although you were certainly familiar with the torture chambers, you were not quite certain about their layout other than that they were a seemingly endless series of interconnected rooms. It would undoubtedly be easy to become lost within the maze-like rooms, but at least it should likewise be fairly easy to sneak about in the poor light, loud screaming, and the fighting of any remaining released prisoners against the guards.

The Labs

Iethloc

Rising once more off of the floor, you float along towards the door that the assistant was hiding behind. Directing the keys with a wave of your hand, you use them to unlock the door, and then pull it open with another gesture. Beyond is a long, wide corridor, the walls lined with large crystals on both sides. Within the red-tinged crystals you can see blurry figures moving about within. At the far end of the corridor stands a young man who you can only assume is the research assistant Omega mentioned. He is currently standing in what appears to be a control booth, shielded by a pane of glass and his lower half blocked from sight by the control panel he is working at. Looking up, he sees you and Omega charge into the room, and seems to smile.

“Ah, I was wondering if you would be coming for me. I heard Zarov’s death screams, so I imagine he’s already been dealt with. And since that’s an impossibility for you, my dear, I imagine that duty was left to our interloper here.”

“Father’s directives don’t apply to you. I imagine he thought it might become necessary to kill you one day. Enough talk.” Omega replied, glaring at this man for a moment before winking out of existence. Instead of teleporting to a point directly behind him, however, Omega reappeared several feet in front of the control booth.

Cackling with delight at Omega’s annoyed expression, the man explained. “You see my dear? Because we’ve dealt with numerous demons in our work, it has become necessary to put in certain safeguards, like a line of wards across the room here. Demons can’t come any closer to this control booth, no matter how hard they try. And now my dear, I believe it’s time to introduce you to our methods of demon containment. Of course, we still need a place to store the demons we were aren’t harvesting their organs, and so we use those crystals you see along the walls there to contain their essence when they’re not needed. Very interesting magic from experiments up in the Spire over how to compress prisoner holding space. We’ve modified it a bit for our own uses, but the principle is the same. So, why don’t you see for yourself how it is to be utterly helpless, instead of coddled for once, my dear?”

Tapping a button on the control panel, the man smiles as one of the crystals closest to Omega begins glowing. An instant later, a brilliant red beam lances out, striking her directly in the chest and seemingly disintegrating her. Omega manages one angry scream, and then is gone.

Tapping another button, the man turns to regard you with an equally wide smile as the door swings shut behind you and locks. “So, now it’s just you and me, interloper. I don’t know who or what you are, but I’m sure it’ll be entertaining to watch you die. Now, let’s see you dance, shall we?”

The research assistant taps a few controls into the console, and three of the crystals nearest to you come to life. From each a single beam lances out to strike the floor, and the red light quickly resolves itself into three hunched over creatures with bulging eyes and mole-like claws.

“Drak’nei aren’t very smart or fast, but they are fairly strong and excellent diggers, whether that is through earth or flesh. I hope you’re fast on your feet or this dance isn’t going to last very long at all.”

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet/WhiteKnight777

The unconscious boy still does not stir, and smells wonderful to Umber. Although his time here had undoubtedly put great strain on his body and mind, his blood still smelled fresh and vibrant, full of life at its peak with no hint of accumulated bitterness.

Akor was quickly able to tear apart the chains holding the children captive, earning numerous ooos, aaaaahhhs, and other praises from them, including a few unsuccessful copy-cat imitations from the youngest children. Akor’s “little morsel” attempts to collect the five children, which is fairly amusing considering she is really but a child herself. However, the eldest girl refuses to go, and remains by the unconscious boy’s side.

As Umber approaches, she pleads with him, “Please sir. Help my brother! He’s hurt!” With a few insincere assurances from Mellita, the girl allows herself to be lead away to join the others, but screams when she looks back to find Umber’s fangs in the boy’s soft and just slightly cooked neck.

Breaking away from Mellita, the girl rushes at Umber, swatting at his back several times with her fists before an annoyed Mellita appears to hoist the girl up into the air with one hand. “Shall I deal with this other one, Lord Umber?” Mellita asks, grunting as the girl manages to kick backwards into Mellita’s chest. “We really don’t have time for this. Ross is probably finished with that Bone Golem by now, and surely one of his men will check this passage out. We need to keep moving, fast.”

Looking around the chamber, it is clear that there is another passage leading out of it other than the one that you both used to enter. However, now with new allies, perhaps you could instead return to the intersection and overpower a weakened Ross. This may be your best chance to eliminate a serious potential threat, unless he had reinforcements waiting in the wings in which case you would essentially be walking directly into an ambush.

Iethloc
2008-03-23, 10:35 PM
"Crystals, hm? This makes the way I imprisoned my demons seem so...old fashioned..." Sohssal commented as he hovered by the crystals, the electricity still crackling in his hand. However, he stared at the assistant, clearly not as amused at the sight of him as he was at the crystals, especially when he seemingly disintegrated Omega. "Oh, dear. That one could have been useful, you know!" he complained aloud.

Sohssal sarcastically clapped when he brought forth three Drak'Nei, the orb of lightning merely crackling louder when his own hand passed through it. "Ooh, Drak'Nei. I think I used to summon those, but they were too dumb to help me with my quest," he explained. Then he discharged the lightning bolt at the middle one, and flew, somewhat awkwardly, up to the ceiling and past them, to the line of wards. "I've met a lot of people who present to me magical wards. Most people...don't expect me to be able to do...this..." Sohssal said arrogantly, sniffing deeply during the pauses, trying to detect the magic of the wards. Then he immediately dived at them, staying in contact with them just long enough to try to suck out some of the magic, exercising his innate demonic powers.

Dorizzit
2008-03-24, 06:19 AM
Korram raises his eyebrows at Seraph's show of skill. When asked, he replies: "Sort of...past here are the torture chambers. I know the general layout of them since I spent about half my time there, but I'm not to keen on specifics. It probably wouldn't be too hard to avoid detection though, and we might lose our pursuers. Me and Dima left things in something of a state of disorder." He smiles, rather unpleasantly. "It seems likely that there would be a way down from there, and we may be able to lose pursuers in the chaos." He begins moving towards the torture chambers.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-03-24, 06:44 AM
As the snake jumps the gigantic zombie construct grabs it in mid-air, swing it round above it's head and smashes it into the wall. He makes another swing and tosses it away towards the far off wall. The bones crunch and are (very likely) broken in places, leaving wome much shorter bits of snake lying around.

Meanwhile Victor had smashed the facebook (best name I could think off :smallbiggrin: ) into the wall as well a couple of times, face first. The thing let go off his fingers and Victor tossed the book at the snake after making a few spins for extra force. He then quickly sewed his fingers back on, took another book (this time making sure not to go anywhere near the face with his fingers) and he, Cassandra and the zombie made a run for it.

Well, they stayed calm and such, but they left anyways. there was no reason to stick around with the dead snake and those annoying books.

ubersquid
2008-03-24, 01:57 PM
:smallredface: sorry for the delay, i know, should have said something


Would Elkwin have held the torch, he would have dropped it as well. Recovering from the shock and now cowering against the wall, Elkwin spills the contens of his backpack on the floor and frantically fumbles around in the pile to find a piece of flint.

The sudden loss of any visual impressions heightens the other senses to maddening levels. The two escapees' movements, sliding across the floor, rummaging through the pile of emptied backpacks, the high pitched rattling of their chainshirts and of course the continues ghostly whispers of the woman fill the room with an unbearable amount of noise.

The moments it takes him seem like an eternity to him, searching for this little bit of vital equipment, while Marv crawls around to find the torch again. At this time, Elkwin wasn't even sure if he threw a piece in when they geared up at the storage room. Of course he would have? Wouldn't he? You can't pack torches without a piece of flint, right? Was he that old and forgetful already?

A multitude of sensation rushes from his fingertips. Cold as ice, wet and musty the wall of the room. Sandy and dusty, sticking to his fingers, the floor. Soft and comfortable, just a piece of cloth and then... alive! moving and warm! ... just Marv's ankle.

Finally Elkwins hands grab onto a small piece of cold rectangular shaped stone. Both are to scared to talk aloud and communicate only in hissed whispers for the moment.

"The torch! Over here... Quick!"

Somehow acquiring the torch, Elkwin leans against the wall and strikes the piece of flint against it.

*Tick*

Lighting a torch in total darkness is harder then one might think, but with every strike, the tiny sparks that spray from the flint lighten up the room in a bright flash.

*Tick*

Marv's scared face, staring at the torch, his eyes wide open.

*Tick*

The armor in the corner, reflecting even the faintest ray of light.

*Tick*

The girl, still chained to the bed, or was she? Sword through her chest.

*Tick*

Finally... the Sparks fall onto the right spot on the torch and relief spreads through Elkwins body like the flames on the torches head.



They look around, everything seems to be in place still. Elkwin slowly stands up, his knees still shaking. Looking at the woman, he whispers.

"Poor lass... what crime has she commited to deserve this torment?"

Then, taking all his courage, he takes a step towards her and stretches out his head to get a closer look.

"Hello?"

WhiteKnight777
2008-03-24, 05:49 PM
Umber

Umber grinned and gave a little sigh of pleasure as he finished draining the vessel. Such sweet, pure sanguine as he hadn't tasted in far too long. The boy obviously hadn't been tainted and weakened by long imprisonment, and his youth and vigour were refreshing in the extreme. Umber stretched, feeling strength and dexterity flowing back into him, another step on restoring him to his normal state of godlike power. He grinned with the familiar feeling of euphoria as he contemplated his future - oh, but he would feast once he left this place. He was not limited by time's slow march to restore and increase his powers like the pitiable leaches he was going to destroy.. All he needed was enough blood. And when he tracked them down... he shivered a little.. He would drain them of soul and vitae to enhance his own potency. He gave an evil little chuckle, then nodded once to Milletia Yes, deal with her as you see fit, my dear. If you're a bit parched feel free to indulge. He turned, looking back down the tunnel where Ross would be, then turned to his new ally. He contemplated the possibility of ambushing Ross... he was stronger now, and he had allies... perhaps.. hmm.. Well, it all depended on whether or not this... dragon-thing would go along. He gave a suddenly vicious grin

Tell me... Do you feel up for a bit of a quick hunt... or perhaps pest extermination is a better word. There's a rather irritating paladin named Ross whose entirely too hammer-happy and with a penchant for crusading and smiting the wicked in the name of some cretinous mortal deity back down the tunnel a bit... But he just finished engaging in a rather tiring fight. If we ambush him now, we can eliminate a potential thorn in both our sides... He's hunting me, but believe me, He'd be perfectly willing to murder you as well...And besides, he might have valuable equipment or information we can... extract from him.

Pwenet
2008-03-24, 07:56 PM
Akor

Watching the vampire feed upon the young child, Akor feels a slight twinge of guilt. The promise he made to his host to save the humans here, the innocents, yet his nature was brutal and efficient. The child, already badly wounded by his attack upon the foul creatures would not have survived. He would have been a liability, while the others were still mobile, and who knows what would happen in the future.

Listening to the lead vampire Akor nods along with him.

”I saw that bone golem you mentioned previously. At the time I thought it would be a nice diversion for those chasing me, but if you have one who is hunting you is now also hunting me. And it would be nice to test out this new body properly. In addition I too have those now hunting me, seven of them to be specific, and the time will come when I may call upon your aid facing them.”

Turning to face the little humans that were saved, Akor grabs the bits of chain and starts wrapping them around his wrists and hands as a crude protective cover. He smiles as he sees the puny human flesh already changing slowly, becoming tougher with red scales starting to grow, muscles growing and fingernails toughening, turning more into talons than proper fingers.

Turning towards his “little morsal” he smiles at her and tilts his head at her in a gesture of respect.

”Little dragon-rider, I leave you the care of these little ones to you. Follow us until we reach the chamber, and keep the little ones back away from the battle. We have some pests to take care of before we again work on our escape. Can you do that?”

WhiteKnight777
2008-03-24, 11:04 PM
Umber

Umber smiled, pleased. He had expected that future favors would be demanded, but he was optimistic that he could find some way to profit from that. The individuals hunting this fellow would likely have some potent vitae indeed... something he could definitely use at the moment... and if he was right, he would be able to eliminate that cretin Ross once and for all. It was just a shame he wouldn't have more time to teach him the error of his ways. He nodded the affirmative, grinning a predatory grin. He could feel the strong, youthful blood restoring him, putting a bit more spring back into his step, his senses sharpening as well as his reflexes, another modicum of his old strength flowing back... Hells, but it felt good.

Most excellent, most excellent... let us deal with the wretched god-bothering vermin post haste. I thank you for your assistance, and I will gladly repay in full when time comes to settle accounts with your own hunters. He smirked, nodding to Milletia Prepare yourself... we go to deal with Ross.

Voth
2008-03-29, 02:01 AM
Voth

Sighing, Victor stands there looking at her. "Please don't. Really, what have I done to you that wants to make you yell out for guards?"

Inspectre
2008-04-01, 07:29 PM
The Catacombs

ubersquid

The sounds of frantic searching filled the room, and nothing else mattered to you or Marv but reacquiring light. Not the ghost, nor any other monstrosities that could be descending upon you in your vulnerability right this very second, nor even any of the ghost’s rambling whispers, still continuing but drowned out by the sounds of your search.
You knew you had packed some flint and tinder in your backpack somewhere, and finally your hand closed around the reassuring piece of flaky stone. Producing a fresh torch, you press it into Marv’s shaking hands, and then with great effort, managing to produce a spark sufficient to light it.

Breathing a collective sight of relief, Marv retrieves his own torch from the floor, re-lighting it off of your own. “Two better than one, eh?” He says with a nervous chuckle, stealing a glance over at the bed and gulping. Following his gaze you see that the ghost has not moved, resettling into the exact same position it had been when you first entered the room with a faint clatter of chains. Her literally empty eyes seem to be fixated on you, however, as she seems to answer your greeting with more gibberish.

The hero has already left, he should not be here. Or perhaps he has not yet come? To know all things is to know madness, and to see all is to see the death of hope. Oblivion cannot be denied! His footsteps herald the end of all! He is coming, he is coming! Oh gods, why!?

For a moment the ghost grows agitated, flailing around against its bonds but failing to even disturb the skeleton it left behind or the bed it now rested on. Giving up, the ghost collapses back over the skeleton, shrieking a heartrending scream that embodied despair and grief. For a moment then the ghost is silent, safe for sniffling and choked back sobs. Tears of blood form at the corners of her eyes, silently rolling down her face to dip off but leaving no sign on the bedsheet beneath. But then the ghost continues.

Love is a horrible crime. I am guilty, sentenced to remain here until released from my sin before Oblivion. I didn’t understand then, couldn’t see. They say love is blind, so how could I have seen? But is my punishment truly unjust compared to what I have wrought? I have damned us all. Oh gods . . . it is all my fault!

Apparently the ghost is unable to control herself anymore, and lapses into a fit of sobbing, stopping only to spit out a few more incoherent lines of whispered madness.

. . . the great tree falls from the rot within, but it was I who bored the hole . . .

. . . it is all my fault, truly the root of Evil is me . . .

. . . oh brother, you fall. You fall and I can’t catch you. No one can and you fall, fall forever . . .

. . . mine is the hand that placed the key in the lock, his is the one that turns it. But it is the other’s duty to open the door . . .

. . . oh gods, why . . .
???????

Voth

“W-well . . . you . . . you’re a prisoner, aren’t you? One of Mage Volesin’s prison experiments? You would have to be if you just got t-t-transported, or whatever, out of the crystal.” The girl nods at the gigantic red crystal hanging above you, wincing and giving a sharp yelp of surprise as she backs into the wall. “So uh . . . y-you just stay right there, b-because the guards are going to be coming right in to take you away. And they wouldn’t like it if you m-misbehaved.” Her eyes still fixated on you, the girl slowly starts to slide along the wall towards the door.

MrEdwardNigma

Displaying an amazing amount of dexterity for a zombie, your new guardian is able to catch the snake in mid-leap with one arm, spinning the creature around to slam into the wall, before twirling it around and throwing it against the far wall with bone shattering force. This effort is not without cost, however, as the heat from the creature’s body-covering flames is enough to sear most of the flesh away on the hand used to throw it; you are now very glad you took the time to give your construct a total of six arms. Seared to the bone even from its brief contact, that hand of the zombie’s would now be largely useless, although certainly pain had no meaning to the dim-witted construct.

It was certainly possible for an animated body to retain its sense of pain, a fact which you took advantage of in many of your experiments and used on those rare occasions that your “children” disobeyed you. Pain was certainly one of the most effective training methods known to man, but it had no purpose for what you needed right now: an unstoppable killing machine.

Although immune to all forms of pain, even including having a hand seared to the bone, the effectiveness of the zombie as a killing machine was in doubt. Although the flames covering the snake creature winked out upon its impact with the wall, revealing a number of large bones which scattered all over the floor from the impact in an impressive fashion, the fire returned a moment later. Slowly, the burning pieces of bone began to lift off into the air and swirl back together as the creature began to reform itself.

Having no interest in remaining long enough for that reformation to be complete, you pry your fingers out of the book’s mouth, reattach your fingers, and throw the book at the thing. Neither book nor snake seem to have any effect on each other, and as the snake’s body begins to move about of its own accord again you snatch up one of the other books and decide now would be a good of time as any to flee.

Again as you attempt to leave the room the book begins to shriek, an unholy tone that is matched by the other books lying on the floor and even still on the bookshelf, an infernal choir providing music to your rather shameful exit. Of course, only a fool would think of your exit as shameful, as he who runs away with information on his enemy is generally the only one who lives to lead a long and happy life, and you really had no idea how to deal with that undead fire snake thing. Cassandra right on your heels, you dash out into the hallway – only to be clotheslined by one of the black robed figures.

Intruders found, attempting to escape library with one of the texts. Augmented human male, human female, and six-armed zombified construct. Engaging, but will try to leave the humans alive for sacrifice.

As the figure reaches a hand down towards you, Cassandra skids to a halt, nearly falling onto her back in her desperate attempt to halt forward motion. Your zombified guardian, however, actually accelerated, lowering its shoulder and driving it into the black-robed figure. The loud bone-shattering impact momentarily stuns even you, sprawled on the floor behind the two clashing titans. It also serves to throw the black-robed figure back against the nearby wall, whereupon the zombie dashes forward and crashes into him again, crushing him against the wall and trying to pin him in place.

Yet it is only a moment before the figure strikes back, simply shoving the zombie away from him with brute strength. The zombie stumbles back, nearly tripping over you but managing to retain its footing. Bracing itself for the figure’s inevitable follow-up attack, the zombie swings its arms up in a defensive position, but does not anticipate an attack from behind as the flame snake reappears, springing through the doorway to chomp down on the zombie’s torso. As it bites down, you can see the bony fangs of the snake skeleton underneath the flames penetrate the zombie’s flesh, and there is a bright gout of flame as it seemingly injects liquid fire into the wound.

Crawling forward on your hands and knees, you move far enough away from the wild melee that you aren’t in immediate danger, and begin to push yourself back up onto your feet. But your right foot suddenly is yanked out from underneath you as you make it about halfway up, once again crashing to the ground. Looking behind you, you see that the black-cloaked figure has bent down and now has one hand clasped around your right ankle. As its grip begins to tighten considerably around your ankle, sending considerable waves of pain up your leg, the figure continues its usual addresses to some unseen party.

Mildly crippling injury shall now be inflicted upon the human male to prevent further flight.

Before the creature can grind your ankle bones to powder, however, Cassandra reappears, delivering a hard kick to the side of the creature’s head. The blow throws it against the wall and weakens its grip considerably, allowing you to twist your ankle out of its grasp.

“Come on! Let’s get out of here!” Cassandra shouts, jumping back just in time to avoid a scything swing of the creature’s other hand. Undoubtedly it was trying to repeat the same trick on Cassandra as it had on you, but all the thing earned for its troubles was a second hard kick to the face from the monk.

Beyond your own immediate fight, the zombie had managed to rip the snake off of its back and bodyslam it into the ground, spraying pieces of bone everywhere as before. But once again the pieces were starting to reassemble, and the zombie was starting to look the worse for the wear with severe charring of the skin on its torso and the slow oozing of liquid flame from its bite wound.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

“Very well. You shall lead, and I will follow.” Seraph replies, stepping aside to allow you to take the lead position of your little band. Sweeping into the room where you had first met the Countess, you found things exactly the way you had left them, dead elites and all. Creeping over to the secret entrance connecting the room to the main torture chambers, you crack the door open and listen. Aside from distant screams and the low crackling of braziers, you hear nothing else and so grow encourage to open the door a bit wider and peep through. Although it is hard to see the dark corners of the room, you are able to make out the dark forms of the two guards where you had hidden them, seemingly undisturbed.

With no guards in sight, you open the door all of the way and step out, sweeping the room one last time for any sign of a potential ambush, then step all of the way through. You wave your two companions through the doorway and then carefully pull it shut behind you, trying not to make a sound in doing so despite the loud ambient noise all around you.

You start to make your way across the room to the northern doorway, the one doorway you had not crossed yet, when the loud clomp of approaching guards sends you scampering across the floor to press yourself up against the wall. The sound is coming from the direction of your own torture chamber, and you and Seraph both make ready to fight as voices reach yours ears, close enough to clearly make out.

“Look, I told you, two of the prisoners are still unaccounted for. Now, we’ve checked off all the markers on all the bodies we’ve found so far, and none of them are those of the prisoners that were supposed to be down here in the very same cells where this little riot started at.”

“So? Maybe they both crawled off in some dark corner to die from their wounds. Or more probably, they’re with the little band that’s got themselves holed up in Chamber 154, thinking they is somehow going to escape beyond there.”

“I don’t care about those people. It’s the ones that started this whole mess I’m concerned with, and for all we know they could be hiding in some dark corner somewhere, not dead. Doesn’t hurt to check some of the nearest chambers, see if any of the guards there saw anything.”

“Ha, sure right. Unless those guards are already dead and we’re about to walk into our own deaths!”

The two voices are very close now, and with an agreeable nod from Seraph you prepare to leap out at the guards when they appear at the doorway, keenly aware that there could be more, less-talkative, guards with them. Just as a pair of shadows crosses the doorway, however, a gruff third voice calls, “You two! Stop!”, followed by a “Yes, Sergeant?” from the two of them. The third voice then continues.

“We’re about to smoke out those rats we’ve cornered in Chamber 154. And you two have just been enlisted to help. Just remember not to kill any of them: attempting to escape earns special treatment around here, and we don’t want anyone missing out on their reward!”

The three of them share a nasty laugh, and then the shadows move away, presumably following the sergeant to go help deal with the last chaos caused by you and Dima’s distraction. For a moment you are tempted to breath a sigh of relief, but the knowledge you are about to try to sneak through perhaps dozens of guard-infested rooms cautions you against relief for the moment. Moving over to the northern doorway, you look back at your companions to find Seraph only one step behind you. The Countess, however, was kneeling beside the concealed doorway, arms wrapped around her and staring at her appropriate short sword, now lying on the ground in front of her. Rocking back and forth gently on the balls of her feet, the Countess seems to be fighting back tears.

“I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry” She whispers, repeating the apology over and over as if in a trance.

The Labs

Iethloc

Lifting off into the air, you easily avoid the disorganized Drak'nei stumbling towards you. As you begin to ascend, you throw the ball of crackling electricity at the lead demon, striking it directly in the chest. It crumples to the ground, twitching erractically as the energy plays over its prone form. But then the lightning fades, and the Drak’nei stubbornly pushes itself back up onto its feet. What the beasts lacked in intelligence they certainly made up for in endurance, making them ideal foot soldiers.

Ignoring them for now, you fly up to the ceiling, far out of their reach as you begin to make your way down the hallway towards the research assistant. As you continue to approach you can hear him clapping and laughing behind the glass as he tracks your progress. “Oh very good, truly! You dance quite well! I think it’s time to find you a new partner!”

Two more crystals light up as you pass them, each disgorging what appears to be a swarm of moths with brilliant red and brown coloration, speckled here and there with white spots. The white you knew was their coloration at birth for the rest was actually stains. These were Blood Moths; swarm based predators that were one of Hell’s few native fauna. Released from the crystals, the two swarms flutter about a moment before moving in separate directions. One swarm descended on the Drak’nei as they lumbered along after you, obscuring them from sight in a fine red mist almost instantly. The other swarm, however, began to flutter after you, picking up speed as the moths doggedly pursued you.

And unfortunately for you, you were quickly running out of space to move as the wards loomed ahead. But you were out of room only momentarily, as you had a skill that this cretin surely did not anticipate. Reaching out your senses to the line of wards, you are quickly able to determine the exact magics involved in its construction and attune yourself to them. Then darting forward into direct contact with the wards, you begin to siphon their magical energy into yourself. All of this spellcasting was starting to get draining, so this little pick-me-up was quite welcome.

It was dangerous to fully absorb powerful magic all at once however, a fact that failed to bother you upon gaining immortality but was important in this specific case as you were borrowing someone else’s body. Pulling back away from the wards, you enjoy the stolen power flowing through you and judge the wards to now be at roughly half strength.

Before you can reach out and drain the other half, however, the research assistant grins and touches a button on the console. “Well, you’re certainly an interesting specimen. Most human mages can’t absorb magical energy, and there are only a few demons that can. Which means if you are a demon, I should be able to do this!”

Touching a final rune on his console, the assistant activates the crystal closest to the line of wards and directly across from the one he used to imprison Omega. As before, a red beam lances out to envelop you, but instead of disintegrating you remain surprisingly intact. It still feels like you’re being torn apart, however, as your soul strains against the magic holding you within your appropriated body. The runes covering your fleshly prison’s body begin to glow, slowly brightening from their usual ink black to radiant white.

This was clearly not the reaction the researcher had intended, and for the first time since you had seen him he was frowning. “Impossible! At first I thought you a mere human, then a demon possessing one, but clearly you’re neither or the crystal would have torn your demonic soul from its resting place! Perhaps simply more power is required?”

Tapping more commands into the console, the researcher activates the trio of crystals that had been imprisoning the Drak’nei and Blood Moths, all of them spearing you with red beams of their own. Slowly, you felt your soul begin to slip free, torn in four different directions by the four crystals skewering you with rays of hellish light. The Blood Moths were likewise still approaching, and their barb-covered tongues would be able to rasp every inch of skin off of your body in seconds, even if these crystals didn’t kill you by tearing your soul apart first.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet/WhiteKnight777

Mellita smiles as Umber gives permission, and lowers the girl close enough to whisper into her ear as she brushes the girl’s hair away from her neck with her free hand. “If we were not in a hurry, I would turn you into a feast that would last for days. But since we are, I guess you’ll be seeing your brother . . . immediately.” Melitta then opens her mouth and bites down hard onto the girl’s neck, carefully sucking up every last drop of blood that bubbles up from the wound until finally Melitta allows the lifeless and pale form of the young girl to collapse onto the ground. She licks her bloody lips, and smiles widely in the direction of Akor’s charge and the other little children who had all turned away to clutch at the young girl’s legs.

“Are you sure we can’t have another one, Lord Umber? I’m still feeling a little . . . parched.”

Surprisingly, Akor’s charge somehow managed to return Melitta’s smile with a harsh glare. “No!” She cried, looking to the slowly transforming dragon-man for support. This earned a laugh from Mellita who shook her head as she turned back to Umber. “Nevermind. I’m sure there will be a few tasty thralls with Ross. But are you sure that you are ready to face him, Lord Umber? He had killed many of our kind.” A note of actual fear seems to enter Melitta’s voice, but after a moment she nods. “Very well, let’s us go quickly.”

Together, all of you make your way back up the passage to the intersection, where you can hear the loud voice of a certain paladin continuing to berate his followers. “Alright lads, let’s see if you’re anymore useful searching passageways than you were with that bone golem. Ha! I should hope so, otherwise I might as well done everyone a favor and put you useless slobs out of your misery right here and now. Oh ho, what’s this!?”

Emerging out into the cavern, you can see that the bone golem has finally been destroyed, its pieces ground into small shards that cover the floor of the chamber. Four vampires remain standing, along with the tall plate-mailed form of Ross, seemingly looking none the worse for wear.

“Ah, I see the good vampire lord has found some playmates! He’s even got a traitor with him! Helion’s going to be most displeased with you when he finds out about your betrayal, Mellita my dear. I might not even kill you just to find out what sort of hideous punishment he’ll inflict on you when he finds out! Unless, of course . . . he already knows. It would take a pretty powerful mage to break through all those defenses around the dear lord vampire’s prison, especially without being detected . . . or just an insider with explicit knowledge of every ward and seal. I have to admit I don’t know what sort of game Helion is playing, but even if I have to admire the audacity of a vampire that would bite his own friends in the back!”

Narrowing his eyes to squint at Akor, the man chuckles as he waves at hand at him. “And you. You, well I have no idea what sort of thing you might be or what sort of hole these two found you in, but I’ll tell you what! You help me pound these two filthy vampires into dust, and I’ll let you go. I have no quarrel with you, unless you want to start something with me. And then, by gods, my warhammer will finish it!”

Brandishing his warhammer, Ross slowly swings it down towards the ground, undoubtedly pantomiming splitting Akor’s skull open. Lowering the head of the weapon all the way to the ground, Ross leans on it for a moment, smiling pleasantly. “So, what’s it gonna be?”

Voth
2008-04-01, 07:40 PM
Voth

You could just slice her up and move along you know.

True but if that Judge character is watching me somehow I don't want to have anymore reasons to be put in stasis for the rest of eternity.

"Listen," Voth says to the girl as she slides along the wall. "I'm not here to hurt you. Yes I'm a prisoner, but that doesn't mean I'm a bad guy. So could you not call the guards down here? Please? I just want to get out of here. You can understand that right?"

Pwenet
2008-04-01, 08:07 PM
Akor

Listening to Ross make his little speech and swing his hammer around mimicking crushing skulls, Akor can’t help but chuckle at him and shake his head at the display of bravado.

”Your gods have abandoned you foolish meatbag. You smell tasty, I shall enjoy feasting upon your flesh. But matters of honor demand that my companions here get first dibs on you.”

Turning to look at the four vampires standing around Ross, Akor narrows his eyes at them and leans towards Umbar.

”Matters of honor demand you get first dibs on Ross. I shall take care of the trash, you deal with Ross, scream if you need help.”

Without waiting for a reply Akor pulls away from the group and walks in a circle around the enemies away from the children and Umbar and Millita. Crackling his neck loudly he smiles broadly at his soon to be victims.

”I shall enjoy testing out this new body on you all.”

Not bothering with a stereotypical roar, Akor rush towards the closest two vampires, aiming to grab them by the throats. His body moves with grace and speed that surprises even him, and he takes a moment to mentally smile as his body starts to move quicker. One of the vampires is quick enough to turn and move a dagger, but the blow is feeble and poorly aimed and slides against Akors developing scales and slices a few of them off.

Grabbing the two Akor does not pause but flex and slams the two vampire heads together. Roaring he pulls them apart and smashes them again, and again, and by the third time the badly crushed and bleeding heads burst like overripe fruit, covering Akor and those around him with gore.

Looking to see the other two vampires Akor smiles and throws what he hopes are the corpses of the two he just dealt with at them before rushing towards them with visions of tearing them apart flashing through his mind while also wondering how vampire flesh would taste.

WhiteKnight777
2008-04-01, 08:42 PM
Umber

Umber grinned as they stalked back down the passageway, and he laughed at Ross' words as the pathetic little sack of flesh tried to stare him down. He had faced down lords of the Nether Planes, and entities far more ancient and terrible even than these. The paladin was a challenge for him, yes, at least in his weakened state, but he was still just a pathetic, simpering little god-botherer. He just shook his head and circled, expecting Milletia to be wise enough to flank the paladin. He began to speak, his voice a low, silky tone, but his grin and the gleam in his eyes revealed a vicious sadism that was matched by his words as he stalked around the paladin. If the vampires came too close, he would tear them open - and perhaps save them for later. Their vitae would be refreshing... but his first priority was Ross.

Gods? Let me tell you about your gods, you pathetic little whoreson. Your gods are no less parasites than I - moreso, for they hide their nature. They and their so-called clergy live off the fat of you stupid, arrogant cattle, performing petty little tricks to confound and amaze credulous buffons like yourself. The power they grant you is just a little morsel, and you nothing more than a simpering puppet. But the best part of the arrangement is that you just dreamed them up. They're merely constructs - reflections of your own meager imaginations. All that gives them power is the slavish adoration of morons like yourself. Despite their supposed omnipotence, even they cannot evade death - they're just powers, and they will pass. I remember a time before your precious gods, paladin, and I'll be here long after they are nothing more than mewling voices on the wind, scattered and broken for lack of worship, the only sign of their passing the dust that was once their temples... and you? You'll be less than a memory. I'm going to take great delight in making sure everyone with an ounce of your blood or a shred of memory of you either dies an excruciating death or simply forgets you altogether. I won't merely kill you, Ross, I'm going to erase you. Look at me, Ross, and know that I won't merely end your life... I will make it as if you were never born at all.

Umber smirked, still stalking around the paladin like a hunting cat, using his words like barbs.. He prepared, all the while keeping careful watch that he should not be flanked himself, preparing for the paladin's charge... and when he did, he would tear that accursed hammer from the fool's hands and break his body. He wondered what the little bastard's blood would taste like.

Iethloc
2008-04-01, 10:14 PM
Sohssal

"Ack!" Sohssa cried out in surprise when the first red lance hit him. However, a wide grin crept across his face when it failed to do anything significant to him. Interesting. These tattoos have proven themselves to have some worth, after all! he thought to himself. Then he turned towards the ravenous moths coming to consume him. However, he roared out in surprise and pain when the four lances struck him. "GAH! Insolent human! You must be put in your place!" he growled as ethereal feathers appeared and began dancing all around him. He waited just a few more moments for the blood moths to get closer, then willed the spell into existence. Hundreds of icy, extremely sharp feathers burst into being, swarming other the swarms of moths and most likely beating them at their own game.

However, he did not wait to see the results of his effort. Instead, a gentle force radiated outward from him, but in this case did little more than make his clothes flap around slightly. However, a much more conspicuous blast of blue light erupted from his fingers, and he directed the beam of force at one of the crystals trying to imprison him. Then, he turned the beam briefly to the ground as he aimed it at the next crystal, continuing the process until each was smashed by the beam of force. "I will not let these toys take me down!" he declared as he worked to free himself.

Dorizzit
2008-04-09, 02:55 PM
Korram breathes out a sigh of relief (very quietly) as the guards leave. The last thing that the group needed would be a fight that might attract attention. Turning and seeing the Countess, he holds a finger up at Seraph to communicate the desire for a pause before crouching next to the Countess. He puts a hand on her shoulder. "What is it? What's wrong?" he asks softly.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-04-10, 04:53 AM
Rotten creature won't die. I hate it when my knowledge of magic isn't sufficient. Back to good old clichés, I guess. You kill the head, you kill the creature

"Cassandra, head back into the library and take out anything that might be fualing this creature, the brazier, the bookstand, anything! And hurry up! Zombie, take out the head! Take out the head first!"

The zombie groaned. It quickly too hold of the snake's tail and use it'sshard end to pierce the cultist, straight through the torso, into the hump at the back. He wouldn't be able to kill the snake while this bastard was bothering him. He then took hold of the snake's head with one hand and pushed it into wall, shattering the bone head. Victor ran up to the fight and quickly dug hishand inside the bulge at the cultist's back, taking out the core once more. Sure, the zombie a pierced it, but it never harmed to make sure.

ubersquid
2008-04-10, 03:00 PM
Elkwin looks over at the door for a moment. For one thing, he is contemplating to just walk away, for the other, he wants to make sure it was still open and not suddenly shut close like in so many ghost stories he had heard and told.

Then he takes another step towards the girl. And another. Noticing the chests next to the bed once more, he throws Marv a nod, telling him to check them out.

He squats down next to the bed and looks at the girl. His head shakes and his eyes squint while he watches her. On the one hand his consciousness forces him to look away. The state she was currently in, made a horrid sight. On the other hand, Elkwins curiosity let him see through that and admire the beauty she once possessed.

Then, very slowly, he reaches out his shaking hand and carefully strikes over the blade and hilt, watching out not to nudge it and cause the woman any more pain.

((OOC: If Marvin doesn't find anything in the chests which could influence this (i.e. if they just contain clothes and stuff), Elkwin will try to slowly pull out the Sword))

Inspectre
2008-04-10, 05:45 PM
The Catacombs

ubersquid

Checking over your shoulder, you notice that the door is thankfully as you left it, so clearly this ghost either has little control over its environment or perhaps simply has no wish to prevent you from leaving. With at least reduced fear that you would become trapped here, you direct Marv to search the chests while you approached the bed.

One shaking foot in front of the other, you slowly approach the bed to kneel down beside its head. Looking down at the ghost of this woman, scarcely older than a girl, you are initially repulsed at what she has become. But gradually you are able to ignore what has been done to her, and see the beauty she once had. And she was beautiful, perhaps even regal looking, like someone you might picture as the proud queen in one of the fairy tales you had been told as a child, and had always intended to pass on to your own children someday. But someone had obliterated all that: covering her face and body in scars, removing the lower two fingers on her hand, and ending with tearing out her eyes and running her through with a sword.

The sword. Now close enough to touch it you can make out more details of the weapon itself. It seems to be made out of the same bright silvery metal that the suit of armor is made out of. Gold plated hilt, shaped like the wings of a bird – or perhaps angel? The winged hilt ends at the pommel: a large sky blue gem that sparkles brilliantly in the light of your torch. The entire length of the blade that you can see is covered in elegant etchings that appear to depict the creation of the world, while some sort of ancient runes run through these etchings down the exact middle of the blade. You have no idea what the runes say, but they seem to match in style with the ones covering the walls and floor of the hallway outside.

“Just found some clothing and a couple personal effects in the chests. Oh, and I think this is a diary or journal or something.” Marv says, holding up an ancient leather-bound book that has long since yellowed and grown withered with age. Still, a tarnished brass binding holds the pages together, for the moment at least, and a brass clasp holds the book closed. “This thing looks old though; I dunno if we’ll be able to open it up careful enough to avoid messing up the writing. Most adventuring types I know seldom bother with taking books when they found them on account of it being too hard to avoid ruining them when trying to open them up to read. Want to give it a try all the same?”

Seeming to sense your intent, the ghostly woman stops crying and seems to offer up a faltering smile.

Yes, take your weapon Hero. You will need it in the time ahead. You and the others you have already met. Or perhaps will meet? Seeing so much results in events blurring together, all sense of order and time and place lost. It is such a burden, one my brother sought to relieve me of among so many other things. In him I saw too late, did not wish to see. Was it love, or simply folly in refusing to acknowledge my mistake? But such is the punishment for damning us all. I would suffer more, gladly, if it would hold the door closed for even a few hours more. But it is too late for that now, too late for all but Oblivion, for it is at the door and the key is in the lock and all that’s left is for the one to turn it.

For a moment it looked as if the woman might collapse back into sorrow and her even madder ramblings, but she seems to mentally shake herself and returns to the topic at hand.

Take the blade as you were meant to, Hero. You will need it to fulfill your destiny. You and the others shall fight, must fight, as Oblivion comes and all falls dark. And you shall fall, and die in failure, for that is what I see and what I see is true. But not to fight would be a worse failure, and so you must take your weapon. Arm yourself, Hero, and prepare for Oblivion.

The Spires: Ironheart Research

Voth

Pah, we don’t have time to coddle some stupid girl. If the guards show up in here, we’ll be trapped, and then it’s back to meet that Judge character or something worse.

While Shadow belabors his point inside of your head, the girl pauses, looking down at the bronze bracelet locked around her wrist. “I . . . I suppose so. But, if I don’t get them, then they’ll blame me. And then it’s back to the Mines or the Guards Barracks to work as “entertainment”.” The girl shivers, and then looks down at her feet, clearly unsure of what to do.

Oh, screw this. She’s going to start screaming.

Suddenly, you feel Shadow’s presence shifting inside of your mind, and for a moment you fear that you are about to transform, something you thought was impossible without your consent. However, your fear does not come about, but perhaps something even more disturbing happens: you start to speak. But it is not your mind or will behind the words that your mouth now forms, but Shadow’s.

“Look me in the eyes when I’m talking to you girl!”

Startled, the girl looks up, and for the first time since your sudden appearance in the room, your eyes lock. Instantly, a horrified expression crosses the girl’s face, and she crumples against the wall, arms wrapped protectively around her body.

As quickly as it had come forth, Shadow’s presence retreats back into the usual corner of your mind, his hideous laughter ringing throughout your being.

There, problem solved. I wager she’ll be too scarred from seeing you butcher those guards earlier to even move, let alone call out of help. Shall we be on our way now?

???????

MrEdwardNigma

“Right!” Cassandra shouts, nodding at your direction and dashing back into the room. Also under your direction, your zombie scoops up the snake bone golem thing as it finishes reforming, spearing the black-robed figure with the tail and pinning him to the ground just as the snake re-ignites.

Neither zombie or cultist is severely burned by the snake, however, as a moment later your zombie smashes the snake’s skull, once again causing the creature to fall apart into hundreds of bone fragments. Yet again it begins to reform, although at a somewhat slower pace if your eyes could be believed. Clearly the abuse your zombie was dishing out to it was starting to have a drain upon its ability to regenerate, although it is clear from the damage already done to your zombie that a battle of attrition against the thing would be unwise.

As you approach the downed figure with the intention of finishing him off, you hear Cassandra shout from within the library room, “Found it! It’s the brazier, it must be! The thing is glowing like crazy!”

However, her shout distracts you for just a moment, a moment that the figure manages to nonetheless take advantage of as it reaches up to bat your hands aside and lay one of its own on your chest. Instantly your mind is filled with immense, irrational, child-like terror as you feel the presence of an immense and all-consuming evil form into being behind you. Paralyzed with fear at the thought of what this evil could do to you if you misbehaved and angered it, you cower within your own mind as the black-robed figure continues to take action.

With a hideous chuckle the creature swats you aside, and you have the dim sensation of flying back through the air and crashing into the wall to land in a heap on the floor several feet away. Still paralyzed with fear, you helplessly watch through half-closed eyes as the cultist reaches down with one hand to tear the snake’s spear-like tail out of his chest, and gesture emphatically with his other hand while uttering the vocal components of a spell in some foul tongue that would be impossible for a normal human to reproduce. A smoldering ball of black energy flies out of the cultist’s outstretched hand a moment later, striking your zombie full in the face and rotting away all of the flesh covering its face in an instant. It staggers back from the impact of the energy, although seems to be unaffected beyond the loss of its facial skin.

The attack does provide the cultist with enough time to regain his footing, however, and a moment later he lashes out with one foot, driving the momentarily stunned zombie back into the wall and away from him. Lacking further instruction from its master, the zombie begins to lumber after the cultist as he moves away to approach you, but the zombie stops upon noticing that the bone golem is almost finished reforming once again. Carrying out your last given instruction, the zombie drives its fist down onto its nearly reformed skull, crushing the heavy bone back into dozens of small shards and causing the snake golem to once again collapse into separate fragments.

That still leaves the black-robed figure, however, who even though he now appears to be staggering and doubled-over from the injuries given to his human body and a few to the hump on his back, is still a very real threat. Spear-like tail of the snake golem still clutched in his one hand, the cultist comes to stand over your prone form, clearly enjoying the look of terror in your eyes from the effects of his spell.

Fool! I am eternal! I have existed since before the birth of your ancestors! I exist despite your best attempts to end me! I will continue to exist after your body turns to ash and your soul writhes in agony inside the gullet of the Forger of Oblivion! Know this, and die!

Before the cultist can deliver on his promise, the snake golem’s brazier appears, twirling end over end to smash into his head, sending him crashing into the wall. A moment later, Cassandra appears in the doorway leading into the library. “Yeah yeah, we’ve heard it before. Come up with something original if you’re going to pontificate.” She taunts, before rushing over to your side. “Victor! You ok!?”

As a matter of fact, you were, as the fear effect of the cultist finally wore off and you felt that it was safe to move, let alone breathe, again. Unfortunately, you knew you still weren’t safe yet, as with a bestial shriek of rage the cultist rent his black robes, revealing the two massive clawed arms that were also on the back of the first one you had fought. Flailing about, the two claws found the brazier, and clamped down on it, proceeding to twist, grind, and slam it against the wall until with an eerie bright blue glow, the brazier exploded into a hail of hot black stone.

As the cultist wobbly got back onto his feet, snapping the claws of his back-arms menacingly, you heard several shouts from further down the hallway. Clearly, the others in the room you had passed earlier had become aware of the fight, or at least that this singular cultist would likely prove unable to stop you from escaping. On the plus side, at least the stupid face-book ( :smallgrin: ) was no longer screaming from its place on the floor, where you had dropped it at some point during the fight.

Private Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

Seraph nods, although he emphatically gestures at you with his index and middle finger, suggesting that you had two minutes at best before he moved on with or without you. As he glides over to each of the doorways in turn, presumably to see which way would be best to travel to avoid being seen by guards or prisoners, you approach the Countess.

She starts at your touch, blinking her teary eyes several times at you in confusion before shaking her head. “I’m sorry.” She says a moment later, echoing her previous repeats of the phrase. “I must have zoned out there for a minute. Ah . . . the screaming, it seems to be reacting with the drugs. For a moment there, I was back in my own little room in this hellish place. And . . .” The Countess sighs and shakes her head. “I wasn’t entirely honest with you when I said I was kidnapped from my estate. I wasn’t the only one they took that night. There were others . . . my butler, my cook, several of my personal guards. All of us were taken here. And that horrid man, the Captain, he . . . he killed everyone else. Tortured them to death. In front of me. H-he . . . he said that if I agreed to marry, we would all be free to go. But I had better hurry and make up my mind before it was too late. He said this, over and over, as he cut into my servants, some of whom I had known since I was just a little girl. Oh I cried, and screamed, and pleaded, but I never agreed to give him what he wanted. And my stubborn refusal got them all killed, one by one, until there was only me left to torture.”

Throughout her story, Countess Amelia’s tone gradually hardened, and her hands tensed into fists. Grimacing in frustration, she now raises both fists and raps them against the sides of her head.

“I got them killed, Korram. Just like Dima got killed trying to protect me. And I can’t help but feel now that I’m going to get you killed too.” Lowering her hands, the Countess grabs onto the hand you have left on her shoulder throughout her story. For a moment she simply holds onto it, but then removes your hand from her shoulder and instead of using it for reassurance uses it as an anchor to pull herself back up onto her feet.

From his position at the north doorway, Seraph suddenly motions for silence, and then abruptly ducks out of the room through the doorway. A few moments of silence pass, and then over the backdrop of far-off screaming you hear a faint cry of alarm come from somewhere several rooms ahead. Instead of the sounds of battle following, however, you instead hear what sounds like civilized talking, mixed with a few harsh laughs. You can’t make out what is being said as you are too far away, and the distant screams and clinking and clanging of various torture implements drown out what little sound could reach your ears.

The talking seems to persist for a minute or two, and then fades into silence once more. Several more moments pass this way, and for a fleeting instant you wonder if Seraph has somehow sold you out. But then he reappears, alone, and looking as if he has just done something unpleasant.

“Let us depart and move quickly. I have cleared the next several rooms to the north of guards, so we should have only ignorant prisoners to worry about discovering us.”

The Labs

Iethloc

Although somewhat distracted by the painful sensation of having your soul slowly ripped apart, you nonetheless manage to summon your crystalline feathers again, tearing the blood moth swarm heading your way apart. Turning your attention to the real source of pain, the handful of crystals attempting to supposedly trap your soul inside of them, you conjure a beam of force at the nearest.

Apparently these crystals are not particularly durable, as it instantly shatters into thousands of fine pieces upon being struck by your force ray. This lessens the strain on your soul and the assistant’s body, and enables you to twist around enough to blast another one of the crystals.

Cursing your efforts loudly, you see out of the corner of your eye the research assistant hammer the console in front of him. One by one, all of the crystals lining the hallway begin to shoot red beams down at the floor, disgorging their contents: more Drak’nei; first one and then a second three-armed demon known as Azuru; a succubus, looking even more human with the apparent surgical removal of her bat-like wings; and finally Omega. Then all of the beams swing up to strike you, forcing a scream from your lips as the sensation of your soul being torn in a dozen different directions intensifies to an almost overwhelming level.

Noticing your predicament, Omega leaps into the air and flies up to slam a fist into the crystal overhead. It cracks, and then shatters from Omega’s second blow, cutting off that red beam even as the research assistant starts to open several more crystals and bring the capture beams up to spotlight on you.

You need to bring down the wards protecting the assistant immediately. We cannot stand against all of the demons contained here and him at the same time. Omega cautions, immediately coming under attack by a pair of Drak’nei as she lands from her attack on the crystal that held her moments ago.

Fending off their blows, Omega glowers at them for a moment, and then telekinetically hurls both of them through the air, slamming each of them into two more of the crystals that were currently attempting to capture your soul. As the second swarm of blood moths approach her, Omega looks at them with an expression of annoyance for a moment, before they all suddenly burst into flame, glowing pinpoints of light and heat that quickly fade into black ash that rains down into a small pile on the floor. One of the Azuru then leaps at her, backhanding her and sending her flying back into the wall, while the second Azuru looks up at you, snarls in frustration, and then leaps upon a nearby Drak’nei to begin tearing it to pieces.

Hurry before we are overwhelmed.

Easy for her to say, given that she only has demons to deal with on the ground. You, meanwhile, where up in the air, pinned in place still by four of the crystal beams, with another half dozen preparing to disgorge their contents before tracking onto you. Half a dozen was enough to nearly succeed in ripping your soul to shreds, and you don’t want to contemplate whether or not you could survive ten.

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet/WhiteKnight777

Gritting his teeth throughout the verbal barbs thrown his way by both Akor and Umber, by the end Ross had lost his jolly façade and nearly his composure altogether. Jabbing a quivering finger at Umber, Ross snarls, “Forget taking you back whole! I’m going to grind you into dust, leech. And then I’m going to piss on your ashes and spread them onto a farmer’s field as fertilizer! Let’s see if they can bring you back from that! Miriam grant me strength!”

Raising one hand off his hammer to lift it overhead as if imploring the heavens, Ross casts a quick spell, suffusing his whole being with a soft golden light, before returning his hand to the haft of his warhammer. As Akor rushes forward to deal with Ross’s vampire allies, doing so silently, Ross leaps at Umber, screaming a wordless battlecry loud enough for both of them.

Prepared for Ross’s charge, Umber nimbly dances back as Ross’s first hammer blow crashes into the floor. Umber then darts back in, grasping the warhammer and twisting it out of Ross’s grip. Any thoughts of an easy victory over the disarmed paladin are short-lived, however, as Ross lets go of the warhammer to swing one meaty fist up in a backhand to Umber’s jaw. Holy energy races from the paladin’s fist into Umber’s face at the point of impact, blackening the undead flesh there.

As the vampire lord reels back from the blow, Ross follows it up with another blow from his other hand, a brutal jab that catches Umber directly in the nose. With a dry crack Umber’s nose breaks from the force of the blow; then disintegrates as holy energy races into the already damaged flesh.

Still not finished, Ross now wraps his hands around Umber’s neck, but instead of squeezing the paladin merely uses his grip to swing the vampire around in several wide circles before throwing him, head-first, into the nearby cavern wall.

As Umber struggles to collect himself and brush the dancing stars out of his vision, Ross bends down to snatch up his warhammer once more. With another bestial cry he flings himself at the vampire lord once more, the hammer crashing into the wall and breaking off a sizeable chunk of rock as Umber leaps aside just in time.

“I’m going to make you *beg* Miriam for forgiveness before I send you back to Hell. Not just for the hurtful things you said a moment ago, but for all the evil things you’ve done in your hideous centuries of stolen life.” Ross grunts as he rips his warhammer out of the cavern fall in a shower of stone chips, his typical cockiness slowly returning to smooth at his momentarily berserk rage.

Meanwhile, Akor moves to engage the four vampires present. Not bothering with peasantries or technique, Akor simply leaps upon the nearest two, snatching up one of their heads in each claw, and slams them several times together. As with most any other creature, living or undead, smashing its head against something with great force tends to be fatal. However, Akor is somewhat disappointed to find that upon their skulls finally giving way after the fourth smash, instead of being showered with gore he is simply covered in ashes as both vampires instantly crumble into dust.

The two remaining vampires stare at the dragon-man in shock for a moment, then immediately turn heel and run for one of the nearest exits. Mellita, previously circling around to strike at Ross from behind, sees their flight and dashes after them, drawing her concealed dirk as she runs. Closing with the rearmost one, Mellita throws her knife into the calf of his left leg, effectively hamstringing him.

The vampire stumbles for only a second, but that is enough to doom him as Mellita closes the remaining distance in a tackling leap. It then takes her only a moment to rip her knife out of the vampire’s leg, swing it around to place the blade underneath his chin, and begin sawing at his neck until his head finally rolls off of his shoulders and he crumbles into dust.

The last vampire, caring nothing for his companions or perhaps simply wanting to get away so he can come back later with friends, continues running on heedless of this. As he continues running for the exit, a dry clatter from one corner of the room suddenly directs everyone’s attention to the newest arrival to this battle. Although badly beaten with most than half of its bones missing or cracked, the bone golem nonetheless drags itself forward on three legs from the dark corner where it had been silently reassembling.

One of its scythe-like arms and lower jaw missing, the bone golem appears to be a fairly pathetic instead of fearsome sight, but it quickly proves to remain dangerous as it lashes its whip-like tail out at Akor, slicing open his chest with the broken ends of its tail spurs and flinging him back against the far wall.

“Why won’t you stay down!?” Ross shouts incredulously as it slowly lumbers towards him, apparently no longer considering Akor a threat. “No matter, I’ll deal with you as soon as this vampire “lord” is merely lord of dust!”

WhiteKnight777
2008-04-10, 07:02 PM
Umber

Umber groaned in pain as the paladin sent him spinning back through the wall. He rolled to his feat, his face aflame with pain from the holy man's fiery strikes. He rose, the tattered, stolen clothes hanging off of him. The vampire lord's ancient eyes blazed with fury. Before he had been playing, but the pain and the threat of Ross' power. He hissed, his voice oddly distorted by his missing nose, the sound of which merely added to his fury as he spat out a thick gob of blood that hissed as it hit the stone.

Dust? Dust is all you are, little fool... dust and ashes. Strike me down and I shall rise again... but all you are is a bag of walking meat and water. Soon enough death's hand will sieze your heart. You will die, Ross, and you will be nothing. Less than a shadow of your memory. And so too shall be your pathetic little godling. A forgotten whisper on the wind... and you even less than that.

Umber laughed chillingly, dancing aside from the paladin's blow and, as he dislodged rock from the cavern's wall, Umber's hands snapped out to grab it, spinning with lightning speed the paladin could not match and sending the stony missile hurtling straight at the holy warrior. He slipped into a combat stance that had been dead for five hundred years, a form of unarmed fighting practiced by an esoteric order of monks... one that focused on the redirection of the opponent's force against them. Having seen what the bastard could do, even unarmed, he had no intention of letting him get his hands on him again... with a taunting grin, the vampire lord feinted forward with several quick jabs to various pressure points, all easily deflected... but just enough to get inside his guard and force him on the defensive. Though wounded painfully, the damage was superficial and would be healed, though the holy energy would require more than the normal expenditure of blood to heal... but the point was that his fighting prowess was no worse for wear. He moved with lightning speed, resolved not to underestimate Ross again... his goal now was to keep him on the defensive, avoid his blows, and drive him back into the oncoming Golem, if not to let his allies get their own attacks in on the paladin. But above all, he would not let the little cretin win. He had to avoid his deadly hammer and holy strikes at all costs.

ubersquid
2008-04-10, 08:12 PM
Elkwin Holmanson

While the girl talks, Elkwin slowly retracts his hand again and reaches it out towards Marv, taking the Journal. He puts it next to him on the ground and starts to carefully fiddle around with the binding. Unsure if the girl could comprehend or even understand a word he is saying, he nevertheless looks alternately at the girl and the book and calmly talks to her.

"Hmm... I don't suppose I am the hero you are looking for... You see... I mean if you could see me..." - He lets slip an embarrassed smile at his blunder - "The ravages of time haven't spared me, especially around the belly area... I have given up the whole hero thing a long time ago, and as for now, I am just an Innkeeper, and I'd like to stay one. Of course there isn't much use for an Innkeeper in this hellhole of a prison... but we will get to that in time... And on top of that, I wouldn't even know how to properly wield a sword like that. An axe or a mace maybe, but not a sword. I am truly sorry lass, I will try my best to ease your torment, but I guess you will just have to hold out a little bit longer, because the hero you are looking for, I am not."

With that, he suddenly throws Marv a startling look and tilts his head towards the Sword.

"Are you?"

The brass binding screeches and slides off the book, leaving only a small pile of rust. Elkwin can already feel the pages inside falling apart as he slowly turns the cover.

Dorizzit
2008-04-11, 05:59 PM
Korram nods his understanding to Seraph at the gesture. He then listens patiently as the countess explains her troubles and then her previous bending of the truth. When she stands, he begins to speak. "It may be true that you could have saved them, but it may not have, as well. Ironheart is a cruel place; people aren't sent here to be imprisoned, they're sent here to die. Horribly. Had you consented, likely as not they would have been killed anyway. Captain Delran is a vicious and cruel man, and I doubt he would have let them go so easily. And I doubt your involvement would have made one whit of difference in Dima's death. Now let's get moving. We have a lot of ground to cover." At Seraph's odd actions, Korram does nothing more than quirk an eyebrow. He decides to let it be, for the moment. He begins walking the direction indicated by Seraph, however he remains on his toes and alert to the area around him.

Pwenet
2008-04-12, 10:20 PM
Akor

Caught by surprised of the resurrection of the Bone Golem, Akor goes flying as he looks down at his chest. The dull impact sends a new wave of pain through his changing body. Shaking his head he sees that the Bone Golem has shifted targets, no longer considering him a threat as he notices several internal parts emerging through the slash.

”Typical, get a new body, have to get repairs made already.”

Thanks to his unique nature he reaches towards the damaged sections and shuts off the pain receptors. Smiling to himself at the sudden lack of pain from the wound he quickly goes about the task of reach towards the parts and pushing them back in. The wound itself is already starting to heal, and after everything is placed back inside it seals itself to keep everything there. Granted it would take some more time for it to fully heal but at least for now he was not in danger of spilling out into the floor again.

Standing up he sees that one of the vampire was taken out by Mellita while the other continues to run. Flexing his legs he leaps up into the air, his shoulder muscles flexing as if something was missing. Soon the great wings would emerge, soon, but for now the jumping would suffice. Twisting in mid-air he turns and lands in front of the last fleeing vampire, smiling.

”Why leaving so soon? I want you to enjoy your last few seconds here.”

Grabbing the vampire by his throat, Akor flexes his legs and leaps once again. In mid-air he observes that his ally is now using some strange art that he saw ancient humans once practice. He watches for a few seconds then shakes his head at the absurdity of learning it. Throwing the vampire as he comes in for a landing, he sprints towards the Paladin named Ross, coming in at an angle to him so that Umbar still has his full attention.

”I like your hammer. May I have it?”

He then reaches out for the hammer, preferably in mid-swing for he is fairly confident that when it comes to out-muscling the paladin he would win thus making his plan to catch the hammer, then let Umbar finish his work with the fool.

Voth
2008-04-13, 01:47 AM
Voth

What... What did you just do?

Simple, I exercised my control over your body to make you speak and thus having her look into your eyes. Its quiet simple really.

Never do that again.

Whats wrong? Have you suddenly gained a conscience?

She did nothing to us! What reason was there to do that to her?

Simple. She was in our way. Now, shall we carry on?

Iethloc
2008-04-13, 04:27 AM
Sohssal

"I...WILL NOT be stopped by a HUMAN...and his DEMONIC WHELPS!" Sohssal managed to declare between screams as he prepared to expend a large amount of magical energy. Blue lights danced around him, and, before long, a dome of blue light blasted its way into existence. Expanding rapidly from Sohssal, it moved out to crush any and all nearby crystals (and anything else in the way), including the ones currently trying to imprison him. Argh! What frustrates me most is that I have to keep the assistant alive for directions! Oh, what I wouldn't give for a spell to speak to the dead... he thought to himself.

After attacking the crystals, Sohssal quickly dives down at the wards again for a large gulp of magical energy, then ascends once more to stay out of the reach of the angry demons below. Not satisfied with simply hoarding magic energy, Sohssal prepares to quickly cast a spell. Fire danced around his hands as he made several intricate gestures, and then he covered his eyes. Soon afterwards, a bright light flared into existence in the middle of the demonic brawl. It was soon accompanied by a large, fiery explosion. Don't want to have to deal with so many demons...and if it destroys a couple crystals, all the better... Sohssal thought with great anticipation as he uncovered his eyes to look at the carnage.

MrEdwardNigma
2008-04-13, 04:22 PM
Damn these cultists with their visions. Yugh, flowers, bunnies, the sun and yellow all over the place. I hate that colour. It seriously freaked me out... If only these guys would send some nice torture visions...

Victor glanced at Cassandra for the briefest of moments. She was a good distraction, at least. Most zombies weren't this agile... It gave Victor some bone chilling ideas. But then the huge looming form of his warrior, his protector, overshadowed the cultist and Victor snapped back to reality.

"Now!" he shouted, though his voice barely reached the pitch of a whisper. Performing surgery on your own vocal cords was never a good idea.

The zombie's muscular arms grabbed on to the bony arms that portruded from the cultist's back and ripped the towards him, the zombie's fleshridden face digging into the cultist's neck. It wasn't an attack, not really. Victor had killed one of these creatures before, and it had been a tough battle, but certainly worth it. Especially for fighting them again. Victor knew exactly what would kill the creature, or a least it's husk. He'd studied it while moving, while fighting, while dead, and even from the inside, while alive. His last kill had been rather messy, but he knew wat to look for now.

Without hesitating a second his hand tore into the flesh of the cultist, right at the weak spot. His zombie was the perfect distraction. He tried to grab the parasite inside the being now, squeezing his claws into it so it could't escape like the last time. He pulled the thing out and with one last look his razor-tipped killed the thing once and for all (Hopefully...).

"I'm always okay, darling"

Inspectre
2008-04-14, 02:49 AM
Fresh Meat

The Cells: First Floor

smartaleq

Jagged lightning streaked across the obsidian sky, and a heavy wind drove the rain full into your face. Yet doggedly you advanced up the steep hill, growing closer by degrees to the sharp cliff spearing up into the sky ahead of you, visible only when the lightning crashed around you. Now and then a pitiful voice was carried by the howling wind down from the cliff to your ears, driving you forward, faster, faster!

“Daddy . . . help! . . . slipping . . . can’t hold on!”

Finally reaching the apex, you look down to see the slender form of your daughter, hanging off the side of the cliff and struggling to maintain her hold on the slick rocks. Throwing yourself down onto your stomach to reach a hand down to her, you nearly slide off the top to go plunging into the endless blackness below you. But heedless of the risk you worm yourself further off the edge, lowering your arm down closer to her hands inch by perilous inch, calling to her, pleading with her to take your hand.

But as the tips of your fingers brush against hers, your daughter looks up at you, her once lively eyes utterly dead. “Too late.” She whispers, and then releases her grip to go tumbling down into the darkness below. Screaming, you hoist yourself off the edge, falling after her without a moment’s hesitation.

As you fall, you suddenly realize that you are not falling down into the canyon below, but the gaping maw of some hideous beast. The sounds of the storm cut out, and instead your ears are filled with shrill, mocking laughter as you fall closer and closer to the thing’s waiting gullet, until finally its teeth crash together, and only your sudden start into consciousness saves you from being skewered by a massive tooth.

It was the dream again, the one you had been having ever since you had been locked away in here. You didn’t have the dream every night, which was a tremendous boon as you weren’t sure you could take the experience every time you closed your eyes. But you had the dream often, and every time you seemed to start further and further away from the cliff, and your daughter’s voice was fainter. Did that mean you were slowly losing her in the real world as each day dragged by? You didn’t know, but were terrified that it was the case, and it seemed to be supported by your occasional conversations with Giles.

Giles . . . the Ironheart administrator who had locked you away in here. You still weren’t sure whether he meant good or ill, but at least he was forthright in his dealings with you after ordering you locked up and gagged, and he seemed genuinely concerned for your daughter. But it was clear that all the good intentions in the world meant nothing here, and if something wasn’t done soon you feared it would indeed be too late for you and your daughter both.

But you were powerless in here, locked in a cage, manacled and fettered, and gagged to boot. Thanks to Giles the guards largely left you alone except for the occasional impromptu beating, but you could see in the eyes of some of them that they wanted to do worse to you; drag you away to the Torture Chambers below or the Guard Barracks above, from which nobody would ever see you again. For now the only thing you could do was remain strong, so that when the day hopefully came to see your daughter, you could be strong for her.

Hearing the heavy tread of footsteps approaching, you pull yourself up and paw away the drool that had come to cover your face during your nightmare. Rotten gag – it also frequently got in the way when you tried to slurp down the thin gruel the guards served for food. Hmm, gruel – was it breakfast/lunch/dinner time already? You had long since given up trying to keep exact track of time, sleeping in bursts between feedings.

As the approaching figure reached the door to your cell, you saw through the bars that it was Giles and not the cooks. A little disappointing that you would not be getting food to quiet your rumbling stomach, but at least the man typically had food for thought.

Giles waited until the two guards accompanying him opened the door to your cell, then stepped in alone while the guards shut the door and waited outside. Typical procedure, including Giles’s usual manner of greeting you by shouting an insult and driving a fist into your stomach. His eyes delivered the apology his mouth could not, and pulling a key from his overcoat pocket he undid the padlock holding your gag in place.

Pulling the filthy strip of leather free from in-between your teeth, Giles let it drop to the floor, then delivered a half-hearted backhand to your face. “Worthless cur! I demand that you speak and tell me what I want to know, so that I can stop sickening myself by coming down here to look at your filthy face!” He added as he slipped the gag’s key back into his pocket, and then whispered, “So, ah . . . how are things down here friend? Your daughter’s condition, um . . . remains unchanged from last we spoke.”

Although this was how your short conversations usually went, today you sensed that Giles was uncommonly nervous, as if he was trying to hide something from you.

The_Snark

Humming a soft melody to yourself, you dropped the red-bristled brush back into the wine-colored bucket of water for the final time. This cell was finally clean again, at least as clean as things got around in this place: there just was no removing some bloodstains. But you had done a good enough job, and now it was time to turn in your bucket and brush and go see Daddy.

Hooking the bucket’s handles under your right arm, but not where the number “2” was seared as that sometimes hurt, you push yourself unsteadily up onto your feet in preparation to leave the empty cell, still humming softly. You don’t remember where you heard the song before, but it always comforted you and reminded you of your Mother, of whom you had no memories. There were just memories of Daddy, and the horrible things he sometimes did in order to discipline you.

But you always deserved it, oh yes, because you were a stupid girl, a bad girl. If only you could also be calm and quiet and obedient, the model little girl for Daddy. But every now and then you messed up and got angry or frustrated or curious, and then Daddy would have to punish you. Sometimes the punishments lasted for days; hideous, horrible, soul-crushing punishments that just went on and on.

For not the first time you caught yourself wondering if the punishment was really equal to the crime, but quickly forced it out of your mind. Thoughts like that got you punished too, so it was best just not to think at all, just focus on the work at-hand.

Unbidden, a tear slipped down your cheek to splash into the bucket. Gasping in fear, you scrubbed at your face with the back of your free hand, covering up the tear’s trail with the grime that covered the back of your hand. Crying often got you punished too, especially if it wasn’t asked for by Daddy or didn’t happen in the middle of a punishment session.

Slipping out from the cell, you gently close the door with your left hand, the bronze bracelet enclosed around your right wrist clattering against the iron bars of the door. Then you set off down the hallway, still softly humming to yourself.

You pass several more empty cells, all of which you had cleaned earlier today, and then you started to pass by occupied cells. Occupied meant people were in them – bad people, who demonstrated that they belonged in their cages by cursing or catcalling at you as you walked past. Daddy didn’t like it when you talked to them either, and since there was rarely anything to talk with them about, you often ignored them entirely besides shrinking back in fear from some of the more angry and violent ones. But sometimes you were a bad girl, a stupid girl, and talked to them anyway out of curiosity over why they were locked up, disobeying Daddy and common sense and earning yourself a horrible punishment session.

Suddenly, off to your right a figure burst from the shadows within his cells to press himself up against the bars. Startled, you stumble back away from the cell, nearly spilling the bucket of dirty water everywhere which would have definitely earned you punishment. But you manage to balance the bucket again at the last second, and stare in astonishment at the figure pushing himself up against the bars.

It wasn’t some hooligan, but a nice old man with kindly blue eyes.

“Forgive me for startling you lass.” He croaked, his voice rough and altogether unpleasant unlike the rest of his serene face. “I was just hoping that, perhaps, I could have a little bit of that water you’re carrying?”

The Cells: Second Floor

Burrito

You had suffered in work camps, in prisons, and a dozen other permutations of hellhole for nearly two decades now. But none of them, not a single one, was even close to being as bad as Ironheart. The Warden was right when he had said he was selling you into the bosom of Azguloth, as you really had no idea how much closer to hell this place really could come.

The guards had absolutely zero respect for the dignity or health of their prisoners, and the working conditions seemed to be purposely designed to push the slave laborers one step closer to the grave every day, until finally they died in mid pick-swing. You tried to attack the brutally hard work down in the Mines with as much gusto as you usually did, but the support just wasn’t there. The guards still beat you, the food was less than malnourishing, and day by day even you grew weaker and weaker. You had to figure out a way to escape this place, and fast, before it broke you and ground you to death underfoot as it had so many others.

From further up the hallway, you hear the low rumble of the food cart and the steady tromp of the guards assigned to escorting it. Reaching your cell, the lead guard raps his club smartly against the cell bars, apparently in an attempt to jar you awake, or just irritate you since your eyes were already open.

“Wake up, mole. It’s feeding time for your worthless carcass before we throw you down into the hole to dig.”

Most guards were aware that you worked down in the mines, and typically greeted you with some sort of insult related to digging. You knew that you had perhaps ten or fifteen minutes after they left to eat your meal in peace, before the next group of guards came to hook you up with a slave chain and drive you all down into the Mines for another back-breaking day or work.

The Cells: Third Floor

Darkadvice

Sometimes you wondered if you should have done some things differently. Definitely not anything related to tracking down and finally having your revenge on your family’s killer. Oh no, you would not have given that up, even if it meant spending the rest of your life and all of whatever eternity awaited beyond in this place. But, well, you could have always moved on after watching the killer starve to death, making sure she was dead, and then turning her body into ash along with the house she had been trapped in, and the entire forest besides.

Then again, it wasn’t as if you had anything better to do, and honestly, your life had no purpose with the killer dead. That didn’t mean that there was nothing to do, however, as you had been happily writing a mental list down of every guard that had beaten you since your arrival here, with the intention of one day paying each back at least threefold. How exactly you were going to accomplish this, you had no idea, but you had waited years for the chance to end the killer’s life. Waiting days or weeks for the opportunity to avenge yourself on some guards when they got careless would be child’s play compared to that.

And that might be happening sooner rather than later, as your ears picked up the approach of a large group of guards. The slowly approaching light from their torches also tipped you off that you might be having company in a few moments, as even your reduced eyesight through the goggles could pick out the growing brightness.

As it turned out, the guards were coming for you, as a large blurry mass of figures stopped right outside of your cell, the light from their torches pouring into your room from the small peep window set into the door to your cell. The sudden fall of darkness into the room informed you that someone was blocking out the incoming light by peering through said window. A moment later that hunch proved correct, as a gruff voice said, “Prisoner #17,841. There has been an incident down in the Mines that we feel could make adequate use of your abilities. If you accept, you’ll be let out of your cell until the incident is resolved. Quite frankly, that is all you’ll be getting out of this deal, but at least if you come willingly we won’t have to enforce compliance.”

At the word enforce, you heard a loud guffaw of laughter from the other men standing behind the faceless figure, so there was no doubt a beating was the least in store for you if you refused. Then again, did you really want to help the swine keeping you prisoner, even if it would apparently give you the chance to get out and stretch your legs a bit?

Gygaxphobia

Filth.

That was the thought that consumed your every waking moment in this place. The filth that sent you here. The filth that worked to keep you here. The filth that you could sense lurking in the darkness, whether you were awake or asleep, the secret filth that had become so engrained in the aura of this place that you could even sense it, feel it radiating off the walls and into your very soul, corrupting even you. Now you were filthy too, and it would take a great deal of self-purification before you ever felt clean again. That could wait, though, wait until after you had purified the rest of this place.

There could be no half-measures taken once you were free, either. This place had become so encrusted with filth that not even burning it to the ground and killing everyone inside would likely purify it. But you had to try, would try when you broke free. It was inevitable. You were Miriam’s chosen, the one she picked to cleanse this world of the filth you now sensed all around you. Purifying this place would be your greatest achievement yet, and even if you died in the attempt you soul would be carried directly to the feet of Miriam herself, to recline triumphant as her champion.

A wracking cough stirs you out of your thoughts of triumph, and injecting a note of doubt into your beliefs. You had never been sick before, it had been one of the many things that showed just how high Miriam had already elevated you above the sinful cattle of this world. But now you were sick, perhaps deathly ill even – you had no way of knowing.

All you know is that your throat was sore, periodically clogged by the same thick slime that ran out from your nose at a nearly constant pace. It was altogether disgusting, and horrifying from your perspective. You knew it was some foul trick, yet another indignity inflicted upon you by the filth that ran this place, but in the deepest corner of your heart you nurtured the blasphemous idea that Miriam had abandoned you. You had failed her in some incomprehensible way, and she had cast you from her sight down into this filthy place to die, alone and forgotten.

No, it could not be. You were her chosen, her champion, and this was just a test. Even stripped of everything you once were and still are, even as nothing more than a sick broken man helplessly chained to the damp walls of a pitch-black cell in the bowels of an inescapable fortress consumed by filth, you were still Miriam’s chosen. You just needed to continue to endure all of these petty torments of the flesh and mind, and one day your chance of vengeance would come.

It was inevitable, and on that day you would show Miriam your gratitude for the chance to serve her by exterminating every last piece of filth in this place, or dying in the attempt.

The sudden brightening of the peep window of your cell door as a group of guards approaching with torches threw fuel onto the fire of your hope. Was this your chance at salvation? Seeing to confirm this, the light grows brighter until it is almost blinding as the guards gather around your door. It had been some time since you had seen actual light down here, but all to quickly it was gone as one of the filthy guards shoved his filthy face into the peep window, blocking out most of the torch light.

“Prisoner #17,767, you have been selected for a special project. We’re here to drag you down to the Ritual Chambers, and hand you off to some black-robed freaks. And while I’m not too sure what they’re going to do to you, I’m sure it’ll be unpleasant, painful, and probably fatal as they sacrifice you to some dark god of theirs. So shall we get going?”

No no, this was all wrong. You were going to be a sacrifice for a bunch of filthy cultists? No heroic escape, no grand act of devotion to Miriam by purifying this place of its filth? Just being killed like some pig or goat on an altar by a filthy cultist, your blood anointing their altar in praise to their dark god. No, it was impossible!

And yet the door swung open as the lead guard unlocked it and pushed it open, bathing you in bright light for perhaps the final time as guards began entering the room to remove the chains holding your legs to the floor and your neck to the wall, so that they could drag you off to your fate.

The Cells: Maximum Security

Baerdog7

You had lived a long, noble life of service to the Valkyrie. You had seen many things, both soul-crushingly awful and soul-buoyantly beautiful. You had even spoke to the Valkyrie and her husband yourself, being personally sent back to this mortal coil by them to finish what you started.

And yet you had no idea where being chained upside down to a giant holy symbol of one of your hated enemies, the devil Slevir, fit in with the Valkyrie’s plans for you. It simply made no sense to you, and for the hundredth time you started to wonder if you had somehow offended your god badly enough to warrant being thrown to the wolves in this way. For surely, the gods had no part in this place, this den of heinous evil.

You had seen very little of this place, having been hurried through the upper levels of the prison to be chained in your current position where you had been for quite some time now. Still, you got the impression that this place was an intolerable den of suffering and malevolence from the soaring heights to the very depths where you were personally incarcerated. Once again, you resolved to yourself to impress upon the Valkyrie and the Lightbringer just how vile this place was and that something needed to be done about it when you saw them again.

And perhaps, actually, that was why you had ended up here, as a spy for the gods to determine just how badly this place was in need of smiting. But even for all your suffering, you knew that it may be years or decades before you saw your gods again. Despite being ravaged by disease, and regularly bled, you knew that your captors were very careful not to accidentally kill you.

No, they were quite skilled in the art of inflicting pain and suffering, and you had resigned yourself to the knowledge that no matter how brutally they pushed your ailing body, it would never be far enough to bring you into the arms of your god. You would probably have to wait for old age for that, and you truly had no idea how long this divinely-given body was yours was intended to last. A few years, until just after you had completed your appointed-task? A full lifetime, intended to reward you with a peaceful life after accomplishing your final mission? Forever until your death again in battle?

You cough weakly, wincing as your involuntary movements press your strained limbs taut against their restraints and send waves of pain wracking through the rest of your diseased body. As if that was some sort of signal, you watch as the bolts to your thick adamantite cell door unlock, and the heavy door swings open to admit three robed figures into your room. Walking on the ceiling, according to your upside-down vision, they approach, the two in the lead carrying the familiar bloodletting implements: one the sharp kris knife, the other the ointment and silver bowl into which your blood would be poured. The third, cowering in the back as he usually did, was Brother Adamus Crane, one of but not the only Church official operating as Church representatives within Ironheart.

“Ah, Ander. A peaceful dawn be with you.” Brother Crane says, a familiar greeting said within the Church that he clearly had no right in uttering. As his two lackies split up, one beginning to set the bowl up directly under the tip of the sword where you blood would slowly drip off of, the other went to fetch the ladder located in one corner of the room.

Watching the proceedings without getting involved as he usually did, Adamus looks up at you and smiles. “I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that, due to a recent strong advance by the demons and the loss of the fifth and fourth levels, the Church has managed to rally a great deal of new young suckers into the war of purification. And as I’ve no doubt already told you many times before, that’s truly a win-win situation for everyone involved. The Church gets many vibrant young men to join in the Crusade and a great deal of gold to flow into its coffers, and the demons get new recruits as well because you know what happens to people that die in Hell, don’t you?”

Here, the Brother pauses as his acolyte finishes setting up the ladder, and climbs up to rub the ointment all over your arms. It initially stings against your inflamed flesh, but gradually cools and soothes your nerves somewhat. You knew that it acted as a colaguant, eventually stopping the flow of blood before it killed you. Very efficient they had gotten at this part, such that after cutting your arms open they would all leave, only for one acolyte to return sometime later after you had passed out and the bleeding had stopped to retrieve the filled bowl of fresh blood. What they did with it after that, you had no idea.

As the acolyte reaches up with the kris knife to make the incision along your right arm, following the ragged scar running all the way down from the crook of your elbow to the palm of your hand, Adamus speaks up again, “Why yes, their souls are trapped in Hell for eternity, never able to escape, never able to find their way up to heaven to receive their just rewards. Instead, their souls remains there, writhing in agony until finally they give into the torture and depravity inflicted upon them, and become demons themselves! It’s a beautiful, unending cycle, isn’t it? Well, don’t you have anything to say today, Ander? Or are you just going to glare silently at me like you usually do until I leave? Oooohh, so scary!”

By this point the acolyte has finished his second cut down your left arm, and with nothing further to do begins climbing down the ladder as your blood begins to run freely down your arms, down past your fingers onto the blade of the symbol, and from there down to the point where it will drip off into the bowl below. At first the incisions along both arms spew out blood, leaving a stream nearly the entire width of each arm running down, but the ointment quickly slows this to a thin trickle that would continue for hours. And there was nothing you could do about it, except endure, and pray for death.

The Prism

Lonna

You dream endlessly, one flowing ceaselessly into the next. But all of them are wrong, horribly wrong, wrong enough that it would make you want to tear your eyes out if you saw them in anything but the dream world. You are adrift on a sea of nightmares, and you have no idea if you will ever wash ashore again.

Many of the nightmares involve your half-sister, following her in intricate detail as she lives out the life you never wanted her to experience, and often ending in tragedy. A few are reenactments of the worst moments of your own life, including the harrowing night when your mother died at the hands of man lacking any speck of decency. Yet in the end, they are just dreams, some of which you had suffered through numerous times before. The tiny speck of your mind that was conscious and self-aware therefore rebelled against the lies being fed to it, and struggled to keep the rest of your mind whole and afloat until the nightmarish flood finally subsided.

It was a long time coming, but then as if a switch were flipped, the nightmares suddenly stopped. In its place was a falling sensation, which like the nightmares before it abruptly ended with your impact against the floor. Your hands chained behind you, you could do little to stop your fall, but still were able to twist about at the last second so that you landed heavily on your side rather than your face. The leather sack wrapped around you absorbed most of that impact, and so little more than your pride was hurt from the unexpected fall.

Waking up from your long sleep, you open your eyes to regard the seemingly endless red crystalline tunnel stretching out before you. The floor was a smooth flat plain, with blocky crystals jutting out from the walls and ceiling. Slowly, the memory of being thrown into one of those crystals surfaced in your mind, as did memories of the massive being that had put you there, and was now once again standing before you. Looking much like a normal human, if twice as tall, one and a half times as wide, with glowing blue swirls running all over his body and flaming blue eyes, the creature you knew as the Judge was hardly a welcome sight.

Upon seeing your personal jailor, other memories came flooding back, leading from your capture up to this moment. You had spent a frightful first night in Ironheart going through the same prisoner processing as everyone else. You had been a big hit amongst the guards, all of whom assured you that they would be paying you a personal visit once you got tucked away in a nice dark cell, but none of whom seemed interested in doing anything for you.

Afterward your processing was complete, you had been sent up to meet with Administrator Alexis Winthrop, one of the few female staff members. No doubt they thought that a woman, particularly one as viscous as Alexis, would be immune to your charms and would promptly hand you over to the guards a new toy as she had done with some many others before you. But not this time. No, they really had no idea how skillful you were, and you actually somehow managed to convince the administrator that you two were kindred souls. And so in the hopes of preserving you long enough for you to meet again, Administrator Alexis Winthrop promised to keep you safe.

You later really had to question her judgment as to how chained you up inside of a heavy leather sack and shoving a leather mask over your face was really helping, but it did keep the guards away long enough for the next step to be taken. Apparently the Volesin Brothers, a pair of mages, were looking for “volunteers” for a new experimental restraint method, and you were “volunteered”.

And so you were brought into their laboratory in one of the Spires, where after zapping you with a red beam from a gigantic red crystal hanging from the room’s ceiling, you found yourself lying on the same smooth red crystal floor that you were now lying on. The Judge had found you only a few moments later, proceeding to re-iterate your crimes to you, and after patiently listening for your defense, which you obviously couldn’t give because you were freaking gagged, and shoved you into one of the crystals into the wall, which apparently put you into some sort of nightmare land which you had been brought back from only now. How long has it been since, then? A week?

PRISONER #17910, YOU HAVE BEEN TEMPORARILY RELEASED FROM STASIS IN ORDER TO PERFORM THE QUARTER-ANNUAL EVALUATION OF YOUR PRISONER STATUS.

Quarter-annual evaluation? Did . . . did that mean you had been locked away in that crystal for THREE MONTHS? Aside from an empty stomach, a parched throat, and memories of all the horrible nightmares you had just experienced, you felt pretty good for three months having just passed in the blink of an eye.

YOU STAND ACCUSED OF MULTIPLE COUNTS OF IMPROPER SEDUCTION, THEIVERY, CREATING A PUBLIC DISPLAY OF NUDITY, AND ONE COUNT OF MURDER. FOR THESE CRIMES YOUR SENTENCE HAS BEEN DECIDED TO BE INCARCERATION UNTIL THE TIME OF YOUR EXECUTION. HOWEVER, SHOULD IT BE THE EVALUATION OF THIS COURT THAT YOU HAVE REMORSE FOR YOUR ACTIONS, IT IS POSSIBLE THAT YOU WILL BE MOVED TO A MORE COMFORTABLE CELL TO AWAIT EXECUTION. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY THAT MAY INFLUENCE THIS COURT’S DECISION ON YOUR STATUS FOR THE NEXT QUARTER-YEAR?

For a moment, you simply stare at the giant mutant, not even entirely sure what he was talking about, or that you would even want to be moved out of here. On the one hand, here was safe, but it was also secure enough that escape appeared to be impossible if you simply dreamed the time left until your execution away.

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY TO INFLUENCE THIS COURT’S DECISION?

Clearly, this Judge was not the brightest of his class, as he clearly as failed to notice that it is impossible for you to say much of anything. However, he seems to redeem himself a little when a moment later when he seems to take the grunted hint and makes a bold pronouncement.

IT WOULD APPEAR THAT PRISONER #17910 IS GAGGED. IT SHALL BE TEMPORARILY REMOVED IN ORDER TO FACILITATE COMMUNICATION.

The massive being simply snaps his fingers, and instantly you hear the lock holding your gag in place snap open, allowing you to spit the hateful thing out onto the floor. Working your jaw back and forth a moment results in it popping several times, but at least now you were free to speak assuming your sand-filled mouth and thick tongue could form the necessary words.

OverWilliam/Adlan

It has been a long two days. A full forty-eight hours, the guards have gleefully reminded you on several occasions, since a group of them decided it was time to finally break the wolf-man for real. Forming some sort of perverse betting pool amongst themselves, the guards had made bets on how long it would take to break Garm Ranah for good, and force him to beg them for mercy. Beg them the way a real dog would, whining and yowling that he would be a good dog, he would obey them in whatever they said, even fetch sticks for them.

And so had begun a long two days in which they had forced Garm to stay awake, strapping him tightly into a chair before beginning the torment. Sometimes they would slap him or dump buckets of water, both freezing cold and boiling hot, onto him whenever he appeared to start dozing off despite himself. Often, however, they would cut into his flesh, slicing shallow cuts into his flesh with a silver blade, or ram silver needles into his flesh, even working some of them all the way until his skin, where it slowly blistered and burned from the unending touch of the silver.

And, as Garm’s closest friend and self-appointed protector, Tare was there too. Theoretically he was there to help convince the wolfman to break, urging him to do whatever the guards commanded so they would both be let go. Tare the guards pretty much just beat, one holding him steady like a practice dummy while a second unloaded a flurry of punches, kicks, and slaps into his face and torso. While the guards primarily focused on Garm, whenever one’s predicted time past and the next hour of torment began, the losing guard would vent his frustration on Tare. By this point, seven of the guards had already lost, but it was hard to tell if the two were really coming out ahead with Tare’s right eye starting to swell shut and his normally pretty face marred by dried blood and overlapping bruises, and Garm starting to look like a pin cushion.

“Come on doggie, I’ve only got another couple minutes here! Break already, damn it!” One of the three guards in the room shouted, snatching up a silver needle from a nearby tray. “Yeah, that’s right, it’s just a little needle, isn’t it doggie? Shouldn’t hurt all that much, huh? Guess again!”

Grasping the needle tightly between thumb and forefinger, the guard rammed it up under the fingernail of Garm’s right index finger, working it all the way back until the tip was completely out of sight, buried in the flesh beyond the beginning of Garm’s nail. As the wolfman howled in agony, the guard snatched up another of the needles, holding it up clearly in front of his face.

“Come on doggie, just say it already. ‘Woof! Woof! Yes master, I’ll fetch your sticks for you! Bow-wow! SAY IT!”

Before the guard could continue, however, one of the other guards looked up from his pocketwatch with a grin. “Time. You lose Nate!”

“GODS DAMN IT!” The torturing guard shouted, jabbing the needle he was just showing Garm into the back of Garm’s left hand, leaving it there as he turned away. Still clearly angry, the guard slapped the tray of silver needles, knocking it off its stand and sending the silvery shards flying everywhere, including more than one in Tare’s direction, who could do little else but simply close his eyes and pray none of them flew into his eyes.

“Screw this, I’m outta here. You guys can clean up the mess.” The angry guard growled, storming out of the room through one of the open doorways leading into the adjacent, nearly identical room.

“What’s his problem?” The third guard asked, already moving over to start slowly picking up the silver needles one by one and drop them back into the tray. The timekeeper guard simply shrugged at the question. “Heard he had an entire month’s pay riding on this, so I can understand why he’d be pissed to get so close and then still fail. Speaking of which, if Dog boy over there holds out for much longer, we’re going to have to go find some more suckers to keep betting, or hold a new round of predictions entirely.”

“I dunno if Dog Boy is ever going to break. It’s been forty-eight hours and still nothing.” The third guard groused, now snatching up needles two or three at a time, which simply earned a noncommittal shrug from the timekeeper.

“Maybe not, or maybe we just gotta raise the stakes a little.” The timekeeper said, looking thoughtfully over at Tare.

Inspectre
2008-04-14, 02:50 AM
Old Meat

The Catacombs

ubersquid

As soon as the question leaves your mouth, Marv is empathically shaking his head no. “No no no no no! I am most definitely not the hero-type Elkwin!”

From her position on the bed, the ghost tilts her head around to look at your directly with her empty eye-sockets, leaving the top-portion of her skull visible and separate from the ghostly illusion. As she speaks, she seems to smile, and would could pass for warmth creeps into her dead voice.

I see you and have seen you, Elkwin Holmanson. I see you growing up, dreaming of leaving home for the adventurous life, but not shirking your duty to family in spite of your ambitious dreams. I see you managing your tavern, serving all equally and not turning away any entering your tavern in need. I see you standing up to a drunken guard, refusing to allow him to assault another of your customers and earning imprisonment in exchange. And I see you delivering the sword to the one who will use it in the final battle of all, despite the horrors and sacrifices that come to block the way. You have already learned that a hero is not simply a man who can swing a sword, for even tyrants and monsters know how to do that. A hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice for the good of others, and stand strong in the face of evil. That is who you are, Elkwin Holmanson, and that is why you are the Hero.

“Woah, that was eloquent. I’m almost in tears over here.” Marv mutters, winking at you and rolling his eyes. Immediately, the ghost twists her head around to skewer Marv with a glare, who wilts and grows paler with each new word that now flows from the ghost’s lips.

And I see and have seen you, Marv Radelskin. You are right when you say that you are not a hero, for your heart is a cowardly one. I see you playing with the other children as a boy, giving away any secret whispered to you as if it were nothing. I see you betray a young girl’s trust, valuing the trinkets she gave you as a sign of her love more than her love itself. And I see you betraying the hero in your darkest hour, not out of avarice but cowardice, hoping to extend your life beyond its last fleeting moments!

Now nearly as pale as the woman’s bones, Marv opens his mouth once, shuts it, opens it, shuts it again. Then when he opens his mouth for the third time, he seems to finally have found his voice as the words come pouring out in a torrent.

“Come on Elkwin do you really believe this fortune cookie bull**** and you know that I would never betray you right and maybe I’ve done some things I’m not proud of in the past but come on I would never outright betray you I may really be a coward but I’m not freaking stupid.”

Turning her gaze back to you, the ghost woman’s voice returns to its normal tone.

Regardless of what he is and will do, he will prove a very useful and stout ally to you in the journey ahead up until his final hour. Then you must be prepared, for it is your foreknowledge of his betrayal that will save your own life.

“Oh come on! Look Elkwin, I want out of here as bad as you do, but if you think it’s for the best, we can just split up here and go our separate ways. I may be a coward, but I’m not a traitor damnit!”

Unsure of who to believe at the moment, you look down at the book, which your hands have been unconsciously opening. With great care you direct all your attention now to gently flipping the catch the rest of the way open, and opening the book. Immediately a small cloud of dust arises from the pages as some of them crumble into dust entirely, but most remain intact for now, including the first page. Although the faded ink barely stands out against the yellowed pages, you are able to determine that it is legible, and seems to be in the same runic language as everything else around here was.

It is important that you read my journal, although some thoughts have inevitably lost from the written word. I can and will give you the ability to read our language, but you must not tarry here for much longer. Death itself flies here on swift wings, and you must not be here when it arrives. Ask what remaining questions you have time to ask, take the sword Hero, and depart from this place and move onward to your destiny.

The Spires: Ironheart Research

Voth

Oh. And I almost forgot the most important reason: because it was fun! Heh heh, come on Voth, don’t you remember the fun we’ve had, reveling in the slaughter? Frightening some ignorant COLLABORATOR is hardly the worst thing we ever done. Would you have preferred that I disemboweled her and hung her corpse from the ceiling with her own intestines as you just did to some guards only a little while ago? Uh oh, I warned you about taking too long. Here comes company!

At Shadow’s warning, you see the door leading back out of the room slowly start to open, and drunken jeering float in from behind the door.

“Ah, new Ah shoudan’t got outta bed dishmorning.”

“Voleshin shgonna keel yew boi! Hea’s gonna shuck you up in his mashine!”

“Ah shushup! Ai ain’t that drunk!”

As the door swings further open, you can see the shadows of two apparently very drunk guards stretching into the room as they prepare to enter.

???????

MrEdwardNigma

“My hero. Now, can we please get out of here?” Cassandra quips as the creature advances towards you.

But you were not quite finished here yet, as you commanded your zombie to direct its attention onto the cultist. Throwing itself clumsily onto the thing’s back, your zombie protector manages to grasp its powerful back-mounted arms and wrench them aside. But then the creature demonstrates that along its badly wounded, it’s still very, very strong, throwing your zombie off with ease. As your zombie crashes back into the wall, both of the thing’s clawed arms stab out, tearing one of the zombie’s arms and a huge chuck out of its side.

But it was only the distraction that you required, not incapacitation of the creature, and darting in quickly this time you manage to reach it before it can react, wildly stabbing your hands into the hump on its back. Once again it deployed countless thin tentacles in an attempt to slow your assault, but you were prepared this time and cut them asunder with quick shifts of your fingers within the creature’s body as you worked ever deeper.

Finally reaching the center, you felt your fingers close around the parasite that was really directed the show and dug your razor-fingertips into its surprisingly well-armored flesh, as if the creature had a carapace as a final layer of protection. Still, it wasn’t enough to ultimately stop your assault, and the creature’s human host gave an inhuman shriek of agony as your fingers burst through the real thing’s shell. Then, certain you had a good grip on it, you ripped your hands back out, dragging the real parasite with you and allowing the human host’s body to lifelessly collapse.

Blinking its singular eye at you, the thing clacks its pincers together angrily several times and flails its whip-like tentacles about, but can do nothing as you force your fingers deeper into its side. You had had about enough out of these creatures, and didn’t really care if you destroyed this thing in the process of killing it. There really was no shortage of them around to study, and right now this was about some good old-fashioned righteous vengeance for what you’d already been put through today.

Suddenly, the little bastard clacks its mandibles together one last time, and with a blink of the eye, melts away into formless ooze that slips through your fingers to plop onto the floor. You aren’t really sure if you actually had killed the creature this time or if this was yet another escape mechanism, but as the ooze begin to seep away into the floor you released that you didn’t really have time to reflect.

Rushing at you from further down the hallway were two more of the black-robed figures, accompanied by the still apparently human initiate, blood streaming from the countless cuts carved across his chest in the shape of the arcane symbols all of them seemed to have on their bodies.

Torture Chambers

Dorizzit

At your comments, Amelia nods with a sigh. “You are right. I would not trust that horrid man to keep to anything he promised.”

Although you greet Seraph upon his return with a raised eyebrow, you make no comment of his actions for now, and follow after him as he once again leaves the room by the north doorway. Right on your heels is the Countess, staying as close behind you as she possible can without invading your personal space. Clearly, she had no desire to be left behind in this place. As she moves, her face is tense, and she winces with each upswing in the volume of screams from elsewhere in the complex, but she continues moving forward all the same.

You slip through the next several rooms without incident, as they are abandoned by both guards and prisoners. When you come to the room where you believe that Seraph spoke with the guards, however, you find it still occupied.

A man, his back more blood than intact skin, hangs by his arms from the ceiling in the center of the room, the blood-covered thorny whip that inflicted his injuries looped casually around one of his arms. Somberly, two prisoners watch your entrance from their holding cell built into one wall.

Ignoring all of the prisoners for now, Seraph walks through the center of the room. “We must move quickly, for the guards will return shortly.” He says, stopping only when the whipped man stirs and croaks at him, “Mercy!”

Without another word Seraph draws one of his daggers, plunging it into the man’s throat and slitting it wide open. The man gasps once, shakes violently for a few moments, and then goes limp.

“We should eliminate the other two prisoners as well. They may involuntarily give the guards information about who we are and our passage through here.” Seraph explains, already walking towards the other two prisoners in the holding cell.

Looking back over your shoulder, you can see that the Countess is watching all of this intently, a horrified expression frozen on her face. “No . . . we can’t do this!” She whispers, eyes fixated on Seraph as he approaches the holding cell, blood still slowly dripping from his dagger.

The Labs

Iethloc

Summoning up a magical dome, you expend a great deal of your remaining magical reserves to send it racing out in all directions. The effort proves to be worth it, however, as a majority of the remaining crystals shatter under the assault. For those crystals still occupied, however, this ends up with them dumping out their occupants, which only adds to the escalating mayhem below.

Swooping in towards the line of runes once more, you manage to weaken them still further, regaining a fair bit of your drained magical strength in the process. The runes are clearly beginning to fade and fail, and as if aware of this several nearby demons thrown themselves against the invisible wall, clawing and scratching at it. From his position within the control booth, the assistant stands in mute shock, watching the proceedings now in simple terror.

On the ground, Omega is taken by surprise as the wingless succubus flings herself onto Omega’s back while screeching, “Give me back my wings, bitch!” The demon is no match for the augmented humanoid, however, as a second later Omega stares up at the ceiling, willing herself straight up while leaving the succubus behind. As Omega spreads her stolen wings and flies over to join you, your bolt of magical fire streaks down to obliterate a number of the demons, succubus included.

“Um . . . ah . . . is there any way I could just convince you two of leave?” The assistant asks from the control booth, now no longer even attempting to input commands. “Seriously, I’ll do whatever you want, just let me live, and remain in one piece.”

Ritual Chambers

Pwenet/WhiteKnight777

Unable to avoid Umber’s sudden missile, Ross instead simply endures it, taking it full on in his plate-covered chest. Although the rock fails to penetrate the armor, it does leave a small dent and throws the paladin off-balance long enough for Umber to regain the initiative. Sliding into an ancient fighting stance the vampire lord dashes forward once more, driving the paladin back with a flurry of blows that are all deflected, but nevertheless slowly drive the paladin back towards the bone golem.

Meanwhile, with a single powerful leap Akor manages to get in front of the last fleeing vampire, picking him up by the throat and dragging him along for the ride as Akor takes to the air with another leap. This time the dragon-man heads for the conflict between Ross & Umber, throwing the vampire in mid-air at the bone golem.

As if it had been planned between the two of them, the bone golem flicks its tail out, skewering the vampire through the chest and then using its remaining bone scythe arm to tear the vampire apart into a cloud of ash.

Although Umber is nearly successful in driving Ross back into the waiting arms-scythes of the bone golem, at the last few feet the paladin suddenly holds his ground. Swinging his hammer to one side and reaching down to his belt, the paladin leaves himself wide open, allowing Umber’s latest strike to jab into his side. Even through his plate-mail, the impact of Umber’s blow carries through, eliciting a grunt of pain from the paladin and from him to suddenly cough up a small quantity of blood. But even through the pain, Ross smile madly as he tugs a glass vial from his belt with his free hand.

“Perhaps today is the day I die. But first how about a drink to your health!?”

With Umber so close in to deliver the blow, he is unable to move back in time as Ross brings his hand around and down, catching the glass vial between Umber’s forehead and his armored palm. Caught between the two hard places, the vial shatters, showering Umber’s face with holy water.

The vampire lord screams as the acid-like substance streams down his face, and momentarily falls to his knees stunned. Shouting in triumph, Ross lifts his warhammer high in preparation to bring it down for the killing stroke, but is stopped in mid-swing by Akor.

For a moment the two have an intense contest of strength, but the clear winner after a few seconds is Akor, twisted the warhammer out of Ross’s grasp with one hand and giving him a hard shove with the other. Thrown off-balance, the paladin stumbles back . . . right onto the bone golem’s waiting bone scythe.

The amazingly resilient bone spear slips through a joint in Ross’s armor, penetrating the flesh of his left arm and emerging out the same crease in the armor in the front. The paladin screams the bone golem clearly flexes his scythe within the wound, opening it further, but as it brings its tail around for a finishing blow Ross looks over his shoulder at the thing.

“I will bathe you all in holy fire!” He screams, casting another spell that causes a massive burst of holy energy to rain down from the ceiling. Fortunately the radius of the spell’s effect is not particularly large, catching only Ross and the bone golem after Akor drags Umber back a few paces. There is a brilliant flash of golden light a few seconds later, and as the light fades a kneeling and heavily-breathing Ross is revealed while the bone golem appears to have been finally reducing to nothing more than finger-long bone shards and dust.

Pushing himself back up with a loud grunt, Ross chuckles as he examines his wounds and Akor, still in possession of his warhammer. “Well now, it seems that you and your little fanged friend have the advantage for now. But we’ll see if that holds true when next we meet. You had better keep my warhammer in good condition: it’s a family heirloom with a lot of pleasant memories for me. I’ll expect it returned to me, next time!”

His parting taunt apparently delivered, Ross turns and runs for one of the nearby cavern exits at a lumbering pace. Mellita, just now pushing herself back up and brushing herself off, seeing the paladin approaching and moves to cut him off. That effort is stifled, however, as the paladin pulls another flask of holy water from his belt and lobs it at the vampire, causing her to jump back out of the way long enough for Ross to charge past. Despite his heavy armor and numerous bits of gear, the paladin seems to be fairly quick on his feet, making good time in reaching one of the exits. It might still be possible to catch him, but with Umber’s increasingly serious injuries it seems likely that chasing after him would result in a fight solely between Akor and Ross, with Mellita potentially offering minimal assistance.

Adlan
2008-04-14, 04:22 AM
Garm
Thick Red blood Oozed from his wounds, cuts and the needles marks that coverd him. But Garm's Eyes were still alive and hateful, still full of malice and defiance. These were not Phrayhom, they were not real men, not even halfmen like his friend, and they would not break him. He could Ignor the Hunger and Hardship of prision life, a Wolfling might go without food or company on the tundra for a long time before he returned to the clan. He could stomach the torture, pain passed.

It was the insults that really stung.

'If I had my Bow, I would make you fetch some sticks...'

Lonna
2008-04-14, 04:58 AM
Pyrene

As she worked her jaw, a single fear rose in Pyrene's mind. Alot could happen in three months. And while more than a few of the nightmares had contradicted each other, who was to say what was fact and what was fiction? What was happening to Ariella? Compared to that, Pyrene's own safety and comfort were insignificant. Wasn't that why she had begun the bold and, in retrospect, risky plan that had ultimately landed her here?

"My Lord." she began to speak in a rasping voice, then stopped, risking a few precious seconds of relative freedom to work a bit of moisture into her mouth. Those few seconds also gained her an instant to think, so there was no hesitation and only the barest hint of pleading in her voice as she tried again to answer with a throat that was still a bit rusty but no longer held the same harsh rasp as before."My Lord, I am not guilty of these charges. The first three result from misinterpretation of my actions, while the last was not murder but self-defence. I would have told you this as you required of me when I was first brought before you, but as you have seen, those who sent me to you left me bound and gagged, and thus unable to obey your commands."

Dorizzit
2008-04-14, 05:37 AM
Korram's eyes widen in shock at Seraph's actions. Thinking quickly, he dashes around and puts himself between Seraph and the prisoners. "No. Don't. Give me sixty seconds to work with them. I was a revolutionary, I'm very good at concise persuasion." Assuming Seraph allows him the time, Korram swings around and begins talking to the prisoners, at a low volume. "I have just saved your lives. Now listen. If the guards ask, you didn't see us. That man-" he points to the man who Seraph just killed, "-was killed by a homicidal guard getting off on it. In the confusion, a prisoner with a cudgel broke the bars to your sell. Now stand back." He gives the prisoners time to move away from the bars of the cage. Then he slams his fist into them, shattering the bars. "Now go." when the prisoners have left, he turns back to Seraph and the Countess. "Let's go." He continues on.

Gygaxphobia
2008-04-14, 06:22 AM
Kailess the Purifier
The Righteous One hurt in every inch of his form. The pain was small compared to his Purity and he tried to shrug it off but they was no sense of satisfaction in it. It wasn't a wound received gloriously in battle or inflicted by an unclean vagabond, he couldn't lick the blood from it and revel in the triumph.
Kailess felt the fury stir in him, an unconscious twitch that intended to crush these impudent scum where they stood the moment his shackles were loose, but he stilled it. They deserved far worse, and they might be useful. Filth like these could be persuaded to do Holy work, they just needed a little temptation and the chance for redemption. After all, what tormentor could resist thinking his work was proud and noble?

Guards of this place must have needs, they aren't men of good character or else they couldn't work here. And they can't all have sold their souls to walk gods of darkness...

Probably painful and possibly fatal? his dry lips part and his hoarse throat grates the words out. His head lolls and he stares about unfocussed. A teaching session for acolytes maybe? " his laugh is gravel in his coarse thick mouth and his chuckle turns to a cough. Hardly worthy of the Purifier! he growls.
He lifts his head to look at the guards, choosing one to lock eyes with. His voice is lo