Oh man! That story was hilarious! I loved it! I really liked how you managed to tell the story from 3rd person point of view, and I really enjoyed the fight scene. Gnolem is a pretty genius name, and I was in hysterics about the missing count part. Now I really want to find out what Ezlo has been doing as count, and if he's been any better than the old guy. I'm also curious about his dad. Nice job!
Originally Posted by absolmorph
That sounds like a story that I need to hear!
Originally Posted by absolmorph
Sorry, not a dulcimer, though some lap dulcimers can actually have 4 strings. Hammered dulcimers (the big ones) tend to have much, much more though. (Sorry, I am a stringed-instrument enthusiast. I could probably keep going on about stuff like that. )
Originally Posted by Lady Moreta
Pretty close in terms of size and shape with the violin, but not quite there yet.
Originally Posted by Helmuth
I've got some more snippets! They're a little out of order chronologically though. The first one is after The Blue Bard, the second is after Step By Step, and the third is a few days after the second. Oi, I need to sort these one day...
The Soothsayer in the Stone
(or Obligatory Prophetic Scene Here)
Finally, I had found her. Or it.
But I was here at last, though not without significant difficulty. The Edinar Mire was almost five days away from Kieselheim, and Julian had somehow neglected to give me any directions. Worse, no one actually seemed to know that the Edinar Mire existed in the first place. It was only by some miraculous coincidence that I had managed to find the damned swamp in the first place, and I didn’t even know it until I found a tattered map that told me so, still clutched in the stiff grip of an old corpse.
Even that paled in comparison to what I actually had to face in the bog, though. There was some strange, evil energy that permeated the Edinar Mire, and it didn’t see it fit to let the dead rest in peace. Zombies, skeletons, shadows, the Edinar Mire had it all. Apparently Julian had also somehow forgotten about that.
But none of that mattered now. I had survived, unlike many, and the stone prison of the Soothsayer Iara was here, right in front of me. I couldn’t help but smile, something that I hadn’t managed to do since I first got here.
The stone was surprisingly large, standing almost eight feel tall, though it was starting to tilt at an odd angle. It was covered in strange, obscure runes from which pale greenish-blue light glowed, illuminating the small cavern. But weirdest of all, the stone was suspended from the cave’s ceiling by a multitude of vines, roots, and other various plants. Fortunately, it was just low enough that I could touch it.
As I rested my hand against it, I felt a supernatural heat through my gauntlet, burning my hand. But I couldn’t pull myself away. Not yet at least. Not until I had my answer.
The stone seemed to glow brighter and brighter, and soon my vision began to swirl. Before I really realized what was happening, I found myself standing in some featureless void, characterized only by the glow of the stone.
Suddenly I heard a voice from behind me.
“What is it you seek, brave one?” I turned around in surprise to find myself face to face with nothing.
“Alas, brave one, I am not behind you. Nor am I in front of you, but all around. What you are experiencing is merely a vestige of my former glory, of my former self,” The voice echoed from all around me. “Speak, brave one, so that I may assist you,”
“Soothsayer,” I knelt. “I am searching for the Crownbreakers. They have stolen away my friend, and I must find her before…” my voice trailed off. I couldn’t even think of what would happen if I didn’t find her.
“Very well brave one,” Her voice thrummed inside my head.“The Crownbreakers lie a mere two days travel to the west. You shall find them in the Broken Peaks, and if you travel full speed, you shall find them just after they have set up camp. But beware, brave one, for many trials await you on your journey that may very well test your faith. Do not falter, for if you do, you shall surely fall…”
“Wait!” I shouted. “What sort of trials? Do not falter at what?” But even before I had finished speaking, my vision had once again begun to swirl, and everything went black.
When I finally regained consciousness, I was lying under the stone. The glow from the runes had been all but extinguished, and only a soft, flickering light remained. I pulled myself to my feet, filled with a new sense of hope, despite the Soothsayer’s foreboding words.
In only two days, I would see Natalia again.
No Use For A Broken Tool
I finally realized the gravity of our situation when we came across the first destroyed city.
It wasn’t the fact that the town had been razed that got to me though. I knew which city this had to be, even though I couldn’t see it. And that did not spell anything good about the future.
Varen quickly confirmed my thoughts.
“Oh gods, Natalia,” Varen said, his voice choked. “This used to be Greenhill! I was just here a few days ago! Oh gods…” He gripped my hand tightly. I could feel it shaking.
Greenhill. It had once been a small little farming community. It was of no tactical importance, no political importance, hell, it was only important to the people who lived there. There was no reason why it should have been destroyed. Except…
“Varen,” I said, more softly than I had expected. “They’re heading for the capitol,”
I could feel his anguished gaze upon me. He must have thought that I was behind this attack. In a way, I guess I was.
Their target was according to Father’s final plans. The very same plans that were the first instructions Father had given me. I was explicitly told never to write them down, for fear of someone finding them out. That meant that someone in the Fear Legion must have had the ability to read minds, having stolen my thoughts before my fall.
Or there was another, far more frightening option. That Father was directing them. If that was the case, then it meant that he had simply discarded me as soon as I had fallen from power, as though I were nothing more than a tool.
Why didn’t I find that more surprising?
“Then we have to warn the King,” Varen’s voice was tense. “If he falls, then all of Geridia will fall as well! How much time do we have?”
“I don’t know, Varen,” I shook my head. “It all depends on how effective their new leader is,” Once again, I just couldn’t tell Varen the painful truth. Whether it was the Hearteater, my Father, or someone else entirely behind this, nothing would stop their march. Not when they were so close to finally overthrowing the empire. At most, we had one month. Probably much less.
As we left, I felt myself overcome by a strange feeling. Without even knowing why, I found myself whispering to the ruins of Greenhill.
“I’m so sorry,”
Trust in Your Senses
(or Acquired Flaws Give Bonus Feats Too)
We had finally found a town that had not been destroyed. I suppose that should have been a relief.
But to me, that meant that we had somehow gotten off track. We could not afford that. My blindness was slowing us down by way too much. If we were off the Fear Legion’s path now, there would be no way that we could catch up. Not at our current pace. I couldn’t help but feel useless.
Varen rubbed my shoulder, trying to be reassuring.
“Maybe someone here knows something about the Crownbreakers, or has a way to contact the Emperor,” he said with forced hopefulness. I could only shrug. I had no optimism to contribute.
As we walked through the town, Varen described everything around us, a habit he had recently acquired. I guess he thought it would help me feel as though I wasn’t handicapped. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it wasn’t really helping.
Then out of nowhere, I felt something bump into me. I almost fell, but Varen quickly brought me to my feet.
“Oh goodness! I’m so sorry! Michael! Apologize to that poor woman right now! You nearly knocked her over,”
“It’s no worry,” I mumbled, trying hard to be friendly.
“Did your eyes get stabbed out, lady?” I heard the voice of a small child. That had to be Michael.
“Michael!” his mother’s tone was horrified. I couldn’t help but smile a little at her reaction.
“Cuz there’s a special pond in the mountains that regenimates stuff! You could drink from it and get your eyes back!”
“Michael! Do not tell them about the Lake of Healing!” I heard a smack and Michael’s subsequent wail. “I apologize! But you really don’t want to go there! The lake is deep within the mountains, and it has been infested with monsters for years. If you go, you will surely die! Naughty Michael! Getting that poor woman’s hope up like that!”
I could feel Varen’s gaze. He was definitely thinking about it. I was worried, but if I had my sight back, we would be able to move twice as quickly, at least. This may very well have been the only way we could have a chance at beating the Fear Legion to Konne.
“Thank you,” I said to the woman. “But don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m sure Michael was just trying to help,” I smiled at them, trying to assure her that I was not harboring any thoughts of the mystical pond. “Now then, we must be on our way,”
As we walked away, Varen whispered to me.
“Do you want to go there?” he sounded concerned. “Because I’m sure I could figure out a way to get us there,”
“I knew you’d say that,” he had to be smiling. I wasn’t quite sure why though.
We kept walking for a while, until we eventually ended up in a tavern. I was assaulted by the scents of alcohol, food, and vomit. The clamor of the bar seemed to die immediately as we entered.
“Hello,” Varen said awkwardly. “I’m trying to find the way to the Lake of Healing. Does anyone know how to get there?”
The whole pub suddenly burst into laughter.
“What, ya think yer jus’ gonna waltz in therr and heal up yer little lady, just like that?” I heard a man guffaw from next to me.
“Shuttup Klimt!” I heard a man shout. “Maybe he kin ac’shully do something’ about the place! Look! He’s a pal’din! He kills evil stuff fer a livin’!
“Ha! I doubt et! Look at that scrawny li’l bug! I bet I could kick ‘is arse real easy-like! He even has lady-hair!” I twinged.
“‘ey, pally-man!” the man ignored Klimt, turning his attention to Varen. “Come ‘ere! I kin drawr you up a map or summat!”
“I’m going to go to him, okay Tali?” Varen said.
“Go! I’ll be fine!” When I was sure that Varen had left, I turned in Klimt’s direction.
“So, Klimt, is it?” I was pissed off. “You think you’re a tough guy?”
“What’re ya getting’ at? You gon’ fight me?” he laughed derisively. “I’d like t’ see ya try!”
Well, let it not be said that he didn’t ask for it.
Somehow, I managed to pinpoint his position from his laughter. I balled my hand into a fist, then struck.
I felt flesh under my fist, then the shattering of bone. A loud crack echoed throughout the tavern, followed by the thud of a man falling from his chair. The whole bar went silent, except for the sound of a man sobbing.
Then the bar burst into laughter once again.
“Ahahaha! Oh gods almighty!” I heard the friendly man howling with laughter. “Klimt gone an’ done et now!”
“If you got your ass handed to you by a blind girl,” I hissed at Klimt, who was still crying on the floor. "Then imagine what my friend could have done to you! You should be glad he's such a damn good guy, because if he was anything like me, you'd be nothing but paste by now!"
I heard someone run over, then felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Oh gods, Tali,” It was Varen. He went silent for a little while. I realized that he must have been checking out Klimt. “You broke his jaw!”
As Varen laid hands on the still sobbing Klimt, I couldn’t help but smile.
Maybe I wouldn’t be so useless after all.