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  1. - Top - End - #271
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Meltemi's Avatar

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    Dec 2007
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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Ruya
    Ruya was led through the imposing cathedral gates and beyond the crowded courtyard, into the nave. Tall arches spanned the ceiling overhead, separating beautiful murals painted of the Miriam, Athelion, and their angels. It was a beautiful testament to architecture and art, but also one she could not appreciate. Her attention was taken up entirely the center of the nave, where several benches had been torn up to create room for a massive ritual circle written out in the Church’s high script, ordinarily used for formal liturgy. It was strange, recognizable, and somehow incredible. It was clearly intended to summon some great power, though it was neither demonic nor spirit. The lead gnoll looked back and said something. Seeing her distracted by the ritual still being created, he coughed pointedly, and she looked up, slightly flustered. “Our leader, Seer Malohk,” he repeated as he bowed back.

    The ancient gnoll looked her over before smiling, an expression that resembled a grimace on the gnoll’s face. Despite his fearsome visage, he seemed to be kind and friendly in demeanour. “Greetings, child. My lieutenant here tells me that you are skilled with the runes?”

    “Runes? Seriously, her!? Oh please, maybe you can help me then. We need to get this summoning circle done so we can get some major help down here.” The interrupting voice came from near the circle, and she looked over to see a priest standing up from behind one half-turned bench, dusting chalk dust off his worn robes.

    “I am, and I’ll do my best to help.” Such a summoning circle, though it was similar in its basics to what she had done before, was still orders of magnitude beyond what she had seen before. To help construct it would be an invaluable learning experience. “What are you attempting to summon?” she asked as she knelt down beside the priest, setting her bag down and withdrawing a piece of chalk from it.

    “An angel of Miriam.” At his reply, she looked up in surprise. “We need the power of the Goddess, and if we can convince one of her angels to help us, we might survive. Otherwise, we’ll end up meeting these ancestors these mercenaries are so keen on.”

    ”I see.” As she looked over the circle more closely, she saw several familiar marks, and many more that appeared to have been made in error. The circle, even if the priest completed it, would never work. ”You said you needed a diagram, correct?”

    “Yes, but these fools won’t send anyone to get what I need to summon this angel. They don’t see that without it, we won’t even make it through the night,” he whined. A nearby gnoll’s ears twitched, and he growled slightly in response to the slur. The priest hastily shut up.

    Ruya was already pulling out several books from her bag and leafing through them, trying to find the pure circle she had created when she first learned the high script of the Church from an itinerant priest down on his luck. Finally, she found it and presented the page to the priest. ”This is nowhere near the power we need and the control runes in the centre rosenkreuz are completely different, but the outer wards should be close to the same. It is a little different, but I think we can modify it to channel the power needed to summon an angel by doubling up on these sections.” She pointed at the areas she meant, then the inscription he had just finished writing. ”And, this should be en logos domina rather than eunt logos dominus.”

    The priest took the book as a drowning man would clutch a lifeline. “I see it.” He made the corrections. “How do you…no, nothing,” he cut himself off before asking, not willing to look a gift horse in the mouth. He began to compare the diagram to the circle he had drawn, making alterations to match the two together.

    Ruya, for her part, was completely absorbed by the rosenkreuz in the centre. She took a step forward into the incomplete circle, still kneeling, as she ran her hands along the power channels. ”I think I see how it’s supposed to work, but the power won’t flow properly here or here.” Setting chalk to tile, she began sketching about her, drawing and redirecting. Out of deference to the priest and not entirely certain of how it would interact with the power of a Goddess otherwise, she used only the script of the Church, though it was more inefficient in many places. Still, her chalk practically flew across the circle as she saw changes and modifications she could make, that she needed to make for the circle to function properly. She barely noticed as she skimmed past the priest, still struggling to match the diagram to the circle, entirely lost in her work.

    She made one last mark, finishing her revisions, and looked up. The gnoll sage was watching her calmly, but several of the guards and the priest himself were staring openly. Delora, she saw, was also looking on with interest. She laughed sheepishly and stepped out of the circle, careful not to mar any of it. ”I’m sorry, I might have gone a little too far.”

    “N-no,” the priest stammered out. He handed her book back, as hastily as he had taken it. “With the circle, I can finish the ritual now. T-thank you for that.” As he approached the circle again, she stepped back, joining the gnolls.
    Ruya Perist, Flight from Ironheart
    Teira Feiwright, Lost and Clueless

    I am me, you are you.
    We’re totally different, separate persons.
    But even so, what if we have just one thing in common?

  2. - Top - End - #272
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Falconer's Avatar

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    Sep 2007
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    Running the World
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    Male

    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Gazrul

    Gazrul thinks for a moment before speaking, considering his many options. If Wulfric's find was half as important as he claimed it was, he had best attend to it along with him. If you want something done right, and all that.

    "The majority of our forces shall join the garrisons around Amaranth, and I shall join you with my rangers. We will set out at dawn. In the meanwhile, interrogate your prisoner. Find out what you can, as quickly as you can, for I fear time is not our friend.

    Truly, Wulfric, we are all in your debt."


    With that, the crystal went silent and Gazrul set about informing his officers of his plan. They were to join the garrisons outside Amaranth, and keep him informed on developments. If at all possible, they were to ascertain whatever the hell was going on in these lands.

    The Baron had better pay us well for this.

  3. - Top - End - #273
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Meanwhile . . .

    From her position kneeling on the floor, the tattooed woman glanced up at her queen. It was a subtle movement, but nonetheless sufficient to send the several pieces of black script on the back of her neck slithering down to her shoulder blades. It would seem that she had several more minutes to wait, for Titania’s attention was elsewhere. Thankfully her cloak was thick, shielding her from the worst of the icy cold permeating the throne room.

    Finally, Titania’s head lolls around, her frost blue eyes settling on her mortal servant. For just the briefest moment her lips are twisted up in the hint of a smile, but the smile fades with the memory of her recent in-body experience. Flicking a frosted lock of black hair out of her face, Titania gazes down at her servant silently for several moments. Then she opens her mouth, and a hissing gust of cold wind sweeps down to bite through the tattooed woman’s clothing.

    “I did not summon you.” It was not a question.

    Bowing low until her nose nearly came into contact with the polished ice that served as the floor, the tattooed woman quickly answered.

    “No, but I come bearing a message from the Baron.”

    With her eyes averted down to her own reflection, the woman does not see Titania’s sneer of disdain. But she does feel the hissing wind creep underneath her cloak and down her spine.

    “I have no interest in the posturing of mortals! Be gone from here and return, my emissary, to his side. Tell him we have nothing to discuss, save for the fate of my daughter!”

    Aware of the necessity for tact, the queen’s emissary to the Baron clears her throat.

    “My queen, the Baron has sent me only to inform you of his progress. The Hierarch has fallen, and he now turns his eyes towards Miriam.”

    “Miriam!” The wind howls violently, and for a moment the ice queen’s eyes glint with an angry light. “The Bitch Goddess is mine to destroy!”

    “Perhaps my queen, but certainly you have more important concerns for the moment? Re-establishing your kingdom upon your return takes precedence, does it not?”

    “Yes . . . Phaedra must be restored! My return must be heralded so that the people are ready. And my daughter must be found or all will be for naught!”

    “I will find your daughter, my queen. But first, there are some . . . distractions that I must attend to personally. It would also be unwise for Miriam to learn of your triumphant return before you are ready. Please, allow the Baron to continue with his plan. It is unlikely to succeed, but it will distract Miriam nonetheless.”

    “Yes . . .” The wind hissed, and then paused as Titanit’a shrewd mind finally focused. “But what does the Baron require from me in return?”

    “Only your continued assurances that he shall serve as your representative to the mortals once your kingdom has been formally re-established. For now, he would also request that your elves hold on pressing too deeply into the human lands, particularly his. Too much disruption from them might forestall his plans.”
    For a moment, Titania regarded her mortal guest thoughtfully. And then she raised her chin regally.

    "Very well. Vilid is a blunt instrument, but I shall guide his path as best as I am able. The Baron’s lands will be avoided for now. They must press deeper into the human lands until my daughter is found, however. Everything depends upon her.”

    “Again, I assure you that she will be recovered from the humans. Have some . . . faith in your loyal servants, Goddess Titania.”

    Silently, the fallen queen of Phaedra nodded her head, and then gestured dismissively.

    "Leave.”

    Standing in a smooth flourish, the tattooed woman once again bows before slowly backing out of the throne room. She has become quite adroit at avoiding the slickest parts of the floor, and so avoids stumbling until she is out of sight of her queen. Then straightening and turning around, she walks boldly back to where she can step out of Titania’s new kingdom, and back into the mortal world.

    ******************************************

    She was a warrior of the gods. She was immortal, and above the mortal weaknesses of pain and fear.

    That was the mantra Melissan repeated in her head as her body was wracked with pain. Unfortunately, it didn’t help – she wasn’t immune to pain after all, as another scream bubbled its way out of her throat. She barely managed to cut it off into a ragged gasp, preserving what little was left of her dignity for another minute. Although really, considering her surroundings a full blown scream would not have been out of place.

    In addition to all of the other indignities her captors had heaped upon her, she had been wrapped in chains and then stuffed into a cage barely large enough to hold her. This seemed to be more out of practicality than anything else, as her cage was surrounded by similar cages with angels in exactly the same situation. Nonetheless, her method of imprisonment did emphasize how little her captors thought of her. At best, she was a pet, taken out of her little cage when required and then put back in when they were done with her for the day. They also seemed utterly unconcerned about the possibility of her escape, although their brutal demonstrations with any angel who dared show defiance was an effective warning against such attempts.

    Quiet conversation amongst the prisoners was not actively discouraged, although many of Melissan’s neighbors had been here for quite some time. It was impossible to say how long exactly, but it was long enough for most of them to grow despondent. No one was coming for them, they said. No one even cared. Their Lady had abandoned them, for some failing they did not understand, and now they were damned to suffer at the filthy hands of these mortals. Some of Melissan’s neighbors were completely unresponsive, and their empty stares and heavily scarred bodies frightened Melissan.

    Yes, despite all of her attempts to deny it, Melissan was afraid. The humans had begun taking her out to be worked on too. They had begun branding her, creating an intricate network of tattoos on her flesh that didn’t heal the way most normal wounds did. They had also cut open her chest, implanting some sort of crystal – she could feel it digging into her left lung whenever she tried to breathe deeply. From it, Melissan sensed a hungering emptiness that frightened her far worse than anything she had seen so far.

    She doubted she would ever see her home again. And yet, there was one tiny glimmer of hope left – Ander Windrivver. The human paladin had seen her abducted. Surely, even now he was looking for her, even if all others had given up? Melissan had spoken with the human numerous times on his visits to speak with their Lady, and she knew the conviction that drove him. He had a strength of will few other humans could match, and a noble heart that would not allow him to see a wrong unavenged. He would find her. The only question was – would he find her in time?

    **************************

    With a precise deliberateness, the dark brush mars the brilliant hilltop of flowers with a shadow. Several more swift strokes resolve the shadow into the outline of a man, just cresting the hill. With a nod of satisfaction, Karami sets the brush down and examines her work as the paint slowly begins to dry.

    She knows there are some who would criticize her work harshly, calling it “simplistic” or “childish”. She would be inclined to agree with them, were it not for the fact that she was entirely self-taught. Her tools were also mostly handmade, a feeble attempt at keeping her expenses down while allowing her to purchase higher-quality pigments. Which is to say, actual vials of pigment instead of whatever homemade dyes were made down here in the slums.
    She was also getting much better, she noted with some satisfaction. Where once there had been only indistinct shapes and drab blending colors, now there were sharply defined details with drastic, separate colors. So far, she was content with simply drawing scenery, although someday soon she’d like to start working on drawing people. Then perhaps she could have a detailed Traveler instead of the currently humanoid shadow she added to each painting.

    The Traveler was an idea she had while drawing her very first painting, spawned by a longing for the man that the Traveler was meant to represent. Since then, he had appeared somewhere in every painting, always walking towards the viewer, coming home.

    Karami didn’t know where Tare was now, or when he was coming back. She knew he would however, it was just a matter of time. He had to come back. She missed his kind smile and quick wit. But most of all, she missed the feeling of safety she had any time she was around him.

    A sharp knock at the door to her room brought her out of her mild post-painting depression. “Who is it?” She called, already having an idea who it was.

    “It’s your Uncle Brock!” came the muffled reply from the other side of the door. “Your parents said you were up here painting? Can I see it, or is that going to make the paint run and make the whole thing hideously ugly?”

    Karami giggled a little as she walked over to the door and unlatched it. She preferred not to be disturbed while in the middle of the painting, but now that she was finished for the day she welcomed the visit. Brock wasn’t really her uncle, of course, but somehow that method of address had just gotten added after he showed up one day. At first her foster parents had been really suspicious, but with Brock’s frequent visits he had become part of the family, and hence, her “uncle”. She really didn’t know why Tare had warned her about him before disappearing – he had never been anything but nice to her.

    Opening the door, Karami stepped back to allow Brock access into her room. The tall man ducked a little as he stepped through the threshold, favoring her with a mysterious smile. He looks around a bit expectantly.

    “Well? Where’s the latest masterpiece of our budding artist?” He said with a grin, pretending not to notice the makeshift stand holding Karami’s most recent work. With a practiced shove, Karami playfully pushes him over towards the stand.

    “Over there, same place as always! Or are you starting to go blind again?”

    “Bah, these eyes have gotten me out of many close shaves. But a girl’s room is a dangerous place. Who knows when my eyes might fall upon an open journal page, filled with all sorts of perilous secrets?”

    Brock responds, sparing her a grin over his shoulder before looking critically at her painting. Karami fails to notice the brief frown that flickers over Brock’s face as he notices the approaching shadowed figure cresting the hill.

    “A fine masterpiece as always. But I’m willing to bet I know how to improve on it.”

    “Oh?” Karami responds, moving up beside him to examine her painting critically to spot the glaring mistake she had made. Instead, she nearly walks into Brock’s hand as he extracts it from his cloak. Resting in the palm of his hand is a long thin box, which he offers to her with a grin.

    “Go on, open it up.”

    Following his instructions, Karami pops the wooden box open to reveal a set of professionally crafted brushes. Something she had been wanting since taking up her new hobby.

    “Oh, they’re wonderful! They must have cost a fortune!” She exclaims, covering her mouth with one hand in shock. “I – I really shouldn’t.” She adds hastily with a shake of her head, only causing Brock to move the intricate brushes up closer to her face.

    “Anything for my “niece”! I picked them up cheap, actually – one may even say they were a steal. And since I’m not going to use them, well – they’re going to go to waste otherwise.”

    “Oh thank you!” Karami said, finally letting herself accept the gift as she gently took the offered box of brushes.

    “Don’t mention it.”

    (As a note for the audience, I’m not entirely sure how old exactly Karami is supposed to be. I’m assuming mid-teens or older however – OverWilliam is free to correct me if she’s supposed to be, like, six or something. Also of note, Brock is the head of the Thieves Guild that Tare was a part of, and the man who told him about this “one last job” he had to do. So what is he doing here - other than possibly being a creepy “old man”? The Shadow knows! )

    ***************************************

    From the depths of his current abode in the back of a cave, the cowled man glares into the globe perched in the palm of his right hand. The glow cast by the globe casts eerie shadows about the cave, but is only bright enough to really illuminate the man himself. Despite the dark cloak draped loosely over his shoulders and pulled up over his head, the dirty and bloodstained priest robes he is wearing underneath are clearly visible. The dark green glow cast by the globe gives the man’s deathly pale skin an even unhealthier green tint, but the man’s thick stubble when combined with his dirty clothes suggest he cares little for his appearance.

    Idly, the man reaches his free hand up to scratch at his chest, his attention wholly focused on the images of a bedroom located in the nearby town swirling and dancing inside the globe. The man has to suppress an angry hiss from escaping his lips as he watches the children prattle on with his hated obsession. He should just go there now, and tear the meddlesome insects apart in front of her.

    But no. No, he had waited so long for this chance at vengeance. He could wait a bit longer. The miserable wretch could not appreciate his vengeance just yet. She needed time to recover, to remember who she is and what she had done. And then. Only then. He would drag her screaming down into very Hellish depths.

    But for now, he would watch and wait. Let the little bitch make her little friendships with those that should be beneath her notice and his. Perhaps they would help her recover, and they would be yet one more thing he could take away from her in the end. Marisiel would not escape her punishment this time.

    ***************************************

    With voracious interest, the young girl’s eyes flew down the page. She had started on the leather-bound tome only this morning, and already she was nearly a third of the way through the book. She had always been a fast reader, but this story, recommended to her by her new foster father, was especially gripping.

    “The Princess and the Prostitute” it was called, involving a pair of twin sisters separated at birth. One had grown up within the royal castle, while the other had been raised in a bordello within the city’s slums. Both had grown up into adulthood, neither having been aware of the other’s existence until a chance meeting. At present, the prostitute was making plans for the princess to be kidnapped so that she could take her place in a fit of spiteful jealousy.

    Looking around at her current surroundings, it would be easy for the girl to see herself as the princess. Books similar to the one she now held in her hands lined the walls of this room, a spacious one in a manor full of spacious rooms.

    She was not sure why fortune had favored her so. A few months ago she had simply been a young girl living in the city slums. Still, despite their poverty her parents were kind, and she was relatively happy if a bit stifled. Then tragedy struck, and she likely would not even be here now were it not for her current benefactor.

    One night, there had been a fire, and she awoke to a roaring fire and the alarmed screams of her parents. Coughing violently, she had tried to find a way out, only to see that the fire was already everywhere – there was no way out.

    Then from out of the flames, a dark figure leapt into sight. She had screamed, thinking it was some sort of demon at first, but that irrational theory was quickly disproved – it was simply a man swathed in a dark cloak. He had tossed her over his left shoulder with a grunt, told her to keep her head down and her eyes shut, and then had dashed out of the inferno that had been her home.

    Setting her down on the street, the man asked her if she was alright, and getting only panicked cries about her parents in return. Behind them, the flimsy wooden roof collapsed inward at that moment, eliciting a heartrending wail from the child because she knew her parents were now dead. A young girl such has herself would have had no chance out on the streets alone. Fortunately, her rescuer had again saved her from that fate as well, promising to take her into his care. The girl had never imagined that her rescuer had been a duke out on a nightly stroll, but now here she was.

    Even now though, the girl felt a pang of grief at the thought of her parents. No amount of attention from the duke or lavish gifts could change the fact that they were gone. Sometimes, reading the books helped, at least for a little while. She had already read a good portion of the library’s contents that she could understand, and her benefactor had specifically recommended this current book to her. So far, she was glad she did.

    A loud knock at the library door startles the girl out of the story’s flow, and she looks up in time to find her benefactor, Duke Volesin entering. The man stops whistling to favor her with a smile.

    “Good morning, Ariella. I thought I might find you here. It’s time for your self-defense training.”

    Frowning a little, Ariella looks up at the duke pleadingly. She didn’t really like the training, even if the training itself wasn’t unpleasant. She simply didn’t like the thought of having to one day harm someone else.

    “Do I have to?”

    The duke manages to maintain his slight smile, although his blue eyes look down at the young girl in clear disapproval.

    “Knowing how to defend yourself is important, Ariella. Especially as the foster daughter of a nobleman. There are all sorts of people who would want to harm you just because they can.”

    Her thoughts flickering back to the prostitute sister’s plot in the story, Ariella shudders. Reluctantly, she slips a piece of paper into the book to hold her spot and then closes it.

    “Alright.”

    “Good girl.”

    ************************
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  4. - Top - End - #274
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    (Although I provided the gist of the following song, Lonna was the one who converted it into lyrics and actually created a sung version. So, she gets all the credit for that. Definitely listen to it at least once, preferably while reading this obviously. )

    The Seven Sorrows - Lonna

    Working alone in the depths of the Gastly Truth, the man known as Demetrius Gast, Baron of Gast began to hum softly to himself. The song was an old drinking song, frequently sung in the taverns he visited in his youth. He had no idea if it was still sung after all these years, but he would never forget “The Seven Sorrows”.

    See at the table
    Once-lords of the earth.
    Now beaten and bruis-ed,
    They boast of their sorrow.
    At table they gather,
    The seven once-kings,
    Who together once more,
    Share a toast to their woe!


    Still humming softly under his breath, the Baron turned to a large globe in one corner of the room.

    “Fury, activate viewing globe.”

    Deep within the heart of the Baron’s personal airship, the three women known as the Furies, or jointly as the Fury, stir to life. One was an old woman, her missing eyes replaced by a thick bandana. The second was considerably younger, her beauty still not faded by age. The last was scarcely more than a child, her body now nearly finished with the transformations of puberty. As one they spoke, their voice resonating through the ship to the Baron’s ears.

    “Specify desired location.”

    “Training room.” The Baron answered, beginning to hum more loudly as shapes began to form within the glass sphere.


    The first lord growls out:
    A toast to my sorrow,
    The Sorrow of the Hated!
    Feared and despis-ed,
    They call me a monster.
    They flee at my coming,
    They plot at my going.
    Unable to face me,
    They stab at my back.
    I am alone,
    Undone by their unity.
    Friendless, I fall!

    The second lord scoffs:
    A toast to my sorrow,
    The Sorrow of the Crown-ed!
    They do fear me not,
    But raise me nigh godhood.
    And like a god true,
    Lay their cares at my feet.
    I am burdened past breaking
    With pleading and wails.
    I lose myself,
    In their ceaseless petitions.
    Crush-ed, I fall!

    ******

    Entering the training room, Angelo is greeted by a cacophony even at this late hour. Of course, the GHASTs had no need for sleep, but out of respect for those more mortal amongst the crew they were to keep the noise level down at night. As a son of the Baron, however, Celestan was free to do as he wished. And right now, it seemed that the massive construct wished to demolish the three adamantite pillars in front of him.

    For a moment, Angelo watched from the door as his brother glided between the three pillars, delivering a rapid and punishing series of punches, kicks, and wing slashes to each. Although heavily pitted and scarred, for now the pillars weathered the assault with nothing more than the shriek of metal scouring metal.

    Growing tired of this display, Angelo cleared his throat loudly and moved to approach the whirling mass of metal. A moment later, it came to a stop and Celestan turned to give his brother a nod. Then, the armored hulk turned back to the nearest pillar, dropping into a slow routine of feints and attacks.

    You wish something of me, brother? Or does Father request my presence?

    “No, not at present. I’m just making the rounds for the evening. How are you?”

    I am operational.

    “I see . . . and what do you think of our current course of action?”

    The massive GHAST was silent for a moment, its blue eyes glowing as a one-two attack scratched a new “X” onto the pillar.

    I will serve to the best of my ability.

    “Is that it?”

    What else is there?

    Celestan punctuated each of his next comments with a blow to the pillar.

    Duty. Obedience. Sacrifice. What else is there?

    Although Celestan’s voice was a deep, sonorous echo, Angelo knew there was an unspoken ending to his question: “– for me?” Deciding to adopt a different tactic, Angelo casually strolled over to one of the other pillars and drew his sword as if to practice himself.

    “Some of the men seem to believe differently. They fear what is to come.”

    They are mortals. Fear is the only thing that separates them from the beasts.

    “Perhaps. But beasts also don’t raise their hand against the gods.”

    Slowly, Angelo dropped into a fighting stance, but he held off on attacking his stationary opponent just yet. Instead, he continued watching his brother closely.

    True. But do they raise their hand out of fear of what Miriam will do, or what Father will do?

    “I’ve talked with many of the men, and all of them respect what Father is trying to accomplish, even if they are afraid.”

    Respect is an unreliable emotional response. There should be only Duty. Obedience. Sacrifice. Everything else is irrelevant.

    “Even hope for the future?”

    There is no future!

    Suddenly, Celestan’s eyes switched to a reddish glow, and his previous precise strikes become uncoordinated, turning into a mad flailing at the pillar. Somehow, this was even more effective, and the pillar began to groan and bend as the GHAST vented its rage.

    There is only the endless now! The meaningless flowing of one moment to the next, and the continuance of the Struggle! Hope, love, despair, hate! They are all only illusions of permanency, useless distractions from What Is! There is only Duty! Obedience! Sacrifice! AND DEATH!

    With a final roar, the GHAST lunges forward, grabbing the pillar and pulling. With a last pained cry the weakened metal gives way, and the pillar tears free of the floor completely. Celestan hurls the pillar the entire length of the training room, and it crashes into the wall with a deafening clang. At the sound of the noise, the red glow fades from the GHAST’s eyes, replaced once again by cerulean.

    We will all die, someday. That is the only thing that is certain. And then our Struggle comes to an end.

    Without another word, Celestan turned away and walked towards the door, each step a clanging stomp. And in his own mind, Angelo added the final three words “ - But not mine.”

    *******

    Frowning slightly, the Baron watches the exchange between the two brothers over his shoulder while he continues to move about the room and work. Determining the conversation to be over, he decides to check up on another of his sons.

    “Change viewing location. Gast Estate, Guest Quarters”

    Briefly the Baron considered the impropriety of spying on his own children, particularly in this instance, but then simply dismissed the concern. Particularly in this instance, it was important to know what his children were thinking, in case they thought to question his authority. Softly, the Baron continued to hum as the viewing globe swirled and changed locations.

    The third lord speaks soft:
    A toast to my sorrow,
    The Sorrow of the Curs-ed!
    I tightly am bound,
    By a Fate all uncaring.
    And like a true puppet,
    I dance 'gainst my will.
    The cup of misfortune,
    Is laid to my lips.
    I drink deeply,
    Tasting the bitter dregs of chance.
    Drowning, I fall!


    *********

    The two of them laid together in silence, alone in their grief. Rose consented to resting her head on his chest, but otherwise remained unresponsive. Seraph didn’t know what to say regardless, and so was secretly glad for the silence. There was nothing to say – their son was dead. His murder had been avenged, but not against the one indirectly responsible. It was unlikely it ever would be.

    Encircled around Rose’s right wrist was a metal band, connected to one of the bed posts by a long delicate chain. Wrapped around her other wrist was a thick white cloth. For the foreseeable future, Rose’s dinners would be brought to her, and eaten with only a spoon. If she were ever so inclined again, she would also need to fix her hair without the aid of a mirror.

    Eventually, Seraph closed his eyes with a deep sigh. He had to tell her, and now was as good a time as any.

    “The Baron has informed me that in a few days I will be returning to duty. I am needed elsewhere on an important assignment. You are to stay here, where it’s . . . safe.”

    For a moment, Rose lied still, and then she silently pulled away from him. The look of confusion and betrayal she gave him cut deeply. Looking away, Rose turned over, lying on her side now with her back to Seraph. But a moment later, she spoke, her voice soft but still breaking.

    “Why?”

    And then, a moment later, “Why do you still listen to him? Why do you even still talk to him?”

    Wearily, he answered the question again, starting the argument’s cycle once more.

    “Because he is still my father. I have no choice, I must obey him.”

    He failed to add that his father had spoken to him privately of his disappointment with his middle son. Seraph had already paid the price for his previous disobedience. But the Baron now had no time for patience. Further infractions would result in severe punishment – the loss of what he treasured most. And as Seraph was already familiar with, there were worse fates than death for Rose.

    But despite the arguments it caused, the details of this conversation Seraph kept to himself. Telling Rose would only spark another argument, and possibly inspire her to continue her attempts at suicide in order to free Seraph. Indeed, in the depths of his own grief and lack of anything to live for, he may have made a final suicidal attack against his father. But for now, with Rose has his shield, the Baron could count on Seraph’s renewed obedience. Unfortunately, this secret knowledge still offered little protection from the withering glare Rose gave him as she rolled back to face him.

    “Why!? Do you not care he murdered your son!? DAMN YOU!”

    Raising her left hand, Rose swiped at his face. Reflexively, Seraph caught the hand’s bandaged wrist in one hand before it reached his face and instantly regretted it at the brief grimace of pain on Rose’s face. A moment later, and Seraph released his grip, allowed Rose to roll back over to face away from him once more.

    “I’m sorry. It’s . . . complicated.”

    After a moment’s pause, Rose croaked, “I’m sorry too.”

    Another minute passed in uncomfortable silence with Seraph staring at his wife’s back, and then Rose spoke up again.

    “Seraph, I love you. But I need you to do something for me.”

    With mounting dread, Seraph considered the implications of this unknown request before answering. “What is it?”

    Rolling back to face him, Rose raised her left hand again, this time not to strike but to touch his face, tracing the contours of one cheek.

    “I need you to go. Go on this mission of your father’s. Leave, but do not return. Not until you’ve decided to avenge our son. I love you Seraph, but I’m afraid I will learn to hate you. Because every time I see you now, I see him, and I see the Hierarch. And I remember what they both did.”

    Slowly, Seraph reached up to clasp Rose’s hand in his, holding it for a moment before moving it down to his lips. Then he let go, rolling off the bed to his feet. He left the bedroom without saying another word, although inside he was screaming with impotent fury.

    ************

    Pausing momentary in his work to watch his son leave, the Baron allowed himself a small smile. Like his son, he had been expecting Rose to make an insane demand to either kill her or the Baron. She had pleasantly surprised Demetrius with her demand, because he knew Seraph would never risk Rose again, not after nearly losing her once.

    If anything, the death of his son had only strengthened his loyalty, because Seraph had been reminded of the price rebellion carried. Now, he only had to ensure the gap between Seraph and Rose did not grow so wide as to cause him to one day no longer care if she lived or died, but such an outcome seemed unlikely. Certainly not within the time frame the Baron needed to maintain control. After that, well, none of it would matter any more. Nothing would, save that mankind was free. And if he was wrong in his calculations, well, the Baron would not take pleasure from handing Rose over to Cheran, but perhaps a certain satisfaction. He had warned the boy not to cross him again, after all.

    Speaking of Cheran . . .

    “Fury, switch view. Whichever GHAST is nearest to Sir Cheran’s current location.”

    The fourth lord shouts loud:
    A toast to my sorrow,
    The Sorrow of the Blinded!
    The path once was clear;
    I saw my direction.
    But lies and delusions
    Are all that sight was.
    Now shrouded in darkness,
    I grope for the way.
    I cannot see.
    Sightless and aimless,
    Stumbling, I fall!


    ***********

    Cheran allowed himself a slight smile as the useless wretch screamed again. Then he extracted his dripping pinky from the wound in the man’s shoulder and held his blood drenched hand in front of the man’s face.

    “Did you feel that? I just did that with my pinky! Can you imagine all the excruciating things I can do with my whole hand!? TALK! Unless you want to find out . . .”

    As was typical of commoner filth, the man simply weakly shook his head, swooning from blood loss. If he hadn’t been bound standing up to a tree, he likely would have fallen over long ago.

    “I . . . I don’t know! No one does! Kris knows, maybe! He’d know where she went! Ask him!” The filthy cur shrieked, his gruff demeanor finally shattering into his true cowardly colors. It was a pity he didn’t know anything after all – had it not been for the little joys of torture, this man would have been a complete waste of his time.

    “Useless!” Cheran declared, clenching his bloody hand into a fist, which he pulled back and then delivered to the man’s chest with a hellacious punch. The man had just a second to scream before the force of the blow fully transferred into his body, shattering his ribcage and bursting his heart.

    Turning away from the still-twitching sack of excrement, Cheran beckoned the nearest GHAST over to him. The construct had been waiting patiently throughout most of the torture, waiting until its lord had acknowledged it before delivering its report. Just like a good little automaton should.

    Sir Cheran. We have finished searching the camp. There are no other survivors. Katrina and her lieutenant, Kris, are both not among the dead. A patrol of the surrounding forest has revealed neither. Unit PR-4568-SV reported encountering target Kris attempting to escape from the camp during the brief battle. It attempted apprehension, but was stopped by Korram Alstan.

    “Korram! So, not only does the brazen bastard return home to see his treasonous daughter, but he interferes with a GHAST’s attempts to apprehend Katrina’s lieutenant!”

    Cheran chuckles and grins, throwing his hands up.

    “PERFECT! Now the terms of his little agreement are completely null and void. The only question now is, do I kill his daughter in front of him, or kill him in front of her? Bah, I’ll decide that later, depending on which one has pissed me off more at that point. Anyway, take the rest of your little mechanical friends and keep looking! They’re on foot, and we can fly. They can’t outrun us, they certainly can’t outfight us, and we’ve already blown up their biggest rathole. Find them. Starting with Korram and Kris. We’ll pull the little twerp apart until he squeals on where Katrina is hiding, and then kill him in some embarrassing fashion that’s sure to piss Korram off. When is that pathetic idiot going to learn he can’t protect anyone, least of all himself?”

    At Cheran’s dismissive wave, the GHAST bows and walks away before leaping into the air and flying off. Already, it was in communication with its mechanical brethren, and like a flock of shining geese the GHASTs all around the camp took to the air. After a moment of looking around at the previous night’s carnage in satisfaction, Cheran leapt up into the air after them.

    *************

    At the news of Korram’s breaking of their agreement, the Baron laughed and shook his head. Considering it had been nearly a week, Korram had displayed a surprising amount of restraint, at least for him. But the poor bastard clearly just was never going to get it. It was just as well anyway. He probably would have killed Korram the instant after he surrendered six months hence anyway. This just moved up the execution date.

    Gathering up the last of the components he would need for tonight’s work, the Baron approached the central workbench, upon which laid the inert, nearly-finished form of a GHAST. Bending over the armored form to carefully insert the first of the missing pieces, the Baron decided it was time to check up on his last son. He knew exactly where that one was, and he was not pleased with this recent development. Not pleased at all.

    “Change viewing location. Ghastly Truth’s Brig.”

    The fifth lord writes quick:
    A toast to my sorrow,
    The Sorrow of the Silenced!
    As sword and as sheild,
    So my words were to me.
    All my enemies fell,
    While my allies stood tall.
    Now I simply choke,
    Or meaningless sputter.
    I mutely cry,
    Silent warning to others.
    Screaming, I fall!


    *************

    Nephilium silently cursed as his last knight fell. That left his defensive line open, which his opponent would undoubtedly exploit. He quickly came up with an adroit way to close the gap and launch a counter-attack.

    Unfortunately, after several more moves he noticed a new opportunity, and abandoned the half-implemented plan in favor of this new one. This proved to be yet another mistake as the opportunity vanished, a cunning ploy to further stretch his forces. He sighed in minor irritation as the targeted bishop slipped away, killing another of his pawns in the bargain.

    “Warrior, diplomat, tactician – does the lady have any flaws?” He growled in mock anger. Across the chessboard from him, Ysora smiled demurely.

    “A few.” She answered, carefully picking up a piece to continue her assault.

    He really didn’t know why he was subjecting himself to this. He was terrible at Chess. Against his brothers, he only won by accident or by default when Cheran overturned the board in blind rage. But Ysora seemed to be enjoying herself, at least as much as a being in her situation could.

    He had figured she would be getting bored by now. No one had come to bother her, even for torture or interrogation, since Nephilium’s last visit. Evidently, Father was still debating what to do with her. Secretly, Nephilium was glad for that, because he did not want to find her again the way Cheran had left her. It had bothered him.

    At first, they had simply played with Nephilium moving her side’s pieces under her direction. Staring down at the board was clearly uncomfortable for her, however, and so eventually Nephilium had excused himself. Leaving Ysora’s cell, he returned to the guard post only a short distance away. The Gastly Truth’s brig was rather small, and Ysora was the only prisoner currently here. Given the large amount of security roaming the halls outside, it was deemed only a single guard inside the brig itself was necessary. The guard who had received this “honor” was a former elite guard from Ironheart, one of the few survivors. Nodding at the man as he walked up to the desk, Nephilium held out his hand.

    “The beggar holds out his hand for what he wants.”

    He wasn’t entirely sure where his penchant for sayings and cryptic phrases came from. It had become so ingrained in him now that he did it without thinking. It was extremely frustrating to realize he had just spouted one only after seeing the befuddled look on the other person’s face. Except Cheran. Then his dull confusion was just funny. Unfortunately, this man was not Cheran, nor was he clever like Ysora.

    “Um, excuse me sir?”

    Frowning, Nephilium gestured his upturned palm more emphatically.

    “The keys! I want the keys to Ysora’s chains!” He hissed, focusing to the utmost on each word so another befuddling saying wouldn’t slip out. At least now the look of confusion was gone.

    “Ah, right away sir.” The guard said, turning away to examine the rack of keys behind him. He swiftly located and pulled down the several separate rings that were necessary to hold all of the keys.

    “Here you are sir. Planning on having a little fun with her, eh? I was wondering if maybe I should start paying her visits myself – re-introduce her to how we handled prisoners in Ironheart.”

    This would not do. Not only was it dangerous in the event that even patient Ysora eventually had enough, but it could lead to her never having any peace. On the spot, Nephilium decided an example was required. So he reached across the desk, grabbed the front of the guard’s uniform, and effortlessly lifted him up out of his chair and held him overhead.

    “Creatures that can do this deserve your respect. And unless you can do the same to them, you should avoid them whenever possible.”

    Example made, Nephilium lowered the man back down into his chair. Judging by his suddenly pale complexion, the example had been quite effective and further lessons would not be needed.

    “Y-yes sir. T-Thank you sir.” The guard said with a salute, allowing Nephilium to take the keys and wander back into the cell without further commentary. Not taking his own advice, Nephilium fully freed the archangel from her bonds immediately after returning. This could have proven most unwise, as Nephilium wasn’t convinced even he could defeat an archangel in a fair fight, now that Ysora had mostly recovered from her wounds. He was sure one of his concealed weapons could turn it into an unfair fight quickly enough, should such a thing be necessary. Fortunately, Ysora simply thanked him, stretching luxuriously for a few minutes before sitting down across from him.

    They had played seven games of chess since then, of varying lengths. Each time, Ysora had defeated him soundly. The current game was now their eighth, and despite Nephilium’s attempts to concentrate he still kept getting side-tracked with new developments. It was quickly concluded, and Nephilium gave a snort of disgust as he swept the board clean with one hand before picking out his pieces from the wreckage. Ysora momentarily flinched, but then reached a hand out to place on top of his, keeping it pressed against the scattered pieces.

    “You’re not a bad tactician yourself, Nephilium.” She said calmly, almost earning a snort of disdain from him. But the soft, comforting tone she used was so similar to his ear, that instead he simply smiled genteelly.

    “Oh no? The wise man knows his limits. The foolish man resolutely pushes against the walls of his house.”

    There was another one of those damn sayings! Ysora merely laughed softly, moving her hand off his and picking up several of the white pieces to set them back onto the board.

    “No, truly. You have come up with many brilliant strategies. You simply haven’t implemented them properly. You leave your traps half-finished, and forget to finish setting up your defenses. You try to do too much at once, and end up failing to accomplish any of your goals. I think I know what the root of your problem is, however.” Ysora concluded with a mysterious smile. For once, she held Nephilium’s complete attention. After a moment’s pause, Ysora looked back up at him, handing him the black knight she had so recently captured.

    “You don’t know what you want. Instead of figuring out what you desire most and working towards that, you randomly leap from goal to goal. There is nothing wrong with living in the moment, Nephilium, but until you are able to focus your energies in a single direction, you will remain divided and working against yourself.”

    Nephilium accepted the piece, gazing down at the black knight as if staring into a yawning abyss.

    “I knew what I wanted. Once.” He whispered, before shaking himself and looking back up at Ysora. Still shaken, he forced a smile at the one who so strongly reminded him of the past. “And I know what I want right now – another rematch!”

    At this Ysora actually chuckled for a moment. “Are you sure? We’ve been playing for hours!” She asked incredulously. Nephilium shrugged in response.

    “You don’t get tired, and I have a little more time before I am needed elsewhere.”

    Throwing a glance at the pile of chains sitting off to one side, Ysora forced a smile of her own. “Well then, I suppose we can play one more game.”

    Together, the two of them finished setting up the board, and began their ninth game. Nephilium tried to focus on one strategy this time, but he was still distracted. It was impossible not to when he was seated so close to someone who reminded him of the past.

    ***********

    No, the Baron was not pleased at all. That angel bitch was doing everything she could to sink her claws into Nephilium. He wasn’t sure why his son was so taken with her, but then Nephilium had always been the most unpredictable of his brothers. Usually his obsessions were fairly minor and amounted to little more than an annoyance, but this was serious.

    Particularly because the Baron had no time to cuddle his children right now. Things were progressing quickly, and soon they would be turning into a deluge. Everyone had to be at their peak for what was about to come. It may not be necessary to involve Nephilium in the solution, however. All he had to do to put an end to this danger was break Ysora. And he had gotten very, very good at breaking angels. It was a calculated risk should Ysora somehow get loose and report back to her Goddess, but the Baron thought it was time to give her the guided tour of the Gastly Truth. That ought to make a good enough start.

    Amusing himself with thoughts of Ysora’s various reactions to what he would show her, the Baron fitted the last necessary piece into the GHAST. Then, turning away from the workbench, he once again approached the viewing globe. He wanted a close look at what was happening with his daughter.

    “Switch viewing location. Infirmary.”

    Obnoxiously, once again his plans hinged on his daughter. And as usual, despite her great importance she was otherwise useless. This was not an insult, but merely an observation about her outward abilities. Each of her brothers had grown successively stronger than the one who had come before, and so having a relatively normal girl for their sixth child had been something of a letdown.

    But there was clearly something special about her, and it was in those concealed abilities that the Baron had placed his trust, and would unfortunately have to continue to do so. The channeling of Elandra had enabled their victory over the Hierarch, and was clear proof his trust was not entirely misplaced. It remained to be seen, however, if she would capable of this even more important feat, or if she would even survive.

    The sixth lord moans low:
    A toast to my sorrow,
    The Sorrow of the Wounded!
    I once was whole,
    In both spirit and body.
    Now my mind, body, soul,
    They lie tattered round me.
    A trail of my blood
    Flows freely behind me.
    I am pierced deep
    By my cruel throne of thorns.
    Suff'ring, I fall!


    ********

    It hurt to breathe. Such a simple thing, and yet it brought so much pain right now. It wasn’t just breathing, of course, but every little motion that brought the waves of pain in to crash against each other in her head. She might have cried, had the spasms from that not threatened to tear her apart with agony. At least she could control the crying, and choose to forgo it for now. She had already cried enough anyway. And despite her suffering, she was happy.

    A great deal of misery and terror had come from her trip into the depths of Ironheart, but also a lot of good. She had a name now, Sara. She had met many new and interesting people, most of whom were good people, even if they didn’t know it themselves.

    The woman who had briefly shared her body had been very kind. She had expressed regret at the suffering Sara had endured, but assured her it had been necessary. Thanks to her, a great good had been accomplished, and Dacian’s soul could finally rest in peace. Then after the battle, the woman had left her body, only to be captured, somehow, by her brothers. She hoped the woman was being treated well wherever she was now.

    Not everything about that final battle had been good, however. Incom, her rescuer and protector from the truly evil things living within Ironheart, had fallen. Despite his scary appearance and even scarier rantings, he was probably the nicest man deep down that Sara had ever met. Despite her family’s grudge against the gods, Sara hoped his soul was happy in the Heavens.

    And of course, there was another negative result – her illness. Shortly after coming aboard the airship, she had begun to suffer debilitating pain. Her condition had continued to deteriorate until she was now resting here, in the Infirmary of the Gastly Truth. Healers flitted about the room, periodically coming over to her bunk to examine her and attempt some new cure. They all seemed so far away right now, as if they were at the end of a long, murky hallway. Much closer and sharper in her field of vision was the looming shape of her mother, constantly staying by her side snapping orders to the others present. And there was the one silver lining to this cloud of misery – her mother was paying more attention to her than Sara could ever remember. Even more unbelievably, her mother actually seemed to be concerned and was being kind!

    “My poor child – what has happened to you in that dreary place? Rest now – we will make you better. You will be alright soon, you have to be.” Her mother whispered for the hundredth time, still gently stroking Sara’s sweat-soaked face with one ring-covered hand. She then looked about the room frowning, daring anyone present to disagree with her proclamation.

    Her mother was a skilled healer, but even her talents seemed unable to affect this sickness. If anything, the healing energy she channeled into Sara only increased the pain. This was likely one reason for Mother’s evident frustration and confusion, and why she remained helplessly by Sara’s side, offering repeated words of comfort. It was also why, after preparing herself for the pain, Sara asked a question to satisfy her curiosity. She already thought she knew the answer, but she had to know.

    “Mother – you’re a skilled healer.” Sara rasped, ignoring the sharp waves of pain lancing into her mind with each word, and also her mother’s attempts to shush her.

    “Yes, I am child, even if I seem to be useless in this instance. What is this about?” Mother pressed, her curiosity overriding her concern as she sensed there was a question attached to Sara’s comment.

    “If – If you had been there, at the battle . . . could you have saved Incom?”

    “Incom.” Mother breathed, staring absent-mindedly down at her right hand, and the plain silver band around her ring finger that nonetheless still stood out against the more ostentatious rings around it. Eventually, she shook her head after a few moments’ pause.

    “No. I understand that he died – finally – during that battle, and passed very quickly beyond the Veil. Not even I can bring back the dead.”

    Mother’s lips curled up into an odd smile. “Well, not exactly as they were, at least.”

    Sara had seen her Mother playing with corpses before. It had frightened her, to watch her mother command them to walk and them obey, but it did teach her that her Mother was a woman of many magical talents. And so Sara thought she understood what her mother meant by that comment.

    At that moment, the lead healer moved to join them, bowing slightly to her mother and waiting to be acknowledged. He did not have to wait long.

    “What is it?”

    “Madam, we have completed our latest round of tests. I’m afraid the news is mostly not good, but there are some encouraging signs as well!”

    Crossing her arms across her chest, Mother frowned even deeper than before.

    “Out with it.”

    Taking an involuntary step back at Mother’s glower, the man quickly hastened to explain.

    “We believe your daughter’s current symptoms are being caused by an overexposure to divine energy.”

    “How is that possible!? She’s part angel!!”

    “W-well, yes. But also part human. Which seems to be the problem. Her semi-divine nature allows her to store tremendous amounts of divine energy – indeed, unlike her brothers she seems unable to generate such energy on her own. However, as compensation for that inability, should she find an outside source of such energy she can absorb it far more effectively than her brothers. Which seems to be what happened recently – I understand she was present at the battle beneath Ironheart?”

    “Yes.”

    “Interesting. Anyway, I imagine she came into contact with some sort of divine energy down there, and served as a very effective conduit for it. Which brings me back around to my earlier point that she’s still part human. As you know, human bodies are incapable of withstanding exposure to such power, and your daughter is no different. Despite being able to absorb such high levels of energy thanks to her angelic-derived nature, her human side is still poisoned by it. She’s lucky she had as brief of an exposure as she did – it’s possible she could have died from this. As it is, her body will likely recover on its own given enough time.”

    “And this will happen each time she serves as such a conduit?”

    “Most likely. It is impossible to say for certain, of course. Angel-human hybrids such as yourselves haven’t existed before now, to the best of my knowledge, and as such very little is known. Your daughter might even get worse, instead of better.” The head healer concluded with a shrug.

    “And there is no way to help this process along, save waiting to see what will happen?”

    “Well . . . your daughter’s body is still overreacting to the residual divine energy held within her. I suspect that’s where the pain is coming from, and why healing magicks only seem to make her condition worse. It’s possible exposure to necromantic energy might counteract the remaining holy energy, purging it from her body more quickly than it is dissipating now. Due to our lack of knowledge about the potential repercussions, however, I would advise against this course of action except in dire need.”

    “Hmmm. Thank you for your analysis. But I will decide what is best for my child, not you. We will attempt a small experiment to test the effects of this suggestion of yours. Make the necessary preparations, but do nothing until I return. I will be back shortly.”

    Turning back to Sara, her mother gently ran her fingers across Sara’s forehead one last time. “Your father probably needs me by now. I will be back soon, and then we will cure you of this – disease. Hang on until then.”

    Turning her head to watch despite the motion causing her vision to swim more than usual, Sara followed her mother’s departure from the Infirmary with her eyes. Her mother was actually concerned about her and was going to help her through this. Truly, this was an unusually good day after all!

    *********

    Turning away from the viewing globe, the Baron quickly moved about the room making the final preparations. The GHAST’s body was now complete, and all that was missing was a mind and soul for it. Although they had each done the ritual a thousand times and could each do it separately, both of them prefered to activate a new GHAST together. It was one of the few moments they could each set aside in their busy and often mutually exclusive schedules to spend together. As he deactivated the viewing globe and finished what preparations he could, the Baron concluded his rendition of “The Seven Sorrows” with its final two verses.

    The seventh lord rasps:
    A toast to my sorrow,
    The Sorrow of the Buried!
    Once I did breath.
    Life-blood pulsed through my veins.
    Now I lie scattered round,
    Merely bones in the dust.
    An unmark-ed stone
    Is my own epitaph.
    I lie alone
    In the cold slumb'ring earth.
    Forgotten, I fall!

    Together at last,
    Hear the seven once-kings
    Rise up in a final toast.
    A toast to our Seven Sorrows!
    Let none forget our folly!
    They melt away
    They melt away
    Into the dust
    Into the dust
    'Til one day they meet again.
    Pray one day they'll meet again...


    A few minutes later, the door to the workshop slid open, revealing the Baron’s beautiful (and technically stolen) wife. Like him, she had aged rather gracefully thanks to Marisiel, although they had found their mutual passions cooling somewhat over the years. Apparently not even angel blood could keep one young at heart forever. Nonetheless, they still had their mutual interests, and as unreliable as his sons were, the Baron trusted his wife implicitly. Considering what she was capable of, it was better than the alternative of suspecting her every gesture as the beginning of a deadly spell.

    “I need to return to the Infirmary soon. Let’s get this over with quickly.” She said by way of greeting. The Baron noted there was an odd note of . . . reluctance(?) in her voice. Perhaps he would need to reevaluate his opinion of her reliability after all. Was his entire family going to prove useless!? Regardless, he forced himself to smile confidently as he gestured at the deactivated GHAST lying on the table.

    “Shall we get to work, then? The time has come to awaken him.”

    Taking up positions on opposite sides of the table, the Baron and his wife faced each other for a moment. Then she began to curl her fingers into odd patterns, tracing out glowing arcane runes in the air over the mechanical form. A greenish mist began to form in the air around them, seeping into the GHAST’s joints. Meanwhile, the Baron played his part by beginning to chant.

    “I call upon the ancient pacts of the underworld to bind this beast and awaken it! Awaken, awaken, awaken!”

    Energetically now, the green mist poured into the empty suit of armor’s joints.

    “Awaken to take the lives that must be taken! Rise up from your sleep, break forth from your grave! I command you to rise, rise, rise!”

    A thick cloud of green mist was now swirling around the table, continuing to pour into the suit of armor. Reaching down to the stand beside him, the Baron pulls out a dark red crystal, holding it high over the GHAST’s chest.

    “I’m the conjuror of demons! I bring forth this ancient evil, I control its every breath! AWAKEN!”

    With a harsh cry, the Baron stabbed the crystal down into the chestplate of the GHAST. Rather than holding firm, the armor plate ripples, allowing the crystal to pass into it, and then sucking the top half of it inside as the Baron pulled his hand back. Across from him, the Baron’s wife begins to chant as well.

    “I’m the summoner of angels! I bring forth this ancient good, I control its every breath! AWAKEN!”

    She then plunges a similar crystal into the GHAST’s chest, this one dark blue in color.

    Together, the two of them then turned, picking up the dark yellow globe sitting on a separate stand near the GHAST’s head. Swinging it around over to the machine’s chest, they lower it down in the same way they plunged the crystals a moment before. In unison, they chant the final words.

    “We instigate your misfortune! We command you to rise, rise, rise! AWAKEN!”

    With a loud thunderclap, the remaining green mist suddenly shot outward, briefly filling the room in a thin green shroud. As it began to thin out, the mechanical monster lying on the table opened its blue eyes. The Baron leaned down to look directly into its eyes and grinned.

    “Good morning, PR-10000-IM. How are you today?”
    Last edited by Inspectre; 2009-08-22 at 12:01 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #275
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    With a little bit of backtracking to get closer to these newcomer’s line of approach, you and Kris quickly hide to watch unseen. You manage to scale a nearby tree, hiding yourself in the crook where several branches meet about ten feet off the ground. Kris goes for something a little less high-flying, ducking down in the hollow left by a partially uprooted tree. Now both hidden, you silently wait to see what is coming your way.

    You don’t have to wait long, as a few minutes later a large cart, pulled by a pair of what appear to be very large stags, rumbles into view. Three passengers are visible, a large wolf-looking dog, a barrel-chested old man with a bushy grey beard, and a young woman with long blond hair. You don’t recognize the man, but clearly recognize the woman as the cart quickly moves in closer – it is Countess Amelia Ashargrin. How she managed to Escape from Ironheart (:smallbiggirn: ) you have no idea, but unless this is the shape-shifter you met it has to be her.

    As if a further sign of your good luck, the old man slowly urges the stags pulling the cart to slow to a stop, allowing them both to look back into the forest. Both her and the man appear shaken, although the Countess is nearly frantic. She shoots the man a pleading look.

    “We have to go back for her!”

    The man stoically shakes his head, although with a resigned air.

    “We can’t. She sacrificed herself to save us. We go back now and get caught, we’ll be throwing that sacrifice away.”

    “But –“

    “No. There’s too many of the bastards. If by chance she somehow managed to give them the slip, then she knows where to find us.”

    “And how is she going to get there? On foot, being hunted, in a forest apparently swarming with elves who want to capture her!?”

    “Well . . . at least the elves seem to want her alive and intact. They’ve been going to an awfully lot of trouble so far, especially for them.”

    From your above position, you can’t see anyone following them – for the moment. On the other hand, you can see Kris looking up at you and shrugging, silently drawing his signature blades.

    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    The two guards share a look with each other. The one shrugs, but the other replies, “Um . . . Lord General? Wasn’t there a woman with you? What happened to her?” The other guard suddenly gasps, cuffing the questioning guard in the back of the head. “I’m sure she’s fine, wherever she is now. Don’t question the Lord General like that!”

    “Like what?”

    “Like he was a criminal!”

    “I wasn’t saying that, I was merely concerned about the woman!”

    The two guards continue arguing vehemently as they lead you back to your tent. Taking positions back up outside the tent, they quiet down as you settle back into the cot. The sword continues to emanate waves of approval as you begin to drift off to sleep.

    Your blood rushes through your veins as you soar over the bright city. Behind you come the angry calls of your pursuers, but it is not the thoughts of what they will do to you when they catch you that drive you forward. Rather, it is the nearness of your goal, the shining walls of the Palace of the Sun. You are just beginning to marshal your thoughts on what you were going to say, never really believing you would make it even this far.

    But then a silvery bolt launches itself from the Palace’s gateway, a massive spear that rises to meet you too quickly and suddenly for you to dodge. The weapon pierces your stomach and out through your back, skewering one of your wings in the process. Pinned in place against your back by the weapon’s cruel barbs, you find yourself no longer able to fly.

    You plummet to the ground, landing heavily. Your left arm is crushed beneath you, undoubtedly broken as pain shoots up into your shoulder. You barely have time to acknowledge your wounds before you hear the sounds of others lightly landing all around you. Several pairs of hands clamp down on you, roughly dragging you up to your feet. A fist slams into your face, causing you to see stars, but you know more blows are coming.

    “HOLD!” A harsh voice calls out, and as your vision clears you see an armored figure approaching. It is Hephestia, whom some might call your twin. Like you, long tresses of flame-red hair hang down from underneath her open helm. Up close, the differences between you become more apparent – the more prominent cheekbones on her face, the harsher eyes. And perhaps most importantly, the ornate sword hanging from her hip and the motes of light floating off of her wings, marking her as one of Miriam’s chosen generals.

    Moving to stand before you, Hephestia examines you critically, disgust, not pity in her eyes.

    “You dare return here after turning your back to our Lady!?” She snarls, reaching down to grab the haft of her spear still protruding from your stomach. With a savage tug, Hephestia rips the weapon back out of your body. You give an anguished scream as the motion likewise rips you out of the grip of the other angels, leaving you to fall to your knees in front of the new archangel.

    You weakly open your mouth to speak, to explain, but are silenced as Hephestia backhands you across the face, throwing you to the ground.

    “You were Her favorite! How could you betray Her love so!? She trusted you!”

    Again, you opened your mouth, managing to croak out that you had an urgent message for your Lady, a warning. Sniffing in disdain, Hephestia delivers a hard kick to your wound, again silencing you as you double up with pain.

    “Our Lady does not wish to speak with you. Not now, not ever. There is nothing left to say. You chose to walk away, to join with Azguloth’s foul abominations! Now you must live with that choice. Do not ever return here, filth!”

    With a practiced twist, Hephestia flicks the blood off of her weapon, most of it landing on your face. The archangel then turns and begins to walk away, calling over her shoulder to the other angels still gathered around you, “Dispose of it.”

    Grabbing hold of you once again, your former sisters drag you away. They pause occasionally to deliver a beating, preventing your wounds from healing but deriving none of the pleasure you had seen in Azguloth’s minions as they tore a victim apart. How could you have made such a costly and irrevocable mistake? Had it been a mistake? You didn’t know anymore.

    Finally, you and your former sisters reach a hole in the clouds that the Heavens rest on. It is a long way down. You are stripped of your armor and weapons, although they return your sword to you by way of thrusting it through your wings, pinning them together and rendering them useless. Then they throw you out into the abyss, and again you plummet, down and down and down. The flames of the Hells rush up to greet you . . .


    With a start, you awaken from your nightmare, a thin sheen of sweat covering you. Looking out through the tent flaps, you can see that it is finally dawn. Your two guards are no longer present, but have been replaced by two new guards who seem somewhat more alert despite the earliness of the hour. Hearing you awaken, the two of them glance back into the tent at you, nodding in respect.

    “Lord Karth would like to see you at your earliest convenience, sir.” The guard manages a slight smile. “But certainly, not before breakfast.”

    (And, in the interest of getting on with it, we’ll just skip the minutiae of getting dressed, obtaining breakfast, and traveling to Karth’s tent. Meeting up with David for training will be postponed until a later in-game hour when more “normal” people are actually up. )

    Approaching Karth’s tent, you notice the guards outside greet you with a slight nod, shuffling back slightly to stay out of your way. From inside the tent, you can hear what sounds like a quiet – but intense – argument going on.

    “Sir please, be reasonable! The majority of the men aren’t ready yet to fight a major battle. What if we encounter greater resistance than anticipated?”

    “Then we shall simply have to work harder to overcome our enemies. Certainly giving the Church *more* time to prepare its defenses is only going to make things harder.”

    “But if we fail in this attack – “

    “A question for you Captain. Have you ever heard the story of the Indecisive King?”

    “No, but –“

    “A long, long time ago, there was a great king blessed – or cursed, some might say – by the gods. The world was sick and dying, everyone knew it, even the gods. And so this one wise man was given a choice – he could either order the world to be saved, or for it to be destroyed. Despite what you might think, this was a difficult choice for the king to make. Destroying the world would bring an end to everything, yes, but if he saved the world it meant that someday it could once again become defiled. The king was unable to make a decision. Eventually, overcome with his burden, he committed suicide. And because he chose neither option, the gods refused to intervene, and the world has continued on its suffering way ever since. The morale of the story, captain, is don’t be indecisive.”

    Hearing your entrance, Karth turns and gestures for you to join him inside the front “foyer” section of his tent, where he was staring at a map along with a man you didn’t recognize. Evidently this “captain” he had been speaking with.

    “Ah, Ander, come in. This is Captain Drakeson. He will likely be leading the men coming with us to secure our little target. Assuming he can overcome his cowardice.” Karth adds this last bit with a slight smile, although the glance of contempt he shoots at Drakeson suggests it wasn’t entirely jest. Immediately the captain’s face turns red, although seemingly more from embarrassment at being insulted in front of you than anything.

    “I merely wish to ensure this cleansing of the Church does not fail, sir. As you well know, it was your impatience last time that brought our efforts to a halt.”

    The man wipes nervously at his brow. “And I, for one, do not wish to spend several more years in hiding waiting for your escape.”

    At this comment Karth’s growing frown turns into a laugh. “Oh, I doubt that the Church will give me – or any of us – a third chance should we fail this time. And while I appreciate your concern, Captain, in the end there is only two possibilities. Either we emerge victorious, or we are destroyed and the Church continues its blasphemy. And I will not allow myself to be paralyzed with indecision. So – I already have sent several scouts out to ensure the path is clear for us. The Captain and I have been discussing what the best plan of attack should be. Do you have any comments or fresh insights to give, Ander, before we provide you with what we have come up with so far?”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark Theater
    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark


    The bed bounced under Caroline's weight, shifting Mar out of her comfortable stillness. She opened her eyes fully; she was still sleepy, but now that the others were here she should talk to them. Caroline's last question gave her a chance to voice the objection she'd wanted to make for days now. "I'm not an angel. I just have wings." She twitches one of the wings in question, moving it out from underneath Caroline.

    "I only got them a few days ago. I don't know why. That's..." She stopped. She'd been about to say that that was why she was here, but that wasn't really true. Yes, Daddy had been mad about the wings, but it had started before that. Not when she first started running, because he'd told her to run then—that hadn't been wrong. She wasn't quite sure when she had started being ba—doing things that would make him angry, but it was probably when she'd rescued Julian.

    "Um," she said, suddenly aware that all three of them were waiting for her to continue. "So I left and... came here." A day ago she had decided that shouldn't talk about this, in case somebody knew her (it was strange not to have everyone recognize the mark on her wrist) and told Daddy or a guard or someone else where she was. But Jacob had said he would keep her secret, and anyway she felt comfortable with the three of them nearby, something she couldn't remember with anyone else except Julian. She couldn't imagine Caroline hurting anyone (on purpose), and William felt... like her, a little: the same size, the same height, and a little afraid (compared to his sister). And Jacob... well, he was dour and a bit frightening, actually. But she remembered the Jacob in her dream vividly (unbeknownst to Mar, she blushed faintly), and he would never have hurt her. He'd been nice then, and even now that he was older he was still kinder than Daddy.

    She had seen a young Daddy in her dreams, too, but aside from his hair and a few less wrinkles there hadn't been any difference. It was as if getting old could only make you less nice, which was a depressing thought.

    Somebody was talking, and she brought her mind back from its wandering to listen.
    Drifting out of the conversation with your thoughts on the small family and how they compared to yourself and Daddy, you almost don’t hear Caroline’s next question as she tugs on your hand for attention.

    “Well, where are you going next? You aren’t going to leave, are you!?”

    The little girl, excitable as ever, seems to be on the brink of tears as the result of working herself up with a possibility that you hadn’t even considered. Perhaps hoping to forestall any additional concern, Jacob spoke up.

    “Of course, you are welcome to stay here as long as you like. I can’t promise any of the other townsfolk won’t bother you, but that’s a worry for another time I think.”

    Even William seems to brighten a little at this news.

    “Could you stay a bit longer, Mar? Especially since you don’t have anywhere you need to go right now?”

    “Now, don’t badger her. Maybe she needs some time to think it over. Nothing wrong with that. Do you need these two out of your hair, Mar? I’m sure you’re still very tired.”

    It was true that it was tempting to drift back off to sleep. But something about your most recent dream scared you. And it was surprisingly nice to be able to talk to people who didn’t want you to do anything really. And who weren’t insulting you and screaming at you, as Daddy often did. Even if you did deserve it, it still didn’t make you feel good. Right now, this was probably the most comfortable and safe you had ever felt.

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Meltemi

    Becoming fully absorbed in your work, you improve the ritual circle as best you can, using what you remember of the divine script the old priest had shown you. The priest for his part mostly stayed out of your way, and did his best to follow the diagram of the ritual circle that you did have. Apparently, Church rituals were similar enough that only some modifications to the central circle were needed to determine it’s purpose.

    Of course, larger rituals also needed more power in order to function properly, and this was a problem that required a bit of creative thinking on your part. But having altered ritual circles on the fly for quite some time now, you eventually managed to figure out a way to double up on the channeling runes to provide enough energy.

    Finally, after several minutes of intense work, you step back from the ritual circle, your eyes burning slightly from having to concentrate on such elaborate runes, and so many of them. Everyone had been watching closely, although you note that Delora is still examining the ritual circle intently, as if trying to commit it to memory. Clapping his hands loudly and rubbing them together, the priest causes everyone to jump at the sudden noise. With a sheepish grin, he steps back out of the ritual circle as well, lighting several nearby incense candles.

    “Let’s hope this works, and I remember all of the words . . .” He whispers, before picking up the two largest candles and beginning to trace fiery runes in the air while chanting. Slowly, the priest begins to wave his arms faster, chanting louder as the runic circle slowly begins to glow.

    As the ritual chanting reaches its climax, the runes suddenly burst into bright light, filling the cathedral with light and causing more than one civilian onlooker to gasp. Then the priest tosses the two candles into the middle of the runic circle and abruptly stops chanting. As the two candles strike the floor within the circle, they erupt into ribbons of flame, which streak out to fill in every spot that the chalk occupies. The light grows even brighter, and a column of radiant light begins to form in the air above the ritual circle. Motes of light begin to appear from outside of the circle, flowing inward to pass into the bright column of light.

    Soon, the column of light is too bright to seen into, as the motes of light begin appearing faster and faster now, virtually streaks of light as they appear only to zoom into the column. Then, with a truly blinding flash of light and a loud thunderclap, the room goes white for a second. As everyone’s vision clears, they can see that the ritual circle is no more, save for a few charred marks on the floor.

    Kneeling in the remains of the circle, however, is what appears to be a human female. She is surrounded in a faintly glowing nimbus of light, and gives off a palpable aura of holiness. Large feathery white wings extend from her back, flapping back and forth for a moment as if attempting to brush herself off. Then the wings fold up neatly against her back, and the woman stands.

    She is wearing what appears to be a breastplate, obviously modified to accommodate her wings. Underneath that she is wearing a white dress with gold embroidery, although underneath that you can see grieves and arm-guards, giving her limbs a modicum of protection while preserving her mobility. Perched on her head is an open-faced helm, allowing the braids of her brown hair to flow down the back of her neck and keeping them out of her face. Through the open visor of the helmet, you note that the woman seems to have a freckled face, and golden-brown eyes.

    The winged woman, who could only be an angel of sort, sweeps her eyes slowly over the assembled group. The priest hastily kneels as he comes out of his awe, and even a few of the gnolls bows or make other signs of respect to this holy creature. Apparently, the angel still doesn’t like what she sees. Although there is a sheathed sword buckled around her waist, it is the halberd currently in her hands that she raises up defensively in front of her, wings flaring outward angrily.

    “I see what this is now. You will not take me, human traitors!”

    Immediately, the priest’s bowed head shoots up in shock.

    “WHAT!?”

    Her face a tight mask of anger, the angel slowly advances out of the ritual circle, towards the priest.

    “I know what you intend to do with me! You may have taken my sisters, but you will not have me! I swear it!”

    “W-wait, stop! You misunderstand –“

    “Do I? Then what are all these gnolls doing here!? You brought them to subdue me!”

    Stepping forward a step, Malohk holds his paws up and bows, grunting as the movement pulls at his bandages.

    “That is not true, child. We have brought you here to aid *us*.”

    At the elderly gnoll’s advance, the angel slides a step back, suddenly uncertain but still warily.

    “Why should I trust you? And I am not a child!”

    Iethloc

    Gathering up a large amount of the magical energy local to the area, you manage to briefly dissolve the scrambling effect over this small part of the city. The effect is only temporary before more energy rushes in, but of course breaking the scrambling magic wasn’t your goal (for now). Instead, it was merely to absorb enough energy to unleash a massive blast of sunlight through the globe for several sustained seconds.

    The sky over the city becomes brightly lit up for those few seconds, giving everyone within the city the ability to see as if it were midday. Below, you can see an almost solid wall of dark shapes shambling through the slums, filtering in from the open city gates leading out to the graveyard. There’s too many undead down there to count, and although most are just zombies and skeletons you can see other shapes flitting about with far greater agility. Only a few of them seem harmfully affected by the sunlight, but you do notice more than one moving shadow (wraiths or ghosts of some sort, most likely) dive into the shelter of a nearby building until the daylight fades.

    The gargoyles are likewise unaffected by the sunlight, although they are blinded. With a horrid shriek, the creatures fly about completely disoriented, some crashing into (and even attacking) each other. It also gives Bran and Ross a brief respite, allowing them to catch their breath and happily smash several nearby gargoyles, respectively.

    Then you and the others dive down into the fray, your orbs of blasting blowing large chunks out of the disoriented gargoyles even as they begin to recover from the sunlight. These beasts are surprisingly durable for stone constructs, able to resist two or three direct hits from the orbs of blasting, but eventually they fall apart after repeated blasts disrupt the magic holding them together entirely.

    Omega further complicates matters for them by telekinetically grabbing them in mid-air and slamming them into each other, or just generally getting in each other’s flight paths. Roger even helps, hurling a flask of some sort that explodes on contact, turning one gargoyle into tiny pebbles and blowing the wings off another to send it crashing to the ground, where it shatters.

    Nonetheless, the gargoyles fight with mindless tenacity, and only stop after all of them are destroyed. Breathing heavily, Ross favors you with a smile. He has a number of large open wounds on his body, but as you watch they slowly begin to reseal. Wounds healing was not unusual for a paladin, although since he didn’t seem to channel any holy energy it doesn’t seem to be an actual spell. Quite an interesting specimen.

    Bran was throwing off as much latent magical energy as ever, although the boy was clearly winded from the brutal fight with the gargoyles.

    “Thanks.” He manages to grunt out, slumping down against a nearby building wall for support.

    Ross quirks an eyebrow at Omega

    “So – fancy meeting the lot of you here? Come to enjoy the local color?”

    As if in answer, a loud moaning wail comes from the zombie horde still some distance away, but slowly plodding along towards you. Catching his breath at last, Bran looks at Omega, and then up at you, critically.

    “Have . . . you seen Umber? He went . . . up there.” Bran points upward, to the floating black pyramid that is now almost directly overhead. It seems likely that someone up there noticed your daylight display, if not your destruction of the gargoyles.

    WhiteKnight777

    With great care, you sweep up Helion’s ashes while Mellita watches in complete shock. Finished with gathering the whelping vampire’s remains, you turn your attention to Mellita. The kiss seems to bring her around, but she remains silent and brooding as you turn to the lackey and inform him that you would be seeing Kartul again. The lackey tenses, drawing a weapon from underneath his cloak, but pauses as Kartul’s voice echoes throughout the pyramid.

    “Let Umber come and speak to me if he wishes. I wish to hear his parting words.”

    Sheathing his weapon, the lackey grunts and leads you back to the throne room. The assembled fawners continue to gawk at you, while Kartul affixes you with a leering smile from his throne. He listens with mild interest to your speech, and then gives a reaction you had perhaps anticipated, but not expected – he laughs.

    “Ah, Umber – always mocking what he does not understand. You call this madness!? I call this the salvation of our people! Together under my guidance, our people shall evolve, transcending their countless weaknesses! But . . . you are right. Neither of us is going to convince the other. Which means it is time for you to join Marialta & Gilgaem in oblivion and obscurity.”

    Kartul laughs again, this time more of a mad cackle.

    “And yet, you dare to challenge *ME*, greatest mage among our elite circle, while you yourself are less than a worm in the dust? To challenge me within my own sanctum, surrounded by my followers, at the height of my power? You have BALLS, I will give you that Umber. Let us see if futile bravado can somehow convince Fate to once again smile on you. I will allow you the first strike.”

    Leaning back in his throne, Kartul beckons to you dismissively.

    “Come on Umber. Do your worst, so that you may know it’s not nearly enough!”

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    At your comments, the human woman snarls. “Fah! She should be ours now, safe and sound! I directed others to her location, but once again she knocks my hand away! She is lost now – and you will find her.”

    The woman narrows her eyes at you, and then sweeps it around to the others present in the room.

    “You bother me, always bothering me. This sacrifice spares you from my wrath, but it won’t refresh my patience. Your prize was located two days from here when she disappeared. I will give you an image of the area as the eagle sees, much as I showed those who sought my advice earlier. Scour the area until you *find* her!”

    There is a stabbing pain in your head, and suddenly an image of a forest from above enters your head. High up in the air above the forest at first, the image dizzyingly spins downward, coming to rest above a small cave nestled in a hillside. As quickly as it had come, the image is gone, but you find you can recall it to mind without effort. With it is an instinctive sense that you can find your way to this location from where you are now.

    Mist begins to seep out of the woman’s mouth and the corners of her eyes, and her skin begins to visibly sag.

    “I sense that some of those servants yet live – perhaps they can explain to you their failure if you find them before the girl. I warn you now - do not summon me again until you have progress to report.”

    With a heaving sigh, the rest of the mist leaves the woman’s body, and she lags completely limp, quite dead. The elf shamans wipe their brows nervously, and then nod at you.

    “I hope you can accomplish something with so little information. Queen Titania was surprisingly direct. This girl must hold some sort of great importance to her, otherwise she would have been much less helpful. Unfortunately, her expectations will undoubtedly be high as well. I hope you can report glad tidings to us very soon.”

    Falconer

    “Yes, sir.” Wulfric replied, before his image disappeared from the communication crystal. With a firm idea in your head now, you diverted the main bulk of your forces to each of the small towns surrounding Amaranth, hoping to bolster their defenses enough to hold out against at least the initial attack from whatever was currently attacking Amaranth. The remaining Rangers and mounts you had with you, you would take, getting to Wulfric’s current base camp no later than just after sundown. Hopefully, you would arrive before any more elves did.

    ********

    As it turned out, you did arrive before any more elves reared their ugly faces, and Wulfric’s small camp was right where he said it would be. “Camp” was not a particularly good word, as Wulfric’s men had traveled light. Most of his men were simply curled up on their bedrolls around small smokeless fires, or standing attentive guard about the camp.

    There was one makeshift tent, however, a large tarp wrapped around an old tree near the middle of the camp. A very thin trail of smoke was wafting up from a hole near where the top of the tarp met the tree. As you approached the makeshift camp, you suddenly hear a low “Halt! The ancestors –“

    Peering at a nearby snowbank, you can just barely make out a man hidden under a layer of snow, a crossbow poking out from under his makeshift cover. The sign had been given, mostly as a matter of protocol, and in return the counter-sign was given.

    “Always watching.” One of the Rangers with you hissed, and the sentry nodded. Thought it was dangerous in the event an enemy might hear, you had worked out over a dozen such signs and countersigns, rotated frequently. Anyone approaching thinking they knew the code would be in for a surprise.

    Once closer in to the camp, some of the guards on watch there noticed you, shouting an alarm and rousing most of those men still sleeping. Many of them give a ragged cheer upon seeing you and the others ride up. Apparently attracted by the shouting, Wulfric emerges from the tent a minute later, walking slowly over to you. He seemed to be a bit stiff, with perhaps a trace of the sniffles.

    “Greetings sir. I trust you will want to see the prisoner immediately.” There was an odd note of hesitation in his voice, especially for Wulfric, but he turned and walked back towards the tent before you could considering the matter further. Holding the tent flap aside for you, Wulfric follows you in as your eyes quickly adjust to the dim light from the smoldering fire.

    Near the flap of the tent squatted Gorhal, a fellow gnoll and one of your best snipers. He didn’t seem to hear your entry, and a moment later as he noticed you out of the corner of his eye and jumped you saw why: his ears were thickly plugged with wax. Sweeping your gaze around the rest of the small tent, you have no time to question this as your eyes settle on her. The prisoner.

    She is lying on a bed of cloaks, with several more cloaks piled on top of her and wrapped around her. She’s been tightly bound, with a thick stick driven into the ground between the ropes wrapped around her ankles. From her file, you had assumed Pyrene the Temptress would not be dangerous – capable of murder, yes, but nowhere near as capable of inflicted massive mayhem on the scale that the more dangerous prisoners you were chasing after could. Still, there was something about her. Despite her situation and her wounds – a scratch along her side and a bruised temple – she was looking at your intently and calmly. Her dark red hair was scattered about on the cloak beneath her, giving it the appearance of a pool of blood collecting around her head . . . . hmm, blood. Why did that seem so familiar, and make you feel more uneasy than you already were around this human girl?

    Coming up behind you, Wulfric coughs loudly, catching both your attention and the girl’s.

    “Lord Gazrul, I present to you Pyrene the Temptress. Pyrene, Gazrul. I’m sure he has many questions for you.”

    Lonna

    The man’s expression is guarded, and there’s still a dull throbbing in your head as a distraction. Still, you could tell he was suspicious of your quick answers, but also . . . relieved?

    “Point. Me, I’d probably spit in the guy’s face but I guess that’s where we’re different. Since you’re feeling so cooperative right now, how about we move on to the next question. Who was the guy in the sled with Amelia? Big, fat, not-so jolly looking guy with a big bushy beard?”

    The man listens to your answer to this next question only half-interested, while you continue to try and figure out who he is. He certainly looks vaguely familiar, but why? Noticing your own thoughtful expression, the man suddenly laughs.

    “You don’t remember me, do you? I should have figured as much.”

    The man shakes his head and momentarily looks away, staring off into the distance. Then he looks back at you, his stare once again penetrating and accusatory.

    “I guess it’s hard for you to remember – different man every night probably makes it difficult to keep their faces straight. Or maybe you just never cared. Me, I care, I remember, but I guess that’s where we’re different. Course, the fact that our night was probably one of the best *and* worst nights of my life might have something to do with that too. Here, let me give you a little hint – ‘My name is Wulfric Terman.’”

    Perhaps it was the peculiar nasally tone the man suddenly adopted when he said his name, or simply the name itself, but suddenly you saw him differently. The years fell away, his face becoming much less weathered and clean-shaven. Although not taller, he was much thinner, almost gangly, and carried himself with an odd awkwardness that was completely gone from the Wulfric of today.

    Wulfric Terman had been a recently graduated officer from the kingdom’s premiere military academy. As a parting gift, some of his classmates had procured a night of your services for him. This being a couple of years ago, you were just on the cusp of becoming Pyrene the Temptress, infamous clothes-stealing consort. As such, it was likely a freak circumstance that led to you, and not some other lady of the town, being chosen. You were somewhat grateful for the work however, as Ariella had recently developed a severe fever.

    Although quite surprised with his “gift”, Wulfric had been exceedingly polite and initially reserved. Ostensibly having no idea what to do in this situation, Wulfric took you to one of the nicest restaurants in the city, displaying a fair bit of wealth in doing so. When asked, he revealed that he was the son of a mid-level noble, whose family line had a long history of serving in the military.

    After dinner, the two of you had walked arm-in-arm around the city for a time, before retiring to a room in one of the nicer inns. There, Wulfric had surprised you again, because he admitted that he simply wanted to talk. You spent the next several hours simply talking, certainly a first in your experience. You had been reserved during the conversation, revealing little about yourself, but Wulfric had not seemed to mind as he confided in you.

    He told you everything – his fears, his hopes, his frustrations. Apparently he had no one who was willing to listen and understand. You didn’t really understand either, but apparently your neutrality on all matters made you a far better confidante than even Wulfric’s family.

    Wulfric knew his military career would be a sham. As a nobleman, he would be protected, given idle garrison duty to allow him to serve out his time with honor, but not distinction. Oh certainly, he would be awarded with whatever commendations his commanders could think of, but ultimately it would all be a farce. He would likely never fight in a real battle, and what considerable tactical skill he had would be utterly left to wither.

    Eventually as the darkness slowly began to break into dawn, Wulfric finally wound down. He was tired and ready for bed, and *still* somehow not interested in your services (if not for his frequent reassurances and occasional lingering glances, you would have thought his tastes to run in an entirely different way). Out of respect for your reputation and the opinions of his peers, Wulfric did suggest you remain for a few more hours and that you both sleep.

    Carefully removing his elegant dress uniform to lay it across a chair, Wulfric had then clambered into the bed in his underclothes, and promptly fell into a deep sleep. And shortly thereafter, you made your fateful decision.

    Wulfric was wealthy, the son of a noble, and part of the military. His dress uniform, cut for a nobleman officer, would certainly fetch a fair price on the city’s black market. He however, would barely feel the loss, as he could certainly buy a new one if the military would not provide themselves. Ariella was deathly sick, in the throes of a fever sweeping the slums of the city. She might recover without medicine, but an expensive herb would greatly increase her chances of coming out unscathed.

    Slipping out of the bed, you crept across the room, gathered up Wulfric’s uniform, shot one last look at the strange young man who had treated you far differently than most of your clients, and then left without looking back again. You had made a bundle off his clothes, enough to eat well for nearly a month besides purchasing Ariella’s medicine. And that windfall made you realize that if you could do it once, you could do it again, and Pyrene the Temptress was born.

    Wulfric’s comments suddenly cut into your reminiscences.

    “Ah, so you do remember me now. Certainly, I have heard what has happened to you since that night – who hasn’t heard of Pyrene the Temptress? But did you ever wonder about me, surely one of your first victims?”

    Wulfric looks away and scowls.

    “I became a laughingstock. My so-called friends, who had always been secretly jealous and had hired you specifically to humiliate me, took great advantage of the situation you left me in. They were on their way to the room with several of the instructors from the academy with the intent of proving me of “conduct unbecoming of an officer” when I assume you left. So there I was, lying sound asleep in bed, when a loud pounding on the door awakens me. I had no idea where my uniform was, despite lying it across a nearby chair, so I was forced to answer the door in my breeches! Arguably, without you actually there in the room they couldn’t prove anything, but there were enough people who had seen the two of us together to imply it. And regardless, I was still forced to march through the streets back to the academy solely in my underwear!”

    Wulfric grits his teeth, but then laughs and shrugs.

    “In the end, with my classmates rumor-mongering and the salacious nature of the accusations, the academy was ultimately forced to rescinded my graduation. I was retroactively expelled from the academy in dishonor, the example cadet who had allowed himself to be completely disarmed and disarmored by a common whore! My father was less than happy with me.”

    Wulfric gives a bitter laugh as he looks back at you.

    “But do you know the saddest thing? I was worried about *you*! I spent the next several days scouring the city in idle confusion, attempting to find you. I had thought maybe my classmates had done something to you, setting up this whole situation for the instructors benefit and that they had made efforts to silence you. I think – I think my foolish heart had even fallen in love with you. Ha! Isn’t that rich?”

    Wulfric gives a bemused smirk with a shake of his head and a few *tsks* before continuing.

    “Eventually I ran away, determined to find my own way in life or end it in some foolish brawl. Instead, I found Gazrul, the glorious leader of our little mercenary band. And at last, I found what I had always been looking for. Here, it doesn’t matter who you are, only what he can do it. Within a year I was one of Gazrul’s most trusted lieutenants, and now I serve as his second, a position I *earned* entirely by my own sweat, blood, and genius. So really, I suppose I ought to be thanking you, Pyrene. But quite frankly, I just can’t seem to work up that emotion right now. So now, why don’t we return to business? Who was the man in the cart with Amelia, or did you completely have no interest in literally seducing the pants off him?”

    As you are giving your answer, your sharp ears detect a sudden cacophony from outside. Guards shouting signs and receiving counter-signs in return, and others rushing about as if to make the camp ready. Wulfric seems to hear it too, and looks both relieved and – irritated? Dropping the gag and blindfold clothes beside you, Wulfric frowns as he shakes a wagging finger at you.

    “That would be Lord Gazrul now. I will return with him shortly. I suggest you don’t try anything. His patience is very short right now, and I would hate to bloody you any further.”

    At that reminder, the burning itch of the scratch along your side starts up, combined with the dull thrub of the bruises about your body, centered on your one shoulder and temple. It probably also didn’t help that your muscles were starting to cramp up from being so tightly bound. Just another miserable day in the life of Pyrene the Temptress.

    A few minutes later, Wulfric returns true to his word. With him is certainly an odd-looking creature. Although he is similar to the beastman who had been pointedly keeping an eye (and crossbow) on you, he was also pointedly different (as well as a fair bit taller). He seemed to have some draconic features, and he carried himself with the bearing of a leader.

    “Lord Gazrul, I present to you Pyrene the Temptress. Pyrene, Gazrul. I’m sure he has many questions for you.”

    Pwenet

    At your hidden warning Vash tenses, discretely scanning the dark forest while subtly reaching underneath his priest robes. Unwarned, meanwhile, the detachment of guards continues blithely forward. The guard in the lead triggers the tripwire a moment later, and has only a moment to look down at his feet in horrified realization before the trap is sprung. Fairly simple in nature, the trap is nonetheless quite effective as a sharpened stake comes whipping out from the trunk of a nearby tree. The blow hits with enough force to send the man sprawling, the stake quite firmly embedded in one thigh. Although not fatal, the wound is undoubtedly painful, causing him to scream quite loudly.

    In response, several of the men move forward to help him. And out in the darkness beyond the lights, from all directions, dark shapes emerges from the shadows. Whoever these people were, they were quite good at hiding as not even your sharp eyes had been able to pick out the shapes of their bodies from the trees until they began to move just now. You and Vash were the only two who saw the approaching figures, however, but before you could cry out a warning the air was filled with many arrows as the dark shapes, too numerous and quick moving to get an accurate count, closed in for the kill.

    (And we’re going to cut out here to Pwenet’s other, new character. He was getting a little tired of playing the old assassin stuck in the buttcrack of nowhere, and I was wanting someone to play a character who was working more closely with the Baron. So for us at least, it’s win-win. And we might come back to Ardkahet someday, to see if and how he’s managed to survive this massive ambush by the elves. :smallamsued: )

    ---------------------

    Initializing . . . .
    Primary Power Source – Active
    Secondary Power Source – Active
    Engine Power – 100%
    Armor Integrity – 100%
    Wrist Blades – Intact
    Wing Blades – Intact
    Wing Cannons – 58% - Charging


    You are lying on a hard metal table, staring up at the ceiling. Suddenly, a man’s face comes into view, leering down at you.

    Identifying . . .
    Baron of Gast – MASTER
    OBEY AND PROTECT AT ALL COSTS


    “Good morning, PR-10000-IM. How are you today?” The man asks.

    “He should be in perfect condition. And now that he’s operational, may I go now?” A feminine voice calls off to your right. Automatically, your head twists to bring the woman into view. She seems oddly familiar, although you can’t seem to recall from where you’ve seen her. In point of fact, you can remember very little.

    Identifying . . .
    Baroness of Gast
    OBEY AND PROTECT AT ALL COSTS


    You assume the Baron nods, as he says a moment later, “Of course my dear. Go see how our daughter is doing. I will finish up here.”

    Wing Cannons – 100% - RECHARGED!
    Accessing Available Memory . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Memory Unit Currently Offline
    Accessing Default Memory Core


    You remember that you are a GHAST, or Gast Heraldric Angel for Special Tasks, a created mechanical soldier, made to protect and serve the Baron of Gast. The Baron is currently involved in a great struggle against the gods, who even to this day seek to oppress humanity. You have been created to help him change all of that.

    Drifting at the corners of your mind are flashes of other memory, of past battles fought and lost, of people and places you cannot put names to, but in the end it is all a chaotic soup that you cannot make sense of. Suddenly, you are aware that the Baron is addressed you again.

    “Well, why don’t we start off with something simple. Get up off that table, and demonstrate for me your full movement range – ground and flight.”

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    Leaning in close to you, Limier softly breathes a reply.

    “She certainly doesn’t look like any angel I’ve heard of, although I’m not a priest. However, I’d imagine even vaguely looking like an angel down here would be punished severely. I seem to remember checking some of these side rooms out. If I remember correctly, that room is merely a small storage room, not a tunnel leading somewhere. Empty as well, I recall, unless they recently moved guards or other prisoners in there. Considering all six of her captors left, however, I would guess they simply left her in there alone, for now. Once their boss figures out whether he wants to inform Crx or Vylethar first, they’ll probably be back. Of course, considering we just killed Vylethar, them going to look for him will be very bad for us regardless of whether or not he’s reformed yet. I imagine for her, things are about to get very unpleasant for her regardless of who the devils go looking for.”

    You can hear Limier quietly beginning to move away from you, in the general direction of the cell.

    “We need to locate Prince Teareal and get out of here as quickly as possible. This place is going to be swarming with devils soon enough. I don’t think it’s worth the risk to attempt to free the angel, especially given her apparent despondency. Of course, she might also prove very useful if this turns into an open fight against the devils and she’s actually willing to do something. Rather than argue with your bleeding heart about it, I’m going to let you make the choice as to whether or not to rescue her. We just need to be quick about it, find Prince Teareal, and then either break his chains or figure out a way to carry him with us and then get out of here. Before the entire Screaming Dark Estate comes down on our heads.”
    Last edited by Inspectre; 2009-08-22 at 12:38 PM.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  6. - Top - End - #276
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    For almost a minute Korram simply stares, dumbfounded. He was sure that he had failed Countess Ashargrin. No-he had failed her, but she had escaped on her own. He absorbs the new information in time to see Kris drawing one of his blades and shooting him a questioning glance. Korram, snapped out of his reverie, shakes his head and drops from his place of concealment, landing in front of the coach and bows.

    "Countess Ashargrin, it's a pleasure to see you safe. I'm very sorry that I failed to assist you after we parted ways in Ironheart. I make no excuses, and hope that you can forgive me."

    He turns and beckons to Kris to come out of his hiding place.

    "This is Kris, he's a friend of my daughter and is following me, for the moment. Kris, this is Countess Amelia Ashargrin, former inmate of Ironheart."
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  7. - Top - End - #277
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    As Kartul mocked him, Umber merely smiled. Even as he gave his speech - and such a typical one it was, too, all pomp and menacing bluster, pronunciations of certain doom - Umber was drawing his blade. He stared into the mirror-surface of the blade, let his eyes relax. Like a trick of the eye, he could see the faintest of lines traced along the blade, flowing like water and gleaming like faerie gossamer in the moonlight. Even as Kartul continued his rant, Umber began to chant under his breath, Umber began to chant in a foreign tongue, the same one that the man who had forged this blade had been born to. It was not a spell, so much, but a simple recitation of facts, a means of focusing his mind.

    "The world we see and touch is paper-thin. It is but a pale reflection of the real. We live on but a single layer of an infinite series of images. We walk above them, below them, through them. With this, I pierce the veil. With this, I strike through to the real. By the strength of steel and will I sunder the veil and pave the way for a higher truth."

    As he finished his quiet declaration, Umber made a small incision on his finger, letting a trickle of blood flow down the blade. Like iron filings to a lodestone, his blood was drawn to the gossamer-thin engravings. The tiny channels began to glow - or, rather, to emit an anti-glow, as if light were being consumed. Umber's hand that held the blade began to burn with a cold fire, but he held one, the force of his will providing the catalyst for a reaction of terrible power.

    Slowly, the blade itself began to fall away, consumed from within by the force for which it was a gateway. From Umber's perception, time seemed to slow. He could see everything with perfect clarity, as if a moment were captured in crystal. The color seemed to leech from the world, and the only thing there was was the blade in his hand.

    But it was no longer a blade. It was a hole in the world in the shape of a blade. No, not a hole - a doorway. It was no longer the sword he had comissioned, highest exemplar of the smith's craft - it was more. It was the avatar for the Form of Blades. The perfect expression of focused violence, of the will to destroy. It was the perfect weapon, the sire of all implements of destruction, and the harbinger of entropy itself. It hurt even to hold it, like a thousand needle-thin knives driving into his hand - had Umber been simply mortal, merely to behold it might have shredded his mind. For this blade did not merely cut flesh or bone or rude matter - it cut through all layers of reality. Material, magical, spiritual. All were within its purview. It existed everywhere. It destroyed everywhere.

    He tightened his grip and gritted his teeth against the pain. He had never wanted to use this - it was a terrible implement, and one without loyalty to its owner - but it was potent as well, and perhaps his only hope against Kartul, without Umber's own magical prowess. It had taken him years of research to devise the ritual, years more to find a man who could create a blade that would allow him to draw through a fragment of a the Supernal Blade.

    Whether it had all been worth it... he was about to find out.

    Umber gave a wicked grin. Color flowed back into the world, and the crystal moment shattered - though his perceptions were warped in another way. Just holding the blade, he could see the shapes of things - not merely shapes of form, but shapes of will, mind, spirit, soul... all superimposed upon one another. Past, present, future fought for his attention as he held a fragment of the eternal in his hands.

    He said nothing as Kartul finished his speech - he simply charged - right towards Kartul, then up and over, leaping up towards the ceiling. With an effort of will, the blade flowed out like a whip, cleaving back through the air and moving to strike Kartul from an unexpected angle, shrieking through the air like the hand of death herself.

  8. - Top - End - #278
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    When Limier began to move away, Tare choked, audibly. It was like a cord tightening on his lower windpipe, that which lies beneath conscious control. Like a spot deep within his chest was spasming painfully, interfering with the rhythm of his heartbeat. He gasped for a moment, unable to breath, before throwing off the Drain with willpower alone. His breathing was still ragged, though, and took concentration to keep quiet. He whispered very softly, though the scratch was still evident in his voice. "The bleeding heart? ...Or the one of stone?" He sighed, and swallowed. "Then for another I'll Bleed... and pray I don't Burn."

    Tare tested his lungs carefully, breathing deeply in and out. Nothing. It seemed that, again for the moment, he was at full strength. But when would the fatigue that he refused to acknowledge sting again? Tare felt himself try to speed up his pace, preferably without giving up care to remain undetected. Time was limited.
    Deo Soli Sit Semper Gloria

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  9. - Top - End - #279
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Pyrene the Temptress

    When she heard the name of her rescuer and captor, Pyrene finally understood why her instinct was to trust him. Fighting back against the feeling, she reminded herself that in two years, more than just his appearance may have changed. When he made his accusation of a question, she answered with a hint of defiance, meeting his eyes squarely.

    "His name is Klaus, and he saved Amelia's and my lives after we nearly froze to death in the snow. I never tried to seduce him, though I'll admit I considered it when I woke up naked with a crossbow pointed at my head!" she added pointedly. Dropping her eyes, Pyrene sighed slightly before continuing in a more subdued tone.

    "I never forgot you, you know. I didn't recognize you, but I did remember. When I heard you were looking for me I thought you were seeking retribution. I knew nothing of the set-up, and I never dreamed that a client - even you - would be worried about me." Pyrene looked up again, searching his face for some sign that the kind young man she wanted to trust was still alive in his older and wiser self.

    "I won't try to explain my actions. You don't want to hear my reasons, and anyway you'd likely only view them as excuses. But for what it's worth, I am sorry."

    Just then the quiet murmur of the camp outside exploded into frantic noise. After Wulfic's unnecessary warning (What could I possibly do trussed up like a pig for the slaughter, with a bowman ready to take me out at the first sign of magic?), he disappeared, only to return a short while later with his commander. Pyrene looked Gazrul over with unconcealed curiousity, wondering how this newcomer would try to handle her. At Wulfric's introduction she nodded politely despite her awkward position.

    "Lord Gazrul. I wonder if I might be allowed to sit up? Wulfric can vouch that I have been cooperative and have not attempted to resist or escape since my capture. And perhaps I might have some herbs to keep this scratch from getting infected? Unless of course you are simply planning to kill me once I have answered your questions, in which case I should warn you that I will become less... helpful."
    I started a blog!
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  10. - Top - End - #280
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    • Processing . . . .
      • Primary Power Source – Active
      • Secondary Power Source – Active
      • Engine Power – 100%
      • Armor Integrity – 100%
      • Wrist Blades – Intact
      • Wing Blades – Intact
      • Wing Cannons – 100%

      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    • Orders received – Initiating
    PR-10000-IM starts off with simple movements. Hands clench and unclench, followed by full rotation of the wrists. Sitting up on the table it moves smoothly and gracefully. Power moves through it rapidly and it rises to its feet. Starting a series of stretches testing out its full range of movement and it also deploying and retracting the arm blades.

    ”Ground movement range complete. Initiating second stage of designated start-up sequence.”

    Looking around the small chamber PR-10000-IM focuses its internal energy through the energy vents. Blueish white flames shoot out of the while the wings almost seem to glow as they spread out. For several tantalizing seconds gravity struggles but then it decides to fight another day and PR-10000-IM rises in the air like a majestic angel.

    Adjusting the flow of the energy thrusts it then starts spinning around in place and shifts the wings around to bring its beam cannons to bear on various targets while keeping them powered down. For the briefest of seconds they hover near the Baron.

    • Flight Capabilities – Optimal
    • Ground Motion – Optimal
    • Targeting Systems – Optimal
    ”Flight capabilities fully operational Master.”

    Easing up on the power PR-10000-IM glides back down to the ground and gently touches down. Cutting thrust to almost minimal levels before the landing the ground is not even scorched from the flames. Facing the Baron PR-10000-IM salutes him and stands at attention.

    ”Initial activation complete - Requesting permission to tear your throat out and shove it up your rectum, sir – ERROR – Initiating Diagnostics on Logic and Memory Sectors – Standby…..”

    • Running Diagnostics
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    • Default Memory Core Interference – Initiating Diagnostic
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    • Memory Unit Receiving Minimal Power - 0.7%
    • Data Corruption Detected From Memory Unit
    ”Diagnostics complete Master. Main memory core receiving 0.7% power. Conclusion – Recent power-up and flight test is causing power fluctuations within optimal parameters however caused dormant links to activate – Initiating separating of data... starting gradual power-up of main memory in a protected cluster to isolate data corruption and contain. Default memory core running as primary.”

    “Awaiting further orders Master.”
    Last edited by Pwenet; 2009-08-24 at 08:24 PM.
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    I'm good at making you fear the unknown. Pwenet is good at making you fear the known, which had been the unknown five minutes before he pushed you off screaming into the abyss.
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    I'm feeling this real hard now.
    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

  11. - Top - End - #281
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Ander Windrivver

    Ander's moustache twitches as he observes the tail end of the exchange between Karth and Captain Drakeson. It would appear that Drakeson was, for the moment at least, not enjoying the way Karth treated him. I'll have to keep any eye on the Good Captain. I may be able to flip him into an ally.

    He steps up to the table, taking a moment to study the campaign map before clearing his throat. Yes, I believe I may have some suggestions. However, I'd like to hear what the two of you have to say, since I apparently missed the beginning of this council. Karth, how about you start? Then you, Captain.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  12. - Top - End - #282
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Mar

    "No, it's okay." She was sleepy, it was true, but really, if she wanted to go to sleep, she was tired enough to do that even with them talking to her. She just didn't want to fall asleep again, not yet. Maybe she would wake up if she tried, instead of going to sleep—this was one of the nicest times she could remember, and all of the others had turned out to be dreams too...

    She didn't like that idea, and did her best not to think of it. It was not difficult: the bed felt real, and so did Caroline's constantly shifting weight on it, and William and Jacob sound real. Mostly, though, it was because Mar was good at forgetting; of all the skills Daddy taught her, that was the only one she really took to.

    It did not surprise her that they wanted her to stay—Come on, Mar, if you don't hurry we'll tell Daddy... If you want to come along... the girl is coming with us, one way or another... let's run away, you and me... Come back, or your champion is dead!—only how much she wanted to. It really was like she'd stepped into one of her dreams, complete with people. She shouldn't do it; she should have kept running, as soon as she was well enough. She was safe as long as she ran; when she stopped, she could be caught. But Mar really was very good at forgetting. It was only when they called her by name that she had to think about where she had come from, and the people and things that might be chasing her.

    A stray memory flitted into her thoughts. "Um. Could... could you call me Marion?"
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  13. - Top - End - #283
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Meltemi's Avatar

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    Ruya

    Ruya took a step forward as well, slightly uncertain. The angel was, in her anger mixed with fear, intimidating, and that her first reaction was to call them traitors was odd. Still, she spoke up, supporting the priest and elder. “We need your help against the undead that threaten this city. We’ve found zombies and vampires in the slums, and more than that, someone or something has enough magical power at their call to loft what appears to be a necropolis above the city walls. We would not have summoned you simply to fight you. We truly require your help.”
    Ruya Perist, Flight from Ironheart
    Teira Feiwright, Lost and Clueless

    I am me, you are you.
    We’re totally different, separate persons.
    But even so, what if we have just one thing in common?

  14. - Top - End - #284
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    As you drop down in front of the cart, the stags give a loud snort and rear back a moment before settling. The dog sitting in the back of the cart growls loudly, rising to its feet menacingly. The old man produces a crossbow that had been hidden down by his feet with a fair bit of alacrity. This tension is immediately defused when the Countess slaps the crossbow back down, her eyes focused on Korram.

    “Korram!” She exclaims loudly with a relieved smile. Then, apparently becoming aware of her undignified reaction, holds one hand up over her mouth, trying to hide her lingering smile. With her other hand, she gently pats the older man’s shoulder.

    “This man is a friend. He helped me escape!”

    The Countess lowers her hand from her face before turning back to you with a more composed expression. Her eyes are still brimming with questions however.

    “There is nothing to forgive. But – how did you escape? The Baron’s men were everywhere! And those creatures . . .”

    Seeing Kris emerging from hiding, you decide to introduce your associate first instead of immediately answering the question. The Countess favors Kris with a reserved smile and a nod. Kris fails to return the favor, looking at the Countess with undisguised suspicion.

    “So, you’re a friend of Korram’s daughter – does that mean Katrina also made it out safely? I’m surprised to see she isn’t with you.”

    Now Kris’s suspicious glance turns on to you.

    “Your daughter . . .? Okay, so this lady is an Ironheart inmate despite being a noble, not having the brand, and who’s wearing flannel right now. And she apparently knows both you and Katrina – who was most definitely *never* in Ironheart. I think you have some ‘splainning to do, Korram.”

    During Kris’s rant, the Countess’s expression changes from its reserved smile to irritation, embarrassment, and finally confusion. Although not quite as accusatory as Kris’s glance is, the Countess’s gaze is now firmly on you.

    “Yes, perhaps you had better explain what happened, for everyone’s benefit.”

    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    At your suggestion, Karth nods. “Very well. As you know, the monastery of Dawn’s Hope is located in the nearby mountains. Unfortunately, despite its minimal defenses the terrain prevents a direct siege. Our men aren’t particularly well trained at assaulting a fortified position either, obviously. And I doubt the paladins manning the walls will just surrender, no matter how many I can convince to join our cause. Which means that while we will undoubtedly win, any frontal assault will result in heavy casualties.”

    Karth looks up at Captain Drakeson, who takes this as his cue to continue. He clears his throat loudly, and then begins.

    “Fortunately, we do have a few other options. Dawn’s Hope is built within a town, and so despite the monastery being a separate entity, traders do pass through. A small group of our best men could attempt to slip inside and take control of the gate, allowing the rest of our force within the village wall. Once inside, it’s only a matter of breaching the monastery’s walls.”

    Karth takes over from here, gesturing at the map just south of the town.

    “Additionally, the town is largely built on the slopes of a mountain. Should the infiltration attempt prove unsuccessful, we could attempt to send men around to the cliffs overlooking the town. Assuming a frontal assault is successful in distracting their forces, a small group could rappel down onto the walls, fight their way to the gate, and open it.”

    Karth looks up at you.

    “Obviously, each path has its own difficulties. In either case, early discovery would prove disastrous, and until our main force crosses through the gate, the small force would be virtually unsupported against whatever defenders the paladins could muster.”

    Karth sighs.

    “Unfortunately, I will give these people one chance to renounce their loyalties. Which means I will need to be with the main force. That leaves you and the Captain to command one or even both of these methods. I’m not sure we have enough capable men to enact both plans at once, but it would give us an additional opportunity should one fail. What do you think about both options, Ander? Should we split our forces across both attempts?”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    “Marion?” Caroline repeated, then shrugged with another bounce. “That’s a pretty name too!”

    “Okay.” William and Jacob responded with joint shrugs.

    Clearing his throat, Jacob gets up to open up the door. “Alright. You two go check on the stew and finish up dinner. I’ll stay with Marion for a bit.”

    Jacob watches them go with a slight smile, and then closes the door behind them. His expression is once again concerned as he turns back to you. Sighing, he walks over to the bed and sits down next to you.

    “I do have one question for you Marion.”

    Taking your right hand gently in his, he pulls your arm up and rolls it over, revealing the “2” that has been burned there. An old wound, but one that conjures up images of dozens of girls screaming as Daddy presses the brand down with great relish.

    “Who did this to you?” Jacob’s voice was tense, carrying with it an undercurrent of anger. You begin to shrink down into the bed in fear, until you realize that his anger was not directed at you.

    “What kind of monster would do this!?”

    Seeming to finally notice the effect his words were having on you, Jacob reaches a hand up to pat your head.

    “Don’t worry. You’re safe here. If you don’t want to talk about it, I understand. They won’t find you here. You’re safe.”

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Meltemi

    The conflict is evident in the angel’s face. Finally, she reluctantly lowers her weapon. With a sigh, she brushes a strand of hair out of her face. Suddenly, she seems much smaller and less threatening, and the last of the nimbus of light fades out.

    “A necropolis of undead? Really!?”

    “Our scouts are uncertain if the object floating above the city is related to these undead, but it is suspicious for them to appear at the same time.” Malohk adds. In response the angel plants the butt of her halberd against the floor, leaning on the weapon while she holds one hand up to her mouth, deep in thought. Finally, she shrugs and shakes her head. Unlike previously, she seems . . . nervous, or perhaps even embarrassed.

    “Umm . . . I’m not sure I can help you.”

    “Please, you have to help us! I – I’m sorry about what the Church is doing to you! B-b-but I’ve never been involved in that, and all these people are innocent of that completely! You *have* to help them!”

    On his hands and knees, the priests scrambles forward to the angel, apparently no longer fearing for his life or not caring in the heat of the moment. For her part, the angel scrambles back away from the begging priest with a slight gasp of shock. She tries positioning the haft of her halberd in the man’s way, waving him off.

    “No no, you misunderstand! Not won’t, can’t! This . . . this is my first day!”

    “WHAT!?”

    For a moment, the priest silently lies still, staring up at the angel in shock. Most of the others present are likewise dead silent for a moment. Finally, Malohk breaks the silence.

    “Explain, please.”

    Looking increasingly nervous, the angel reaches her free hand up to twirl a lock of her hair.

    “Umm . . . well. Due to these traitorous humans summoning my sisters and not letting them return home, Miriam has created a new generation angels to help bolster the ranks. And well . . . I’m . . . one of them?”

    Shaking her head again, the angel presses on.

    “So, this was my first day up guarding the Palace, when I got the summons and found myself here! I’ve very glad you aren’t going to hurt me – I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. But um, I’m not sure how to help you either – I could go back and try to find someone more experienced down?”

    “How long would that take?” Malohk rasped.

    “Well, assuming I could find anyone, and they weren’t busy with something more important, and then convince them you really don’t mean any harm . . . a couple hours probably, maybe a full day. Oh, that’s right . . . time flows different to you here. So I’d probably be back in a few days . . .?”

    Slowly, the group shakes its head. The angel frowns and tugs on her lock of hair.

    “So, you can’t last a few days by yourselves. Well, I’ve got nothing . . . sorry!”

    “How old are you?” Delora suddenly asked, examining the angel curiously.

    “Pardon?”

    “You said you were recently created by Miriam. How recently was this?”

    “Oh! Um, well . . . I had a few days of training and being shown around the Palace before taking my place as one of its guardians. So, give or take . . . a week?”

    Malohk starts chuckling.

    “So, you really are a child then, not an ancient being gazing down on us since the stars were new?”

    “Hey! That’s more like two months in human time! And I am *not* a child! Never was. And I guess the answer to your question is . . . um, no?”

    Malohk shakes his head, still chortling a bit. With a groan he pushes himself up and collects his worn walking stick.

    “Forgive me for wasting you and your goddess’s time, Miss Angel.”

    “Oh! You can call me Miranda. That’s my given name. Sorry, it’s my first day, not really used to this interacting with mortals thing.”

    “Ah. Well Miranda, no offense to you, but I don’t think you are what we were hoping for. It seems I was misled, and now I have wasted valuable time and resources in this effort.” Malohk spares a frustrated glare at the priest still lying on the floor, who seemed to now be crying.

    “If you will excuse me, I need to busy myself with finding more effective methods in protecting these innocents. Good evening.”

    Turning away, Malohk limps off, followed by his entourage of gnolls. The priest pounds the scorched floor in frustration.

    “Oh, of all the bitter pranks to use, Goddess! Well, that’s it I guess, game over, people, game over!”

    Now looking very small indeed, Miranda backs away until she bumps into the wall behind her. She seems confused by this sudden turn in the conversation, and perhaps a bit saddened.

    “I’m sorry. I-it’s my first day. I don’t know how to help you.” She mutters, touching her face with one hand indecisively, as if fighting back tears.

    Iethloc

    WhiteKnight777

    Kartul initial dismissal of you and your weapon turns to clear shock as you reveal the weapon’s truest form. He sends a bolt of black lightning your way, too slow as you bound over the projectile and strike from above. Perched on his throne, Kartul is unable to dodge, and your weapon firmly penetrates his ribcage.

    There is an eruption of blood from the wound, but then something very weird occurs. Instead of falling to the ground, the blood holds its place in mid-air, forming a vortex of sorts into Kartul’s chest. A moment later, a similar eruption of blood emerges from a nearby lackey’s chest, and he implodes in an eruption of gore a moment later.

    Now Kartul cackles madly, as he summons up a wave of dark energy to throw at you. Unable to dodge the entire wave, you are thrown back halfway across the throne room, landing heavily but quickly rolling back up to your feet. As an aftereffect your skin begins to burn, a small amount of it even slaking off, melting away into ash.

    You recognized this effect as one of Kartul’s little necromantic specials. He had been working on a way to dissolve disobedient undead into the dust from whence they came. At the time of your transformation, despite being intended as a threat against vampires and stronger undead, it could do little more than dispose of an unwanted zombie. Apparently over the millennia Kartul had been refining the technique until now it could even affect a Lord of Blood.

    The remaining lackeys, still over a dozen strong, move in to surround you warily, but back off as Kartul waves them away. With a powerful leap, the skeletal figure abandons his throne to land a few feet from you, squaring off again as his digits weave another spell. The bloody hole in his chest is completely gone, resealed the moment your blade left his body.

    “Impressive, is it not? Now perhaps you see the futility of your struggle, Umber! Where once we were weak and divided, now we are all united, and stronger than the very gods!”

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Lonna

    Wulfric scoffs bitterly as you mention that you never forgot him, although he looks away, apparently unable to meet your gaze as you continue. He looks sharply back at your apology. An array of emotions flicker across his face, too quickly for you to really discern beyond the fact that he seems conflicted. Then Wulfric laughs, forcing a smile, and shrugs.

    “I suppose in the grand scheme of things, I should be thanking *you*. If not for that night, I’d probably still be sitting behind some desk somewhere, getting ready to retire and make my bid for some sort of administrator position.”

    Then Wulfric leaves, returning shortly with Gazrul. The strange dragon-gnoll half-breed examines you critically, but remains silent for the moment. At your suggestions, Wulfric glances at his superior, but nonetheless nods.

    “I *think* both of those requests are reasonable, Gazrul. And she has proven fairly cooperative so far.” Wulfric mentions, approaching you while shooting his superior a look that seems to say don’t push the little wench too far.

    Kneeling down beside you, Wulfric slides both hands underneath your back, one settling between your shoulder blades and one grabbing hold of your wrists. He then lifts you up out of your cocoon of cloaks, pushing you up into a sitting position. Thankfully, the cloaks wrapped directly around you stay put, preserving a modicum of your modesty. Your injured side gives a fiery protest at this sudden movement, and you notice the air inside the tent is still fairly chilly. Picking up a cloak, Wulfric drapes it over your shoulders, helping to cut down on the chill somewhat. He then moves over to the pile of embers, starting to stir it back up into an actual fire.

    “We can treat your wounds after you answer our questions.” He adds.

    Perhaps it was the movement, or taking the weight off your bound arms, but you suddenly realize the ropes encircling your left wrist feel a bit loose. It might take a little effort, but you could probably work your hand loose. Considering the degree to which you had been bound, having a single hand free wasn’t much, but it was an unexpected start at least. Better still, with your hands behind you and the cloak over your shoulders, you could probably slip your hand free without anyone noticing. Getting your hand bound back up should anyone check your bindings would be somewhat more difficult, however.

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    “Permission denied.” The Baron said, looking at you with a slightly befuddled expression. At your mention of the damage to your memory cores, the Baron frowns.

    “Maintain primary memory core as the default. Keep infected area of memory core isolated.”

    At your request for further orders, the Baron nods and feigns a smile.

    “Yes, you seem fully operational. Next will be a weapons test. Report to the Testing Range for further instructions. You may go now.”

    Instantly a map of the airship appears hovering in your blue-tinged sight, with a marker towards the front of the ship indicating the testing range. From your current location deep in the heart of the ship, it is a long but not particularly arduous journey. The hallways are filled with people and other GHASTs. Fortunately, the ceilings have been constructed with your capabilities in mind, and you frequently are able to fly over a group of slow-moving people and continue forward at a rapid pace.

    Soon enough, you arrive at the Testing Range, a wide open area within the airship. Several GHASTs are flying about, engaging in mock battle with pillars of various metals, adamantite being the most common. Standing off to one side, you notice a GHAST with ornate armor, standing a full head taller than any other.

    Identifying – Sir Celestan, GHAST Commander
    Obey All Orders


    A moment later, the armored hulk turns its head, and you hear Celestan’s voice in your head as a personal communication channel is opened.

    “Welcome PR-10000-IM. Initiate weapons test.”

    Within your view, three of the adamantite pillars are suddenly outlined in red, indicating them as targets. Two are on the ground, while the third is halfway up the wall.

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    Fighting off the effects of the magic’s drain, you sneak invisibly over to the cell. A slight fiery glow infused the very air down here it seemed, and so allowed you a good look inside the cell despite the lack of light.

    The cell was reasonably large, and judging from the large number chains dangling from the walls, intended to house slaves. Currently, there was only one occupant, the angel, sitting tightly pressed up against one wall, her legs stretched out in front of her. The devils had apparently wrapped the remainder of their chains around her legs, and then used several of the shackles hanging off the wall to ensure she stayed put.

    Their excessive preparations seemed needless, as the angel was sitting quietly in place, despite the discomfort that had to be there from her wings being crushed into the wall by her back. Her head was hanging down listless, and her face seemed to be oddly wet – tears. She was crying silently. Suddenly however, she slowly looks up, her eyes once again immediately focusing on you.

    Unlike last time however, she addresses you, her voice quiet and hoarse.

    “If you have come to torment me, imp, you do so in vain. You can do nothing to me that hasn’t already been done a thousand times, or say anything worse to me than what has already been said.”

    The angel gives another choking rasp of a laugh, and then changes her voice, making it deeper as she clearly imitates someone. “She will accept you back into her care if you repent your sins and renounce what you have become.”

    More laughter, as the angel switches back to her own voice. “Such a pleasant lie, that one. And I never learn.”
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  15. - Top - End - #285
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    ~Tare

    As he stood there, looking in through the door at the fallen and beaten Angel, for in his mind she could now be nothing else than an Angel, Tare felt something rising his chest and choking up his throat. It was the same force that had dictated his foolhardy, self-destructive, perhaps even suicidal actions over the last few days, and yet had also given him a Force of Will that would not be bent even by the fires of Hell itself. Tare felt himself filled to the brim and spilling over with Pity, Pity for that which no one else would even spare a second glance for. Tare's resolve was hardened in that moment, tempered with compassion into a keen edge that made his thoughts refreshingly clear. He had no second thoughts, no doubts, and no regrets as he began to act.

    Tare first asked Limier to look out for anyone coming, which he supposed the Assassin would do automatically, but it bore repeating anyway. He then checked first to see if the door was locked, which he suspected it most certainly would be, and then to see what kind of lock it was. If it looks to be one that would accept the strange, jeweled keyring that he had found on Vylethar's ashes, he will search for one that will open the door. If it is a more mechanical lock he will use his daggers to jimmy the bolt and open the door. Either way, he will do so as quietly as he can.

    As Tare slipped silently into the room, a million questions ran through his head. The one he wanted to ask the most was also the most ridiculous. Are you really an angel?

    Tare moved forward and knelt next to the Angel's right side, almost seeming to glide across the floor. It was only then that he could see more fully the extent of the angel's torture-- though the entirety of her physical agony was but a fraction of all she had endured. "Oh, you poor thing..." He whispered without thinking, and with a very un-implike voice.
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-08-26 at 09:43 PM.
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  16. - Top - End - #286
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Korram Alstan

    Korram holds his hands up in a gesture of appeasement.

    "Ach, calm, calm. I can explain everything. You may want to settle in, it's a long tale."

    His previously happy expression dours as he recalls the events after he parted ways with Amelia Ashargrin within the hated prison of Ironheart. He sits on a nearby, large tree root.

    "Firstly, for Kris, Countess Ashargrin was a secret prisoner of Ironheart; one of the Baron's sons wished to wed her, and she was abducted and held in a manner that would ensure there would be no proof, protecting Baron Gast from repercussions. Myself and Dima, another prisoner, found her and released her from her captors."

    He folds his arms and closes his eyes.

    "All to soon afterwards, my 'daughter' was shown to us, and the Countess was demanded in exchange for her safety. Nobly, she willingly offered herself. After some time and a number of...unpleasant...trials, it was revealed that she was actually a shape shifter who had been forced into helping the Baron in exchange for her brother, who was another inmate in Ironheart. I let her go. After that, well."

    He opens his eyes.

    "You won't believe this, but Ironheart was actually built to guard the seal on Azguloth. The demons were released by his acolytes. By some strange fate, a number of powerful inmates escaped at the same time, and several managed to make it to the lowest levels of Ironheart and the base of the seal. A large, powerful group was trying to release him...it. With the Baron's full cooperation, of course. We managed to fight our way through the legions guarding it, and killed the leader, Athelion's former avatar."

    He looks down, recalling the frustrating events that followed.

    "The Baron's sons and an elite strike force swept in, broke what was left of the army, captured the leftover components of the release ritual, and gave the prisoners an ultimatum; f*** off, continue being a prisoner, or die. I cut a deal with the Baron to remove Calcifer, in exchange for six months free before submitting myself to his custody once again. A bad deal, but it was a hopeless battle. After that, I decided to take a small detour to my home, Callaway."

    He clenches his fist, knuckles white.

    "It was in ruins. Kris was the second in command of a resistance movement led by my daughter. He ambushed me, I fought him off, and he led me back to their camp. It was attacked, Katrina escaped one way, myself and Kris in another. Now, the two former enemies have bonded in a touching yet comedic manner, which brings us to the present."

    The run through of past events crushes Korram's good spirits at finding Amelia well, and his normal sarcasm heralds the return of his previous, dour mood.

    "Any questions?"
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  17. - Top - End - #287
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Gazrul


    A red flag immediately went up in Gazrul's brain. This human reminded him of his earlier dream, the one he had while he was back at the camp. The one in which the Ancestors had spoken to him. For some reason he hadn't thought about it much, simply having tucked it away into his mind for future reference. He considered himself pious, but he had never much of a theologian or philosopher.

    Your first guide shall have its fur matted with blood." That was what Stars had said. Blood... not entirely unlike the creature now before him. But was it the work of the Gods? If so, how best to proceed, when dealing with the work of spirits? His duties up until this point had been rather simple compared to this. Meet the enemy, and kill them in a particularly glorious and/or noble way. It was a bloody path, but the road was straight and clear and more than a little profitable.

    But the road now was not straight path, but a maze!

    "I do indeed I have many questions for you. They can wait for but a moment." He calls in a healer, and waits patiently as the medicines are applied, before turning to his lieutenant.

    "May I perhaps speak with Lady Pyrene in private?"

    As Wulfric left, he removed the stake from between Pyrene's ankles, allowing her some movement.

    "Firstly, I assure you, neither I or my men intend to take your life. Should you give us cause, that can quickly change. You are a criminal and the Baron has declared our actions justified in his eyes. For both our sakes, however, I pray that justice will not merit harm on your part.

    The questions I am going to ask you are at best only of the slightest relation to Ironheart prison, or the Countess. We'll get to that in time. But this is far more important."

    He paused for a moment, wondering exactly how to phrase his words. The direct approach? Indeed.

    Firstly, what know you of the Gods? Not your two human-Gods, but the Star-Gods, the Ancestors. Do you know of anything of them?"


  18. - Top - End - #288
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Telest

    "Unless the girl is dead I will find her." He then swiftly leaves the tent. Grabbing his horse he follws his instinct toward the girl and rides off swiftly. I don't know who this Queen Titania is, but I don't like her. However if this girl really is important I need to know why. Whether or not I return to the girl to this Queen depends on what I find out. He makes minor adjustments to his course as his instict shows him the quickest route to his objective.
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  19. - Top - End - #289
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    Lonna's Avatar

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    Pyrene the Temptress

    When Gazrul finally spoke, it took all of Pyrene's training to keep from showing her surprise. Incredibly, he had her wound seen to before he began his interrogation, and seemed content to wait with no signs of impatience. Even more incredibly, he sent his subordinates out of the tent, and then removed the stake that was immobilizing her ankles. Granted she was still tied up and all but naked in the middle of a mercenary camp on the side of a mountain in early spring, but it was still far more trust (or perhaps merely self-confidence) than she had expected. And this was all the more amazing because she had made no efforts to secure his trust, and was certain that he was not beguiled by her more physical charms, which were most certainly not his idea of feminine beauty. In short, she simply could not figure him out, so when he began to speak to her, she paid close attention.

    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer View Post
    "Firstly, I assure you, neither I or my men intend to take your life. Should you give us cause, that can quickly change. You are a criminal and the Baron has declared our actions justified in his eyes. For both our sakes, however, I pray that justice will not merit harm on your part.

    The questions I am going to ask you are at best only of the slightest relation to Ironheart prison, or the Countess. We'll get to that in time. But this is far more important."

    He paused for a moment, wondering exactly how to phrase his words.

    "Firstly, what know you of the Gods? Not your two human-Gods, but the Star-Gods, the Ancestors. Do you know of anything of them?"
    Whatever Pyrene had been expecting, that was not it.

    "You weren't sent to look for someone 'neither human nor elf' by any chance were you?" she asked, staring up at him suspiciously. At his presumably baffled expression, she looked down and sighed heavily. "Well, that means you're not one of hers then. I must be popular with the gods. Heh, I can think of a few priests who would be surprised to hear that."

    She looked up again, this time with a much less antagonistic expression. "I know more than I desire to and less than I need to of the doings of Heaven. Of the Star-Gods you mentioned, I know nothing."
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  20. - Top - End - #290
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Mar

    None of them questioned it, but Mar couldn't help shrinking a little each time they used the name. It felt like she'd lied to them, but they hadn't even asked her to explain. Maybe one of them would forget and call her Mar, and then she would have a chance to tell them why she wanted to be called Marion—not that she really had an answer for them. It was just a nice name, like Caroline (and Julian before her) said. And now that she thought about it, Daddy would not be looking for a girl named Marion. But that wasn't why she'd asked.

    Maybe by the time they asked, she would have an answer for them.

    "Safe," she repeated, like a mantra. Oddly, she didn't feel all that afraid. This wasn't the first time she had seen Jacob angry, and the last time he hadn't been angry at her either. He was angry because of something somebody else did to her, just like he had been for Caroline. Now that she was alone with him, Mar felt shy again, remembering that dream. She knew Jacob, and she knew she had liked him, but he was somehow much older than she was. He didn't really remember her, even if he was acting sort of the same way. He had children. William was her age, probably.

    In the face of that, talking about Daddy was easier. At least he wasn't sitting right there, making her feel awkward. "It... it was to tell people who I was," she whispered. "So that they would know they weren't allowed to hurt me." She was silent for a few seconds, then added, "Only he could do that. To punish me." This was not like running away; it didn't get easier once you got started. She stopped to herd all her thoughts together again, trying to figure out what she wanted to say. "I used to think he was doing it because he loved me, and he wanted to make me better. Now I... don't know. I just know it hurt too much." She meant both the pain, and the idea that he didn't love her, that all her punishments had been meaningless. Daddy had been right about one thing: Julian had poisoned her mind. But if it was the truth, could she blame him? If he had hurt her because he l—liked her, as Daddy had not, could she blame him? No.

    "So I ran away," she finished, and looked up at Jacob, afraid of what he would think. But it was a soft fear, and it went out after a moment. She didn't really believe he'd think there was something wrong with that.
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  21. - Top - End - #291
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    PR-10000-IM

    • Combat Mode Engaged!
    Looking at the red-outlined pillars PR-10000-IM moves swiftly. Wings sprayed out behind the GHAST it leaps into the air, towards the pillar half-way up on the wall. Yet before contact the energy thrusters fire, allowing PR-10000-IM to ach over at the wing cannons target the two pillars on the ground and fire.

    The recoil of the blasts pushes PR-10000-IM further up into the air and above the wall pillar, yet the twin beams strike the two ground pillars, boring into the metal and sending smoke into the air and liquid metal dripping to the ground.

    The energy thrusters then reverse themselves forcing PR-10000-IM to crash into the wall pillar with splintering force. Curling it’s large hands into fists and strikes one, twice and again with such force that the already cracked pillar cracks even more with bits and pieces of it falling off. Leaping up PR-10000-IM falls back onto it and snaps off a large piece of the pillar. Grabbing the pillar it throws it at the left ground pillar while flying at the right pillar and slams into it with both feet. Grabbing hold of it with its feet PR-10000-IM twists around and slashes at the left pillar with both of its retractable blade and wings, scoring the metal before reaching for the ground.

    Digging its fingers into the ground PR-10000-IM heaves and ripps out the other pillar that it’s feet were holding onto and spins around, slamming it onto the right pillar topping it over.

    Picking itself up PR-10000-IM reacts it’s blades back into its forearms and marches towards Sir Celestan.

    ”Weapons test complete – Awaiting further instruction.”
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    I'm feeling this real hard now.
    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

  22. - Top - End - #292
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Ander Windrivver

    Ander ponders what Karth has said, taking the time to fully digest his strategy and further inspect the map laid out on the table. Finally, after what seems like several minutes, he speaks.

    I would like to propose a slightly different strategy. Allow me to enter the monastery and speak with their abbot. I think that I might have a greater chance of getting them to defect to our side and, if successful, we can win the battle without a single casualty on either side.

    He sighs, shaking his head, and continues. However, as reluctant as I may be to take up arms against fellow paladins, we must prepare for that eventuality. While I am speaking with the abbot, I propose that Captain Drakeson and his task force infiltrate the village. The three of us should remain in contact via communication crystal. Should I fail in my attempt to persuade the paladins to defect, I will give a cue to the Captain to sabotage the gates. Then I will fight my way to the monastery gates and open them from the inside. With both sets of gates open, the way will be clear for your army to march straight into the monastery.

    He stands back, crossing his arms. So, what do you two think?
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

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    Sohssal

    Sohssal didn't really say much after he rescued Ross and Bran, but he did show interest - as much as a floating orb could - when they mentioned Umber. "Ah, what a coincidence. I haven't seen him, but tThat's just where I was going. Do you two know of any way inside? Or anything else useful about this thing?" Sohssal said, his voice reverberating from deep within the orb. He didn't show any concern for the horde of zombies, since he'd be long gone by the time they got here.

    Then he looked up at the pyramid, or rather he hovered slightly higher. Looks like a surprise entrance is less likely...but I can still work with what I've got. he thought confidently. Since there wouldn't be many other chances to do so, Sohssal took a few moments to examine the outside of the enormous floating pyramid.
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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    Kris, the Countess, the old man, and even the dog (seemingly) listen to your story with rapt attention. The Countess nods at the conclusion of your story with a demure smile.

    “So you were too busy saving the world to rescue me. I had hoped as much. I’m very glad you managed to escape all that unharmed, Korram! And . . . I’m sorry to hear about Callaway.”

    Kris holds up a hand, still looking at the Countess suspiciously.

    “Wait a second here, why should we trust you? Korram here has apparently been fooled once, who’s not to say you’re not another shiftshaper pretending to be this woman?”

    “Well, I hardly think that’s likely, given we just met on accident –“

    “Yeah? Well, why don’t you tell us how you escaped then!”

    The Countess’s face flushes for a moment, although whether from anger or embarrassment you aren’t entirely sure. Taking a steadily breath, the Countess begins her own harrowing tale.

    “After surrendering myself as a sacrifice for Katrina – or the lookalike, I suppose – I was taken up to the Spires. The guards were evacuating Ironheart, and I was loaded into their finest air carriage for delivery to Cheran. Apparently, he was on his way to Ironheart, aboard the Baron’s airship the Gastly Truth. I assume you saw it after the battle?”

    You had seen the immense ship hovering in the air above the ruined prison on your way out. As usual, the Baron was compensating for something.

    “Just before we left, another prisoner was forced on board my carriage. She called herself Pyrene.”

    Here, Kris interjects with a surprised guffaw. “Pyrene!? Pyrene the Temptress!?”

    The Countess’s cheeks grow a bit rosier.

    “Um . . . yes. She helped me escape the carriage. We – I – had to kill the man who had forced her aboard shortly thereafter. And then we nearly died in the snow were it not for the timely aid of Klaus here.”

    Kris bursts into delighted, high-pitched laughter now, clapping his hands together mockingly. In between gasps for air, he manages to cough out, “Okay, I believe you. That story is too absurd not to be true. The great Korram Alstan trades the Countess he just rescued for someone pretending to be his daughter, and then leaves her to be saved by a random whore! Hilarious!”

    The Countess frowns slightly at this simplification of the situation.

    “She’s not just a whore. And regardless of what she is, I owe her my life several times over, so please show some respect!”

    Kris quirks an eyebrow at the Countess, trying to keep a straight face. “Several?”

    “Yes. We were attacked by elves at Klaus’s cabin, prompting us to flee. Pyrene was able to subdue them. And then we were attacked again this morning, not just by elves but hunters presumably set on our trail by the Baron, she sacrificed herself to buy us time to flee.”

    Again, Kris bursts out into laughter. “Several! Oh marvelous! It sounds like this whore is better at being a hero than you are Korram! Better watch out, Daddyo, a baker might take the Baron to task next! Or perhaps you’ll mistake her for Katrina!”

    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    Drakeson frowns as you outline your strategy. Perhaps there is some merit to Karth’s claims that he is a coward.

    “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, sir. Surely they all see you as a heretic, just like Karth. You’d be practically handing yourself over to them, and deep in the heart of the monastery there’s no way we could get to you in time if things go predictably poorly.”

    Karth thinks about the plan for a few more moments, and then nods.

    “I like it. Even if it is as unsuccessful as the Captain believes, it may very well still allow you into the heart of their defenses. And unlike the good captain, I have sincere doubts about the ability of a few dozen paladin trainees being your match in battle. Once it is confirmed that you’re inside the monastery, or out of communication with us completely, I will wait one hour before proceeding up to the gates and making my demands for their allegiance. If the gates do not swing up to welcome me, then I shall contact Captain Drakeson and have him open them for me by force. Either way, by this time no more than three days hence, we shall have Dawn’s Hope in our grasp! And then we can proceed onwards to bigger things.”

    Karth shrugs and looks over the table at you. “Do you require anything from us in order to complete this deception? We are probably a better stocked army than we are trained at the moment. Otherwise, you may leave for Dawn’s hope when ready. Drakeson will be leaving the camp about midday, and by dawn tomorrow my own detachment should be ready to march.”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    Jacob listens quietly as you explain to him. He squeezes your hand several times throughout, and is clearly gritting his teeth by the end. Finally, after a moment’s pause, he lets out an explosive sigh.

    “You did the right thing.”

    Reaching his other hand over, he gently pats you on the head.

    “You don’t ever have to go back there again. I promise you, you can stay here as long as you like. He won’t find you here.”

    But in the back of your head, you can hear the voice from your most recent dream snarling.

    Oh yes I will! I will find you and do *unspeakable* things to you until you learn to like them! I will *finish* what he started!

    But as quickly as the chill feeling sweeps through the room, it passes. Clearly not hearing the voice in your head, but noticing the shiver of instinctive fear passing through you, Jacob shifts up on the bed. He offers an open arm to you, but having little actual experience it takes you a moment to realize he wants to give you a hug.

    “Y’know, I used to know this girl. I think she would have adored you. She was kind, and giving, and – well, listen to me prattle on! Anyway, she always wanted to do the right thing. Didn’t care what it cost her. She . . . she was abused by someone close to her too.”

    As he continues the story, Jacob’s voice begins to break a little, but he stumbles on in a narration that is already familiar to you.

    “I tried to get her to leave, but she’d have none of it. She thought he loved her too, and she wanted to take care of him anyway. And . . . well, eventually it got her killed. I think. I . . . I don’t know, but I never saw her since then. And I keep wondering – what if she had just run away? So . . . you did the right thing this time, Marion. Never doubt that.”

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Iethloc

    “Damn fool vampire went up there to have a chat with the owner. Apparently, they’re old time pals.” Ross snorts, looking towards the approaching zombie horde with more interest than fear.

    Bran however, pales, as he looks upwards at the black pyramid. “No . . . you don’t want to go up there. The entire thing is soaked in death magic. It’s making me sick.” Indeed, even you can feel the intense waves of necromantic, among other auras, being thrown off by the pyramid. This close to the actual source, they feel more like the waves of the ocean than the gentle pulses you felt at Seymour’s residence.

    Surprisingly, Ross nods in agreement. “Aye, you don’t want to go up there lad. Place is bound to be swarming with undead, and anyone that can do what this bugger’s already done is pretty damn powerful.” The paladin shrugs, his wounds nearly healed.

    “But, if ye insist, Umber entered through a balcony of some sort near the top. I can only assume that’s close to where the head of this bunch sits as well.”

    Gazing up at the pyramid, your magically enhanced sight can indeed see a balcony near the top point of the pyramid. As you watch, a bright flash comes from the room that the balcony leads into – apparently some sort of fight or light show was going on. There does not appear to be any more obvious openings within the pyramid, although you can see what might be recessed hatches built into the underside in a number of places. Like the black stone itself, all of these seem heavily warded, enough that attempting to phase through would alert someone even if it were possible. You also detect a number of smaller dark shapes hanging off the sides of the pyramid, or flitting about in the air near it – still more gargoyles, and a few other winged or floating menaces. The creature responsible for this whole thing had certainly assembled a massive and diverse army, even if it was all magical constructs or undead!

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    Getting on your mount, you move as swiftly as you are able. Guided by the vision of the girl’s last location in your head, you are able to instinctively chart the shortest course there. It is clear that you are making good time, but have a frustratingly long way to go. Your target could be long gone from the area by the time you arrived. Which, of course, simply meant that you would have to go hunting for her.

    You encounter no dangers, or even any other creature save a few startled deer, on your first day of travel. Setting out on the second day, you feel that you should arrive at the cave just before nightfall.

    About midday, you see figures carefully moving through the forest. Although nimble, they are burdened by baggage of some kind, and your sharp eyes make them out to be elves. Most of them are wounded, and a few are being carried on stretchers by their fellows. This must be the failed group sent out to recover the girl. Focused on their own struggles, they do not seem to have noticed you yet.

    Lonna/Falconer

    (You two can just keep posting back and forth as much as you like. I don’t think anything is going to interrupt you. Obviously, faster is preferred to slower, since until you two *do* reach a mutual end, your conversation is likely to continue. Unless Telest somehow magically teleports in around the middle, despite being two days away. )

    The healer tends to Pyrene’s wound quickly, treating it with alcohol before bandaging it with a small bit of crushed herb. It burns sharply enough that Pyrene has to focus on not screaming, but the herbs quickly soothe away any and all pain until she can’t even feel the wound.

    “Feh, little more than a scratch. Infection’s the only worry here, and those herbs should take care of that.” The healer bows to Gazrul and Wulfric, and then leaves.

    At Gazrul’s insistence of leaving, Wulfric briefly looks concerned, although for who neither Gazrul or Pyrene is entirely certain. Finally he nods, laying a hand on Gazrul’s shoulder as he passes.

    “Very well. I’ll be right outside.”

    In the corner, the gnoll sniper continues to train his crossbow on Pyrene, blissfully unaware of the conversation due to his earplugs. Other than the noisy sounds of camp being made as Gazrul’s men begin to integrate and hand out fresh supplies, Pyrene and Gazrul are undisturbed.

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    “Impressive display.” Celestan notes over your private communication channel. “You are clearly ready for service. Father has already given me your first assignment.”

    For a moment, you are confused as to Celestan’s reference of “Father”, but then realize that Sir Celestan is one of the Baron’s sons. Thus, your orders come directly from the Baron himself evidently, and must be doubly obeyed.

    “You are to report to the Infirmary for assignment as escort for my sister.”

    Sister . . . which meant she was the Baron’s daughter. Reflexively, your mind calls up the necessary information to travel to the Infirmary. It also calls up information on the Baron’s daughter – appearance, height, weight, currently listed status (deathly ill). For a moment, your view blurs as an additional connection to the damaged module in your memory is made without conscious effort.

    Sara. Her name is Sara.

    Apparently not noticing your momentary malfunction, Celestan offers you a slight nod.

    “You are dismissed, PR-10000-IM.”

    As before, you travel down the hallways rapidly. Due to the girl’s status, you feel an irrational desire for haste. Perhaps it is another malfunction, or part of the reason for your concern, but you suddenly sense two presences in the back of your mind. They both appear as you imagine yourself to be – a very tall armored humanoid, but one is polished, gleaming with an inner light while the other is twisted and black, surrounded by malevolent smoke.

    There is no reason for such haste. The girl will be well cared for, and she is strong.

    Who cares!? Maybe if she’s already dead, we could dispose of her? Rip her and tear her apart, like we did those pillars. One is as same as the other, is it not?

    Finally reaching the Infirmary, you slow to a stop, briefly acknowledging the two GHASTs standing guard outside before stepping through the door as it slides open to admit you. There is only one patient currently located in the Infirmary, and upon entering you can see her settled in the central chair. Off to one side is the Baroness, watching her quietly. Or rather, watching the circle of assembled figures clustered around Sara.

    One figure approaches the chair, extending a hand out over her chest. Thin tendrils of green energy extend down to play across her body as the man chants. Sara writhes in pain, and although she doesn’t appear to be conscious she still gasps and moans.

    Interfering with our ward, is he? KILL HIM!!

    No, he may be trying to help her. We should ascertain the situation before acting.

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    Examining the door, you find no keyhole, or reaction from Vylethar’s keyring. The door is held in place by even more primitive methods, several iron bars that would be virtually impossible to manipulate open from inside the cell. As a thief, you could probably do it given a bit of time. In any case, it was a fairly simple matter to swing the bars quietly open from the outside.

    (You can leave Limier outside to let you out, bring her in and just pull the door shut, or both come in, lock the bars back up, and hope you can get back out quickly enough. )

    None of the devil guards seem to notice your efforts to open the door, or pull it open to slip inside, but the angel does. In reaction she closes her eyes, clearly steeling herself for whatever torment is about to be inflicted. She starts in surprise and opens one eye at the sound of your voice.

    “So, not an imp then, but something worse.”

    The angel gives a rasping laugh.

    “Oh yes, I hear something far worse. So is this how you’re going to start my torment then, with false pity? Why don’t you promise me redemption next? Give me reason to hope, and then snatch it away on a whim!”

    The angel switches to the imitated voice again.

    “Tell me – “I will help you”, or “Mercy is the message preached by Athelion, and it is what I have shown you”, or “Melcara, you've saved my life twice just today. I couldn't kill you.” But don’t forget “I'm sorry, but the Valkyrie has no mercy left in her heart for traitors!”

    The chains creak loudly as the angel thrashes a bit, now gazing up at the ceiling.

    “Are you happy now!? Are you SATISFIED!?”

    A moment later the angel breaks into open sobs, hanging her head. Eventually she recovers with another laugh, this one even more tinged with madness than before.

    “Or maybe that was all a dream. Maybe I’ve just always been down here.”

    Looking back up in your general direction, her eyes have even more of a pleading look.

    “Can we just skip to the torture now, please? I promise I’ll scream for you.”

    Looking at her, she seems relatively uninjured save for the few bruises across her face and arms, which are very slowly fading as you watch. Having experienced this place firsthand however, you knew that the angel’s torture was forthcoming. It would probably be excessive and unnecessary, but it seems that even such physical abuse pales in comparison to whatever mental trauma she has suffered.

    The one piece of good news is that you now have gotten a good look at her chains. Presumably due to efficiency, the chains are held in place by normal keyhole locks. There are a good number of them, but they seem rather simple so it shouldn’t take much work to spring each individual one.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  25. - Top - End - #295
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    Ander Windrivver

    Ander nods grimly at Karth's endorsement of his plan. Good. I'll make the preparations I need to and will leave as soon as I can. He makes to leave, turning to face Captain Drakeson before stepping through the tent flap. Oh, and Captain? If I were you, I wouldn't ever doubt my capabilities again.

    Ander makes his way through the camp, eventually coming to David's tent. Wake up, he commands, stepping into the tent and kicking the young man in the feet. We've got work to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  26. - Top - End - #296
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    Mar

    This time. Mar shivered convulsively as he said that. It was as if he could see into her, and somehow knew she had been there in the barn that night (well, sort of). No, that wasn't it—he wouldn't be telling her all about Caroline if he knew. It was that she could remember being Caroline, at least for a little while. She could remember being given, as Caroline, to Daddy for his daughter, and she remembered seeing a face she knew was Caroline's, on the body of a winged girl just like her. Only dead. Caroline was dead now. But she could remember dying, too, which was confusing. Was she Caroline, or wasn't she?

    And should she tell him? Not everything—even if she hadn't felt shy about it, she could hardly tell him that she might be Caroline when she didn't know herself—but that she'd seen Caroline. Not telling him was as good as lying, and he was being so nice. But he wouldn't be happy to know she was dead, and he would want to know how she knew.

    Feeling guilty (and a little uneasy about being so close to someone bigger than her), she shrugged out of his enfolding arm. "Okay." She was getting sleepy again, now that everyone but Jacob was gone and she couldn't think of anything to say, but she kept hold of his hand even as she started to drift off. It was nice, she decided, to have someone who would stay with you while you went to sleep. Maybe it would help her have nice dreams, instead of nightmares...
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  27. - Top - End - #297
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    ~Tare

    Tare does leave Limier just outside the cell, and closes the door carefully behind himself soas to not draw undue attention to his dealings. However, as he gets a look at the Angel's chains, he frowns. "I will be right back. I'm not going to leave you here." He says simply before moving back over to the door. "Limier..." Tare breathed. "I need to get her chains loose, but to do that I need to be able to see my own hands. Can you make yourself scarce enough to stay hidden? I need to drop the Invisibility charm..." Tare will wait for Limier to find an appropriate spot to hide before slowly lowering the invisibility spell that protected both of them. Tare again whispered a prayer for luck as he crept back over to the Angel. "My name is Tare. You don't have to tell me your name if you don't want to..." He said, still a little mind-blown that he was talking to an Angel. A real, live Angel.

    Tare dug around in his sash and 'pockets', looking for something, anything that could make picking these locks easier. He found it when something bit into the webbing of his right hand and, hissing quietly, he pulled out one last silver needle. These things had come in handy, maybe he should carry them more often.

    Tare bent over the angel's many locked chains, trying to use the combination of his dagger and the silver needle to decipher the locks. "Please hold still, I'm going to try to get these off, ok...?" The first lock would likely take the longest, he reasoned, and then the rest would be of the same design, and easier to take off once he'd figured out the mechanic. As he worked the little wound on his hand bled freely down one hand.
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-08-29 at 02:12 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Innis Cabal View Post
    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  28. - Top - End - #298
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Korram Alstan

    Korram presses his mouth into a tight line at Kris's taunting, but can hardly blame him for it. Korram has earned that and much worse from his actions, so there is little he can do but endure it, at least for the time being. Calcifer's echoing laughter in his mind does little to alleviate his annoyance. He "hmphs" loudly and folds his arms.

    "I would think that you, of all people, would be subject to first hand reports of just how little of a hero I was. And what little of that I had, I lost in Ironheart. Now? I'm just an old man who has some unfinished business."

    He turns to Countess Ashargrin and Klaus.

    "So where are you two going now?"
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  29. - Top - End - #299
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    Umber

    The Lord of Blood didn't even curse when Kartul unveiled his newest necromantic tricks. The concentration it took to keep the Form of Blades from tearing him apart, along with everything else in the immediate area was immense. He could feel it straining against him - not malicious, simply the unrestrained urge to destroy. It was unmaking personified. The dark at the end of time, the hungry, straining fang of the dragon of the void, and the death of all things. He wondered, for a brief moment, if he could handle the weapon he had unleashed. But he forced the thought aside and fought on. He was Umber, damnit! He was himself. He would not lose. Not to Kartul, not to entropy, not to Death herself.

    Umber nearly screamed when the spell hit him. He snarled at Kartul, showing emotion other than contempt for the first time. Using the edge of the blade, he cut away the very spell-energies themselves, cleaving it from his body with a surgeon's precision. He smirked at Kartul, changing his tact. He surged forward, nearly striking him - then, at the last minute he dodged aside, moving with the speed of a striking comet as he blade lashed out, tearing through Kartul's minions and depriving his foe of his food and fuel.

  30. - Top - End - #300
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    Sohssal

    "Ah, don't worry about me. There aren't many types of undead I can't handle, and even if there's a damned ancient vampire up there, I have a few tricks," he said confidently. He glanced - sort of - over at Roger and Omega. "But I won't blame you two if you don't want to go up there he said, suppressing any hints of disdain he had at the thought of them abandoning him.

    "But either way, there's no way I'm NOT going up there. That thing's been stinking up the place...and I HATE necromancy!" Sohssal angrily declared. He truly did hate necromancy, partly because he was appalled at what he found on it when he was researching immortality, and partly because he never had any talent for it. But, true to his word, he began ascending the pyramid.
    Last edited by Iethloc; 2009-09-01 at 04:16 PM.
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