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  1. - Top - End - #301
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Gourtox's Avatar

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    Telest

    Upon seeing the Elves he rushes spurs his mount faster. He yells, "Elves, The Tur has set me don't worry." just loud enough for tem to hear it as he barrels toward them. Upon reaching the elves he slows down to a stop saying , "I am Telest. The Tur has sent me to find the half-elf girl. Do you know where she is?" He acts as though he is friendly, but he nonchalantly puts his hand on the hilt of one his swords. He acts as if he hasn't even noticed that he put it there, as though it is but a habit.
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  2. - Top - End - #302
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    Kris shrugs at your self-deprecation, although the Countess frowns and silently shakes her head. At your question, she glances over at Klaus, the old man, and then back into the forest behind them. Over his coughed warning, the Countess nonetheless gives their destination.

    “We were heading for the estate of Viscount Damont. I don’t particularly know the young Viscount very well, but I’ve heard he is no friend of the Baron. I was hoping he would be able to provide protection for a trip to the capital, so I might inform the King of the Baron’s transgressions. But then we ran into the Baron’s men, and Pyrene sacrificed herself. Korram . . . you’ve already done so much for me. But, I don’t suppose you could help in finding her and helping her, as you helped me?”

    Everyone else reacts with a mixture of shock and refusal. Klaus merely frowns, holding his peace while eyeing you up and down as if to judge whether you really could do such a thing. Kris snorts and shakes his head.

    “We’re rather busy getting away from the Baron’s men ourselves right now. I think you’re on your own.”

    No no no! I’ve already let you have one distraction by visiting your wreck of a hometown, and what a mess that turned into! I’m *not* letting you stick our necks out again, not when we’re so close from being separated for good! You’re going straight to the capital now, no more sight-seeing, no more stopping to help the poor downtrodden. And certainly you’re not risking our lives for some random whore!

    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    Captain Drakeson seems somewhat chastised by your comments, although he nonetheless opens his mouth to argue, before closing his mouth without a word. Karth nods to you, extending his hand across the table for a firm handshake.

    “Good luck, Lord General.”

    Then without further conversation, you depart Karth’s command tent. Your first stop is visiting David’s tent, stepping over the several other recruits sharing it with him, and kicking the young man awake. He looks at you with blurry eyes.

    “Sir? W-what work is that?”

    Clumsily, the boy rolls off of his bedroll, getting to his feet and begin to roll it up for packing.

    (Feel free to have a conversation with the boy, or just explain and jump ahead to the gates of Dawn’s Hope. Whichever you’d prefer. *shrug* )

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    Clutching Jacob’s hand, you gently drift off to sleep . . .

    Once again you are the winged woman, but this time instead of being dressed in rags and chains, you are clad in an elegant dress, standing on a balcony. Beneath you stretches a massive city, its expanses lit up even now in the dark of night by glowing globes of radiant energy. In the skies above flit dark shapes – dragons mostly, but angels and even a few humans as well. Apparently, work was finishing on the celebratory light show you had been told would occur shortly, featuring a new human innovation – “fireworks”.

    Humans were always so innovative, particularly with magic. Their great skill in directing it towards destruction had always been of great concern to both you and your Lady, and so it was comforting to know that the humans could find constructive uses for their power as well. Very comforting now that it seemed the long struggle was finally over.

    That was another great relief to you. Azguloth was sealed away in His prison, never to escape. The Herald had fallen during the final battle, and likewise the rest of the dark god’s lieutenants. The past years had been a struggle in removing the damage done to the land, shepherding the liberated humans towards the light, and exterminating the last of the dark god’s servants wherever they hid. But now with the coronation of Queen Titania, the humans might be able to protect themselves, allowing you to finally rest.

    Behind you, you hear the faint chime as the crystal door leading out onto the balcony is swung open, and someone steps out onto the balcony. Turning, you see a man dressed in a intricate, bright red robe step out onto the balcony, cradling a pair of wine glasses in his hand. He has a regal countenance, his piercing green eyes looking everywhere with great interest. You don’t remember meeting the man personally before, but remember seeing him about the palace recently. Apparently he has also seen you, for his eyes light up in recognition and he smiles widely.

    Perhaps a little too widely – your acute senses note the stench of alcohol lingering on the man’s breath. Alcohol – another human innovation that sadly had a few positive applications, but none of which were used nearly as frequently as all of its negative ones. Still, the man seemed to have some edge left to him, so he must have been making some attempt to keep his head clear.

    Nodding at you, the man approaches to stand beside you, even going so far as to offer you one of the wineglasses. While his was half empty, the one he extends to you is full, leaving you to wonder if the man had not been intending on sharing a drink with someone. Certainly, you could think of no other reason for a human to carry around *two* wineglasses.

    Accepting the offered wineglass out of politeness, you consider whether or not to indulge in the foul drink. Certainly, one glass of the stuff would have little effect on you, but it was sure to taste vile. You would not want to offend the man by making a face at his drink. Fortunately, the man doesn’t seem to notice your hesitation, sweeping his remaining wine glass out over the city.

    “Marvelous, isn’t it? We have come so far in so little time. And we owe it all to you and Ysora. A toast to the heights our cooperation shall take us! Together, human and angel shall ascend even higher than the Valkyrie would ever imagine!”

    So said, the man knocks back the rest of his drink. His fingers begin to glow a faint green as he begins to play with the glass, twisting it and folding it as a child might crumple a piece of paper. There seems to be a driving purpose here beyond simple destruction, and you watch entranced as the man shapes the molten glass into a new form. While he works, the man continues speaking.

    “As Queen Titania’s new seneschal, I am looking forward to working closely with you in the coming months, Marisiel. Unless of course you are still intent on leaving us after tonight? We will miss you and your insights terribly. Surely you can remain with us for a little longer? We have so much more to learn from you. And Ysora, of course.”

    Finished with his work, the man holds the item up – an intricate crystal flower. Without hesitation, the man pinches it between his thumb and forefinger, extending it towards you.

    “While I hope you will at least reconsider, should you decide to leave us after all, allow this to be my parting gift. A miniscule showing of my appreciation for all you have done for humanity at large, and us in specific.”

    Alongside his offered flower, the man extends his other hand. This you recognize as a familiar human gesture of goodwill, the handshake. The man takes the gesture a surprising step further when upon clasping hands with you, you gently raises your hand to his lips.

    “It has been a pleasure working with you, Lady Marisiel. I can only hope you can look back on these days with the same feeling.”

    The man smiles awkwardly.

    “Forgive me. I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced yet. The Queen’s coronation has been taking up some much of my time, I have forgotten who I have met and haven’t! As I said earlier, I am Queen Titania’s seneschal, Istomilo. And the pleasure from meeting you formally is all mine.”


    You awaken slowly, finding yourself alone in the room, although through the crack of the door you can see the light of a small fire blazing warmly in the room beyond.

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Iethloc

    Yeah, count me out of this one. You’ve pulled our mutual asses out of the fire in the past Sohssal, but this time I think you’re biting off more than you can chew. And I’d rather not be standing on top of a pyramid high in the air, with no way to get back down by myself, when that’s proven.

    I am capable of levitation. I shall accompany you, albeit at a slower pace. I will also need to expend some of my concentration to shield myself from sight of the remaining sentries.

    Ross gives you a grim salute.

    “Good luck. Me and the boy here are going to wait around a bit longer to see if the vampire manages to pull a win out of his ass, or at least make a spectacular mess on the cobblestone. Now that, I wouldn’t miss for anything in the whole world.”

    Bran nods at you as well as you begin your ascent. Shielded by her mind, Omega fades to near translucence as she slowly rises up after you. The gargoyles still flitting about the structure seem to pay neither of you any mind, and soon you find yourself even with the balcony leading into the top of the pyramid. More flashes of light come from within as you draw near, and now at least you can sense the source of those flashes as magical bursts of all different types, most directed towards destruction.

    Looking inside, you can see a skeletal vampire blasting Umber into a nearby wall with a burst of necromantic lightning. A little over a dozen other vampires are present at well, most of them conjuring balls of flame and lightning of their own to hurl at the staggered vampire lord. From within you hear the skeletal vampire cackle as he begins to conjure another spell.

    “Struggle all your like, Umber! No matter how hard you try you shall always be beneath us! WE ARE ETERNAL!”

    WhiteKnight777

    With a flick of the blade, you carve apart the necrotic energy before it can damage you further. Kartul merely sighs as you leap towards him again.

    “Really Umber. Just give up and die already. Like the common vampire before us, you are obsolete now. THERE IS NO PLACE FOR YOU IN MY WORLD!”

    Kartul summons another blast of devouring energy, but this one you dodge easily as you turn aside at the last moment. Instead of striking at the master, you strike at his servants. Having just been watching the fight between these two ancient titans, the crowd is a little slow to react as you plow into them.

    Two more lackeys fall, your blade scything through them effortlessly and leaving only ash. The group then begins to scatter, drawing weapons to defend themselves in a largely futile gesture. Your blade cuts through a third lackey’s sword as easily as it does his chest.

    Suddenly, a telekinetic force lifts you off your feet, slamming you up into the ceiling. And then just as forcefully, it drags you back down to the floor, leaving you to fall in a heap, and very nearly into the ever-hungry maw of your own weapon.

    “*STAY!*” Kartul commands, and although your will was too great to be completely overpowered, the command was still enough to slow your ascent back up onto your feet. Scarcely had you regained your footing and thrown off the compulsion entirely before a blast of black lightning lifts you off your feet and slams you against the nearby wall. You hit with sufficient force to shatter a small crater into the wall.

    A moment later and half a dozen other spells explode all around you, little more than gnat bites but an obnoxious reminder that many of Kartul’s lackeys were still present, and evidently knew a little magic of their own. Over the sounds of the explosions you can hear Kartul’s damnable cackling.

    “Struggle all your like, Umber! No matter how hard you try you shall always be beneath us! WE ARE ETERNAL!”

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    The elves tense as you emerge suddenly from the forest, shouting at them. But then the meaning of your words registers, and they lower their bows. They wave you closer, and once near to them explain in a more civil tone why you are here.

    “We saw this girl.” The lead elf replies, gesturing back to one of the stretchers near the rear of the formation. “Our captain actually spoke with her.”

    As you begin to move towards this captain, the elf raises a hand to stop you.

    “The captain is very weak. It is possible he will not survive the journey back to our camp. I don’t know how lucid he is currently, or if he will even be able to speak. Ask only what you need to know, please. And no, our first duty is to our brethren – we will not help you reclaim her from the beastmen.”

    Allowing you to pass then, the elf leaves you wondering what was meant by “beastmen”. It was certainly no derogatory term you heard used for humans before. So, some other sort of creature then? Ones capable of defeating a full unit of highly trained elves?

    Reaching the stretchers, you quickly find the captain, a tall elf whose legs hang off the bottom of the stretcher he is being carried on. His chest has been tightly wrapped in bandages, all of them dark with blood. His eyes are closed when you approach, but they slowly open a moment later.

    “Who is it?” He rasps.

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    The angel looks in your general direction in confusion, but doesn’t say anything as you move back towards the cell door.

    “Alright, I can do that. Hurry up though, I see a pair of guards pointing up here and nudging each other. If they actually starting moving I’ll come back and deliver a warning of some sort, then see if I can slow them down somehow.”

    Her warning delivered, Limier then slipped off to find somewhere to hide. Meanwhile, aware that company might be coming sooner than wanted or expected, you count down and then remove the Invisibility spell. The angel starts as you come into view and begin moving back towards her.

    “A human!? What are you doing here!?”

    The angel shakes her head and grimaces as you move next to her and dig in your pockets. You hiss as your hand finds the last silver needle you had.

    “You shouldn’t be here. You don’t belong here!”

    The angel hisses as you reach out to the nearest of the shackles, seeking to detach her from the wall first before removing the actual chains wrapped around her. Although the chains hold her immobile, the angel attempts to shrink back away from you.

    “Go away! Stop meddling and leave me to my fate!”

    For the moment, you ignore her, working at the lock. The mechanism is even easier than you thought it would be, and within seconds you have sprung the shackle open, leaving it dangling from the wall once more. This seems to motivate the angel, who grimaces as she twists and pulls against her bonds. With a loud clack! the chains holding her left arm suddenly shatter, and she twists the arm free of the remaining chains still wrapped around her torso. Without hesitation, she grabs you by the throat, lifting you up off the floor with minimal effort.

    “Humans. Always meddling, always causing problems. If it wasn’t for *you*, *I* wouldn’t BE HERE! I wouldn’t have damned myself, only to have you and the rest of your ungrateful kind spit in my face! I should just kill you right now . . .”

    As she hisses her speech, the angel’s fingers begin to clench tight around your windpipe, leaving you gasping for breath. All efforts to loosen the angel’s grip fail, as you are treated to a first-hand demonstration of just how strong and deadly such a creature can be when enraged. But then just as you feel yourself beginning to black out, the grimace of fury fades from the angel, and she releases you, her hand trembling. The angel brings her hand up to cover her mouth, choking back a sob as she looks away from you. After a few moments of you flailing about and gasping for air, the angel speaks again, her tone once again calm and sorrowful.

    “I’m sorry. You probably do not belong here, and if I had killed you now, your soul would be trapped here for eternity. You do not deserve that, and I would not wish that fate on anyone.”

    The angel reaches back around behind her and slips her arm back through the surviving lengths of chain and around behind her back. From the front, it doesn’t appear as if any of her chains have been disturbed, although any examination would obviously reveal the broken links.

    “I think for your own sake, you should go now. I’m . . . not well . . . right now.”

    The angel laughs bitterly.

    “Very soon I won’t be well at all, but at least in another thousand years of torture, I might start to enjoy it again.”

    The angel’s head lolls as she twists and shimmies as best she can in the chains.

    “Oh yes! Melcara the First was once a good little pet! So much more appreciated down Here than up There! Typical I suppose for one regarded as a traitor in the eyes of my Lady.”

    Melcara stops and shoots you a look from underneath her mane of loose red hair, part of which was now hanging down over her face.

    “I belong down here. You interfere with that, you will find yourself with two choices: betray me as other humans before you have, or join me down here. I already know which one you’re going to choose. So rather than go through all this for nothing, I’d rather just stay here and endure whatever our hosts are preparing for me.”

    Melcara nods towards the cell dor.

    “Now run along. Go live out the rest of your happy short life, and then on to eternal reward in the Heavens. Or eternal punishment down here if you’ve been naughty. But at least in that case, your soul has a chance to gradually ascend the foul ranks until you’re the one doing the torturing. I will never be given that chance. No, I will just be tortured. Forever and ever . . .”

    Melcara sighs in despair.

    “And ever.”
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  3. - Top - End - #303
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Umber snarled as magic coursed through his body - wounding, tearing, burning, biting, breaking. With an effort of pure undeniable will he surged forward, roaring as he slashed free of the magical bindings, his blade expanding and contracting at will, whip thin and pliable, now broad and heavy-bladed like a claymore. He tore apart the few lackies who stood between him and Kartul.

    Umber straightened up, giving his foe a fierce grin. The old hunger was in his eyes, the will of the conqueror, the drive of the kingslayer. He threw back his head to laugh, and it was the sound of crumbling cities and shattered crowns.

    "Eternal? No, Kartul. You're just a rotten old corpse who hasn't had the sense to lay down and die yet. Let's see how well you do when I tear your soul, your mind, your very essence apart. That's what you were always afraid of, wasn't it Kartul? The darkness beyond death. Nothingness. Oblivion."

    Umber smiled broadly, his eyes gleaming red. "Let me show you the way to your kingdom, Kartul. You'll be the king of nothing at all. Won't that be nice?"

    Umber snarled again, and the blade shattered into a thousand pieces - each one swirling about him in a razor-edged maelstrom, cutting apart anything that drew close - be it flesh or spell or even a breath of air. Umber charged straight for Kartul, and the swarm circled about him. Just before he struck, it coalesced once more, the shards flowing like water over his right hand as he drove it into Kartul's chest, tearing up through his heart and through his head. It was no simply claw that shredded merely flesh and bone - it tore through spirit, magic, flesh and soul as Umber sought to end his ancient "comrade" once and for all.

  4. - Top - End - #304
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    PR-10000-IM

    Pleased at itself (an odd sensation) that the performance given was impressive to Celestan PR-10000-IM accepts the orders with a nod and exits the chamber. Puzzling over the sudden information regarding “Sara” it tries to access additional information on her. Yes it required access to the damaged data however it would be best to sort out the data rather than having a malfunction at a critical moment in combat.

    Yet now another odd event occurs with the two sub-sets of its personality apparently manifests. Figuratively looking behind it at the two presences in its mind PR-10000-IM observes them. Clearly objects of duality they providing predictably contrary advice. Yet now was not the time to dwell on them for there was a mission to complete.

    Acknowledging the two fellow GHASTs, PR-10000-IM enters the chamber. Instantly noting the presence of several people they are highlighted. Targets designate “Sara” and “Baroness” are instantly marked as primary VIPs. Instantly shifting itself towards protecting them PR-10000-IM takes several steps towards them when one of the inconsequential men approaches “Sara”.

    Seeing her scream in pain PR-10000-IM jerks slightly, feeling something like a mental stab at seeing her scream out.

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

    Designate mental-voice as “Harvey”.

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

    Designate mental-voice as “Winona”.

    With that settled PR-10000-IM moves into motion. The moans of pain from her barely fade before it reaches the man emitting the energy. Reaching out it grabs the man by the throat with one arm and yanks him up and away from Sara. Wings spread out reflexively and cover “Sara” and the Baroness as it turns to face the man, still holding the man by his throat as his face starts to turn blue.

    ”Targets designate “Meat-sacks” – Step away from the child or lethal force will be utilized!”

    Weapons Enabled: Energy Cannons Initiating Pre-Fire Mode
    ….
    Target Designate #1: Status – Held – Attacking with chemical weapon… correction… releasing bodily fluids... threat analysis... negligible!
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  5. - Top - End - #305
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    The Mercenary Camp

    Lonna

    The draconic gnoll frowns in confusion at your initial comments, but then his expression relaxes into neutrality once more.

    “I do not believe I was.”

    For a moment Gazrul pauses as if considering whether or not to elaborate on that, but then presses on.

    “I was told to find “one whose fur is matted with blood”.”

    He gestures at your hair, and then continues.

    “I was told this in a dream by the stars themselves.”

    The gnoll bars his teeth and then walks over to the small crackling fire.

    “You see, my people believe that our ancestors watch down on us from beyond the Veil between life and death. That is them, up there in the night sky, watching down upon us. They shelter us, guide us, and judge us. They are the only gods my people have ever needed. And I do not know why they have led me to you, but I mean to find out.”

    The gnoll sighs and turns back to face you.

    “You do not seem to know what part you are here to play either. So, let’s start at the beginning. You are Pyrene the Temptress, an infamous prostitute and thief, charged with numerous crimes related to that, as well as the murder of a minor nobleman – apparently in cold blood, according to your prison file. For this you were sent to Ironheart, which I understand is a permanent imprisonment. Somehow, during an incident there, you escaped with a number of other prisoners.”

    Gazrul looks at you carefully.

    “Now then, since the time of your escape, what has happened? Were you traveling with any other prisoners? What interest do these elves seem to have in you? Why?”
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  6. - Top - End - #306
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    Korram holds his head in his hands, face caught in a grimace of longing, regret, and frustration. Nothing. His life's work had amounted to nothing, and every action he took just dug his hole deeper, and deeper, and deeper. As a man of his word, he couldn't refuse Calcifer, and wouldn't go back on his deal with the Baron, although the idea sorely tempted him. As a man of honor, he couldn't allow Pyrene to be punished for her noble sacrifice. Each loyalty, each regret, every action he had undertaken since that fateful day that he had escaped from Ironheart, everything that he had done weighed heavily upon him. And then, all of a sudden, an idea occurs to Korram. It would be a great sacrifice, but he had already given up on his own happiness. He scratches his stubble, and then looks at Kris, Amelia, and Klaus.

    "Please, give me one second."

    Korram converses briefly with Calcifer, discussing the viability of his plan. Calcifer's initial reaction is shock, but after a few seconds he confirms that it would definitely work. Korram stands slowly, and sadly.

    "I am sorry. In my present state, I cannot help you because of what I have promised, and I cannot stand by because of what I believe. Too often, lately, I find myself caught in a web of impossible choices. It's time to bring this stage to an end. You may want to stand back."

    He closes his eyes and focuses, allowing Calcifer's energy to flow to its maximum potential. He pushes his hands close together, generating a small portal to the Plane of Fire. Once this is in place, Calcifer flows in his entirety into Korram's right arm, similar, or more accurately indentical to his former imprisonment. Said appendage bursts into flame. Before he can really think about what he is about to do, Korram shoves his arm into the portal and swings it down. Korram's arm is split in two at the elbow, the portion containing Calcifer being released once more into his home. Before the portal fully closes, Korram sees a pair of massive crimson wings of flame spread out, and hears Calcifer's burning cackle for what he hopes is the last time. His arm hurts.

    Oh right. He cut it off. The full realization of his act hits him, at the same time as a massive wave of pain. He falls to one knee, but grits his teeth and stands again. Luckily, the wound was cauterized, but Korram still has to fight to keep conscious through the pain.

    "Right then, I'm now free of the burning pain in the a**, so..."

    Korram doesn't get to finish as he loses his battle with the black spots at the edges of his vision, and falls into blissful darkness. He won't be out long, more's the pity.
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  7. - Top - End - #307
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Pyrene the Temptress

    Pyrene made a noise of protest at the mention of cold-blooded murder, but silenced herself until Gazrul had finished speaking. "Damned arrogant noble courts," she said bitterly. "It figures that they would put that on my record. None of them would want to besmirch a noble name, however minor, on the word of a common whore. I killed him true enough, but only to save my own life, and even so only by accident." She paused, swallowed, regained control of herself.

    "I already told Wulfric about Amelia. We escaped together, nearly died in the snow together, and were saved by the same man, a local who was driven out of his home by elves before he really had time to decide what to do with us. The three of us fled, hoping to avoid the elves long enough for Klaus at least to reach some sort of safety. Unfortunately, as you noticed, they have a particular interest in me," she tossed her hair back to reveal her gently pointed ears, "'a girl neither human nor elf.' I had just finished negotiating with them - my cooperation in exchange for Klaus and Amelia's freedom - when your men attacked. As for why they want me..."

    Pyrene hesitated, debating whether to tell Gazrul the truth. "I've been having dreams lately," she said finally. "Perhaps visions is a better word. There is a cold wind, and in the wind is a voice, or perhaps the wind is her voice. She calls herself 'Titania, Goddess and Queen' and claims that the elves are her servants. She insists that I am her daughter..."
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  8. - Top - End - #308
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    At your comment, Kris steps back, looking at you quizzically. From their positions on top of the cart, Klaus and Countess Amelia also shoot you confused looks. Not actually present physically, you can still feel Calcifer react at first with confusion, and then with glee.

    Yes, this just might work! Let’s do it, quickly before your meatbag brain has second thoughts!

    As you conjure up the portal and focus Calcifer down into your arm once more, you feel a wave of what might almost be appreciation flow back up into your mind.

    Y’know, I could have done a lot worse for a host all these years. You are a man of your word, Korram Alstan, and that does impress me. You’re probably hopelessly doomed without me, but for what it’s worth, good luck. Oh, and final insight from me – I think your daughter will always be closer to you than you think.

    Then before you can reconsider, you stick your arm into the portal, and swing it down, effectively chopping your arm in half just below the elbow. The pain is instantly noticeable, and quite exquisite. For a moment you think you’re going to manage to endure it as you have all your other wounds without embarrassment. But then your vision blacks out completely, and the last thing you see is the hard ground leaping up at you.

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

    You awaken an indeterminable time later to the sensation of a cold cloth being dabbed on your forehead. For a fleeting instant, the memory of your wife doing something similar for you after a hard day’s work conjures up a smile. But then you crack open your eyes, and see that it is only Countess Amelia, looking very concerned. She starts as you begin to move, thankfully the pain in your arm down to merely a dull ache. Looking down at that, you can see your stump has been swathed in makeshift bandages.

    “Oh! You’re awake! How do you feel?”

    “Like the Hells, or at least he should.” You hear Kris grunt from somewhere off to your right. A few moments later, his face enters your field of vision, his green eyes looking down at you with a mixture of concern and disgust.

    “That was a very stupid thing to do, Old Man. Not only did you throw away our best weapon by my count, but you also wasted several hours we don’t have.”

    “KRIS!”

    “What? I’m just calling it like I see it. How’s he supposed to go busting in there to save Pyrene with one arm and probably with a mother of a headache? Assuming she’s even still alive – mercenary scum don’t seem like the type to give a prostitute anything other than a very specific kind of a “good time”.”

    The Countess simply stares at Kris, her face frozen in between righteous anger and utter dismay. After a moment, Kris snorts and starts ticking off points on his fingers.

    “That’s even assuming we can find these mercenaries. And that we’re still going to go stick our necks out for her. Instead of doing the smart thing, y’know, and being somewhere else before those GHASTs catch wind of us again.”

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    WhiteKnight777

    The pieces of your weapon swirling around you, you tear apart Kartul’s remaining lackeys in an instant. Then you strike at the master once again, driving the blade into his chest and then up, out through his head. Although there is still some resistance, this time Kartul is not lucky enough to have some minion nearby to transfer the injury to, however he was doing that.

    Pieces of bone still crumbling off him as his broken body collapses to the floor, Kartul still manages one last cackle. His jaw completley askew from the rest of his skull, he nonetheless manages to grate out, “You think you’ve won, Umber? No no . . . this is only a temporary setback. I may be going to Oblivion now – but I will soon return. And when I do . . .”

    Kartul’s death leaves the threat hanging open, as his bones collapse into a disorderly pile completely, crumbling away into a mess of dust and tattered cloth. From behind a nearby scorched and scoured pillar slips Mellita, a look of completely shock on her face.

    “Is he really gone?”

    You have only a moment more to savor your victory before the floor suddenly shifts violently underneath your feet, and a loud rumble roars out from deep below. Whether falling apart or merely phasing out into nothingness to rejoin its master, Kartul’s pyramid was about to disappear. And the results were likely to be unpleasant either way if you remained here for much longer.

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Lonna

    Although it seems Gazrul is surprised and curious about your counter to the court record, he remains silent for the moment. Continuing, you answer the rest of his questions. For the next few moments the gnoll leader is silent, observing you carefully.

    “That is a very interesting story. I cannot recall any “Titania” within our lore, and so do not have any insight to offer. Perhaps the elves would be able to explain more fully, considering their desires and these dreams of yours seem to be linked. Of course, they do not appear to be a very talkative lot.”

    There is a note of bitterness at this last statement, suggesting Gazrul has had his own recent unfavorable dealings with the elves. After a moment’s pause, he seems to go on to explain.

    “My men were hired by the Baron to locate Countess Amelia Ashargrin and return her safely to his care. She is ill, and in no shape to be wandering the mountains alone. It would seem that the Baron was at least right on that account – the mountains aren’t safe at the moment. Other than you, the elves have offered no explanation for their actions, but instead have attacked mercilessly, honorlessly, and without provocation!”

    The hackles on the gnoll leader’s back rise at his description of the elves conduct, but he quickly regains control.

    “I find it puzzling that their behavior is so remarkably different with you, but it seems clear they find you very important for some reason. That alone may be reason enough to keep you safe and take you back with us – we should be able to keep you safe from their raiding parties. However, the situation seems to have become even more grim for the Countess if she is on the run and the elves are on the hunt. Are you sure there is no more information you can provide us that would help us locate her? I find it unlikely this one “local” you claim rescued you both will be capable of protecting her for long.”

    Outside, your sharp ears suddenly detect an unusual “whining” noise, which in turn seems to stir up a considerable commotion in the camp. You can make out something being shouted at the edges of the camp, but even your sharp hearing can’t make out the exact words. A few moments later, Wulfric re-enters the tent, looking even more grim than usual.

    “Gazrul, sir. I think you had better come out here. Right now.”

    Shooting you a look, the gnoll leader nods.

    “Alright. Do you require anything else at the moment, Pyrene? I would like to resume our conversation once this matter – whatever it is – is settled.”

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    Compromising on the advice given to you by your two self-reflections, you grab the man by the throat and drag him away from Sara. You then hold him aloft, readying yourself for combat with his fellows while you slowly choke the life out of him. Before you can determine whether your attempts at intimidation have been successful, you hear the Baroness address you.

    “In . . . in case you didn’t notice, PR-10000-IM, these men were in the middle of a sensitive ritual. Under my orders.”

    The implications of this announcement are quickly processed by your mind. Although all members of the Baron’s family were to be protected and obeyed without question, there was a hierarchy of sorts among them, with the Baron and the Baroness as the absolute. Despite being ordered to foresee the safety of the Baron’s daughter, whatever these men were doing to her was being ordered by the Baroness. Which meant you were interfering with an order given by the Baroness, albeit not to you personally. Reflexively, you release your grip on the man’s throat, but stand ready to defend yourself, the Baroness, or Sara.

    “I . . . appreciate your zeal, PR-10000-IM, but it is unnecessary in this instance. My daughter is very ill, and we are attempting to treat her.”

    The Baronnes’s explanation is interrupted by Sara suddenly gasping. Turning to fully examine her once more, you see that she seems to have woken up. None of the other men are anywhere near her now, and in fact are standing cautiously a good ten feet away from you and your ward.

    The girl’s eyes are still clouded with pain, but take in the room quickly.

    “Mother . . . what happened?”

    “We were attempting to treat your injuries. Unfortunately, we were interrupted. How do you feel?”

    “Better. It doesn’t hurt to breathe anymore.”

    There is a collective sigh of relief from around the room, and even the Baroness looks pleased.

    “That is very good to hear. You should rest some more. You need to regain your strength.”

    “A-alright.” Sara responds, closing her eyes and resting back in the chair once more. For a moment, her eyes linger on you. Repairs conclude on another section of your damaged memory a moment later, and you see an image of that same face, looking at you again, but this time in a mixture of terror, hope, and confusion. She seems to be chained to a pillar of some sort, red-cloaked figures dancing around her. The memory is unfortunately no more informative than that, and one part of your mind continues attempting to reconnect the damaged memory sections. The rest of your mind, meanwhile, refocuses on the Baroness as she addresses you once more.

    “So – why are you here? Did my husband send you?”
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  9. - Top - End - #309
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    ~Tare

    Tare was honestly rather intimidated by the show of breaking chains, and confused as to why this angel would submit to them willingly if she could have broken them at any time. He didn't have time to think about it, though. The second later that same strength was being applied to his throat.

    When the angel released him, he collapsed completely to the floor, his head swimming and his eyeballs feeling like they would explode out of his skull. Feebly he dragged himself slowly away from this 'Angel', or whatever she was, as though it would do any good if she truly decided to damn him with one movement. She surely could.

    But even through the haze that watered up in his eyes as he choked his windpipe back open, he still was able to watch, baffled, as the angel replaced the now quite broken chains around her own arms and sat back against the wall. Traitor? What could that possibly mean? "...That... so that's... it?" He gasped through his rather sore throat, still against the floor. "You're just going to stay here? ...Alone? Why?" Tare simply could not fathom the logic that could possibly lie behind such an attitude, and even as he tried to comprehend it, he had already decided in his heart that it was dead wrong.
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-09-05 at 04:53 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #310
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Umber

    Umber shook his head as he looked around at the crumbling tomb. Never built to last, your standard floating fortress. Always started crumbling as soon as you eviscerated whatever cretin put the damn thing together.

    "Unlikely" he said, as the Form of Blades disappeared, dismissed by an effort of will that struck him like a physical blow.
    "I didn't feel his soul tear. But if we don't want a quick trip to oblivion, we'd best be gone."

    Picking Mellita up in his arms and carrying her, Umber began to run out of the fortress at superhuman speed. He knew Kartul was right - he'd won a temporary victory at best - but at least it would buy him some time.

  11. - Top - End - #311
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Korram Alstan

    Korram tries to push himself up on his elbows, and then remembers his lack of one. He looks at the stump of his arm again, shocked beyond comprehension at his rash action. Rash, but still important. He waves the stump around a bit, and then settles back with a heavy sigh. He listens to the brief discourse between Kris and the Countess wordlessly.

    "Ach, what do you mean? I didn't lose several hours, I saved several days of going to the capital and coming back. Calcifer was done waiting. He wouldn't have waited through any attempted rescue of Pyrene, and I think my being immolated alive wouldn't have helped her too much, either. Additionally, I wouldn't expect her to be dead yet; the Baron doesn't let go of his prisoners that easily. Also, nobody's making you go; I'm going to try to save her, you can do whatever you want. I fought hand-to-hand with the Herald and only sort of got my a** kicked, I can still take care of myself. Lastly, DON'T CALL ME OLD!"

    Korram sits up fully, leaning against any convenient nearby structure to support his weight. After a few seconds, he stands, somewhat shakily and looks to the Countess.

    "Right then, where and when was the last time you saw Pyrene?"
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  12. - Top - End - #312
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Telest

    He swiftly dismounts his horse and hands the reins to one of the elves. Then he leans in close so the captain can talk softer and preserve his strength. "I am Telest, sent by the Tur to recover the girl. Do you know she is or where she might be." He refrains himself from asking about the beastmen as he knew he would find out what they were and what they were capable of. The beastmen must be the ones who took the girl. That means I'm probably gonna have to take her back from them. Ah well a few more bodies to add to the count.
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  13. - Top - End - #313
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Pyrene the Temptress

    At Gazrul's explanation of why he had been sent after the Countess (or rather, why the Baron claimed he had been), Pyrene interjected while he was calming his own anger at the elves' methods. "Amelia, the woman I traveled with, was definitely tortured - I saw it myself. If the Baron truly is only taking care of this Countess because she is ill, then surely they can't be the same person."

    A bit later, when Gazrul asked if she needed anything else, she started to shake her head, the smiled wryly. "Some clothing would be nice; contrary to popular opinion, I'm not completely shameless." Pyrene didn't precisely avoid Wulfric's gaze after Gazrul left, but neither did she try to keep eye contact or initiate conversation.
    I started a blog!
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  14. - Top - End - #314
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    PR-10000-IM

    Observing Sara awaking after the “treatment” administer to her PR-10000-IM relaxes as best as possible. Its wings retract towards its back and it straightens up. Looking at the rest of the targets outside of instant melee range but well within short-combat zone PR-10000-IM re-designate them as neutral parties and slowly eases out of combat mode.

    With the temporary threat of combat diminished and a question asked by the Baroness PR-10000-IM turns to face her.

    ”Your Highness. I have been ordered to escort your daughter by Sir Celestan. Detailed information regarding her ailment and treatment was not provided. How can I assist?”

    While pending the reply from human’s who’s thought processes seem to require time to process, not to mention the time it would take their muscles to move to push air through their systems to produce sounds which were their typical form of communication PR-10000-IM focuses on the two unusual echo’s within itself.

    \\\…Initiate System Diagnosis…///
    Isolate sub-applications
    • Identify – Source of “Good/Holy Suggestions”
    • Identify – Source of “Evil/Selfish Suggestions”

    Query and Report – Pre-Setup Firewalls and Buffers – Verify Systems
    Execute
    While waiting PR-10000-IM focuses towards Sara, examining her visually as best as possible for any clues as to her condition. Also information on her capabilities, weaknesses and general state of health will be determined and stored for future reference in any situations that may arise.
    Last edited by Pwenet; 2009-09-06 at 08:46 PM.
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    I'm feeling this real hard now.
    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

  15. - Top - End - #315
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Sohssal

    Once he got to the balcony of the pyramid, Sohssal paused, not out of fear but because he knew he didn't have to do anything. He quietly watched Umber slice up Kartul. He wasn't too surprised when the pyramid became unstable, though. Ah, why does everyone build their lairs like this? My labs never collapsed if I was driven from them - not that that's happened very often, mind you... Sohssal mentally commented to Omega.

    "We've met before, haven't we? Umber, isn't it? It'd be easier to get out of this place if you could fly out the balcony," he said before Umber could make an exit. He waved one ghostly hand (forming as an image on the orb) around as if to cast his flying wind spell, but for all he knew this one could be content to run.
    Last edited by Iethloc; 2009-09-07 at 08:08 PM.
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  16. - Top - End - #316
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    At your demand to be called youthful, Kris smirks. “Okay, whatever you say . . . Pops.”

    The Countess shakes her head and sighs. “I am sorry your daughter has chosen to work with such . . . difficult people.”

    “Hey now! We’re not all bad.”

    A look on genuine regret comes over Kris’s face.

    “Or were, considering I’m the only one left now.”

    The Countess’s expression softens a little, and she looks back to you.

    “We don’t know where the mercenaries are. We ran into them back at a cave where we were using for shelter last night. Actually, a group of elves found us first – Pyrene was going to hand herself over to them in exchange for our safety as well. I don’t know what they want with her, but we didn’t get a chance to find out before those mercenaries jumped the whole lot of us. What do you think we should do?”

    “I think you should stick your head in between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye.” Calls a familiar and unwelcome voice from the forest. Pushing yourself up with your one good hand, you manage to sit up just as Cheran emerges out from behind a tree. He smiles smugly as he walks leisurely towards the cart.

    “Alternatively, you could piss yourselves and pray to your impotent gods. Either way, you’re dead or soon to be wishing for it.”

    Klaus and Kris share a look, and then both spring into action. Kris draws a knife and throws it in one smooth motion, while Klaus snaps his crossbow up to his shoulder and fires. In a blur of motion, Cheran catches Kris’s knife. Instead of catching the crossbow bolt however, he interposes his hand between the bolt’s path and his face.

    The Baron’s son winces as the crossbow bolt penetrates through his hand, coming to a stop about halfway through. Casually slipping Kris’s knife in between his teeth, Cheran uses his freed hand to pull the crossbow bolt the rest of the way through. He holds up the bloodied hand to show you as the hole in his flesh begins to reseal, barely even leaving behind a scar. He grins as his snaps the bolt in half with his fingers, letting both pieces drop to the ground as he pulls Kris’s knife out of his mouth.

    “Damn, that never gets old.”

    Cheran looks at Klaus, gripping the knife and pulling his hand back.

    “Think fast!” He shouts as he lets the knife fly, a silvery blur that catches Klaus in the shoulder before he can even think about dodging out of the way. Grunting, Klaus drops his crossbow and collapses to the ground, clutching his wound.

    With a loud snarl, Klaus’s dog charges forward. Cheran laughs as he steps forward to meet the dog’s rush, pulling a foot back to deliver a hellacious kick that catches Rudolf in mid-leap. With a loud yelp, Rudolf goes flying back into some bushes a good distance away, out of sight.

    Kris draws his signature weapons as he moves to interpose himself between Cheran and the cart. Cheran laughs as he slowly comes to a halt, watching Kris’s twirling knives closely.

    “You sure you want to be getting in my way, boy?”

    “Don’t call me boy.”

    The two of them spring into action at roughly the same time, charging towards each other. But with his incredible speed, Cheran flies just above the ground and meets Kris before the young man has taken more than half a dozen steps. Cheran collides with Kris in a flying tackle, snatching him up and driving him back into a nearby tree. As his back smashes into the tree with sufficient force to cause the tree to shutter, Kris gives out a very unmanly scream. With a snort, Cheran drops back down and allows Kris to crumble to the ground at his feet.

    “Pathetic.” He snorts as he turns away from the fallen rebel, turning back to face you and the Countess. Although your eyes are on the son of your hated enemy, you notice from the corner of your eye that the Countess has shrunk down beside one wheel, looking at Cheran with absolute horror. Cheran smirks as he walks towards the cart.

    “Looks like it’s just you and me now, Korram. Wow, do you look bad – you sure you don’t want to just lie back and take a nap? I mean, I thought selling your soul to a devil was bad, but ****! Your fiery little friend seems to have taken your arm as his price for the deal!”

    Cheran shudders mockingly as he slows to a stop a few feet away from you and the cart.

    “It’ll all be over soon one way or the other. Why don’t you just make it easy on yourself? Hand over my wife the way you did back in Ironheart, and I won’t have to make you any uglier than you already are.”

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Iethloc

    It does seem illogical to build fortress in that manner. Although, seeking to destroy the one who destroyed you, while spiteful and inefficient, could be an understandable motive for such a design.

    Floating up to the balcony, you introduce yourself once again to the ancient vampire. In his arms is another vampire, this one female, but not terribly interesting the way the Lord of Blood was. She did have a magical enchantment on her, one that apparently would grant her flight, which she strangely wasn’t making use of at the moment. For his part, Umber reeked of various lingering auras and energies, most of which had been used towards his destruction given the state of his clothing.

    You could feel the fortress beginning to wane, and then its magic nearly fade entirely as a massive explosion guts the inside of it. The structure itself would soon be falling apart, and Umber would likely have to be in the woman’s arms instead of the other way around, or devise a method of flying by flapping his arms very rapidly. Of course, you could also probably help with that, but it occurs to you that there might be other concerns.

    When the fortress came apart, most of it would almost certainly fall to the ground below. Roger was down there, along with Ross and Bran. The first two you weren’t particularly concerned about, admittedly, but the loss of Bran would be unfortunate. You had never really gotten the time to analysis his unique and immensely powerful aura properly the last time you had met him. Or this most recent time, for that matter. There always seemed to be some power-hungry idiot getting in the way.

    WhiteKnight777

    “I guess that means . . . we’ll be seeing him again soon after all?” Mellita asks with a concerned frown.

    Of course, neither of you had time to contemplate such a difficulty, as Kartul’s base of operations seemed to be getting ready to come down around your ears. Scooping Mellita up in your arms, you ran for the balcony for all you were worth. Meanwhile, the shivers traveling through the floor grow even more violent, beginning to threaten to pitch you off of your feet.

    Fortunately, you manage to make it out onto the balcony before stumbling a fatal amount. You attempt to use Bran’s flying magic to escape, only to realize that the spell has faded. Either Kartul’s assault on you or wielding the Form of Blades had stripped the enhancement from you. Mellita might still be able to fly, but judging by her shock from what she had seen in the past minutes, she was not rational enough right now to remember on her own. Above and below you, the gargoyles, wraiths, and various other unpleasant things capable of flight were all streaming away from the fortress.

    Through the thick mass of fleeing bodies, you notice the odd sight of a magical globe floating rapidly up towards the fortress. You scarcely have time to register this strange sight before an explosion of energy rips through the fortress behind you. Kartul’s fortress was clearly gutting itself, and in typical dungeon fashion, would begin literally falling apart soon. In confirmation, dark cracks begin to appear around the joint between the balcony and the fortress wall. In another minute or less it would break free entirely, leaving you to plummet quite a long way down.

    It also suddenly occurs to you that when the fortress goes, it will likely fall straight down, crushing anything beneath it. Bran was down there! Ross too, probably, but you wouldn’t really mind seeing that miserable hound crushed under a thousand tons of rock and necromantic energy.

    One small ray of hope comes with the strange floating globe comes level with the balcony, and begins speaking with you. It is apparently Sohssal, the strange incorporeal mage you had met in the battle against the Hierarch.

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    At your mention of the Tur, the captain relaxes slightly. “Ah.” He rasps simply. After a moment’s pause, he continues at a harsh whisper.

    “I met her. Neither human nor elf, but both. She looks so much like a human though . . . only our ears (read – standard issue pointy elf ears. ) really give her away. Blood red hair, large green eyes. She was traveling with others . . . another woman, and an old human man. We found them in a cave, not far from here. But we were ambushed . . . by the beastmen. They killed most of us within seconds, although not without a few casualties of their own. We would have all died without the half-elf . . . she saved us. Conjured fire, drew their attention away . . . surely they captured her nonetheless. We have failed.”

    The captain relaxes again, this time seeming to enter the uneasy sleep of the critically wounded. If the elves got him back to the Tur’s camp soon, he might survive. Otherwise, he had only another day at most. As you turn to leave, one of the other elves stops you.

    “I can give you further directions to the cave, but I am needed here. I’m one of our few remaining scouts.”

    Following the elf’s directions, along with the instinct in your head, you manage to locate the cave without much difficulty. It is also unquestionably the cave, as elven bodies are scattered about the cave entrance, along with broken arrows and dropped weapons. There are no beastmen bodies, likely due to them leaving none behind despite taking casualties of their own. Most vexing, however, is the fact that although you find footprints scattered all around the cave, a short distance out they stop. Someone had taken the time to sweep the ground clear behind the formation as they retreated.

    So, you had the general direction that they must have taken, but it seems likely they would have changed course after they started to sweep their tracks in the snow away. There were other ways to track, as the ground was still disturbed even if more discretely, but it would take time. Time you may not have with these beastmen potentially moving further and further away.

    Suddenly, a harsh chill passes through you, and an icy spike of pain stabs into your head. You feel a presence enter your mind as your vision clears slightly. A slight wind suddenly kicks up, scattering and swirling snow flakes in front of you. After a moment of looking at the swirling snow, you realize that it is revealing a path to you, a path leading further into the forest.

    Follow. The presence commands in your mind, and then fades back away to the unpleasant instinct you have been feeling during your search for the cave. Would this lead you to the beastman encampment? You had no way to know. But you did know that things seemed to be getting more dangerous and stranger than ever.

    Lonna

    Gazrul frowns in confusion.

    “You said you met this Amelia, presumably the Countess Amelia Ashargrin, during your escape. How then did you observe her being tortured? Unless you stopped to watch such a thing during your escape, I do not understand how such a thing fits with the rest of your story. And it is a very concerning revelation, regardless of whether you are telling the truth or not.”

    At your later request for clothing, Gazrul nods. “Wulfric briefed me a little before speaking with you. I understand you nearly froze to death in the water. Having packed light, none of his men had extra clothing, save for a few cloaks. Now that I and my men are here, we should be able to provide everything with a few supplies. I will see what I can do, although I suspect most of our clothing will be quite big on you, even if it fits at all.”

    Later, after Gazrul has gone outside to attend to whatever was happening, Wulfric remains in the tent, looking out. He swears softly while watching outside, and then quickly turns back to you. From underneath his cloak, he produces a bundle of wrinkled clothing. Your clothes.

    “They’re still a little damp, but nothing that should sicken you.” He explains, tossing the clothing down onto the cloak mat beside you. He then draws a knife and approaches you.

    “Easy . . . just going to cut your loose so you can get dressed. Better be quick about it too – there’s someone claiming to be a son of the Baron’s out there, and he wants to see you.”

    Wulfric pulls the cloak off your shoulders, and swiftly saws through all of the ropes holding your arms. He immediately moves on to your legs, sheathing his knife as he gets back up. He gestures at your clothing, throwing a look towards the tent’s opening.

    “Hurry up. I don’t like the looks of this guy. And presenting a half-naked prostitute to him doesn’t seem like a good idea.”

    Walking swiftly now, Wulfric goes over to the gnoll guard who hasn’t taken his eyes off your once. Bodily, he grabs the gnoll by the shoulders, and turns him around in his seat until he back is to you. The gnoll looks confused by this, and makes to continue watching you over his shoulder, but Wulfric makes several fast hand signals, and the gnoll nods slowly, eyes now firmly towards the corner of the tent. Wulfric stands near the mouth of the tent, arms folded across his chest as he looks outside. There’s an odd note of concern in his voice as he addresses you.

    “You’re probably pretty stiff right now. I apologize for that, but you’ve probably only got a few minutes before that ******* comes over here. I give you my word that I won’t look, but just as surely, you will regret it if you try to take advantage.”

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    Identifying sources of suggestions . . . .
    . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . .
    ALERT!

    Exposure to Angelic and Demonic power sources have corrupted part of the decision processor. Damaged sections cannot be restored without a full personality wipe. Would you like to proceed? Y/N


    Before you can decide whether or not to proceed with the operation, the Baroness speaks again.

    “I see . . . very well. My daughter seems to be resting comfortably at the moment. See that no one disturbs her beyond what is necessary until my return. I am needed elsewhere.”

    As she addresses you, you note her toying with a silver band on her ring finger. Most of the fingers on each of her hand have one or multiple rings resting on them, most of them ornate and some radiate magical auras. Of them all, this silver band seems to be the plainest of them, and appears to have been made crudely using metallurgy techniques several decades out of style.

    For some reason, seeing this also triggers another image – three people in a small dark chapel, one the Baroness, another dressed in priest’s clothes, and a third person, from whose perspective the image is seen. The Baroness looks much different in this image, as her hair is a number of shades lighter, and there is a warm smile on her face. Like all previous images, this one lasts only a moment before it fades.

    You note that the Baroness is already heading towards the door, moving quickly. She does not look back as the door slides open to grant her entry into the hallway. Turning back to face the girl, you watch her sleep, analyzing your systems, and more importantly, monitoring her condition.

    The Baron’s daughter seems to be utterly unremarkable in any way, appearing to be just a normal young teenaged girl. Your scanners can detect the lingering presence of necromantic energy from the ritual, but also a greater deal of holy energy strangely present in her tissues. This energy seems to be slowly radiating out of her body, and has already dropped to safe levels for a human to endure.

    You spend the next several hours in much the same condition, watching her and waiting as she sleeps as the divine energy continues to fade from her body. The human figures, designated “Meat Sacks”, go about their business in the rest of the Infirmary, treating a handful of badly injured Ironheart guards, or technicians injured in accidents aboard the Gastly Truth. A few come to check on the girl, although they always flinch when you stir to life at their approach. They always carefully explain what they are doing, and seem to do nothing but examine her to ensure she is still comfortable.

    Finally, the young girl stirs, and her eyes slowly open. She looks around confused for a moment, and then starts as her eyes focus on you.

    “Hello.” She says quietly. “Do you know where my mother is?”

    You are aware that although you don’t have the requested information yourself, you could contact Fury, the airship’s central command module, for details, or perhaps commune with the other GHASTs aboard to locate the Baroness. Of course, you aren’t obligated to listen to Sara’s commands either, as she is at the bottom of the hierarchy. Still important enough to protect at all costs, but not important enough to obey.

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    YES.” Melcara says forcefully. A moment later, her angry expression breaks and she collapses into tears again. Although it’s difficult to make her next words out through the sobs, you believe you get most of it.

    “Alone. No one to see her troubles, no one to understand her sorrow! Abandoned in the dark, forsaken, cast-out, but never forgotten.”

    The angel hangs her head, apparently in control of herself again, although her voice is still fragile.

    “Here is where I belong. If I go to the Heavens, I will be killed and sent back. If I go to your world, I will be hunted and betrayed until I die and am sent back. I cannot escape this place. I cannot rule it.”

    Melcara rests her head back against the wall, looking at you with dead eyes. “Here, There, it doesn’t matter really. The only thing I’m going to do is suffer.”

    Face contorting in rage again, the angel leans forward, only to slam her head backwards into the wall. She repeats this several more times in rapid succession, shouting, “AND SUFFER AND SUFFER AND SUFFER AND SUFFER!”

    There is a harsh crack from the wall, and a network of thin cracks suddenly spread out along the wall around Melcara’s head like a halo. You also notice her red hair near the back beginning to darken as a trickle of blood stains it. Melcara winces, and ceases her headbutting assault on the wall, apparently satisfied for the moment.

    “Until I start to enjoy it again.” She concludes.

    Outside, you suddenly hear a loud clatter as several boxes of mining supplies are tipped over down off the cliff face. A number of devils curse loudly, and you can hear more than one overseer shouting at the slaves to go clean the mess up. Limier creating a distraction to buy you more time, evidently.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  17. - Top - End - #317
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram the Firebrand

    Korram grumbles loudly at Kris' continued frivolity, although inwardly it is good to see him acting less grim.

    "Kids these days, always so eager to disrespect their elders."

    Despite his complaints, a small smile is on Korram's face. This fades as Kris laments the deaths of his companions, a sensation which is all too familiar to Korram. He has no idea what had happened to his old insurgent group, but he doubts that it was a fate involving any pleasantness. His face back to its usual, grim countenance, Korram listens silently as Countess Amelia recounts her knowledge of Pyrene's last location. As he is about to respond, all hell breaks loose, with the arrival of Cheran. Korram can only watch as Cheran effortlessly dispatches first Klaus, then Kris with nearly equal ease. Korram stands and vaults out of the cart, somewhat unsteadily. Nevertheless, he quickly regains his feet, and stands firmly and protectively in front of Amelia and Klaus, face darkening as the powerful warrior taunts him.

    "Calcifer took nothing. I offered it as a chance at freedom for him, so that I could attend to other matters sooner."

    He smirks malevolently as Cheran begins demanding Korram's surrender.

    "I don't know anyone who could be identified as your wife, but even if I did, I certainly wouldn't want to look like you. So..."

    He cracks his neck, and slips into a fighting stance.

    "I guess I'll just have to stop you right here. Hit me with your best shot, a******."
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  18. - Top - End - #318
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Umber

    Practically screaming through the soul-link he shared with the boy, Umber warned him to get himself and the dog-paladin clear of the zone of falling debris. He looked over at the ephemeral mage, or, at least, in his direction, his tone light, almost bantering.

    "Fancy meeting you here. I don't suppose you could spare a spell of flight or levitation? I seem to have misplaced my bat wings."

  19. - Top - End - #319
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    "...Stop talking."

    Tare's head was hung, so the Angel could not see his eyes. "I can't even listen to someone talk like that. Do you know why?" Here his gaze snapped up to meet hers with a sharpness to pierce the boundary between the Abyss and Heaven, and the mortal world inbetween. "Because it's DEAD WRONG!!" He exclaimed. Though his vocabulary lacked the many words that someone more educated might use to persuade, the conviction in his voice was enough to make up for his simple speech. "How can you think that way? How can you listen to yourself saying those things?!" At his sides, Tare's fists were clenched together in a white-knuckled grip, trembling for the stress he put on them. He took a few deep breaths.

    "That kind of thinking... do you know why it's wrong? Because that is exactly the way they want you to think. Those aren't your words, those are the words that they try to grind into your mind until you can't think any differently. These people... look at what they've done to you..." He said, compassion again filling his voice. "...And you're going to come back to them willingly? You can't just let them win like that!" Though he did not notice, the Angel may spot the miniature arcs of electricity that began to dance occasionally along his clenched fists. But then his voice softened. "You said that... you can't go home... they'd send you back. But if you just stay here then... You're giving them both what they want. So whose side are you on? Both sides want as much bad for you as they can manage. ...So be on your own side. Do the thing that neither of them expect you to do." Tare looked her right in the eyes.

    "Screw 'em both."

    "Everything you've said, I wouldn't know, maybe you're right. But that doesn't mean you have to accept it, just because it's true. Don't you see? You're giving them what they want. They treat you like crap, and you help them do it? There's always something you can do, some way you can take something away from them, something you can hold back. So what if they sent you down here? Those chains can't hold you, and neither can anything else in this place. So what if they send you back here? So what if they send you back again and again and again? Make them work for every step to track you down! What if there's nothing left but... torture? Make them pay for every drop. And maybe it's pointless. Maybe, in the end, you'd be doing yourself a favor by letting broken chains hold you to a wall that's already stained with your blood. But if you don't do anything... if you just... give up... then who's going to be next? If you let them do whatever they want to you... then when they get bored with making your life Living Hell... who else will have to suffer? And if spitting in their face one more time... even if it makes it worse for you... if that keeps those blows from landing on someone else, someone who couldn't take the punishment... isn't that worth it?"
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  20. - Top - End - #320
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Pyrene the Temptress

    Pyrene hesitated over whether to explain her newfound power, but quickly lost any chance to do so as the conversation moved on. When Gazrul explained the clothing situation a moment later, she sighed but nodded. She hadn't really expected to be given even that minor a privilege; she was a prisoner after all. As a result she was more than a little surprised when Wulfric not only produced the clothing Klaus had lent her, but cut her loose and gave her privacy, even from her deafened guard, in which to dress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wulfric
    “You’re probably pretty stiff right now. I apologize for that, but you’ve probably only got a few minutes before that ******* comes over here. I give you my word that I won’t look, but just as surely, you will regret it if you try to take advantage.”
    Pyrene briefly considered attempting to escape despite Wulfric's warning, but instantly concluded that such actions would be futile at best and damning at worst. Instead she focused on clothing herself as quickly as possible, noting with pleasure that someone had removed the remains of the shackles that had been locked around her ankles. Despite her stiffness, she dressed with respectable speed, clearing her throat loudly to let Wulfric know it was safe to turn around. For several seconds after he did so she stood a bit awkwardly, Klaus' overlarge flannel shirt covering her hands as she absentmindedly pounded her right fist against the baggy breeches, not quite meeting his eyes.

    "Thanks," she said finally. "For this and... just, thanks for everything. I owe you a lot." She stopped abruptly, flushing slightly, though whether she was embarrassed over what she had said or merely at having spoken at all was impossible to tell.
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  21. - Top - End - #321
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    Telest

    The swirling snow surprises him, but doesn't scare him. Telest quickly followed the command in his hand following the trail just slow enough he didn't lose it. I bet that voice was whoever possed that woman. She must really want this girl.
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  22. - Top - End - #322
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Mar

    Mar awoke, and wondered who she was.

    Yesterday, she had thought she might be Caroline, in a sort-of way. She knew Caroline had been Daddy's daughter, and she had some of Caroline's memories; if she didn't have the rest, well, her memory had never been very good. But she had seen Caroline's body, among all the other winged girls and women. She had the terrible feeling that all of them had been Daddy's daughters, too.

    Except for the first winged woman. She had been dead in the same hallway, but she'd never thought about Daddy. She had used his name instead. (Mar was vaguely aware that Daddy had a name—the guards hadn't called him Daddy, that would be silly—but she felt strange and a little uncomfortable thinking it.) She wasn't his daughter; she had been a prisoner. An angel. Mar was still a little fuzzy on exactly what an angel was, but she was pretty sure that winged woman had been one.

    But who had she been? And why was Mar dreaming about her? They weren't nice like the other dreams—they were either confusing, or painful.

    She couldn't think of an answer. She just didn't know.

    Mar sat up in bed, and saw that Jacob was gone. But she'd probably slept for a while, so that was okay. He was just somewhere else in the house, probably. She slipped out of bed, and noticed for the first time that she wasn't wearing her dress. She'd never seen these clothes before—oh, they were a sort of brown color, not unlike her dress, and they had the back cut off in the same way (for her wings, she realized), but she knew they weren't hers. They were softer than anything she could remember wearing, like wearing the bedsheets—they weren't scratchy at all. She stretched out one arm to look at the sleeve, and decided they looked better, too. Her dress had been a faded grey-browny color, what with all the washing it had needed after her punishments; this was a lighter, brighter brown.

    Clothing investigated to her satisfaction, Mar opened the door and went out into the house, looking for someone.
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  23. - Top - End - #323
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Sohssal

    Sohssal didn't waste any more time speaking. The pyramid was collapsing and that generally did not make a good atmosphere for chatting. He cast his flying spell, and as it usually does it formed winds that surrounded and lifted Umber and Mellita. Can you get out of here fast enough, Omega? he telepathically inquired. It wouldn't be much trouble for him to extend the spell to Omega, but he wanted to save as much energy as he could.

    Sohssal quickly darted out of the pyramid, pulling the others along and swooped down. He picked up Bran with the spell, and since Ross and Roger weren't far away, he decided to take them along, too. They might come in handy later. Besides, Roger still has some magic items I could drain, now that the pyramid is finished, he reasoned.
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  24. - Top - End - #324
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    PR-10000-IM

    As the most recent “image” fades away PR-10000-IM observes the Baroness daughter. Needless to say it remains silent for there is nothing to say to the unconscious figure. Analysis of the “MeatSacks” reveals that they are apparently experiencing the emotion known as fear. During this downtime PR-10000-IM reflects on the results of his diagnostic.

    Identifying sources of suggestions . . . .
    . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . .
    ALERT!

    Exposure to Angelic and Demonic power sources have corrupted part of the decision processor. Damaged sections cannot be restored without a full personality wipe. Would you like to proceed? Y/N
    The solution is a relatively simple one. A mental selection of the “N” option is selected. Yet the corruption of the decision processor is worrying. As such PR-10000-IM starts to work on actively “communicating” with the two mental personifications. Yet these attempts seem to be difficult to initiate.

    At this the young girl stirs and awakens.

    “Hello.” She says quietly. “Do you know where my mother is?”
    A question to which there was no instant answer for. Processing it quickly a decision is made.

    ”I am unaware of the location of your mother. I will find out for you.”

    Establishing a mental connection to Fury, the following questions are sent on over.

    • Query – Location of the Baroness: Current Status: Communication with her
    • Query – Name/Specifications of the Baroness
    • Query – Name/Specifications of Baroness ‘daughter’
    After sending the request through the channels PR-10000-IM realizes something. There was a easy way to find out the answer to one of the questions. An answer that was not dependent on possibly erroneous data.

    ”Do you have a name?”
    Last edited by Pwenet; 2009-09-09 at 08:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre
    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...

  25. - Top - End - #325
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Ander Windrivver
    and Sidekick

    Ander waits while David gets his things before leading him off in the direction of the Quartermaster.

    Karth's planned an attack on Dawn's Hope and he's moving the army within the next day or two. My part in all of this is to fly ahead of the main force and try to get the paladin monastery in the town to join our cause. I've decided that you should come along. I think it will be a very valuable experience for you. It's time you got a view of the Church for yourself, instead of relying on Karth to preach to you about it. Or me, for that matter. As for myself, I think it's time I took on a squire.

    As they walk and talk, the camp comes to life around them. As the sun rises higher, the would-be soldiers awaken, breakfast fires are lit, and the general hustle and bustle of camp life begins.

    But first, Ander says, coming to a large tent and holding the flap open for David. We have to get you properly equipped. Good morning, Quartermaster.

    Ander smiles as David browses through the various arms and armor lining the walls of the tent, eyes widening in awe with each new item. The Quartermaster, a shortish, balding, bespectacled Lieutenant, approaches Ander, seemingly startled by the intrusion.

    "G-good morning, Lord General. Can I help you?"

    Ah, yes Lieutenant. I have decided to take on young David here as my squire and I need to see that he is properly equipped....

    ((Skipping ahead, because I don't like writing about shopping trips.))

    By midmorning, Ander and David are on their way, soaring over the landscape on the strong wings of Sunbeak. David is newly equipped with a fine longsword and dagger on his belt, a shirt of good quality chain, reinforced leather breeches, a lightweight wooden shield, and a fresh white tabard bearing the holy symbol of the Lord and Lady.

    ((So now Ander and David are on their way to Dawn's Hope. From the Quartermaster they also got enough supplies to last the trip for David and Sunbeak. At this point, Ander will also begin training David in how to care for and use his weapons and armor during their down time.))
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  26. - Top - End - #326
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    Umber

    Letting the wind pick him up and carry him along, Umber moved with all speed away from the dying hulk of Kartul's ziggurat. He aimed himself towards Bran and Ross - once he was outside the range of the collapsing structure, he would need to have a serious discussion with them.

  27. - Top - End - #327
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    As you hop out of the cart and refuse Cheran’s demands, he grins and cracks his knuckles.

    “Ah, so we do this the fun way then.”

    Immediately Cheran springs into air, hopping into the air and soaring over to you. As his feet touch the ground, he immediately launches a pair of rapid kicks at your side and head. You manage to block the first with your arm, and duck under the second one.

    It is at this exact moment that you realize what you have lost. The stump of your arm is aching, a painful distraction that you can ignore but not disregard - you no longer have a second fist with which to strike. Calcifer’s strength and regeneration are no longer your own, and the impact with which Cheran’s leg strikes your arm causes you to wince. The force of the blow also throws you off-balance, barely able to shift away from his second kick. Your head spins a bit as it attempts to follow Cheran’s movements, and you’re a little slow to react to Cheran’s next attack, a salvo of punches.

    You manage to block the first, second, and third, but the fourth punch slides through the gap in your defenses that your missing arm would have covered. The blow strikes you hard in the chest, sending you stumbling back several feet, winded. Cheran grins.

    “Might want to watch the right side, Korram.” He offers helpfully, a moment before sweeping in again, planting his left leg for another sweeping kick. Gambling, you tuck into a forward roll, somersaulting underneath this blow and coming back to your feet behind Cheran. Whirling around, you deliver as hard a punch as you can to Cheran’s kidneys, then a second, and finally a third, this one aimed at the back of Cheran’s head.

    The angelic warrior barely grunts with the first two blows, and then ducks to one side to avoid the blow at his head. Before you can recover, he grabs your outstretched arm and pulls, flipping you over him and down onto the ground in front of him.

    “Pah, you hit like a woman, Korram! I bet your buddy Knife could hit harder than this!”

    Cheran then attempts to lock his legs around your arm in the beginning of some sort of submission lock. You put a stop to that by swinging one of your own legs up into his face, this time getting a more pained grunt from Cheran as he releases you and staggers back, holding his face. The respite is only temporary, but it gives you enough time to get back onto your feet.

    The two of you spar for another minute, and it is then that you realize Cheran has been holding back. He’s been toying with you the whole time. Seeing the realization in your own eyes, Cheran’s grin widens.

    “It’s been fun Korram, but I’m a busy man. I’ve got a wedding to plan! Maybe we can play more later.”

    Soaring into the air once more, Cheran swoops down on you, snatching you up and carrying you up into the air. You manage to get a knee up in time to prevent Cheran’s grip from being unbreakable, but the victory is a small one considering you weren’t sure you wanted to break his grip in mid-air. Before you can figure a way out of this, Cheran gets go of you willingly, allowing you to plummet back to the ground.

    You land heavily, reflexively tucking into a roll to try to disperse some of the impact. It still leaves your entire body one massive ache, and you lie on the ground trying to catch your breath. Like a shooting star, Cheran plummets down onto your chest, feet fist. You can feel several of your ribs start to give under the impact. Laughing, Cheran delivers another kick to your side that lifts you up off the ground. Before you can roll away from him however, he drops one knee down onto your injured side, pinning you as he rains punches down onto your face and bruised ribs. Your vision starts to grey with each blow, but you can still hear Cheran’s bellowed insults.

    “You think you’re a match for me, Korram!? You, a pathetic, washed-up, old man who never amounted to anything!? Without your buddy Calcifer, how far would you have gotten, huh!? Without him, you’re less than NOTHING!”

    “STOP!” An anguished voice cries – the Countess. “You’re killing him! Please, stop!”

    Laughing, Cheran gets off you, turning to face her.

    “That was the point. But, I suppose you are right that Old Korram can’t take as much abuse as he once could. So alright – consider his life your one and only wedding present. I hope you’ve gotten me something just as special.”


    Turning your throbbing head, you look at Cheran through your one eyes that wasn’t now swelled shut. You watch as Kris suddenly appears in your field of vision, low to the ground, attempting to sneak up behind Cheran. Predictably, the Baron’s son whirls just as he rises to strike, catching his knife hand by the wrist.

    “Well, well, you remind me of Korram with this futile persistence! It’s starting to piss me off, actually.”

    With his other hand, Cheran grabs Kris by the throat, lifting the young man up off the ground and starting to choke the life out of him while his other hand keeps Kris’s weapon hand motionless. With an indifferent air, Cheran looks over to the Countess.

    “I’m afraid my gift only includes one life. So you’re just going to have to watch Korram’s little friend here meet the gods.”

    “Do it.” Kris hisses thinly. “You’ll never find Katrina.”

    This does seem to get Cheran’s attention, and he looses his grip slightly as he brings the young warrior down to eye level with him.

    “Oh really? We’ve got units scouring the forest for her right now. She won’t escape.”

    “Maybe, maybe not. Maybe she’s already gone. Or maybe she has a bolt hole that you’ll never find without knowing where it is. I do.”

    Cheran’s snorts loudly, but smiles viciously.

    “Congratulations, friend! You just volunteered yourself to be horribly tortured for the next hour by yours truly.”

    Now it’s Kris’s turn to smile.

    “You won’t break me. Not in time. Katrina’s not stupid, she’ll be getting ready to leave by now. You don’t have much time.”

    Cheran quirks an eyebrow at his captive, turning Kris back and forth while examining him critically.

    “I thought you just told me Katrina was going to hide out for the duration?”

    “I never said for the whole duration, just long enough to be sure you’ve already cleared the area. And then she’ll be gone. You want her? Then we make a deal, and I give you her location!”

    Cheran frowns and shakes Kris a bit, the same way a dog might shake a rat in its jaws.

    “A deal? And what sort of deal were you hoping for, hmm? One where I just let you go, and you give me a phony location where I go to make an ass of myself?”

    “No!” Kris growls, twisting his head in Cheran’s grip to nod at you. “How about Korram and the old geezer? I trust you’re not stupid enough to let me go on just my word, and you aren’t going to abandon your “wife” for anything, I assume. Neither of them is worth much.”

    Cheran looks thoughtfully back at you, then frowns again.

    “But how am I supposed to kill his daughter in front of Korram if I let him go now?”

    “You think he’s just going to let you keep his daughter? Regardless of how much a bad idea it is for him to assault the Baron’s estate single-handedly?”

    The two of them share a knowing look for a moment, and then Cheran laughs.

    “Not bad, kid! It’s a pity you didn’t come to work for us instead of Katrina’s band of losers.”

    “I despise the whole lot of you. Now, do we have a deal or not?”

    Before Cheran can confirm or deny the deal, the loud whine of the GHAST’s jets breaks over the clearing. Three of them descend onto the ground nearby, greeting Cheran with a salute.

    Lord, our scouts have located an encampment of mercenaries not far from here. We have been informed that they have in their possession a female prisoner.

    Cheran grins and gives Kris a dismissive look. “Ha! Looks like we found Katrina without your help after all.”

    “No you didn’t.”

    “Pyrene . . .” The Countess murmurs, causing Cheran to throw her a look.

    “Eh? Pyrene? As in Pyrene the Temptress? Hmm . . . now that’s interesting. You were talking about going to rescue her when I showed up, weren’t you?”

    Cheran shrugs. “Well, why don’t we all go over there and see who it is our mercenary friends have managed to bungle into their clutches? Pyrene, or Katrina? And because I’d rather not have any trouble along the way.”

    Clenching his grip on Kris’s throat, he swiftly renders him unconscious. He drops the treacherous friend of your daughter’s unceremoniously to the ground, and then turns back to you.

    “Tie them up. We’ll bring them all with us. And as for you Korram . . . time to say good night!”

    With one swift kick to your jaw, Cheran sends your dim view spinning into darkness.

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

    You awaken with a start, pain shooting through your entire body. At this point, you are a mass of bruises, scrapes, and other assorted injuries. You still can only see, somewhat, out of one eye. You can feel your one hand bound tightly to the small of your back, although your captors have allowed your useless stump to remain free. Your legs are also bound together, and at the moment you seem to be lying on the ground. At the feet of a GHAST, no less, its metallic form towering menacingly over you. A quick look around reveals there to be nearly a dozen of them, scattered around nearby. A short distance away there are other cloaked figures, both human and some sort of strange beastmen you’ve never seen before. You can see Cheran speaking with one such beastman, even stranger looking than the rest, near the middle of the camp. With an emphatic gesture, he pushes past the creature, striding towards the one makeshift tent set up around a tree on the far side of the encampment.

    “So how’s the revolutionary life treating you, Korram?” A voice rasps from nearby. Twisting your sore neck around, you can see Klaus, Kris, and the Countess lying on the ground nearby. Kris’s neck now seems to be a colorful mass of purple, but his eyes still retain that angry fire that was always smoldering in the background.

    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    (We’re just going to fast-forward through things a bit here, because while it could be interesting, right now I think we’re all tired of Ander talking and want to see him break some heads. Or at the very least, deliver a verbal beat down on someone. Go watch the Extended Uncut Director’s Special Release Edition DVD for the deleted scenes in this part. )

    “O-okay.” David answers to your explanation and request that the lad develop his own opinions on the Church. Dutifully, he follows along after you to the Quartermaster, clearly eager to not prove himself an incompetent squire on his first day. You quickly get him outfitted without much argument from the Quartermaster, as well as acquire supplies to last the trip to Dawn’s Hope. Then mounting up on Sharpbeak, you and David fly away towards the town.

    Evidently, Karth didn’t take into consideration that you would be mounted on a griffon, and thus able to easily cross the mountainous terrain leading up to the small town and monastery. It is a little after midday before you arrive at the town.

    (Alright, so it’s “Day One”. Karth arrives on “Day Three”, and presumably Drakeson arrives sometime around “Day Two”. Are you waiting at all before moving in, or are you going to try to give yourself the maximum amount of time to convince the paladins/get yourself burned at the stake? And also, are you swooping down into town on your griffon mount, or hiding it and walking in like a normal person? And finally, are you going to attempt to be circumspect about getting into the monastery, or are you just marching up to the front gates and announcing, “I’m Ander Winderivver! Stop being naughty!)

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    You don’t have to go far to find someone, as opening the door leads you out into the common room of the house. In one corner of the room a soft fire blazes peacefully, casting a dull glow about the room. Seated at the table near the center of the room with his back to the fire is William, his broken leg stretched out straight and propped up on the chair across from him.

    He seems to be working on something when you enter. You only catch a glimpse of it, before William notices you and immediately conceals it with his hands. He smiles sheepishly at you.

    “Hi Mar. Dad’s out chopping some more firewood, and Caroline’s been elected into helping on account of my leg and all. We’ve already cleared the table, but we still have some bread, and I think some cheese left too, if you’re hungry.”

    With continued self-consciousness, William slides his hands back towards himself, dragging whatever it was his hands were hiding with them. You hear a faint scrapping and rattling sound as William does so, and then a soft patter as something falls into his lap. William continues smiling sheepishly, and points out the offered food to you.

    “Uh, do you think you could help yourself? I’m not really supposed to move around too much, if I can help it.”

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Iethloc

    You swiftly surround the vampire in your wind spell, offering to do the same to Omega. For the moment, she seems to decline.

    I should be able to avoid the structure’s collapse at its current rate of descent.

    You and the others are just starting to leave the falling pyramid behind when it displays yet another classic error in lair design by outright exploding. At least the pyramid’s self-demolishment manages to be quite destructive, tearing apart most of the city slums beneath it, as well as leveling parts of the city’s other districts. Fortunately, your body, if it can be called that, is impervious to such injuries, although one flying shard does shatter the globe you had been embodying. Annoying, but at least you were able to suck away the remaining magical energy contained within it before that dissipated.

    Omega apparently survives the storm by erecting a shield of force around herself, although after regrouping with the others down on the street you can see she is heavily drained. She absently wipes away a slowly forming trail of blood from her nose as she moves to join your incorporeal form.

    It doesn’t take long to see that the rest of your associates had not endured quite so well. Roger had been stapled to the wall by half a dozen small, razor-sharp shards of the pyramid after a near miss from a corner of the pyramid evidently turned into a hailstorm of shards in the street they were going down. Ross was also badly injured, and Bran was clearly dying, with one shard jabbed deeply and painfully into the side of his neck.

    You were somewhat of a studier of healing magic, but even this case might be sadly beyond your skills. Neck wounds tended to be very delicate, and judging from the lack of success by Ross, an actual paladin, there was something in the shard that was resisting the healing energy being pumped into the boy. Not an insurmountable challenge for you, to be sure, but given you likely only had a few minutes before Bran bleeds to death, success seems unlikely. To say nothing of the distraction you suddenly found yourself with as an incorporeal form angrily over to you.

    Oi! Now look at what hanging out with you has resulted in Sohssal! I’m a bloody ghost! I knew messing with necromancers might lead to an unpleasant end, but I at least expected them to only be doing unpleasant things to my body! Look, that’s it over there, hanging off the wall like some damn trophy fish! And here I still am, looking at myself, because I can see straight through whatever sort of “body” I’m in now! Given I was put in Ironheart for good reasons, I suppose I should be happy about not seeing the Afterlife just yet, but damnit neither do I want to be like you for all eternity either! You better have a plan for fixing this, Sohssal! Or I swear, I swear . . . well, I’ll haunt your ass for all eternity!

    WhiteKnight777

    With a quick wave, Sohssal surrounds you in gusts of wind. The spell isn’t entirely under your control, and it isn’t quite as efficient as Bran’s direct flight spell, but any port in this storm is good enough. Warning Bran through your link to flee, you allow yourself and Mellita to be swept away from the fortress.

    You are making fairly good time away from the structure, and could track Bran and Ross’s own progress through your link with the boy. On foot and weaving through the streets, their progress is limited. Still, it should be enough for them to –

    No. No, it wouldn’t be enough for them to get away, because as usual Kartul is petty in defeat. Behind you, his floating fortress explodes, sending shattered pieces of debris shooting down into the city. The slums underneath the pyramid bear the brunt of this destruction, but none of the city escapes unscathed. Neither do you, in fact, several sharp shards of necromantic-imbued rock skewering you through the back. Fortunately, you were already dead, and so the effect this has on you is negligible. On those still alive, however, the effects could be devastating.

    And then you feel it, a hot throbbing stab in the side of your neck. It is not your own wound, which could only mean one thing . . . Bran! Working with Sohssal, it takes you only another minute to track down the boy, Ross, and Sohssal’s associate. You find them next to the demolished remains of a tavern, a massive corner of Kartul’s pyramid jutting up from the wreckage. Upon hitting the structure, part of that chunk had exploded in turn, showering the street with hand-sized slivers.

    You land to find Sohssal’s associate stapled to the wall by a number of them, and Ross screaming as he pulls a pair of slivers out of his own body. But your eyes are only focused on Bran, lying next to Ross in a pool of his own blood, a finger-sized shard jutting out of the side of his neck. He’s not dead yet, but fading fast.

    As you get closer, you can see the flesh around the wound has already started to necrofy, a result of the energies radiating out from the shard. The whole thing is too much for Bran to handle, and Ross as well. Despite laying his hands on the boy’s chest and channeling healing energy into his body, Ross’s efforts seem unable to overcome the necromantic energy being pumped into the boy’s body from the shard. And if you remove the shard, well . . . that seems to be the only thing preventing the boy’s neck from becoming a fountain of blood.

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    The snows lead you on through the forest for hours. The sun, already overcast to begin with, soon sets completely, and the darkness makes it difficult to follow the lightly swirling wind. But still it leads on, and you follow, both of you tireless. At last the wind comes to a stop and fades out. You had arrived, apparently.

    Advancing more cautiously now, your sharp eyes can barely make out shapes hidden in the snow here and there. Hidden sentries, on the lookout for people such as you. If the dark forest was not aiding you as much as it was them, they might have even seen you first as you blundered along in the snow, blissfully unaware of the unseen eyes watching you. For the moment at least, and assuming you didn’t miss any, you had the initiative of surprise.

    And beyond those sentries, you could just barely make out countless more figures moving about a small clearing in the forest, standing guard over small smokeless fires and exchanging small talk. On the far side of the clearing, you can just barely see a small makeshift tent, which was little more than a tarp wrapped around a tree.

    Suddenly, the night sky in the forest is ablaze with light, as several metallic figures descend on the clearing in jets of bluish flame. The armored men are carrying several bound figures, which they set down near the middle of the clearing. What looks like a winged human seems to lead them, and addresses the assembled humans and beastmen, who look at this group of intruders with shock. The largest of the beastmen you’ve seen so far shortly appears from inside the tent to talk with the winged man. They talk for a minute before the winged man pushes past the beastman, walking into the tent. The beastman follows a minute later.

    Just what exactly had you gotten yourself into? Now strange flying armored men and what looked like one of the human’s angels was involved in all this. Stranger and stranger.

    Lonna

    Wulfric seems uncomfortable at your words, and merely grunts with a shrug.

    “Don’t mention it. You may be a whore, but you still deserve some courtesy.”
    Immediately, Wulfric closes his eyes and sighs.

    “That came out wrong.”

    Coughing, Wulfric gestures at your clothes, still a bit damp.

    “Those clothes really don’t fit you, do they? We didn’t have any spare uniforms, or I would have gotten you one. It would have been drier, certainly, and might have fit better – some of the gnolls are a bit on the smaller side.”

    Picking up one of the discarded but dry cloaks, Wulfric hands it to you.

    “Here, wrap this around yourself. You might catch a chill otherwise with those clothes.”

    At that moment, there is a loud shout outside, and the tent billows open to admit someone the following moment. He is tall, with short blond hair, and cruel light blue eyes. Slate-colored wings trail off his back. You have never seen him before in your life, or even in the Countess’s memories, but somehow sense that this can only be Cheran.

    Cheran’s eyes sweep back and forth between you and Wulfric, and he smirks as he notices the offered cloak.

    “Playing a little dress up? Although personally, I think she would have looked more fetching in one of those uniforms you guys are wearing. I’m sure I could help you find one.”

    Cheran comments casually as he eyes you up and down with unabashed lechery. You can sense Wulfric bristle beside you.

    “I was getting the prisoner dressed. I assumed you’d want to interrogate her when I heard you had arrived.”

    “Interrogate – is that what you fellows call it? I suppose I wouldn’t mind a little “interrogation” myself! How about you, hound-face? You interrogate her?” Cheran said with a laugh as he slapped the deafened gnoll heartily on the shoulder. The gnoll, who had still been pointing his crossbow at you this whole time, looked at Cheran in confusion and began to swing his weapon around to point at him instead. Only a quick, emphatic “no” gesture from Wulfric stopped the gnoll.

    “How dare you! We’ve treated her well, despite her status as an escaped prisoner. Who are you to imply otherwise!?”

    Cheran looks at the cut remains of the rope, and quirks an eyebrow.

    “I’m sure you have. And I, am Sir Cheran Gast, son of Baron Demetrius Gast, your employer. The pleasure is all mine.”

    Approaching the two of you, Cheran takes one of Wulfric’s hands in his, bowing down to kiss it lightly. Wulfric angrily pulls his free hand back in a fist, and Cheran immediately tightens his grip on Wulfric’s other hand, eliciting only a slight grunt of pain.

    “Go on. Do it. Just don’t start something you don’t have the balls to finish.” Cheran taunts, looking up at Wulfric with a mocking smile.

    At this moment, Gazrul barges into the tent, defusing the situation as Cheran lets go of Wulfric and turns back to face Gazrul. The gnoll leader puts a strained smile on his face.

    “So as you see, Sir Cheran, true to my word we have Pyrene the Temptress. She’s been most cooperative so far, and perhaps with her help we will soon locate Countess Amelia Ashargrin.”

    To the surprise of everyone in the tent, Cheran waves his hand dismissively.

    “Forget all that. I’ve already found her myself. Which means I guess you boys are out of a job.”

    “We were hired to recapture all of the escaped Ironheart prisoners.” Wulfric growled, earning another smirk and nod from Cheran.

    “So you have. And look at this, whadya know? You managed to catch *one* of them, the infamous whore of all people! Oh, she’s a fine catch to be sure, but I was really expecting more from you guys considering how many of you there are.”

    “We will continue our search.” Gazrul said stiffly, only for Cheran to shake his head.

    “No, you’ll go back to Amaranth with your tail between your legs like good little hounds. We’re pulling out of this neck of the woods now that it’s swarming with elves.”

    “We’re abandoning the area to the elves?” Wulfric said in genuine surprise. “What about the settlers living in the area? Or any prisoners still at large in the forest?”

    Cheran shrugs callously.

    “We’re not too worried about them. And I do believe the elves aren’t going to be *our* problem for much longer, which means they aren’t *your* problem either. Anyone unlucky enough to run into the elves out here thought, well . . . they’re on their own. Just like you will be if you don’t listen to what I’m telling you.”

    Now even Gazrul was bristling.

    “Do you have any other . . . instructions . . . Sir . . . Cheran?”

    Cheran pretends to think for a moment, and then shrugs.

    “Oh no, I think not. I won’t presume to tell you great military men where you can shove yourselves. As for myself, you clearly don’t have what I was looking for, so I’m out of here.”

    Reaching out, Cheran snags one of your wrists in his hand. His grip is not gentle.

    “I will be taking the whore with me though. Come on honey, I have some new friends I want to introduce you to. Along with one old friend I think you already know – the Countess Amelia Ashargrin. You wouldn’t want to keep *her* waiting, would you?”

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    Answering your processor’s query with an “N”, you direct it to attempt communication with the dual sources of your decision core’s corruption. Unfortunately, such communication would be apparently difficult, as you are unable to establish a connection with either power source beyond a sharper sense of holiness and insane rage. A moment later, another prompt appears.

    Warning! Communication channel to Angelic and Demonic power sources sealed with a Level 3 Datalock. Removal of either lock could further compromise decision processor integrity.

    There is a further option to begin the process of removing the datablocks, fraught with additional warnings about what such a thing could do to your mind. Before you are able to give the matter full consideration, the Baron’s daughter stirs.

    At her request, you open a communication channel with Fury. A few moments later, you receive a reply, a chorus of female voices echoing together.

    “The Baroness is currently at rest in her quarters. She has requested not to be disturbed at this time.”

    Following that is a stream of information on both the Baroness and the girl before you. You learn that the Baroness’s full name is Anna Gast. No name is given for the daughter, either due to that information not being available or because she has none. There is also a lot of ancillary information on both of them, physical descriptions, listed schedules, observed choice of food, an incredible volume of data that seems to become increasingly irrelevant the further away you drift past the basic information.

    “My name? . . . Well, I didn’t use to have one . . .” The girl answers your direct query, looking down at her feet. But then she looks back up at you with a sad smile. “But I was recently given a name, by a . . . friend. Sara. You can call me that if you’d like. Do you have a name?”

    The expression on the girl’s face suggests that she is only asking the question out of politeness. Judging by further analysis of her body language, this doesn’t seem to be because she secretly doesn’t care, but rather that past experience with other GHASTs have shown the effort to be largely a waste of effort.

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    Melcara takes a deep, shuddering sigh, and then nods. Her voice is still thick with emotion, but even that she starts to control.

    “You’re absolutely right. Even though I am seen as a traitor, hated and spat upon by both the Heavens and the Hells, it doesn’t change what I am. I am a divine guardian, created by the gods to guide and protect humanity. And I have remained lax in my duties long enough.”

    Again with a quick show of effort, the fallen angel tears her other arm free of her chains. And then bringing both hands around to in front of her, she begins pulling apart the chains still binding her legs and holding her to the wall. Although a few shattered lengths of chain still dangle here and there, Melcara stands up less than a minute later. She stretches for a moment, and favors you with a smile.

    “Thank you . . . Tare, wasn’t it? I owe you more than you could possibly know. Perhaps in time, I can explain it, but for now, know simply that you’ve saved me. No . . . you’ve shown me how I can save myself, from the only prison that could ever hold me.”

    A slight frown of confusion flickers over Melcara’s face as she tilts her head slightly.

    “Although I must admit *I* don’t understand why you’ve helped me. I nearly killed you, after all.”

    Melcara listens to your explanation (or lack thereof if you want to play the strong, silent type ), and then inclines her head towards the door with a smile.

    “Well, why don’t we get out of here? Maybe we can find a human to trick into summoning us back onto the mortal plane.”

    At that moment, you hear the approaching heavy footsteps of two armored devils, presumably the same two Limier briefly delayed with the mining accident. The sound of their footsteps come to a stop a short distance from the doorway, and you can hear them muttering in confusion outside. No doubt they had seen the unbarred cell door.

    Without further hesitation, Melcara strides over to the door and throws it open. She steps outside and out of sight, and an instant later you hear a pair of loud clatters and the quiet hissing of bodies melting away into ash. The quiet hubbub of mining work outside immediately fades to dead silence. And then . . .

    “I am Melcara the First! I was the first to fall, and now I shall be the first to rise! Of my own volition! Who dares to stand in my way!?”

    Immediately, the sounds of anarchy resound outside the cell door.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  28. - Top - End - #328
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Umber

    Umber cursed, hitting the ground hard and rolling up like an acrobat. He skidded to the ground beside the young man. He put his hand on his chest, felt the pulse of dark necromantic power within his veins. He looked at Umber and Mellita, his voice a whipcrack of command.

    "I'm going to try to save him, but this is terribly tricky stuff. Both of you, keep him alive as best you can, and do not interrupt. If you do, he will die."

    Umber went to work. First, he'd need to keep the boy alive long enough for the ritual. He laid both hands over his heart, sending his will into the boy's form. He could feel the magics there, old, strong rituals he'd woven deep into the fabric of the boy's ancestors - strengthened by the passage of time and the strength of the magic in Bran's blood. He forced the boy's hear to slow, almost to the edge of life - and then, before the necromantic powers could push him over the edge, he pulled the shard from his neck.

    "Keep pressure on his neck, but don't kill his brain!"" he barked - though the blood was more of a trickle than a fountain, now that Umber had slowed the boy's racing heart. Taking up the obsidian shard, he felt its maleficent potency - but in his hands, it strengthened the vital energies of his unlife rather than sapping them, He gashed his cheeks, mixing Bran's blood with his, chanting in a language older than he - the first tongue of magic, the ancient words flowing from his lips with a precision born of centuries of practice.

    The ebon shard began to rotate in midair, tendrils of red energy forming a bridge between them - a bridge of lambent red light between their eyes. Umber put his hands on the sides of Bran's head, and plunged down into his eyes, seeking the wellspring he had tended like a careful gardner over the centuries - a font of power whose potential equaled what his own once was, though it was rude and untried. He would reclaim his birthright. There was no other option.

  29. - Top - End - #329
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    ...Why?... Tare thought back. He thought back to Limier and Adame'. Why had he gotten involved with two elves he didn't even know? Further, back to poor Garm back in Ironheart proper. He wouldn't have received half of the beating that he actually managed to survive if it wasn't for covering for the wolfling. Further back than that, back to where it all started, for Tare at least... back to Karami. ...If it wasn't for her, he likely would not have been tricked and sent to Ironheart to begin with. Why had he gotten involved where he had no stake? Why had he let himself get dragged into the pits of Hell for two people he barely knew?

    And most recently, why had he not left the Angel that really had nearly crushed his own windpipe to her own desires?

    Tare smiled. His voice held no hesitation.

    "Because I choose to."

    ~

    Tare jumped in surprise when the door was blasted nearly from its hinges, but it was an exciting sort of surprise. He hurried after the Angel, who at that moment he truly considered a friend, just in time to watch a weapon clatter to the ground. "Melcara?" He asked, smiling at the Angel, and perhaps glancing around for Limier. "That is a beautiful name."
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-09-12 at 04:33 AM.
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    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  30. - Top - End - #330
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Korram the Firebrand

    Korram, despite his age, years trapped in Ironheart, and the recent loss of his main source of power, is still a very, very skilled fighter. Cheran, unfortunately, is very close to, if not better than him, as well as being younger, stronger, and having both arms. Korram fights as well as he can, almost managing to keep up with the Baron's son. But even fighting to his limit, the combination of his lost arm and Calcifer's absence proves to be too much. The fight soon turns into a brutal beat down, ending when Kris and Amelia's combined efforts manage to prevent anyone from being killed. Yet. Cheran wasn't exactly the most stable of the Baron's family, something Korram has few illusions about. He responds only by glaring as Cheran finishes, slamming a foot into Korram's head and rendering him unconscious.

    When Korram awakes, he is tied up tightly. He glares at the assembled GHASTs and mercenaries. Hearing Kris, he turns and breathes a painful sigh of relief when he sees the others still alive. He grits his teeth, wondering why he had to come up with the idea of releasing Calcifer at that exact second.

    "Been better, been worse."

    Korram turns his gaze away from the ones he failed, curling up as tightly into a ball as possible. Escape is unlikely at this point, so conserving his energy is important. He closes his eyes, and does his best to ignore the pain. If Kris keeps talking, he'll continue as well.
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

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