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  1. - Top - End - #331
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Jan 2008
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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Pyrene the Temptress

    Despite Cheran's jeering, Pyrene took the cloak Wulfric offered and fastened it, at her throat. She made no attempt to pull it around herself however, knowing that it would do nothing for the chill she had felt since Cheran entered the makeshift tent. Keeping her expression carefully neutral, she managed to keep herself from showing her true thoughts even when she received the shock that Amelia had been captured. She felt like a porcelain doll, her face frozen in the mask she had chosen as she silently observed the loud, large people around her.

    Then Cheran grabbed Pyrene, and she shattered.

    Faster than anyone was expecting, Pyrene yanked her wrist out of Cheran's grasp with trained ease. Simultaneously, she summoned the already burning fire to new heights and directed it to engulf Baron Gast's son, encasing him in flames that would not touch Wulfric or the two gnolls. Not waiting to see how any of them would react, or even if her attack was effective, Pyrene darted past all of them and out of the tent.

    There! Directly ahead of her was the Countess and a man she instantly recognized as Korram, though he was missing much of one arm. They, along with another person Pyrene did not know, were guarded by several... things... that vaguely resembled metal angels. These in turn were surrounded by several dozen of Gazrul's men, human and gnoll alike.

    Pyrene didn't think, didn't pause, she merely acted, reaching for her magic as instinctively as if she had known about it her whole life. "*Run* away!" She roared the command, something of the fire's crackle coloring her voice as she commanded everyone within earshot to flee, then followed her own advice.

    [[Pyrene's priorities at the moment are as follows: escape safely, stay with the Countess, stay with Korram, in that order. She'll follow whatever path she believes will acheive those goals.]]
    I started a blog!
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  2. - Top - End - #332
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Ander Windrivver
    Not very subtle

    Ander stands at the edge of one of the cliffs overlooking the town of Dawn's Hope while David attends to Sunbeak. Using the spyglass David had had the initiative to pack, he spent several minutes studying the monastery and surrounding town. Luckily this was a training monastery. It was unlikely they would have much in the way of fliers that could intercept them before they were able to land.

    Come here David. The young man eagerly obeys, and Ander hands him the spyglass. Take a look at the town and the monastery. Tell me what you observe.

    "Um...okay. Well, the town doesn't really look that well defended. It's got a wall, but looks like it mostly relies on the mountains for defense"
    Very good. Any invading army will have to wind its way through the mountains, which act like a bottleneck. What else?
    "Uhhh...but the gates are open right now and it looks like they have people and traders moving into the town. They're not expecting an attack."
    That's what it looks like to me. Now what do you notice about the monastery?
    "It looks like it's backed up against the mountain, with another wall protecting its front. Its walls look thicker, but the gates are still open."
    Good. Remember that a paladin is not just a holy warrior. He is also a messenger of the gods and should also expect to provide religious guidance and assistance to anyone he meets. Most monastery's will keep their gates open during the day to allow villagers to come to the paladins and clerics within for just that kind of assistance. It also shows that they're not expecting an attack either.

    Ander gets up and goes back over to Sunbeak.

    We're going to fly down right into the monastery grounds. We're here to talk to these people, not skulk around. We should be able to drop in quickly enough to still catch them mostly off-guard. Ready? Let's saddle up.

    Once both of them are saddled up, Ander kicks Sunbeak into the air. The griffin screeches as they begin their rapid decent. Ander can feel his adrenaline spiking as the wind rushes past his head. Just a few hundred feet from the ground, Sunbeak extends his powerful wings, slowing them down just enough to land safely on the monastery grounds. Ander leaps from the griffin's back before the paladins are able to react, aura blazing brightly, and roars:

    I am Ander Windrivver, Lord General of the Crusade and servant of the Lord and Lady of Light. I have returned from exile to unite the faithful and cleanse the Church of the corruption at it's core! Where is your abbot?
    Last edited by Baerdog7; 2009-09-13 at 02:07 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  3. - Top - End - #333
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    PR-10000-IM

    Receiving the requested information from Fury PR-10000-IM nods and closes the channel.

    Process: Nod – Unneeded physical motion – Analysis of meaning and reason for its implantation.
    The information on the two people flashes through its mind. The name would be useful for any future communication with the Baroness: Anna Gast. Combined with analysis of her behavior it would seem unwise to communicate with her at this time. Turning its head to look at the Baroness daughter, now designated “Sara” it finds her lack of a name unusual. Per records on human procreation the naming of an offspring was one of the most proud moments of the birthing process. Not to have a name indicated that something is amiss.

    Processing her question PR-10000-IM is about to reply but a stray through is generated. It had been speaking with its default vocal options which per information on human reactions would sound imposing and induces a feeling of fear. That would be unneeded when communicating with a little girl that was not a target to be attacked.

    ”Sara, GHASTs are not issued names. I was designated by your father as PR-10000-IM. Your mother is currently resting. Based on my records regarding mother/daughter relationships I would surmise that she will return once she has completed her rest cycle.”

    Pausing in its reply PR-10000-IM realizes that further communication would in most probability be the appropriate action. It would keep ‘Sara’ occupied and provide it opportunity to determine what it could do to assist.

    ”Do you require anything? If not would you like to tell me about your friend?”
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    I'm good at making you fear the unknown. Pwenet is good at making you fear the known, which had been the unknown five minutes before he pushed you off screaming into the abyss.
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    I'm feeling this real hard now.
    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

  4. - Top - End - #334
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    Korram raises an eyebrow as a young woman bursts from the tent in a panic, and watches sadly as she tries to get away. He doubts the attempt will end well. He looks at the Countess, and, seeing the recognition on her face, realizes that he is looking at Pyrene "the Temptress." Interesting. He smiles sardonically.

    "Hi! We're here to rescue you!"

    He speaks in a cheery, upbeat, and quite obviously false manner, his regular sarcasm taking an unusual form due to his dire straits.
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  5. - Top - End - #335
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Sohssal

    Ah, and here I thought your death would mean I wouldn't have to deal with you anymore. I guess I'm not that lucky! he said to Roger's ghost, mostly jokingly. He chuckled for a moment, then started talking more seriously. If you're like other ghosts, resolving whatever event turned you into a ghost would be the easiest way to let you rest. I'm guessing vengeance is the key here, but the one who controlled the exploding pyramid seems to be on a vacation in Oblivion. If it's a resurrection you want...well, that's far beyond my ability, he explained.

    After that, Sohssal quickly turned his attention to the annoyingly heavily injured Bran. He watched Umber's ritual with some interest, especially the language of magic. It wasn't often he met someone fluent in it. Sohssal himself knew very little of the language, but with his powerful new senses he could recognize it instantly. But for now, he stayed back and let Umber finish the ritual.
    Order of the Pstick Avatar by Sneak

  6. - Top - End - #336
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

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    Mar

    Mar nodded and moved over to the table. She wasn't used to just taking food—she'd only been allowed to eat what people gave her, back home—but she supposed if somebody told her she could, it was the same thing. And she didn't want William to get up if it still hurt him. It was funny that his leg was taking so long to get better...

    The bread was a lot softer than she was used to, which made it easy to chew; she was done with her first piece easily, and her mouth wasn't sore at all from it. She took a second piece, and then a third (she was hungry, as if she hadn't eaten in days), and when that was gone she looked at the crumbly white stuff next to it. Cheese, William had called it. She tried a piece—it was even softer than the bread—and a rich creamy taste spread through her mouth.

    She ate the cheese much more slowly. It was not the sort of thing she could eat fast; it stuck to her tongue, and the taste took a while to swallow. But it was good, and even though there wasn't much of it, she could feel herself getting less hungry. It was filling.

    Done with breakfast, Mar looked back over at William, still sitting in his chair. It really was odd that he wasn't better yet; hadn't Jacob said something about her being hurt worse? Maybe she was wrong; she'd been pretty tired when he talked about that. If he couldn't walk days later, it must be pretty bad.

    He looked up and saw her looking. "Sorry," she said, looking down and feeling vaguely guilty. "Does it still hurt?"
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  7. - Top - End - #337
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    Kris is perhaps about to say more when a loud scream suddenly erupts from the tent. You look over just in time to see a red-haired woman emerge from the tent before it is torn down from the tree. As she begins to move further away, you are treated to the sight of Cheran, flames dancing along his entire body, stumbling out of the wreckage of the tent, screaming at the top of his lungs. Collapsing onto the ground, he vigorously rolls around in the snow, slapping at his face and arms while grinding his wings into the dirt. He manages to get most of the flames out before the woman suddenly shrieks, “RUN AWAY!”

    The words resonate with your mind on a deep level, and that suddenly seems like a perfectly good idea. It’s rather hard to run away with your legs bound and your remaining arm tied behind your back, but you manage to begin crawling away from your current location. Beside you, Kris, the Countess, and Klaus also start to move away.

    None of you get very far before one of the GHASTs leans down and scoops you up, throwing you back over a broad shoulder. A few moments later, and the compulsion to flee fades, and you manage to crane your neck around to see what is happening with the strange woman. You turn just in time to watch her suddenly fall from the sky, only to be caught by Cheran at the last instant.

    The Baron’s son allows her to drop the remaining few feet without harm, and then lands on top of her, driving his knee into her back and using one hand to grind her face into the dirt. You can see him whispering something into his ear, and then finally release her and stand back.

    “Tie this whore up. We’re taking her with us. She gives you any lip, do what you have to, to shut her up.” He commands to one of the nearby GHASTs. Producing some sturdy rope from a built-in compartment, it swiftly obeys its master’s commands. However, it is your GHASTs that marches over and throws the bound girl over its other shoulder. Evidently the GHASTs wanted to be as efficient as possible, with a few carrying all the prisoners, which left the others unencumbered. Although dirt-smudged and bruised, the young woman is still rather pretty – you can only assume that this is the infamous Pyrene the Temptress, who you had been about to rescue before meeting Cheran. Clearly, Fate had a strong sense of irony.

    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    Mounted on Sharpbeak, you and David swoop down on the monastery. It quickly becomes easy to see why Karth had attempt to capture these griffons – an aerial based force would be highly effective against unprepared opponents. You are already touching down in the courtyard by the time the first paladins appear, shouting alarm and leveling crossbows. Most of them already look uncertain as you dismount, but they all recoil as you announce who you are and your intentions.

    After a few moments of looking at each other uncertainly, one of the paladins steps forward and bows.

    “Greetings, uh, Sir Windrivver. It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. I, ah, read about you in one of the mandatory history texts.”

    The young paladin coughs loudly, seeming to wither a bit more at your impatient stare.

    “Well . . . certainly. Right this way sir. My comrades will inform the abbot that you’re expecting to see him. Would it be alright for your, ah, bird to remain outside?”

    “I’ll watch Sharpbeak.” David volunteered, stroking the side of the griffon’s neck as it hisses angrily at the paladins who stepped forward. The small group of them form an honor guard around you – or a cordon of guards, if you wanted to be cynical. Together, your small group crosses into the central building of the monastery.

    After checking with one of the monks on duty, you learned that the abbot was currently in an important meeting. You didn’t even need to look at the lead paladin for him to remark “I think we should let the Abbot know he has a very important visitor who shouldn’t be kept waiting.”

    Leading you deeper into the heart of the building, the group stops in front of a series of double doors, guarded by another pair of paladins. From your own time here, you recognize it as the Ritual Room for the Monastery. If the Abbot was in there, he clearly must be communing with someone. Asking you to “please wait right here for just one moment, Lord General”, the lead paladin opens the door a crack and slips inside the dimly lit room. From the other side of the doorway you can hear a sudden loud conversation start up. It ends a few moments later when an authoritative voice loudly announces –“Let the former Lord General in.”

    One of the two guards at the doorway opens the door, allowing you entrance. They and the remaining guards remain outside, shutting the door behind you. Inside, the room is dimly lit by a number of candles. The low light helps acolytes maintain focus during rituals that required more concentration. In the center of the room is the ritual pit, a sandy area slightly recessed into the floor. A number of runes are faintly glowing there now, sketched onto a platform of brick laid down on the packed sand.

    The glowing runes cast an eerie faint blue glow about the room, coloring the young paladin’s skin, as well as the other man present in the room. Judging from his robes, he is clearly the Abbot of this place. You don’t recognize this man, and judging by his relative youth the man couldn’t have held the position for very long.

    This was very disconcerting. You had been hoping that Simon Mellock was still Abbot here. The kind man had been acolyte when you were still undergoing training yourself. Ultimately, he had decided that a paladin’s life was not for him, and had gone into the priesthood instead. He had been appointed Abbot towards the end of your time as Lord General. He had still been Abbot at the time of your return, although getting on in years. Despite the long years in Ironheart, you had really been hoping he would still be Abbot even to this day, just even older yet. Simon would have almost certainly listened to reason, and although he might have cautioned the use of force to cleanse the Church, he would have supported you. This new man was an unknown.

    Things only got worse as an ephemeral being stepped out from behind the abbot. Although clearly just a projection from the runes, the sight of him still made you bristle. Exarch Greyson, looking considerably older now fifteen years hence from the day of your capture, but still with the same smug smile.

    “Well, isn’t this amusing. I come to warn you against the possibility of Ander Windrivver showing up, and here he is! Your brand of heresy isn’t welcome here, but I imagine you’re already aware of that Ander.”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    William looks up from his lap, where he was still working on whatever secretive project he had. He favors you with a brave smile.

    “Only if I put weight on it. That’s why I have this crutch.” He nods at the long wooden stick standing up against the table. A minute later, and the door creaks open as Jacob and Caroline come in, each carrying a relative-sized bundle of cut logs. Caroline nearly drops her pair of thick sticks in surprise upon seeing you.

    “Mar! You’re awake!” As usual, the young girl is very excited to see you, and it takes a gentle prodding with one foot from Jacob to direct her over to the diminished stack of firewood sitting next to the fireplace. Caroline immediately runs over, deposits her contribution, and then careens into your legs, hugging them tightly. A moment later, she shifts her grip up to your hand, dragging you over to the William and the table.

    “We’re making you a present!” She announces, causing William to flush.

    “It was supposed to be a surprise Caroline. And it’s not much anyway.” He mumbles, working a last few seconds before holding your gift up. It appears to be a simple bracelet, made of woven leather scraps holding a few shiny rock fragments. You remembered wearing a bracelet before, back at home, to warn people who you were . . . it had gotten lost somehow. This new one was quite pretty to your eye, despite its simplicity, although the implication of putting it on your wrist still brought back memories of home. And Daddy.

    “Well, try it on!” Caroline insists, wringing your hand in her tiny ones.

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Iethloc

    This isn’t funny, Sohssal!

    Roger whines over the mental link.

    And damnit, didn’t I just get finished saying I don’t particularly want to die!? I want to live! In my perfectly good and normal body, for the rest of my natural life, on a beach sipping rum!

    Somewhat like yourself, you are aware that most ghosts were capable of possessing inanimate objects, or affecting them in other ways. Given enough time and access to your laboratory, you could probably manufacture a golem for him to use. But the act of placing his soul back into his body – especially after his body had been torn apart the way it had. Hmm . . . interesting.

    Roger’s body was still resonating a lingering aura of necromancy. Undoubtedly for the dozen shards imbedded in it, which seemed to have lingering necromantic power. Perhaps his condition was a side effect for those shards, which suggested nothing good for Bran. Fortunately, Umber had removed the crystal, and Ross seemed to be cleansing the residual necromantic energy from the boy’s body.

    Even the strange paladin seemed drained by all this effort to save the boy’s life, and his voice was strained as he looked up at you. “You know any healing magic?”

    WhiteKnight777

    Both Ross and Mellita look at you silently – Mellita clearly shaken, Ross grimly determined. They both nod as you focus on Bran. Bran . . . the boy was still alive and conscious, though he lacked the strength to speak as he tried to open his mouth only to weakly cough up blood. Laying your hands on the boy’s chest, you tap into the ancient commands woven into his bloodline. At your command, his heart slows, and Bran relaxes, his eyes still open but peaceful.

    With the threat of increased blood loss now gone, removing the shard from Bran’s neck is a relatively simple task. Blood stills leaks from the wound however – you have only delayed the inevitable. Hopefully Ross will be able to heal the boy now, but regardless the boy will have served his purpose.

    Mixing your blood with his, you begin to chant, the ancient ritual words flowing smoothly over your tongue. It has been a very long time since the world has heard these words spoken. A link between you and the power within Bran is created, and staring down into his eyes, you step out of your own body and into the center of that power.

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

    It is a chaotic maelstrom swirling about you. The howling sound of rushing wind fills your ears, and everywhere you look is a brilliant array of colors. You have the sensation of falling, spiraling down out of control. And then you strike bottom, and all goes dark, and silent.

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

    The loud crash of drums stirs you awake. Picking yourself up, you find yourself lying on a city street at night. Despite the darkness, much of the city is lit by immense bonfires. It is not yet burning, although that will come soon enough, you know as you recognize where you are. Your home, the great citadel city of the Lords of Blood before they become known by that name.

    It is the night of your ascension to immortality, and all the city has gathered to watch your triumph. You still remember the night fondly, because it was your last night spent whole. After came the great trade of your magic for immortality, and the others’ sacrifices. And then came the horror of the people witnessing what you all had become, their abrupt rejection, and the vengeance of Fate as everything you and the others had built was swept away.

    Judging by the noise level and position of the moon, there was still a few hours yet to go before the ritual was enacted. As you pick yourself up off the ground, you sense a presence behind you, and whirl in preparation to defend yourself.

    Behind you stand Gilgaem and Marialta, both of them post-ascension judging by their pale skin and Gilgaem’s missing arm. Which should be impossible, but then again you are here so why not?

    “Hello Umber. It’s been a very long time, hasn’t it?” Marialta says with a wry smile, blowing you a kiss. As always, Gilgaem’s expression is grim.

    “We need to talk.” He growls.

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    You are watching the camp when suddenly a red-haired woman emerges from the central tent. Even at this distance you can hear her shout “RUN AWAY!” You feel your stomach twist as this suddenly becomes a very good idea to you. Turning, you run rapidly away from the camp, swiftly moving in between the trees like a shadow. Finally, the compulsion fades, and you slip back towards the camp. The red-haired woman is gone, the central tent destroyed, and a large number of human and beastmen are wandering back into the camp looking almost as confused as you are.

    Lonna

    Cheran grunts in surprise as you break his grip, and that grunt turns into a scream as you set him on fire. You don’t pause to see the outcome of this attack, as you slip past his burning form and run for the tent flap. You are just exiting the tent as you hear Wulfric struggle to suppress a laugh. Scarcely have you exited the tent before you hear a loud “whump!” as it collapses suddenly behind you.

    Your mind briefly acknowledges the sound of loud, angry cursing behind you, as well as someone stumbling and falling to the ground. But it is only a passing awareness, as your mind has far larger issues to deal with. Namely, the assembled metallic angels, and the entirety of Gazrul’s camp of mercenaries, all starring at you and the scene behind you.

    With barely a pause you shout a command to “Run away!”. The drain from such a widespread spell hits you like a hammerblow, and you can barely remain standing. Still, the spell is most effective – over half of Gazrul’s assembled mercenaries drop what they’re doing, stand if they aren’t already, turn around, and run away from the camp for all they’re worth. The metallic angels do not budge however, but neither do they come after you as you begin to stagger away.

    You would like to help the squirming bound prisoners at their feet, but at the moment that seemed impossible. Escape was your only real option at this point, especially with the strange armored angelic beings apparently immune to magical suggestions. Escape quickly no longer becomes an option as something slams into your back, lifting you up off your feet.

    “You!” Cheran’s voice hisses into your ear, as you are dragged rapidly up into the air. The ascent is so rapid that you scarcely blink before you are over a hundred feet above the forest, Gazrul’s men looking like little more than ants. Strong hands grip you tightly, turning you over so you can face Cheran.

    The Baron’s son is mostly just singed, and you can see his burns fading away into healthy skin in front of your very eyes. His missing eyebrows, clumps of hair, and scorched feathers do not recover, however, or at least slowly enough as to not be noticeable. Most of his clothing is burnt tatters as well, and these it seems very doubtful will magically repair themselves.

    Cheran’s soot-smeared face tightens in anger as he shifts his grip up to your throat, and starts to tighten his hands there to match his expression. This time, it seems his grip is unbreakable, not that the tiny part of your brain not screaming in terror that you can’t breathe! would really want to. It’s a very long way down.

    “You stupid little slut, did you think that was funny, huh!?” Cheran hisses as he starts to shake you, throttling you. The sudden motion throws him slightly off-balance, and he is forced to stop, re-establishing his grip on you as he stabilizes himself again. The missing feathers seem to have diminished his ability to hover somewhat, although clearly he is still able to do so, if with a bit more effort than normal.

    “You think you’re all so smart, but I’ve got your number. You little witches are all the same – can’t use magic if you can’t speak. And you can’t speak if you can’t breathe, can you? CAN YOU!?”

    Cheran’s fingers dig even deeper into your throat as he drags your face a few inches away from his. Technically, what he was saying wasn’t entirely true, at least in your case, but being choked to the brink of unconsciousness was probably enough to ruin anybody’s ability to use magic. Cheran laughs in your face as your vision begins to blur from the continued lack of air.

    “I can do whatever I want to you right now.”

    Inclining his head forward, Cheran kisses you on the bridge of your nose. He smiles viciously as he leans back again to look into your eyes.

    “But what I want to do right now, is see if you can fly, witch.”

    Suddenly, you can breathe again, but this is a small comfort as your half-asleep brain registers that you’re now falling rapidly. An entirely different sort of panic races through you now as your body stirs with a fresh influx of air and adrenaline. You had very little time in which to think, however, as the little dots that had been Gazrul’s men a few moments before were now getting much larger.

    You had never had any formal magic training, weren’t even aware you really had such gifts until a few days ago. You therefore had no idea how to make yourself fly, or how to break your fall at all. The ground was growing very close indeed now, and seemed to be leaping up towards you even faster than previously. Reflexively, you shut your eyes as your body tenses for the horrific impact.

    Which never comes, actually, as something snags your cloak, arresting you fall. The sudden pull of the cloak’s clasp against your bruising throat is hardly pleasant, but it slows your descent enough that you open your eyes to find yourself hanging in mid-air those last few feet above the ground. Whatever was holding your cloak suddenly releases its grip, allowing you to fall unceremoniously onto the ground. Your entire body convulses, trembling at what could have just happened.

    Above you, you hear Cheran’s hateful laughter as a weight descends onto your back, pinning you to the ground. One of Cheran’s hands snags a fistful of your hair, shoving your face down against the cold hard ground and grinding it into the half-frozen muck. You can feel his breath on the back of your ear as he hisses into it.

    “You thought that was the end, didn’t you? Oh no, no no no. See, I might have just killed you in front of the Countess to make an example, the same way I had all of her servants killed, but not now. No, now that you’ve really pissed me off, you’re going to live. You’re going to live until long after you’ve begged me for death. I’m going to break you until there’s nothing left for me to throw away.”

    With a last angry hiss, Cheran releases you and steps back. He clearly turns to address somebody else.

    “Tie this whore up. We’re taking her with us. She gives you any lip, do what you have to, to shut her up.”

    Cold metal claws grasp you a moment later, and your wrists and ankles are swiftly bound. It is hardly the immobilizing cage you had woken up to, but it was still enough to keep you from escaping. Then again, as the one metallic angel scoops you up to throw over one broad shoulder, you get that strange feeling of the ropes being loose again. You might be able to slip free, but considering what you’ve already been put through you aren’t sure it’s worth it. Yet.

    In any case, a few moments later you find yourself hanging from this creature’s one shoulder, with someone else throw across the other shoulder. A quick twist of your head reveals it to be Korram.

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    Sara favors you with a concerned smile.

    “Then you’re like me! Would you like me to give you a name? Having one myself now, I can tell you it feels good! I don’t feel so alone anymore . . . even if all my friends are gone.”

    The girl’s smile fades as she stares down at the floor awkwardly.

    “My friend was a nice man, even if he was really scary looking. All my friends were really, so I know he didn’t mean it. His name was Victor, and he died . . . just like Incom. That was another one of my friends, my first one. He died . . . trying to protect me. I – I saw him . . . that evil man, he just . . . just cut Incom apart! And then he never got back up, even though that’s what he did so many times before!”

    Tears form in the girl’s eyes, which she hides from your sight by raising a hand to cover her face.

    “I miss him most of all!”

    You had a great deal of knowledge stored in your mind. Almost all of it was on warfare – how to fight, how to kill. And none of it seemed relevant for this situation. Despite this lack of knowledge or experience, you were suddenly filled with a desire to comfort this girl.

    Another image flashes through your mind, similar to the first when you saw the girl. Again, she was chained to a rock, a crimson line flowing down one side of her face. At your approach, she cowers back, babbling in terror. You had attempted to explain not to be afraid, that you needed her alive to ki . . . bake you a . . . cake?

    Cake. A dessert prepared from flour, sugar, milk, and flavoring of various types. Considering your surroundings in that scene, it did not seem likely “you” had wanted her to bake the cake immediately, due to lack of ingredients. Perhaps some sort of strange euphemism that only humans understood?

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    If Melcara hears your words as you exit the cell, she gives no sign. Of course, by the time you exit the cell she is engaged in a rampaging fight against a quartet of devil guards, so she is a little busy. From all over the mining chamber, anarchy erupts as nearly every devil guard present takes to the air, heading over to join in on the fight. A few stay behind to manage the slaves, even one of them managing to keep groups of slaves cowed with shouted threats and angry whippings.

    As the four surrounding Melcara crumble into dust, she throws the pair of swords she had appropriated at the nearest line of slaves. One strikes the sole remaining devil guard in the head, felling him, while the other breaks one man free from the chain connecting him to the others. The fallen angel glares down at the confused group of humans.

    “Are you going to allow yourselves to remain here!? Or are you going to fight and earn your own salvation!?”

    This seems to be all the motivation that this group of former slaves needs, as they busily equip themselves with Melcara’s loaned pair of sword as well as the fallen guard’s weapons. As several of the devils flying over glare down at them, they brandish the appropriated weapons menacingly. This seems to be all that the other slave chains need to revolt as well, overwhelming the token guards watching them, and pounding them into ash with their bare hands, mining tools, and loose rocks. The cavern is now in complete anarchy, and at the center of it is Melcara as she flies up to meet the devils head-on.

    An angry shout suddenly catches your attention above the dim, and you turn to find a devil guard flying down to land a short distance from you.

    “Back in your cell!” It growls as it advances towards you, weapon at the ready. It seems ready to shout another command, but is cut off into gurgles as a slim figure suddenly steps out of the shadows behind it and rams a thin blade into its neck. Limier rushes over to you as the devil clatters into a pile of armor and ash.

    “Found the Prince. Let’s go.”

    Quickly, she leads you down several levels, over to a cell. In the dim dankness beyond the door, you can see a familiar elf peering out in confusion, along with another pair of scarred humans. One of those looks oddly familiar to you as well, until you recognize the patterns as those belonging to the man you met in the woods at the start of all this.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  8. - Top - End - #338
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    Umber

    Umber blinked, tasting the night air. Gods above and below, he had forgotten what it was like, to hear your own heart beating in your ears, yet to be deaf and nearly blind. To feel the darkness pressing in around you and feel the hunger waiting out in it - to be prey, rather than the predator. In short, to be human. Or perhaps he hadn't forgotten, at the deepest level - perhaps that's all this was. An echo of memory as he sought within himself to restore that which had been lost

    Then again, he thought as he stood and saw his old companions standing in the pale moonlight, perhaps not. He smiled, but the expression was a little sad - a surprisingly genuine emotion, considering who it was coming from.

    "Gilgeam, Marialta. It's been too long. I hope for both your sakes that you're merely products of my imagination or memory - I'd hate to think that the two of you have been conscious all this time." He shuddered. "Fifty years in the void was bad enough for me, and I saw what it did to Fianna..." He winced a little at the memory, then quickly shoved it aside.

    "But in any case, speak, old friends. I have a feeling there's much I must do in this dreaming 'ere I wake again."

  9. - Top - End - #339
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    ~Tare

    "Nice," Tare commented on his impromptu companion's work quickly, before dashing after the assassin's lead. Was he referring to the decisive kill, or to the convenience of Limier's quick find? It was probably both.

    Tare peered through the cell door. "Hey there, Teareal, I'm going to get you out of there, buddy..." He starts looking for a means to open the door, either by lockmastery or by use of Vylethar's strange keyring. In so doing he is reminded of the Incubus, and wonders where he might be around now... "Oh. Hi, Jim."
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    Telest

    With no idea what's going on and doubt that any one would volunteer such information, he decides to get a little information the dirty way. He ties the horse to the tree with the rope before heading back to the camp He draws his dagger and goes behind one of the humans. Putting the blade against the humans neck and his hand over his mouth he whispers, "If you wish to keep living don't make a sound and slowly walk backwards." Telest leads the human to the horse and puts a gag in his mouth along with tying his hads together. Then he puts the human on the horse like an snimsl carcass and takes him deeper into the forest. When he think he's far enough away he puts the human on the ground and removes the gag. "Now you have two options, you may tell me what i want to know or you can die and I'll go take one of your friends until I find someone who will answer me. Now the girl with red hair, she is the one one who has the ears of an elf correct?"


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    "Good now did you see where she went?"
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  11. - Top - End - #341
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    Pyrene the Temptress

    Exhaustion struck Pyrene like a physical blow, even as her thoughtless command spell scattered the mercenaries in all directions. Determined to make her own escape, Pyrene managed three staggering steps before she was slammed off of her feet and carried high into the air. Despite her situation, however, Pyrene could not help thinking that Cheran looked a bit comical with his eyebrows gone, clothing in burnt tatters, and random chunks of hair shortened or entirely gone. Perhaps some of this showed on her face, fatigue allowing it slip through her normally flawless control, for Cheran began strangling her, berating her furiously as he did so. Pyrene only half-listened to the tirade, desperately trying to come up with a plan even as she grew more and more starved for fresh air.

    And then abruptly she was falling, air rushing into her lungs and clearing her head, and the ground was approaching much too fast. Time seemed to slow as she desperately tried to think of something, anything, that would soften her landing. Reaching for her magic, she could not at first find it. That huge command spell, she realized, had nearly drained her of power, at least for the moment. There was nothing she could do to save herself. Taking the last drop of magic, she wrapped it around a single word, not quite knowing what it would do but following her instinct. Part greeting, part plea for help and comfort, Mother! echoed through her mind.

    Nothing seemed to happen. Time sped up again. Pyrene closed her eyes, not wanting to see the hard ground racing toward her. She bit down on a scream, refusing to give Cheran that small satisfaction, and waited for the end.

    Which never came. Instead, there was a bruisingly sudden stop as something stopped her cloak, and by extension, her. Trembling with relief, Pyrene didn't even try to resist when Cheran knelt on her back and forced her face into the half-frozen mud. Curiously, Cheran's latest set of threats did not evoke the fear they were clearly meant to produce. Having faced the prospect of death, and acknowledged that she could not save herself, Pyrene now found that Cheran sounded like nothing more than an nasty, spoiled child who had had his favorite toy taken from him. She did not doubt that he would follow through on his threats if he could, but she was suddenly and completely sure that she could outwit and outdo him, if she tried.

    She was still thinking about this when she was lifted and flung over the shoulder of one of the strange metal angels. Seeing Korram in a similar posture on the other side of the angel's head, she put aside her musing in favor of a more immediate observation. "Hello, Korram. What happened to your fire arm?"
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  12. - Top - End - #342
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    Korram Alstan

    Korram looks resigned, his own personal existence currently so hellish that he is now expecting any possible misfortune. He doesn't struggle against the GHAST carrying him, slumped against its back. When she speaks, he looks across at Pyrene slowly, staring at her seriously for a few seconds before he responds.

    "I got hungry."

    He is clearly being sarcastic, but he says it with a great deal of gravity.
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  13. - Top - End - #343
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    Pyrene the Temptress

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorizzit View Post
    Korram Alstan looks across at Pyrene slowly, staring at her seriously for a few seconds before he responds.

    "I got hungry."

    He is clearly being sarcastic, but he says it with a great deal of gravity.
    Pyrene blinks, then gives a laugh which is short, but genuine. "Sorry, I forgot you wouldn't know me. I'm Pyrene, sometimes called the Temptress. It's a bit of a long story, but I've got Countess Ashargrin's memory from when you rescued her.

    "Did Master Soot over there manage to take your arm when he captured you, or did he just take advantage of it being gone?"
    Last edited by Lonna; 2009-09-17 at 08:19 PM.
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  14. - Top - End - #344
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    Korram Alstan

    Korram's dour face remains even and unperturbed as Pyrene reveals the source of her knowledge of him.

    "I'd say that makes no sense, but that would be hypocritical."

    He listens to Pyrene's question, face still displaying no emotion except for a slight annoyance.

    "Cheran's not smart enough to use advanced tactics like that. He just happened to attack me right after I was lost the ability to reduce him to a pile of cinders. Luck saved him."
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  15. - Top - End - #345
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    PR-10000-IM

    Tilting its head slightly PR-10000-IM monitors Sara. The tears going down her face here a potential sign of distress and potential harm to her. Per its programming it knew that tears were a potential sign of terror which it was designed to induce. Terror led to flaws in logic and self-destructive behavior which in a combat situation was the preferred response in enemies.

    Yet not the preferred response for one that PR-10000-IM was beholden to protect.

    Mental connections form and simple programming gives way to something else. Kneeling down PR-10000-IM does the opposite of the terror inducing algorithms. Its wings fold down to a position it seems the least threatening, knees bend slightly and arms reach out. A move that would be considered a simple grapple to which it would apply tremendous strength to rush its enemies is instead toned down to apply a small amount of pressure.

    As the humans so simply define it, a hug.

    Per what information PR-10000-IM is able to tie together and modify beyond its original programming it tries to comfort a little girl who has seen far too much terror in her short life.
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    I'm feeling this real hard now.
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  16. - Top - End - #346
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    Pyrene the Temptress

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorizzit View Post
    "Cheran's not smart enough to use advanced tactics like that. He just happened to attack me right after I was lost the ability to reduce him to a pile of cinders. Luck saved him."
    Pyrene nodded. "I'm not surprised. I tried to char him for you, but I'm afraid I'm rather new at all this," she said, only half joking. In a more serious tone she added, "Do you know who else was caught? I'm afraid I didn't get a good look earlier."
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  17. - Top - End - #347
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    Korram Alstan

    Korram manages to make a good approximation of a shrug, considering the fact that he is tied up and slung over the shoulder of the none-too-gentle GHAST.

    "Me. You. Countess Ashargrin. Klaus. Kris. He's a friend of mine. That's what I saw."
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  18. - Top - End - #348
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    Pyrene the Temptress

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorizzit View Post
    "Me. You. Countess Ashargrin. Klaus. Kris. He's a friend of mine. That's what I saw."
    "He even took Klaus? Damn... This Kris fellow, is he any good in a fight? I might be able to get us loose, but the problem is that I need to rest first, and I'm not sure how long. I exhausted myself with that useless command spell."
    Last edited by Lonna; 2009-09-17 at 09:18 PM.
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  19. - Top - End - #349
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    Korram Alstan

    Korram gives Pyrene a mildly disapproving look when she mentions her ability to get free when literally right next to the GHAST.

    "Yes. Kris is a good fighter."
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  20. - Top - End - #350
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    Sohssal

    Oh, all right. Once we get to my lab, I'll see if I can make a golem for you to possess. You should see if you can actually do that. And if you can, practice, Sohssal acquiesced. Then he glanced over at Roger's rather heavily impaled body. Hm. Your body is lingering an aura of necromancy. Interesting as that is, there's no way this will end well! he commented, then used the wind spell to yank the shards out of his body, and absorbed the foul magic.

    Sohssal turned to face Ross when he spoke. "I know some, but I'm not particularly good at it," he said as he pulled out his trusty letter opener from wherever he was keeping it - most likely in one of Roger's pockets. By know the letter opener/improvised magical battery would be fully charged, and he could draw upon its energy for healing spells.
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  21. - Top - End - #351
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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    Despite discussing matters with Pyrene while hanging from the GHAST’s shoulders, it does not seem to care. Little wonder why, as a minute later it leaps up into the air, narrowly avoiding cutting your head off with its extending wings. Then you are all airborne, dangling well over a hundred feet above the ground, with only the GHAST’s arms keeping you from falling. Escape without plummeting to your death seemed impossible, and even communication proved difficult over the roar of the GHAST’s fiery jets.

    You seem to hang from the GHAST’s shoulder for days, the novelty of soaring through the air quickly wearing off into boredom. Still, it was likely only a matter of hours before you began to descend. Below you stretches an expansive estate, well-manicured grounds surrounding a palatial mansion. Still, despite the elegant grounds, your trained eye can see the concealed defenses, the way the simple landscaping funnels any would-be attackers into killing grounds. And, hanging in the air above the mansion was a massive thing – you believed it was called an airship. It certainly was an ominous looking thing.

    Your entire group lands next to the massive fountain bubbling a short distance from the engraved wooden double doors leading into the mansion proper. Apparently Cheran had been in communication with the Baron, as easily two dozen people were arranged in front of the door waiting for you. Most of them were guards, but a number of them were dressed in the finery of estate servants.

    One of these servants holds up an overcoat for Cheran, who angrily snatches it out of the servant’s hands to sling around his shoulders. He pushes past the rest of the group, waving dismissively at the assembled group.

    “Take care of this trash.”

    After that, there is a blur of activity as the guards and lackeys move forward, grabbing you and the others. You are all dragged inside the very well-furnished manor, and from there are dragged off in separate directions. It seems likely that you would all be seeing each other again soon enough however. Or perhaps not, depending on the Baron’s certainly unpleasant plans for each of you.

    **********

    You soon find yourself in a small room on the ground floor with several of the lackeys, a handful of guards, and a pair of GHASTs silently watching from the corners of the room. Despite your battered state, all of the assembled humans were very cautious – on some level, they were still afraid of you.

    You are searched thoroughly for concealed weapons, stripped out of your clothes, and dressed in new ones. By this point, you are so tired and detached from what is happening to you, you almost don’t notice that the clothes you were now dressed in were fairly comfortable. They were nothing fancy – the sort of functional clothing you’d have worn while working at home in Callaway. That life was so long ago – another life, for all intents and purposes.

    After the lackeys were finished with you, more men come in – healers of some sort. They remove the bandages around your arm, examine your injury, and re-bandage it after applying some herbs. To your surprise, this doesn’t seem to be a trick or torture after all, as the burning itch in your stump of an arm slowly subsides, as does the pain from your other injuries. The healers also examine the rest of your injuries, applying more minor treatments to each, and clucking at each other about how you should probably be dead. Finally, the healers leave, and the lackeys motion to you.

    “This way, Korram. The Baron is waiting.”

    The lackeys lead you through several richly appointed hallways, the guards following at a distance but gradually falling away as you get closer and closer to your intended destination. Finally, you reach a set of double doors, which the lackeys throw open for you, bowing low as they do so.

    “Presenting Korram Alstan of Callaway!”

    With the doors open, you can now see a large feast hall beyond. Other than a handful of GHASTs scattered about the room, the Baron is the only one present, seated behind a table laden down with food. You note that the fare is surprisingly plain for a noble’s table. Smiling that damnable smile of his, the Baron beckons to you while gesturing to the table with his other hand.

    “Welcome, Korram! Come, come! Sit down, you must be hungry by now. In honor of your last meal, I had the cooks prepare dishes that might have once been found in your hometown. I must admit the fare is a bit . . . lacking in taste, but it is said variety is the spice of life.”

    After you are seated, whether of your own volition or at the forceful behest of several GHASTs, the Baron smiles across the table at you.

    “So Korram, forgive me for making small talk before you have a chance to eat, but I simply must know. Whatever did prompt the start of your mad crusade against me?”

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    Fine. I’ll go see if I can possess my corpse enough to extend its middle finger.

    You quickly remove the crystals from Roger’s body, allowing it to collapse onto the ground. Absorbing the bitter necromantic energy gives you a minor pick-me-up, and also allows you to analyze the associated spells more fully. It definitely seems the energy is part of a lingering spell, apparently designed to infect any living tissue it came into contact with, and convert it into an undead of some sort. Given the state of his body and the high dose he got from the multitude of crystals, it was little wonder that Roger ended up as a ghost. It wasn’t particularly useful information in the search for a “cure” for Roger’s condition, however.

    Retrieving the letter opener from Roger’s pocket, you note it is indeed quite full of energy. As it had served on several occasions before now, you channel healing energies down the blade of the makeshift weapon, and from there into Bran’s neck injury. Slowly, the hole in the boy’s neck begins to close, and he seems to relax slightly. The boy has still lost a lot of blood – his survival was far from certain, but at least now he wouldn’t bleed to death.

    Ross sits back with a deep sigh, clearly drained. He nods at you in thanks.

    “Appreciate the help. Gave the lad a chance, at least.”

    He then nods at Umber, still locked in a staring contest with Bran, faint rays of reddish light playing back and forth between their eyes.

    “What do you think we should do about this?”

    “Umber did say not to disturb him and keep the boy alive.” The female vampire offered with an uncertain shrug. “Perhaps he is trying some sort of healing ritual?”

    I cannot ascertain the vampire’s thoughts – its as if his mind is totally elsewhere right now. Even if it was some sort of clever shield, I should be able to detect something. The boy’s mind is even more confusing, random images, focused around an ancient city at night. Some sort of celebration, or perhaps massacre – the images are too jumbled to understand! Is this some sort of dying dream, or part of the ritual?

    WhiteKnight777

    “Memories.” Gilgeam grunts. “Perhaps.”

    “Or perhaps we’re the real thing, our souls drawn forth from oblivion for this last task. Or maybe we’re something else entirely, and have merely chosen these forms for their familiarity to you.”

    Marialta gives one of her typical mysterious smiles as she shrugs.

    “Who can say? Whatever we are though –“

    “You would do wise to heed our words.”

    Marialta extends a hand, gesturing along the street leading deeper into the city.

    “Let’s walk.”

    Here all three of you reveal your supernatural nature by floating along a few inches off the ground. Despite the streets being packed with people, you pass through them as if they were nothing more than air. No one seems to notice. As you travel towards the citadel in the heart of the city, your two guides continue speaking.

    “In truth, there are only two things you must do Umber. Listen –“

    “- and Choose.”

    For a moment, you pause in the middle of the street, people passing mindlessly through you, as Marialta shakes her head and smiles.

    “We all made a Choice on this night. We made all the necessary preparations, we did all the research. We knew what would be required of us, and were prepared to make the required sacrifices.”

    “But we did not understand Fate. It had other plans for us.”

    “Had being the operative word. Do you understand, Umber? We achieved immortality by trading away our future!”

    “Not just our deaths. Every action, every achievement from this night forward. Gone.”

    “You remember what followed our ascension. Destruction, flight, and a permanent scattering. A permanent scattering quite literally for some of us.”

    Marialta and Gilgaem share a look before continuing. The three of you begin to drift down the street once more as the conversation continues.

    “So you see Umber, in exchange for avoiding your death, you gave away everything else attached to that fate. Your magic, your kingship . . . and her.”

    Passing through the last of the crowd, you find yourself in the courtyard before the citadel. A clearing had been maintained before the gates, inside of which a sandy pit had been erected. Sitting arrayed around the pit were a number of drums and their attendants drummers, as well as several men juggling torches, with braziers containing additional ones nearby. And standing at the head of this circle, dressed in fine flowing silk veils and looking truly magnificent, was Fianna.

    A quick glance up at the citadel’s walls revealed yourself standing on a nearby balcony, watching down with intense interest. You remember this part of the night quite well – the Fire Dance, Fianna’s method of celebration. As the ghost, image, memory, whatever of your great love shimmies into the middle of the fire pit, she smiles radiantly and bows to the crowd. Beside you, the memory of Gilgaem leans in close to you.

    “So in hindsight, was it all worth it?”

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    With the camp still in disarray, presumably related to the red-haired woman’s disappearance, it was a simple matter to ambush one of the men as he stumbled back in. For a moment there is a clear calculation on his part, but he ultimately allows you to drag him off and tie him up without a struggle.

    Once safely away from the camp, you drop him down onto the ground and remove his gag. Again, he looks at you with a clear calculation of whether or not you are telling the truth. Finally, he shrugs as best he can with his hands bound behind him.

    “Alright. Hardly a good deal, but I have nothing against your people and the information is no skin off my back. Yes, the red-haired woman is the half-elf we found. Guess you guys really want her back, don’t you?”

    The man spits and smiles.

    “Afraid we can’t help you with that. One of our employer’s sons dropped down in the middle of the camp and demanded to see her. There was some kind of scuffle in the tent where she was being kept, she came running out, yelled at us to flee, and then I didn’t see anything else because I was running for my life. It seems a fair assumption that if she still isn’t there in the camp though that the Baron’s son carried her off. Or flew off as the case may be – ill-mannered freak.”

    Lonna

    Despite discussing matters with Korram while hanging from the GHAST’s shoulders, it does not seem to care. Little wonder why, as a minute later it leaps up into the air, narrowly avoiding cutting your head off with its extending wings. Then you are all airborne, dangling well over a hundred feet above the ground, with only the GHAST’s arms keeping you from falling. Escape without plummeting to your death seemed impossible, and even communication proved difficult over the roar of the GHAST’s fiery jets.

    You seem to hang from the GHAST’s shoulder for days, the novelty of soaring through the air quickly wearing off into boredom. Still, it was likely only a matter of hours before you began to descend. Below you stretches an expansive estate, well-manicured grounds surrounding a palatial mansion. Still, despite the elegant grounds, you can see a large number of GHASTs and other more human figures standing guard. And, hanging in the air above the mansion, was the massive airship known as the Ghastly Truth. It looked even more imposing closer up than as the dark blot you had seen it during your escape from Ironheart.

    Your entire group lands next to the massive fountain bubbling a short distance from the engraved wooden double doors leading into the mansion proper. Apparently Cheran had been in communication with the Baron, as easily two dozen people were arranged in front of the door waiting for you. Most of them were guards, but a number of them were dressed in the finery of estate servants.

    One of these servants holds up an overcoat for Cheran, who angrily snatches it out of the servant’s hands to sling around his shoulders. He pushes past the rest of the group, waving dismissively at the assembled group.

    “Take care of this trash.”

    After that, there is a blur of activity as the guards and lackeys move forward, grabbing you and the others. You are all dragged inside the very well-furnished manor, and from there are dragged off in separate directions. It seems likely that you would all be seeing each other again soon enough however. Or perhaps not, depending on the Baron’s certainly unpleasant plans for each of you.

    **********

    You quickly find yourself in a small room with one of the lackeys. Two GHASTs silently stand watch from two corners of the room. The only indication that they are not mere bizarre suits of armor is their glowing eyes, silently taking in the scene playing out before them.

    “Alright. Let’s try to keep this as pleasant as possible.” The lackey says, hurriedly undoing the bonds on your hands and feet. He steps back cautiously after doing so, apparently half-expecting you to fly into a rage and attack him. When it becomes clear that you aren’t quite that suicidal, he approaches you again.

    “Alright. Stand up straight, hands above your head. Don’t lower them until I tell you.”

    Reluctantly, you obey, and the lackey gives you a brief but thorough pat-down. Apparently satisfied you are carrying no concealed weapons, he nods and steps back, watching you for a few moments before he finally nods. “Alright, you can lower your hands.”

    As if on cue, a few moments later a second lackey steps into the room, a bundle of clothes in his arms. And resting on top of that bundle is a familiar and hated sight – a rune-inscribed collar. The clothes-carrying lackey drapes the bundle over a nearby chair, hands the collar to his cohort, exchanges a nod, and then leaves. Your personal lackey gestures at the clothing – which to your surprise actually appears to be an elegant dark red dress. The lackey crosses his arms, the collar dangling from one hand.

    “Now strip and get dressed.”

    Unlike Wulfric, this man does not turn his back, continuing to watch you pointedly. Skilled in human body language, you can tell despite his lack of chivalry he has a distant air about him, the sort of cold air a man examining a fine painting might have. Seeing little alternative, you quickly get dressed, refusing to hurry and give the lackey the satisfaction of seeing you flustered. Once you were finished, the lackey again nods in satisfaction. Then he holds the collar up, and points at the floor in front of him.

    “Now get over here and turn around.”

    You knew what would happen if he put that collar on you. Your mind began to turn, considering potential options, possible arguments you could make. You were beginning to feel stronger now – you could probably command him. As if seeing the plots forming in your mind, the lackey gestures more emphatically.

    “You can either come over here and quietly obey, or scream and flail while the GHASTs hold you down and I put the collar on anyway.”

    For a moment you briefly consider the path of futile resistance, but ultimately dismiss it. You were exhausted, and totally at the Baron’s mercy whether you could use magic or not. Slowly, you walk over to the lackey, and turn around as instructed. The lackey lifts your hair up, fiddles with the collar for a moment, and then locks it firmly around your neck.

    Nodding in satisfaction a final time, the lackey steps back and begins moving towards the door.

    “Wait here – someone will come collect you when it is time for dinner. Do not attempt escape – you are up here, and not down in the dungeons, at the Baron’s pleasure.”

    Surprisingly, the two GHASTs file out after the man, leaving you alone in the small room. A rather loud click confirms that they have locked you inside. This was an interior room on the second floor – other than the papered walls, there wasn’t anything to look at. And the only thing present in the room was a simple wooden table and a pair of padded chairs.

    Plopping yourself down in one of them, you weren’t sure whether to plot, to doze off, or just cry. Before you could decide, a very strange thing happened. From one dark corner of the room, the shadow of a cloaked figure suddenly appeared. Walking boldly further into the room, the darkness glided off the figure as it became more and more defined. Finally, the dark cloaked figure was as real and solid as anyone else.

    The figure looked around the room briefly, and then moved swiftly over to you. Stopping a few paces away, the figure greets you with a low bow and kneels down. The voice reveals itself to be a woman.

    “Princess Pyrene. It is an honor to finally meet you.”

    Reaching up, the cloaked woman pulls back her hood to reveal her face. Short-cropped brown hair, grey-blue eyes, nothing particularly striking. But what did get your attention were the tattoos covering almost every inch of her exposed face and neck. Undecipherable black lines of script, the tattoos seemed to bend and twist across her face with a life of their own. In short, it was very disturbing.

    “I am Alya Perist, envoy of the Baron to Queen Titania of Phaedra. As I said previously, it is an honor to meet you.”

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    Sara clearly responds to your efforts to comfort her, leaning over to rest her head against your shoulder, clinging weakly to your armored form. The assembled humans simply watch awkwardly as the human girl cries on the shoulder of a metal abomination. Eventually, the tears subside, and Sara pulls away with an earnest smile.

    “Thanks. You’re nice too – I’ve never met a GHAST like you. Um . . . I’m not very good with names, but . . . could I call you PRIME? You’ve already got most of the letters in your name, but PRIM doesn’t seem fitting. And well, you’re the first GHAST that’s ever paid any attention to me, so it would fit that way too . . .”

    The word “prime” conjures up several images this time, these considerably less pleasant. Torture, abuse, and mockery – all led by a man wielding a large mechanical crossbow who disdainfully calls you by that name as well – “Prime”.

    Suddenly, Sara swings herself around, letting her legs dangle off the bed. She pauses to turn her head and look at one of the assembled meat sacks.

    “Umm . . . I’m feeling much better. Would it be alright if I went for a walk? I won’t go far, I promise.”

    The meat sacks share an uneasy look, before the urinate-soaked one speaks up.

    “Your mother would want you to stay here and rest, child. I . . . I don’t think it’s a good idea to ignore your mother’s wishes at the moment.”

    Sara frowns a little, but leans back into the bed again.

    “Well, I guess you’re right. Could . . . could I have something to eat then? I’m awfully hungry.”

    The meat sacks seemed to be relieved by Sara’s ready surrender, and by her sudden admission of hunger. Which certainly seemed to be an unusual thing to become pleased over, but then humans seemed to be quite unusual in behavior.

    “We’ll have something brought over from the Galley.” The meat sacks seem to discuss the matter amongst themselves for a moment, and then turn back to you.

    “Errr . . GHAST. We are in the middle of some important studies. Please travel down to the galley and inform them that the Baron’s daughter requires something to eat and drink.”

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    “Uhhh . . . hey.” Jim responds lamely, in complete shock at your sudden re-emergence. Teareal is also clearly surprised, but seems energized rather than confused at your sudden appearance.

    “Tare. Gar Narthak Adamè!?”

    As before, Vylethar’s keyring lights up upon being held up to the door. A quick wave of the glowing stone over the locks and a lifting of the iron bars, and the cell door stood open. Thankfully, none of the captives inside were shackled to the wall, and were able to eagerly shuffle outside without difficulty. Unfortunately, none of Vylethar’s keystones light up when passes over their chains. And as Limier observed previously, their shackles did not have keyholes.

    “Gar Narthak Adamè!?” Teareal presses, his voice growing even more desperate as he shuffles to in front of you, raising his shackled hands to grasp the front of your shirt. Before you can answer, a loud shout cuts through the impressive din surrounding you. Looking up, you watch as a horde of armored devils sweep down the stairway, taking to the air to dive down onto the isolated groups of rebelling slaves.

    And landing on the level right above you is Crx. He leers down at you, holding up a ring of stones similar to the one you appropriated from Vylethar.

    “Looking for these?” He growls.
    Last edited by Inspectre; 2009-09-19 at 10:50 AM.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  22. - Top - End - #352
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Ander Windrivver

    It's a griffin, not a bird, Ander grumbles as he leaves David and Sunbeak behind. He allows himself to be led into the monastery. He allows his eyes to wander as he is escorted through the ancient building, making note of how things have changed over the years...and how they have stayed the same. His mood only gets worse as he enters the ritual chamber to see a new abbot communicating with Exarch Greyson.

    Ah, Exarch Greyson. The years have not been...kind to you, have they? Ander's voice reverberates off the walls as he slowly works his way around the edge of the room. Oh, before I forget. The next time you see the sniveling worm Adamus Crane, please be kind enough to relay a message for me. Let him know that I still have his dagger. I've been carrying it since Ironheart and I would love to return it to him.

    With this, he steps down into the ritual pit onto the brick platform and scuffs away several runes around the edge of the circle with his foot. With the ritual circle broken, the image of Greyson flickers and disappears.

    Forgive my intrusion, Abbot, Ander says, looking up at the young paladin. He focuses in on the man's aura, attempting to get a read on him. While his words are courteous, Ander's voice carries a noticable undercurrent of "who are you and what are you doing here" to it. I'm sure you know who I am and why I am here but I am afraid I do not know you. Perhaps you could tell me a bit about yourself and the monastery? It wasn't a request.
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  23. - Top - End - #353
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    ~Tare

    "It's ok, Teareal, I found her. She is safe... for now. Safe." He clasped his hands against his heart in the only gesture he could think of to communicate that concept. "We need to move quickly--"

    Enter Crx. ...Yeah, before that.

    Tare blinked up at the Devil general. "Ummm.... Yes, actually, that's... very kind of you," He says carefully, mostly stalling for time and not even hoping against hope this time that the armor-clad First Talon might let him borrow the keyring for a moment. He would totally give it back, too, it wasn't like he was going to run out on the man (dae-man?) or anything.
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    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  24. - Top - End - #354
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    Korram watches the GHAST take off with a morose expectance, not really surprised that any possibilities of escape are quashed. After a single, futile attempt to speak to Pyrene, he allows himself to lapse into silence, sourly observing the speeding countryside. He was beginning to develop an unusually homicidal hatred for GHASTs. Occasionally, he looked over to check on Pyrene, but beyond that, he fell into to his own thoughts. The events of the last hours weigh deeply on him, but somehow, eventually, he falls into a deep sleep, and the rest of the journey passes in an eye blink.

    When they arrive, Korram starts awake and stares evenly at the various servants of the Baron around him. He offers no resistance to the assorted processes he goes through; they were scared of him, and if he struggled and failed now then that fear would be broken. He smiles predatorialy at the servants. When they are all finished, he stretches to loosen his sore muscles before following after the guide. When he hears his name being announced, his eyes widen. He's not...it can't be that he's... Korram is ushered through the door, he finds himself staring the Baron, the real, physical Baron in the face.

    When Korram had been a revolutionary, he had often thought about his meeting with the Baron. He had been hopeful then, and the meeting seemed inevitable. Sometimes he had been intelligent and witty, spouting off some clever line and killing the b****** where he stood. Others, he had imagined stalking the Baron in the night before striking from the shadows, making him fear for his life before losing it. In Ironheart, he had imagined torturing him to death with the very tools of Korram's own pain. There had been dozens of variations, but none of them compared to the reality.

    Korram quivers with rage, drawing in breaths with ragged gasps. His mouth curls into a snarl, and it takes every ounce of willpower in his possession not to futilely leap forward and try to strangle the Baron to death with his bare hand, even if it meant his own useless death. Blood drips from his remaining hand as he digs his nails deep into his palm. Finally, with an effort of sheer will, he visibly calms himself down and sits unassisted. Although thinking relatively rationally again, Korram's mind races with plans to kill the Baron, and his glare is withering. When he speaks, it is in a calm and collected voice, revealing his barely repressed fury.

    "My wife. She was one of the ones you took. You don't exactly keep it a secret what you do with them."
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  25. - Top - End - #355
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Umber chuckled, bemused as he floated along. He looked around, his eyes suddenly bright. "Was it worth it?" He asked, grinning. "Of course it was. You two both know that the elixirs wouldn't have kept us forever. The best we could have hoped for would have been another ten, maybe twenty years. And then what? Rotting forever in our graves? No. No thank you." He took a deep breath.

    "So yes, we sacrificed much... but we gained much, too. You say we gave up our fates - but I say we broke free of them. It's taken me all this time to find a way to get my magic back - but I've done it. I will write my own destiny. My magic will be returned to me - and I have learned that kingship was of little importance, in the end. But Fianna..." he trailed off, and his eyes were filled with pain.

    "I... must admit, that one hurts more than I can say. But I swear, if it takes me another three millenia, I will help her, too. I will bring her peace, one way or another - We found a way to keep death from our throats. I've found a way to regain my old powers. I will save her. I will not be bound by death, by fate, by anything - No matter what person, what force tries to chain me, I will break free."

    He smiled, holding out his hands and looking upwards. "Was it worth it? Who knows. In the end, it doesn't matter. I could bemoan the consequences of my actions, but that serves no purpose - instead, I will do what I've always done. I'll handle my problems. I'll find solutions. I will not be a victim of anything - I will help Fianna, I will have my magic back. I will do as I will, and all the gods help whoever or whatever gets in my way."

  26. - Top - End - #356
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    The Baron’s Estate

    Dorizzit

    As you sit down at the table, the Baron turns his attention to the lackeys at the door.

    “That will be all. Leave us.”

    The doors close, and you were alone in the room with the Baron. Well, alone save for the half dozen GHASTs positioned about the room. But you don’t think any of them would be fast enough to stop you should you choose to leap over the table and stab the Baron with a dinner fork. No, a knife – you actually had a knife by your plate!

    The only thing that stops you is the sure knowledge that this is a trick of some kind, a test by the Baron to see what you would do. You had heard stories of others try to assassinate the Baron, some utterly unsuccessful, some able to get to the very Baron himself. Those attempts also failed, ostensibly foiled by the Baron himself. With another forceful display of willpower, you remain in your seat, answering the Baron’s question. He actually has the temerity to chuckle at your reason.

    “So you’ve heard the stories then. Is that what you think? That I had your wife dragged off to my bed chambers, that I raped her, killed her? Or perhaps had Cheran, or maybe even Seraphan, do it instead?”

    The Baron smirks at this last bit, and then that smirk blossoms into his damnable smile as he slowly shakes his head back and forth.

    “No, Korram. Your wife is alive. Well, only after a fashion I suppose, but I assure you she is treated well. Always has been. She’s been a very useful servant of mine for years now.”

    The Baron looks at you and chuckles.

    “So is that it? All these years of struggle, all these deaths, caused by you assuming your wife was dead. You could have just asked, you know. Oh, I wouldn’t have returned your wife, not at any price, but I would have at least had the courtesy to tell you the truth.”

    The Baron ***** his head, still smiling.

    “Or is it that you don’t want the truth? You’d rather imagine yourself the victim – poor Korram, the innocent country bumpkin who had his wife murdered by the evil Baron. Poor Korram, the heroic revolutionary who despite getting everyone he’s ever met killed, has only the failing that he hasn’t succeeded in killing the Baron yet?”

    The Baron waves his hand dismissively at you and sneers.

    “You are a blind man, Korram. You refuse to see anything that doesn’t fit your view of how the world should be. You’ve shackled yourself to vengeance, but refuse to see all the ways you could obtain it because of your honor. You insist on acting honorably, despite the dirty motivation for your war, and refuse to see all that your behavior has cost you until it’s too late. And *that* is why you will never beat me, Korram. Why you will always remain just a peasant with delusions of grandeur!”

    Dawn’s Hope - Monastery

    Baerdog7

    The image of Greyson chuckles.

    “Yes, well not all of us have been blessed by the Valkyrie with an immortal body. We’re working on it however. And I will be sure to relay your request on to the Exarch.”

    The image turns to the abbot as you approach the runes.

    “Be careful abbot. The vengeance of the gods –“

    You shut the odious exarch up by scuffing the runes away. No one moved to stop you, but everyone certainly noticed what you did. The abbot bristles, clearly annoyed.

    “I would appreciate it if you didn’t interrupt my rituals, Lord General. And yes, I know exactly who you are. Heretic.”

    The abbot spits on the ground, not in your general direction however – even in his anger he is still intimidated by you. You don’t particularly sense any auras lingering about him – he’s not under any supernatural influence, and beyond truly reprehensible individuals, it was usually quite hard to detect where a human’s allegiances lie.

    “I am Abbot James Hallowell. I was appointed several years ago after the last abbot’s murder. The monastery has remained largely unchanged since your time here. We serve the Church, we always have, and we always will.”

    The abbot straightens up to his full height, posturing – and perhaps mostly for his own benefit.

    “If you have come here to try and convince me to break those ancient vows of loyalty, you have come in vain. You will not have these impressionable young minds to mold in your demon-worshipping heretical followers! Now, I’m not sure we have much more to discuss here, and I’m a very busy man. I trust you know the way out?”

    The abbot does not turn his back on you, nor does anyone move to escort you out. Clearly, all eyes were on you, waiting to see how you would react to this up-front refusal to join your crusade against the Church.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  27. - Top - End - #357
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    Korram is stunned as it is revealed as his wife is alive. He sits back in his chair, gazing up at the ceiling, thinking. Imagining what it would have been like if he had just accepted his loss as so many others had, and moved on with his life. Perhaps he could have spared Katrina her suffering. Saved Callaway. Maybe, at this very second, he could have been happy. Maybe he would have had grandchildren by now. He looks down, staring at his lap. He wouldn't have been covered by scars from his long imprisonment in Ironheart. He wouldn't remember watching friends slaughtered by the Baron's guards. He wouldn't have been forced to endure the constant pain, mental and physical. He wouldn't have rescued Countess Ashargrin. He wouldn't have been there to help hold the seal on Azguloth. He wouldn't have saved anyone, wouldn't have hindered any of the Barons plans, wouldn't have ever been able to forgive himself for being unable to save his wife.
    Sarah...
    Korram raises his head, and looks the Baron straight in the eye, sadly.
    "What did you do with her?"
    Last edited by Dorizzit; 2009-09-26 at 08:45 AM.
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  28. - Top - End - #358
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Telest

    Telest swears furiously in elven upon hearing this.. "Where would the Baron's take her or tell me who would know?"
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  29. - Top - End - #359
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Sohssal

    Umber's mind is gone and the boy's head is full of weird images...I'm thinking the two are connected. I could try stepping into Bran, but that would definitely count as disturbing him, and the shock might reopen the wound. I doubt stepping into Umber would be productive, Sohssal speculated through the mental link. Then, curious, he stood over Bran's body and concentrated on detecting magic. If this strange condition was part of the ritual, he would be able to sense it. Otherwise, Sohssal had little idea of what he would detect.
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  30. - Top - End - #360
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    PR-10000-IM - Prime

    Upon Sara calling it “nice” there is a flash. A burst of static washes across its visual receptors and there is an odd feeling of warmth coming from the torso region. Part of its mind is distracted by this as it tries to process this unusual sensation. In the short span of time this takes Sara has continued to speak. Hearing the name suggested by Sara, PR-10000-IM nods at it despite the images it produces.

    ”Prime is… fitting. I will use that designation while I’m around you.”

    As Sara becomes mobile ‘Prime’ observes her motions. Her recovery would indicate that the original, painful looking procedure was actually beneficial in the long run. Using the necromantic energy to counter-act the holy energy within her body was a logical conclusion now that it had been processed. However what had exposed such a little girl to the holy energies? Why would holy energies be so dangerous to a human, especially the stereotypical innocent child?

    Ruminations come to an end as one of the meatsacks asks for an order. Standing up to its full height ‘Prime’ looks down at them, taking the effort to flex it’s wings. A minor switch to it's default booming voice typical of GHASTS also occurs.

    ”My orders come directly from the Baroness. As she stated:”

    Switching its voice over to a passable impression of the Baroness ‘Prime’ feels a moment of unease at this.

    “See that no one disturbs her beyond what is necessary until my return. I am needed elsewhere.”

    Echoing the voice in the same style of the Baroness apparently caused a bit of shock among the meat sacks judging by their expressions. Is it not acting per normal? All of its protocols checked out despite the annoying problem with the main memory core within the central soul binding everything together. Maybe a piece of cake and death would help…..

    MEMORY CORRUPTION – BYPASSING
    Snapping out of the induced loop ‘Prime’ looks down at the meatsacks and mentally realigns itself with the task at hand. Strange that it’s recent “error” took virtually no time.

    ”As per her orders I am unable to leave ‘Sara’ until the Baroness returns. According to Fury she is resting in her quarters and wishes not to be disturbed. If you wish to summon her you are free to do so. My orders are clear however that I am not to leave Sara until relieved by the Baroness. It would be safer for you to either send the lowest-ranking member of your organization to accommodate 'Sara' needs or to have me escort her to the galley to partake in nutrition intake vital for sustained and healthy life.”
    Last edited by Pwenet; 2009-09-21 at 08:05 PM.
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    I'm good at making you fear the unknown. Pwenet is good at making you fear the known, which had been the unknown five minutes before he pushed you off screaming into the abyss.
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    I'm feeling this real hard now.
    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

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