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  1. - Top - End - #391
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Soras Teva Gee's Avatar

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    Maya Wayborn

    Maya smiled at the first notes of the old goat's song. Pan was one of the few that could still sneak up on her good, well when she wasn't watching real close. And here on familiar ground Maya was only keeping the basic watch, she'd been running in these woods since she was five after all. Pan was a good though, or maybe he just knew her too well.

    It was good to see one of her friends before going. Papa had said not to go visiting before leaving, but he never said anything about anyone who might show up along the way. That was the way of things of course. Too bad Maya didn't have time to listen to Pan play or any of a hundred fun things to be done. Formal business was formal business and that was the way of things too.

    "And a hello too Goodsatyr Pan. I'm out to pay back some small favor I owe my lord father by doing a favor in his stead. I'm out for the soft places, and wind only knows when I'll get back," Maya said with a small bow to complete the formalities.

    The old goat would know she'd just told him she was on important business and couldn't stay or discuss it in detail. He didn't like "Goodsatyr" formal and old as it was as titles went, never mind Pan was one of the few she named Papa informally around. So she was being formal and couldn't be friendly. And the last sentence without inviting him, said she wouldn't mind if he walked with her awhile. Though of course she didn't ask, the mischievous old goat might claim it as a favor. And one didn't ask a favor unless one really needed it, it was the way of things for favors to be paid back.

    Winking at Pan with a bright eye as she passed Maya kept walking past the lamppost. The soft places were easiest to find beyond the lamps by all accounts. Or maybe it was only one soft place, where the Queen's realm ended and began. Weird things could happen there, but it was the only place Maya wanted to try making a portal. She was no conjurer to cross the gaps in worlds; spirits and pixies didn't they were flighty and mostly magic anyways. She was human and would need a bit more to step between worlds. Hopefully it wouldn't be too far, the cloak Papa had given her was a lot better then her others (and worked as well when tight or open) but it didn't stop all the cold. Another little price for being human she supposed.

  2. - Top - End - #392
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    Kasanip's Avatar

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    Isera Harvent

    The two day journey had been a relatively dour one. The grim message had come back to her time and time again as she had walked the dusty trails. All sorts of guesses and abstractions as to what could have been the cause of the incident had passed through her head along the way, and she had resigned herself to the fact that there wouldn't be too much left to see once she arrived.

    All the same, Isera hadn't quite expected the thoroughness of the damage to either estates, nor to the surrounding area. An involuntary shiver passed through her and she stuffed her hands deeper into her jacket pockets. It wasn't that it was terribly cold outside, but the air about...seemed dead. Quiet. With the forest burned, there were none of the normal sounds one got used to while traveling - the wind rustling through the leaves, or birds chirping amongst the branches. All that was left now was the soft crunch of the black dust under her boots.
    As she approached the Perist resid- well, former residence, her magus eye could see even more auras than she had glimpsed at the Wriest mansion - the faint washes of color beneath the charcoal-ed rubble told her that there was still some activity about. The Perist family was skilled in runes, Isera remembered, so it wasn't too surprising some of their works could have survived the catastrophe.

    Hellhole would be a better description. She thought to herself grimly.

    Of course the real question was why had both the Count's estate and the Perist's residence been involved in the 'darkness' Ternist had mentioned. Count Wriest... and come to think of it, the Perist family as well were both involved with the Duke of Ornholdt, weren't they? Isera frowned a bit as she thought about that. It was a troubling notion. Already she had heard some dark rumors of the lands to the south of Narle, though if the Duchy of Ornholdt was in trouble, who knew what was coming next? Attacking a Count anywhere was a dangerous affair. It was either a well calculated move...or a very stupid one, and Isera wasn't the type to underestimate her opponents. Whoever had torched the area had considerable firepower on hand. Last, but not least of course, was the overarching question: What was the origin, or rather Who was responsible for this terrible event? The answer to that question was part of what Isera guessed she would be looking into for the Seasons next.

    Great. she thought to herself. Though she bristled a bit in the manner of how she was sometimes asked to carry out 'requests,' honestly after seeing the devastation here, Isera did feel a certain sympathy for the parties involved. And if it was indeed caused by something supernatural, than surely her talents would be put to good use.

    Isera paused only a minute to examine the ruins from a distance before continuing up the path towards the people busy picking through the rubble.
    "Isera." Berrick said with a nod as he stopped a few feet in front of her.
    "Berrick Ternist." She responded with a curt, but formal nod of her head. And then there was Cherise and her familiar aura! As Cherise came to embrace her, Isera pulled her hands from her coat pockets and returned the hug with a warm smile.
    "Always good to see you Cherise, no matter the circumstances. It has been a while, hasn't it? I trust you've been well?" As they pulled apart, Isera turned to get a good look at Carlain.
    "And is that...Carlain I see here? My you've grown up since I last saw you!" She said with a grin, reaching out to shake his hand. She would have tried to ruffle his hair, but indeed it had been quite a while: last she remembered, Isera had been taller than the lad. And Carlain was looking especially dour right now - though the black coat didn't do much to change that appearance. Isera promised herself silently she'd ask Cherise about that topic later.

    After the small round of greetings were concluded, Isera turned back to Berrick with a business look to her face.
    "So what happened here?" She asked. It was blunt, but with the cool professional flair that Isera had cultivated over the last few years. No point in beating around the bush.
    Last edited by Kasanip; 2009-09-29 at 02:12 AM.
    Kasanip's Sketchbook 2 Thread
    It is difficult to speak English, please excuse mistakes kindly m(_ _)m

  3. - Top - End - #393
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Octavio Galloway

    Galloway frowned at the lack of people. Yes, it was a pleasantry that there were none to impede him, but who was there to admire him? An artist was nothing without people to admire what he could do! All of the blood and guts and flesh-warping magic in the entire universe was absolutely pointless if nobody was around to look at it, study it, and feel it for what it truly was! Art was simply lines and colors without someone to admire its inherent value!

    But that was neither now nor here, and the worldly concerns of Octavio were more important now. Though he could force himself to grow several feet tall, or make his blood boil so hot so as to make himself nearly rupture, he could not shift or change or create the energy required to do so. Without sustenance, however base, he was little more than a glorified human! Though from the smell of death, this place was sure to have a bit of meat for him somewhere. Shelter would likely be simple enough as well, but he wanted to conserve his energy for now: Sightseeing was a pleasantry, and he could certainly become more acquainted with the natives when he understood who did what, where, and why. After all, the medium of life itself was not just about tendon and bone and gore! It was the art of politics as well, though Galloway had only been a witness to the machinations of greater politicians.

    At least he could appreciate that fact.

    Walking along the side of the street, he idly drummed his fingers against the windows, rapping his knuckles against doorways, looking for a response in this dead-end little town. No doubt some local butchers had come in, had their merry, and left the dead to burn. But he didn't mind too much: Even dead bodies, were they fresh enough, could be used to serve a purpose. The preferred canvas was alive, but starving artists had their necessities after all, yes?

    Unfortunately, either way, that forced him to follow the stench of fire and death. He would have to do his part just as others had to do theirs, primarily in the means of ensuring he better understood the condition of sentience and life. As much as it pained him, he never had quite understood the body fully. How it looked? Yes. But form and function were two different things, and the search for enlightenment had been costly in several ways. Yet he had a good feeling: This place would serve a somewhat haunted starting point, and there didn't seem to be a want for interaction with every passerby.

    A good starting point.
    Gotta keep on trollan' trollan' trollan'

  4. - Top - End - #394
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    Archpaladin Zousha's Avatar

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    Hondshioh

    Hondshioh arrives in the room where Ander is speaking to the assembly. He was surprised that there were so many assembled to see him, and they seemed to be asking all manner of questions. Why ask questions of a clearly delusional man? Perhaps this was the real thing? If he was, then they should know better than to trade words with a heretic. Unless they were showing the heretic the way back to the embrace of the gods. Regardless, he spoke loudly, not caring that he was interrupting the discussion.

    "You. The one who claims to be Lord General Ander Windrivver. You have been granted an audience by the servants of Miriam and Athelion, the Rulers of All. All genuflect and show homage to these blessed angels."

    Hondshioh steps away from the door and kneels to allow the angels to pass.
    Last edited by Archpaladin Zousha; 2009-09-30 at 07:46 PM.

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  5. - Top - End - #395
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    Korram turns to face "Kris" as his voice calls out from the other cell.

    "The dinner was quite pleasant, actual...actually..."

    Although he hadn't been sitting before the shocking revelation of Kris' identity, Korram most certainly was afterwards. His mouth opens and closes several times before he can speak again.

    "But...I...how...you...what...?"

    Once the initial shock wears off and Korram starts really thinking about it, a mountain of evidence seems to shift into place and it everything begins to make sense. Korram face palms.

    "Ugh, I really am getting old."

    He smiles warmly.

    "An ingenious plan, disguising yourself as the male lieutenant. Very clever. I would expect nothing less."

    His face quickly grows serious again, however, and he looks away.

    "But there's no time for reunions, now. This is a royal mess I've gotten us into, and we need to figure out some way to get you free. Do they know who you are? Or just that you're a girl?"
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  6. - Top - End - #396
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    PR-10000-IM and/or Incom Morgan – In a twisted crossover of DOOM!

    “ABOMINATION!” Ysora spits.

    The warm spittle strikes the cheek of PR-10000-IM. Feeling it slowly drip down along the cheek a feeling of anger fills its stomach. Stepping up and taking a step back, shoulders heaving as if breathing hard, or crying it listens to Ysora rant and rave at him.

    “Incom . . . ?”

    Looking down at Sara as she looks at him in horror Incom is even more horrified when he does not feel his stomach churn. Looking down on his hands they are no longer the ones of a human but instead one of a monster, even more twisted than the most advance stages of his transformation into a dragon.

    What is going on here?

    Looking up at the massive form of Sir Celestan, seeing the spawn of the hated Baron looking down at him a sudden sensation of rage fills him. Part of his power starts to shift, drawn from the demon power source as the hatred fills him. Yet looking at Sir Celestan Incom realizes he could no sooner strike him down than he could go back into the past and change the sad tale of his life.

    …this is like the dragon power…

    The stray thought races through his mind, calming the rage as his thoughts turn towards survival. It would be so easy to slip back into the life of a GHAST, to let his shattered soul be a simple slave to the Baron, forever trapped in a haze of limbo.

    Listening to the exchange between Sir Celestan and Sara Incom is shocked when the following comes from her mouth.

    “Did you know that’s Incom!!?”

    Such a simple question, yet the meaning behind each syllobele echoes with the faith that Sara knew she was right, that he was Incom, pushed the silly thoughts of surrender away.

    I am Incom Morgan!

    Yet it was still time to play the grand act.

    Turning towards Sir Celestran PR-10000-IM bows it’s head to him in respect.

    Sir Celestran – I was escorting Sara when during out conversations she asked about the great effort. Ysora here is the perfect face of the enemy to show her and a demonstration of the Baron power. The exchange became… heated.”

    Pausing for a moment to see how his efforts at minor deception play out PR-10000-IM continues.

    ”Needless to say Ysora is spreading her exaggerations to this child. Child psychology is not a vital aspect of our programming and is lacking. However per your suggestion I will escort young Sara to the medical bay after a short stopover at the mess hall so that her organic body may consume nutrients vital for a continued healthy life.”

    If Sir Celestran buys the story and the suggestion PM-10000-IM starts mapping out the route to the mess hall. Perhaps on the way more information could be shared between him and Sara.
    Last edited by Pwenet; 2009-10-01 at 04:57 AM.
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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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kalirren View Post
    I'm feeling this real hard now.
    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

  7. - Top - End - #397
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Ander Windrivver

    Ander slowly turns to face the intruders. He eyes the novice paladin up and down, then the angels that accompany him before turning to the Abbot.

    Do you let all of your novices just waltz into an important meeting of monastery elders? He nods in agreement as the Abbot shakes his head "no."I thought not.

    You know, when I trained here novices showed more respect to their superiors, he addresses Hondshioh. Novice, have you ever seen an angel before? I really don't think you have. I, in my decades of loyal service to Miriam and Athelion and in my journeys to Heaven for personal audiences with them have had the pleasure of getting to know many angels.

    He turns back to the abbot. Abbot, surely you're thinking the same thing that I am. Miriam's angels don't have brands on their skin. They don't even tattoo or pierce themselves. Despoiling their holy bodies is an anathema to them.

    Ander steps to the very edge of the ritual circle, staring the lead angel in the eye as if to dare her to break his gaze. So the question remains. Who. Sent. You?
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  8. - Top - End - #398
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    Archpaladin Zousha's Avatar

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    Hondshioh

    The novice is shocked by Ander's words.

    "What are you saying?! Angels are manifestations of the will of the gods! They can't lie or decieve!"

    He stands up, looking down at Ander.

    "How DARE you speak such blasphemy?!"

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  9. - Top - End - #399
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    Tare sighed. Of course it couldn't be so easy. When Limier spoke, he nodded sadly. "It seems we forget... In my rush to get those who do not belong here out, I fail to remember that most of those that are here... do."

    Tare examined the 'ringleader' in front of him with one glance, all he could really spare at the moment. Though he didn't have much confidence in the moral fiber of the rest of the group, he was definitely the one instigating them at the moment. He needed to be first, even if the effect on the rest of the quickly growing Mob was only slight.

    The best approach... the only approach... Was Speed.

    Tare felt something click as he tried using his Speed charm. The effect was not instantaneous, but as Tare broke into a Sprint, he felt the Paradoxical combination of himself Speeding Up, but the world around him starting to Slow Down as his mental faculties were boosted as well. Tare watched the Burly prisoner beginning to react to his no doubt unbelievable explosion of movement, but dodged effortlessly around his clumsy backhanded defense. Tare planted one foot solidly on the man's Chest and ran right up the side of the fleshy wall, bringing the other foot swinging up... and Enhanced by the Speed charm's boost, the kick drove smack into the Ringleader's chin.

    Tare bounced backwards and into a landing when something occurred to him; if he left the Speed boost on as long as it would last, it would serve to accomplish nothing but Exhaust him once again. But if he tried to turn it on and off only when he needed it...

    Tare settled back into normal speed quickly, and prepared himself for the crowd's reaction...
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-09-30 at 09:15 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Innis Cabal View Post
    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  10. - Top - End - #400
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Sohssal

    Sohssal watched the disrespectful mage and the vampiress exchange banter with some level of amusement. But mostly he found the two mages annoying and calmed down soon after they left. "The magic items won't extend it for long, but draining them won't be hard at all and it'll give us time to think of another solution," he said. He did have the idea of trying to repurpose or "purify" the necromantic energy, but such feats usually required a lab, but moving Umber and Bran might disrupt the ritual and moving entire buildings is impractical - except, it seems, in the case of the pyramid. And he certainly wouldn't drain his own magical energy, and he would think twice about draining Seymour.

    Now Sohssal missed the other two mages - they would have been perfect candidates. So, instead of finding someone with magical energy, he would find somePLACE with magical energy. "I have an idea. I'll teleport to my old lab. If my lab is at all intact, there should still be bound elementals in small spires generating plenty of energy. If they're not there, I should be able to scry them - they're tough to destroy and far too useful for most people to consider trying," he suggested. Not being the most patient of people, he immediately started on this plan, draining a large amount of the necromantic energy to power himself. It wasn't pleasant, but it'd be worth it to get some answers.
    Last edited by Iethloc; 2009-10-01 at 12:13 AM.
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  11. - Top - End - #401
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Pyrene the Slightly Confused

    Pyrene chose not to react to the Baron's jibes and his disturbing expression - a skill she had perfected over the years - confining herself to a quiet assurance that the Donovale would be perfectly suitable. Besides, his comments about the manner of her lifestyle were no more than the truth, however impolite to mention in high society, and she hadn't been aware of her supposed royalty long enough to care if her original occupation were mentioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre
    For a few minutes, the room is silent as you and the Baron eat. For the most part, the Baron picks at his food – it seems he has already eaten, and it just being polite. Eventually, the Baron speaks up.

    “So tell me, Pyrene, Pyrene the Temptress, Pyrene the Princess . . . what do you want most in life?”
    Pyrene jumped a little - the sudden question, and such an unexpected one, startled her. Finishing her current mouthful, she thought it over. What do I want most in life? When the Countess asked all I could think of was Ariella, and I doubt telling the Baron about her would be a good idea. But still... as the Temptress all I thought about was supporting Ariella, and maybe someday finding more respectable work, something Ariella could tell her peers about without shame. And even if Titania is truly my mother, and Ariella not related to me at all, I have no real goals for myself...

    Swallowing, Pyrene met the Baron's expectant gaze. "In truth, I do not know," she admitted. Honesty was the best policy - to an extent. "Prior to my incarceration, I rarely thought much beyond the next meal, the next... client. As the Temptress I was able to lay some money aside, but I hardly knew what I would do with it. I suppose I was just trying to make enough to live off of for a few years.

    "As for my goals now... Frankly the last few days have been rather busy, so I have had no time to think on what my newly discovered heritage will mean for me. Obviously I cannot go back to my old life, but it feels wrong to have nothing to work for - to have no goals, however short-term, driving my days. I suppose you could say I'm looking for a purpose."
    She gave a slight, self-depricating laugh as she finished, meeting the Baron's eyes with a shrug.
    I started a blog!
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  12. - Top - End - #402
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Gourtox's Avatar

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    Telest

    He stares at Gazrul for second trying to figure out if it was a ploy or not. Finally he releases the man saying, "I thank you for your patience and shall travel with you as offered." Then turns to the larger man as he sheaths the blade. "I regret to say that she doesn't have a choice." Then he asks Gazrul,"Before I fetch my horse may I inquire to what time you shall be ready to depart?"
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  13. - Top - End - #403
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Marisiel

    It seemed strange, as she alighted upon the balcony, that Istomilo was happy to see her.

    It was not that Marisiel was usually unwelcome among mortals. Usually, she arrived because she was desperately needed, and demon-beset mortals were always grateful for her aid—as these had been ten years ago. But the reports had been that there was something wrong with the men of Phaedra, that they had grown arrogant and were meddling in things the Valkyrie forbade. That sort of folk were rarely glad to see her. Everything she had seen in the city so far told her that there was some truth to the reports, and she had not been looking forward to arriving at the heart of the city.

    That would not have been true a few days ago. Marisiel did not take pride in her skill in battle; it was her duty and she considered it necessary, but she did not enjoy it. There was something far too... undisciplined about fighting; demonic, almost. She felt that it was something that was, at least in part, an invention of Azguloth—it would certainly not exist if not for him—and so it would have been unseemly to enjoy it. And yet it
    was her duty, and her sole duty at that. The last year had been pleasant—she had not been given that long to rest for quite a while. But she had also started to wonder what would happen to her, if Phaedra succeeded. With Azguloth's servants sealed away and mankind united in faith to the gods, what need would there be for Marisiel the Protector?

    But as she descended from the clouds, and even more as she spoke to the people, she decided she was not glad to be needed again. The prospect of battle or even correcting the erring humans was not appealing at all. In a way, this was a relief—she would have been ashamed to realize that she valued her place more than she valued the world's well-being. But it left her feeling a little grim about the days to come.

    Istomilo apparently felt quite the opposite. Upon reflection, she decided this was a good thing. If the suspected hubris had spread to the castle, he would not have been happy to see her. He would be nervous...

    ... in fact, he did seem a little nervous. Marisiel studied him with a slight frown. This was beginning to seem worse and worse.

    "I thank you for the welcome," she said formally. There was such a thing as politeness. Now that she was welcomed, she stepped off the balcony's railing, placing herself level with the seneschal. "As you say, it has not been so long for me. I am afraid I am here on business, as Ysora has no doubt told you. She has arrived already, I take it?"
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  14. - Top - End - #404
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    The Baron’s Estate

    Dorizzit

    At your praise, Katrina manages a wry smile.

    “Thanks. And yes you are. Seriously – I expected it to be hard for most people to figure out, but my own dad? I was really doubtful you were actually Korram for awhile there, you were so oblivious. But then I just realized that how you always are.”

    Katrina manages a tired wink at this latest jab, clearly intending to soften it a bit. But then she frowns at your last questions.

    “Sadly, I’d give it pretty good money that they do know who I am. Broke one guy’s nose and dislocated another one’s arm before the GHASTs got involved, but they got my clothes off all the same. Once they saw Katrina’s supposedly male lieutenant was wearing a corset, it was pretty much over.”

    Katrina sighs.

    “Well, it wasn’t really a corset anymore after all the modifications I had the tailor make. Put some padding there, do a little tightening up here. Worked real good – they better not have damaged it. I paid good money for that thing.”

    Katrina looks down at her dress and snorts.

    “And it was *still* more comfortable than this thing. I mean, seriously? Pink silk and lace cuffs? What idiot came up with the idea women should wear this!?”

    Katrina shakes her head.

    “Anyway, back to my story. After they got me all “prettied up”, I got sent over to have dinner with the Baron. The honest to gods Baron! Of course, that lasted about as long as it took me to grab one of the dinner knives and throw it at the bastard. ******* deflected it with a plate – isn’t he supposed to be a hundred years old or something? He certainly didn’t move like it! And then, of course, he has the chagrin to call his toadies off from stomping my face into the floor, and just told me I was being sent off to bed without supper! Like I was some disobedient child! Argh, bastard!”

    Katrina pounds a fist into her open palm, but then smiles.

    “But maybe his eyesight is starting to go, at least. While I was snatching up the knife to throw at him, I also palmed this.”

    Reaching back into one of her lacy cuffs, Katrina extracts . . . a soup spoon.

    “Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. But hey, maybe I can dig my way out – in a couple years!”

    Katrina sighs as she slips the spoon back into her sleeve.

    “The Baron really has won though, hasn’t he? All my mates are dead, you’re locked up again, and now so am I. Probably turn me into some doll plaything for Cheran.”

    Katrina looks you dead in the eye.

    “I’m not going to let that happen. I’m not going to be *anybody’s* plaything, *ever* again!”

    Katrina sighs as she plops herself down on the ground, not caring about the filth now staining the hem of her dress. Before you can respond to this last comment, you hear the door to the upstairs screech open. Then a set of quiet footsteps slowly padding down the stairs, and a moment later your visitor comes into sight. It is Seraph.

    “Good evening, Korram. I have come to pay my respects.”

    Lonna

    At your words, the Baron nods, but he makes little attempt to hide the sneer on his face as he responds.

    “I suppose I should have expected little else from a girl whose profession is pleasing men. You have no goals, no direction in your own life, so you just let others use you for their own pleasure, hmm? Well now it’s my turn to use you.”

    The Baron raises a hand to tick off options.

    “I could use you to please my son, Cheran. You have publicly humiliated him, and he will doubtless want to return the favor before you die. Plus you are rather pretty, and I imagine sooner or later he will grow tired of his wife-to-be – it is only a marriage of convenience, after all.”

    The Baron ticks off option two.

    “I could use you to please my old “friend”, if you want to call him that, Duke Volesin. I know he’s been quite interested in you for some time – I can’t imagine why. The death of his sons seems to have only piqued his interest further. It’s entirely possible now that he has an even more torturous death in mind for you than whatever Cheran could manage to come up with. Actually, that’s probably a near certainty, as sadly, creativity is not one of Cheran’s strong points.”

    The Baron ticks off option three.

    “I could also use you to please my “ally”, Queen Titania of Phaedra. I know she would do anything to get her hands on you, and handing you over would almost certainly cement our alliance into permanency. Of course, she is utterly insane, so perhaps that alliance is not worth as much as one would expect. Despite apparently believing you to be her daughter, Titania is an unknowable creature. It’s entirely possible that whatever she wants from you will require tortures beyond anything Volesin or Cheran combined could think of. Or perhaps not.”

    The Baron shrugs as he ticks off the fourth option.

    “Finally, I could use you to please myself. It’s not what you think – quite frankly, I’m a married man, and despite your beauty, I’m old enough to be your grandfather. But you can be of some use to me. The Countess has proven quite resistant to my son’s advances. We’ve tried a great deal to get her to listen to reason, but she continues to refuse to see the potential benefits. And quite frankly, you’re the only one marginally close to her who we haven’t already tortured to death in front of her. I’m sure you can be quite persuasive when you want to be. So, you will convince the Countess to stop fighting the inevitable and agree to marry my son – or die trying, hmm? And then once that unpleasant business is finished, you can act as her maid of honor during the ceremony itself, perhaps.”

    The Baron clasps his hands together, gazing over them at you with a predator’s smile.

    “Now, I want you to think long and hard about this. I want you to advise me as to which of those options sounds most appealing to you. But before you decide, I have one more additional complication to explain.”

    The Baron claps his hands together loudly, once. A moment later, the door slides open, allowing the sounds of a struggle to reach your ears. A few moments after that, and Klaus is dragged into the room by a pair of lackeys. Despite being tightly bound and with a bandaged shoulder, the old man was still putting up a fierce fight as the two lackeys wrestle him over to a side of the table between you and the Baron. The two lackeys manage to get Klaus on to his knees, but he continues to struggle. Apparently fed up with this, one of the lackeys pulls away to deliver a hard kick to Klaus’s midsection, doubling him over. The Baron clucks loudly with disapproval.

    “Gently now, gently! This is a very distinguished guest we have here, who has served me for a great many years now. A little more respect is due to him, don’t you think?”

    Although gagged, it is clear from the grunts Klaus is making that he is vehemently denying that claim. The Baron lets him continue for a moment before nodding to the second lackey. In response the lackey grips down tightly onto Klaus’s wounded shoulder, eliciting a groan of pain as the old soldier slumps forward, settling down immediately. The Baron smiles and then gestures at Klaus.

    “I believe you have already met my former Warden of Ironheart. I haven’t called upon him for a great many years now, but it’s time for his one last great service to his Baron. He’s going to help you decide on what option you recommend to me. And yes, I know he can’t talk, and it’s probably a good thing because he would probably only fill your ears with meaningless profanity – soldier’s have such dirty mouths. But I suppose you’re aware of that already, aren’t you? In any case, here’s how Klaus is going to help you.”

    The Baron steeples his fingers in front of his face once more as he begins to explain.

    “If you choose option one, it’s a fairly reasonable option given the alternatives. But it is a rather unimaginative one, don’t you think? And so Klaus’s fate will be rather unimaginative as well – imprisonment for the rest of his life.”

    The Baron reaches under the table, producing a small crossbow, which he sets down onto the table with a dangerous smile.

    “Option two – you have me hand you over to Volesin. I’m rather intrigued what he will do with you, but unfortunately he lives far away, and I am a busy man so I will never get to see it. But I will get to see your parting gift – using this crossbow to shoot Klaus in the head. You’re familiar with charm magics, so I know you are aware such a thing is possible, with or without your willing participation. But for now, on to less pleasant things.”

    The Baron gestures to his lackeys, and then down to the silverware.

    “I believe your third option was to join your mother in Phaedra. And to do you a favor, I thought I would prepare you for the potential horrors you would witness there. Go to Phaedra, and you will watch my servants hack Klaus apart with the dinnerware. It will be slow, it will be unpleasant, and I dare say you will probably lose that fine dinner I have just give you before the end.”

    The Baron magnanimously spreads his hands.

    “Or you could take option four, and convince the Countess to marry my son. If you agree to do this, I will keep Klaus locked up here, safe and sound. On the day of my son’s wedding, I will release him. He is no threat to me, and he’s lived his life up in the mountains out of my hair happily enough all these years. He can go back to do that, or whatever he so chooses with his last years, perfectly free and happy. And I assure you Pyrene, I may be many things, but I am a man of my word. Are you, or do you just tell men whatever it is they want to hear?”

    Gourtox

    Gazrul nods. “And as I said, you will be welcome among us so long as your motives are pure and honorable.”

    The large man quirks an eyebrow at your reply, and smiles.

    “Oh, really? We’ll see – Pyrene is very . . . strong-willed. I don’t think you’ll be able to get her to come along with you if she doesn’t want to come. Might be good for a laugh though.”

    The man frowns.

    “And, you might very well do better than that winged freak the Baron calls a son.”

    Gazrul bristles, and whispers to his associate. Of course, your sensitive hearing still picks it up.

    “The Baron is still our employer. Whatever opinions we have of him or his relatives, we must keep to ourselves. We agreed to do a job, and we will see it through to the end.”

    The man frowns even more deeply and sighs.

    “Of course. But just because it’s gold doesn’t mean there isn’t blood on it.”

    The gnoll leader ***** an eyebrow.

    “You, concerned Wulfric? This is hardly like you.”

    “Whatever. I *really* don’t like that guy, okay? He got under my skin.”

    “Mine too, old friend. Mine too.”

    As the man walks away, the gnoll leader bows to you.

    “My apologies for that momentary interruption. We should be finished breaking camp by midday. Assuming we have no further engagements with your people, we should be able to make it to one of the outlying towns surrounding Amaranth. That’s where the rest of our force was based before we lost contact with them. Ideally we would stay and regroup with them before moving on, but perhaps I can send you with a detachment to the Baron’s estate to deliver a report. And of course, yourself to make your case to the Baron.”

    The massive gnoll frowns.

    “I would be careful in approaching him. It appears he is far more than what he seems at first.”

    Releasing the man back into the custody of his peers, you leave to go collect your horse. As you are walking back through the forest, you hear a quiet whimper. Pressing on through the underbrush, you find large dog, limping along in the general direction of Gazrul’s encampment. Hearing you coming, it stops, lowering its front down onto the ground in a submissive gesture. It gives another low whine as it looks at you, wagging its tail pitifully.

    Dawn’s Hope - Monastery

    Baerdog7/Archpaladin Zousha

    After requesting Hondshioh’s guidance, the angels are silent as he leads them through the monastery grounds. The small procession earns a number of stares from those monks and acolytes that it passes, but none question the determined giant or three servants of the gods. The group arrives at the ritual chamber just as Ander finishes answering the current round of questions.

    Before further discussion can be had, the doors are thrown open by the guards outside, who kneel as Hondshioh leads the angels into the room. Announcing their presence, he likewise steps aside and kneels as the angels sweep into the room. Turning to face this interruption, many of those present reflexively obey Hondshioh’s shouted command.

    It is only after Ander begins speaking again that some of them look back up in confusion, staring at the angels and glancing at each other. Ander also recognizes one of the angels despite the brands now marring her face – Marlexa, a former angelic guard of the Palace of the Sun whom Ander met briefly on several occassions. It is Marlexa who seems to be the leader of the three, and it is Marlexa who brings the growing argument between Hondshioh and Ander to a close.

    “SILENCE!”

    Her voice cracks like a whip through the room, and instantly the whispers between the assembled Councilmen stop, leaving the room silent as a tomb. Marlexa draws her sword, the two angels behind her falling suit. Marlexa raises her sword to point at Ander.

    “Former Lord General Ander Windrivver! You have committed an unforgivable series of sins! By the decree of the Church of Light and our Lady, you must be destroyed!”

    Without further preamble, the three angels leap up into the air, descending into the sand pit in an instant. Ander barely has time to draw his sword (you can choose whichever Ander would reflexively draw, his old Sineater or the Angel Slayer, whatever you call that one Or both if he’s going to start dual-wielding shrug )

    The three angels attack the former lord general furiously, spreading out to surround him and attack from all sides in concert. Ander is hard-pressed to defend himself, and several blows from the initial flurry of attacks slip through to scratch at his armor. More than one of those in turn penetrates his armor to draw blood, and once again the regeneration gifted to Ander’s divine body is most appreciated. Where it not for that, this would have likely been a short execution – now it would be a bloody and drawn-out one.

    Individually, the angels are still somewhat stronger and faster than Ander, although perhaps not quite as skilled – not every angel has spent the past several decades locked in mortal combat, and in the end personal experience is still the best teacher. Of course, the real evener was Ander’s angel slayer, which had been humming angrily in his mind since the angels’ appearance, and was now howling with hunger. Still, there were three of them.

    But perhaps not for long as Marius, a grizzled veteran of the Crusade and the oldest paladin present, stands up from his seat and descends to the edge of the sand pit.

    “Stop this brawling at once! You are upholders of order, yet only chaos is served here! If Ander has committed wrong, he should be tried and sentenced by his peers! Surely the Valkyrie would rather have Ander’s actions be brought out into the light than fester in darkness!”

    Murlexa whirls away from Ander to approach the grizzled paladin, glaring into his eyes.

    “Ander Windrivver has been sentenced to die for his crimes, by order of our Lady. Do you dare question her orders?”

    “I question your interpretation of Her orders.”

    “To question us is to challenge our Lady’s orders. Are you challenging our Lady?”

    “I challenge anyone who believes that this is justice.”

    Murlexa’s eyes widen, and for a moment she trembles furiously. Then, she brings her blade up with a hiss.

    “If you oppose us, then you will die!”

    The angel’s blade flashes up, slicing across the paladin’s throat in a bright arc of crimson. But the veteran’s own skills had not faded entirely with age, and as Marius teeters he draws his own weapon. Falling forward, he collapses against Murlexa, and uses the force of his fall to drive his sword into Murlexa’s armpit.

    As the paladin collapses at the angel’s feet to breathe his last, Murlexa gives a howl of fury as she reaches around to pry out Marius’s sword. Her shout of anger is met by the shocked and outraged cries of the assembled paladins. One of the young acolytes draws his sword with a shout of “Treachery!”, becoming the next target of Murlexa’s wrath. Freeing Marius’s sword, she hurls the weapon into the youth’s unarmored chest, and now two paladins lie slain by a creature they sought to idolize. This is enough to mobilize many of the remaining paladins into action, and there is a harsh rasping as a forest of swords is drawn in unison.

    “YOU WILL ALL DIE TRAITORS!” Murlexa shouts, the flow of blood from her side already slowing to a trickle of red. Without hesitation, the armored angel flings herself into the midst of the mostly unprepared paladins, who nonetheless had drawn their weapons to come to Ander’s aid. Meanwhile, the other two angels continue hacking at the former lord general, seeking to render this act of defiance meaningless.

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    Istomilo watches you step down to his level with an odd note of quiet rapture. Then he seems to shake himself, and claps his hands.

    “Yes, Ysora. She was here, yes. I believe she might still be speaking with Titania.”

    His eyes aligning on your bracelet, Istomilo’s face lights up, and he seems to pounce on this opportunity to change the subject.

    “Ah, I see you are still wearing my parting gift, even after all these years. Although, I suppose it wasn’t quite years to you, was it? Still, it pleases me to see that my gift has value. Perhaps I could make you a pair of ear rings this time to match? Or a necklace?”

    Coughing, Istomilo nods and smiles.

    “Of course, I’m sure you would rather see to business first. Titania is likely in the Throne Room with Ysora at the moment. I see no reason why you both need to be there right away, however – perhaps I could take you on a tour of the grounds instead? We’ve made a number of improvements, very exciting – or, at least, to those of us who get excited by the practice of magic, heh.”

    Stepping aside, Istomilo allows you to proceed him, if you so choose, or follow along after him. He also seems to await your decision as to where to go first with a hint of trepidation.

    The City of Amaranth

    The (Destroyed) City Slums

    Iethloc

    “Hmmm. That could work. Assuming your old lab is still intact and not overrun with something nasty.”

    Seymour shrugs. ‘You know how it goes. I’ll stay here and do what I can then, I guess.”

    You are just beginning to implement your plan when Umber seems to snap out of it, breaking the ritual link. You sense a tiny fragment of magic left in Bran, which was fortunate for him, although it was doubtful he would manage any of the impressive displays he had done back at the battle beneath Ironheart.

    What was really interesting, however, was suddenly you detected a tiny flickering spark of magic within Umber. The vampire had displayed little sorcerous talent before now, and you had assumed he was simply incapable of using magic – most people weren’t able to use it after all, so why should vampires be any different? But now, suddenly, as the ritual link was severed and Umber came back, there was a flicker of magic in him.

    Seymour is quick to react to Umber’s coming to.

    “Ah, you must be Umber, I presume. I’ve been informed you are responsible for saving the city. You have my gratitude, sir.” He says with a low bow. “I am Seymour, member of the City Mage’s Council.”

    Suddenly, your concentration is interrupted by something passing through your incorporeal form. At first you believe that you are suddenly under some kind of attack, but realize a moment later that the object which had passed through you was . . . a brick? Even more strangely, the brick reversed course in mid-air, slashing through your body again.

    Hahaha! Eat brick, *******! This is great!

    Darth Malevo

    Entering into the city, you wander along the streets, completely unimpeded. Judging by the quality, or rather lack thereof, of the surrounding buildings, you were in a slums of some sort. A slum that had apparently just fought a war and lost miserably. Blood and gore soaked the earth here and there, although you were completely cognizant of the fact that there were no bloody bodies about. No sir, whatever had done its killing here, it apparently had eaten and run, likely taking its kill with it.

    Moving deeper into the slums, you seem to be moving closer to the center of the devestation. Buildings were torn apart here, crushed into rubble or teetering on the brink of destruction. Here and there an unlikely culprit for this presented itself – some sort of dark obsidian littering the place. There was quite a lot of it, really, and it seemed to have come streaking down from the sky to wreck all sorts of Hell on this place. Somebody clearly had quite a lot of fun, albeit at the expense of a considerable amount of property. And still no blasted bodies!

    Oh wait, no, there were a few ahead of you now, shambling out of some side street. Despite being relatively fresh, these were also rank, reeking of undeath as they clumsily shambled along towards you. Disgraceful waste of flesh, really. Fortunately, in addition to their clumsiness, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of them – less than half a dozen, if your accounting was correct.

    Of course, they must had had reinforcements present in that alley, because a few moments later you heard a most pitiful wailing coming from within that dark street.

    “Please, somebody! Help me!”

    Judging by the relatively high tones of the voice, you’d wager it to be coming from a young boy of perhaps twelve years of age. Of course, there were ways of altering or flat-out disguising one’s voice, but that just seemed downright disingenious when calling for help. And quite rude.

    The Resonant Memory

    WhiteKnight777

    Filling the goblet with the dark brew, you raise it to your lips as the ghostly shades of the Lords of Blood in their last moment of humanity raise their own chalices. The drink is heady and burning, as you remember it, scouring its way through your body.

    Your human double collapses to his knees, fighting back a scream as ribbons of arcane energy lash out from his body. Gilgaem gives a roar of fury as he falls, clutching his arm as it withers away in front of him. Marialta looks around, shrugs, and tosses the chalice away over her shoulder. It hits the rim of the tower and improbably bounces back to strike her in the back of the head. Shakati staggers back and gives a scream of horror, raising her hands to claw at her eyes which were rapidly clouding over. Zariel steps towards her, raising a hand to comfort as he opens his mouth. He frowns in consternation as no sound emerges.

    Kartul gives a mad cackle as his skin peels back away, revealing the muscle underneath as even that withers away to reveal nothing but bones. Going over to the angel, he plunges his fangs into her neck, leaving blood to paint his exposed bones red. Then tearing her off the wall, he drags her over to the edge and hurls her over, sending her crashing down into the astonished crowd below. This is finally enough to kill her, and she disappears in a flash of light. Which Kartul uses to cover his own leap off the tower, plummeting down to land unharmed on the ground in front of the crowd. He gives a loud roar, his startling change in the appearance immediately prompting the crowd into panicked flight. Kartul also did love to be overly dramatic.

    Unnoticed by anyone present but you, Fianna slumps against the altar, sliding down into a heap on the ground. A look of horrified realization passes over her face, and she tenses as if to scream. But she doesn’t, her features suddenly going slack. For a moment, Fianna blinks in confusion, absent-mindedly reaching up to wipe away the half-formed tear from her eye. Then she smoothly climbs back up onto her feet as if nothing had happened, watching impassively as the rest of you painfully come to grips with your sacrifices (except for Kartul, who was merrily slaughtering your own supporters below and effortlessly twisting them into undead abominations).

    Then your mind explodes with light, painfully disintegrating into a million pieces. Then as one, those pieces fly up into the night sky, away from this historic moment. Back into the swirling vortex of light and sound. Back into your normal body.

    Blinking your eyes, you find yourself suddenly in Amaranth. Unlike traditional mind-elsewhere-magic, events in your “dream” seem to have occurred in real time, rather than a single blink to the outside world. Other than Ross, Bran, Mellita, and Sohssal and his cohorts, another mage was present now.

    Together, this new mage and Sohssal seemed to be draining the nearby fragments of the pyramid of energy, purifying the magic and funneling it into Bran. Given how weak the boy was now, it was probably the only thing that saved his life – or at least his career as a hedge wizard. You could feel a very slow beat of magic still lingering in the boy, which led to a sudden realization – you could feel magic again. Not in the experienced senses enhanced by your supernatural nature, but actually *feel* the pulse of energy beating within the boy. And this in turn, led to the most pleasing realization of all – you could feel the pulse of magic within *yourself*. It was weak to be sure, but its very presence was quite encouraging.

    “Ah, you must be Umber, I presume. I’ve been informed you are responsible for saving the city. You have my gratitude, sir.” The new mage says with a low bow. “I am Seymour, member of the City Mage’s Council.”

    (So, to recap the “mechanics”, shall we say, of this deal. You can now cast magic – it’s a little weak right now, but it will rapidly blossom back into your former skill. At the same time, you have lost your Lord of Blood “get out of jail free” card. If you die, you stay dead. For the moment, you do still have all your other Lord of Blood abilities and traits (vampire, weakness to silver, absorb creature’s power by drinking its blood, etc). Eventually, these traits will also fade away, until in the end you’re just a normal dude again. A normal dude with great magical prowess and millennia of life experience, but still just a dude one crossbow bolt to the eye away from death. )

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    I see.

    Celestan says, his eyes becoming a bit tinged with red. Stepping forward, the massive construct pulls back a fist, and then delivers a hellacious punch to Ysora’s face. The blow snaps the archangel’s head around with a meaty THWAP! that you can feel as well as hear. Cupping Ysora’s chin with his other hand, Celestan turns it back to face him as he pulls his fist back for a second blow.

    ANGELIC FILTH! YOU WILL NOT POISON MY SISTER’S MIND WITH YOUR LIES!

    Her voice tight with condemning fury as well as pain, Ysora responds, “Do as you will with me! The Valkyrie will bring an end to you and your accursed father for what you have done!”

    The second blow is even more vicious than the first, and the archangel’s blood sprays across the floor as her head lulls in Celestan’s grip. The massive GHAST twists her head back around again, raising his now bloodied fist for a third blow. A blow which never lands, as Sara ducks underneath the GHAST’s outstretched arm, interposing herself directly between Ysora and her brother.

    “Stop it!”

    Lowering its fist, Celestan was once again clearly confused, but still quite angry.

    Move aside, sister! The prisoner must learn her place!

    “NO!” Comes the reply, and for a moment the massive GHAST and the young girl are locked in a staring contest. Despite barely coming up to Celestan’s waist, and the red-eyed Baron’s son quivering with barely repressed rage, Sara doesn’t budge. And then she begins to speak, her voice soft but carrying a steel you are sure has never been there before.

    “I used to be afraid of you brother. I’ve always known you as the giant metal monster. But now I see you’re just a coward and a bully, and I’m not scared of you anymore! You’re big, and you’re strong . . . and the best you can manage is beating a helpless lady who’s never hurt anyone herself?”

    You don’t understand, sister. You’re just a child. The prisoner is dangerous.

    Sara looked back over her shoulder at Ysora, whose eyes were closed in quiet preparation for the potential third blow. Sara turns back to look up at Celestan incredulously.

    “Really? Or is that what you’re telling yourself to justify this? I’m not stupid, brother. Incom took me down here to see the enemy, and here she is, completely powerless. Whatever threats or promises she can make are empty.”

    Sara throws you a hesitant wink, which Celestan doesn’t seem to notice as he drones on.

    Her words are insidious. She might trick you.

    “If you’re worried about that, why not gag her? No, you just want an excuse to hit her, because you’re scared. Well, you aren’t going to pick on her anymore. You want to hit somebody, hit somebody that can fight back. Like me.”

    Anger flashing on her face, Sara kicks her metallic brother in the shin. The grimace that passes over her face a moment later suggests that while brave, the attack was clearly not particularly effective. Or perhaps it was, as Celestan releases Ysora and stepped back, his eyes now completely blue once more. The giant GHAST stands there a moment more, and then turns away.

    Watch the prisoner closely, PR-10000-IM. If she tries anything, you are free to inflict sufficient injury to disable her. Otherwise, continue with your education of my sister.

    With a lumbering gait that seemed eager to carry the GHAST leader far away from here, Celestan departs, leaving you alone with the archangel once more. After watching her brother depart, Sara turns to face Ysora, carefully reaching a hand up to touch the archangel’s wounded cheek.

    “I’m sorry. Are you alright?”

    The archangel gives a sigh, wincing as the girl’s touch.

    “I shall endure.”

    Ysora opens her eyes to look at you and Sara, and then nods to the door.

    “Please. Leave me. I . . . I need to be alone. I have a lot to think about.”

    “Are you su –“

    Please.”

    After a moment’s pause, Sara nods, and then walks over to you. She reaches up to take one of your armored fists in her hands.

    “Come on Incom. Let’s go.”

    You leave the Brig without further incident, and cross back through the various security checkpoints on your way back to your original destination. It is only have you are through the last checkpoint and out of sight in a momentarily deserted stretch of hallway that Sara begins to shake violently. She slumps against you, clinging to one of your armored legs.

    “O-oh gods . . . what was I-I thinking? He could have k-killed me! Why is my brother so m-mean? Who’s right? Y-ysora, or my f-f-father?”

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    Your blinding fast rush at the leader works without a hitch, and the kick sends the big man stumbling back into the ranks of his would-be followers. Paradoxically, despite agreeing with his idea, apparently several in the crowd didn’t particularly like him as a person. Taking advantage of his momentary weakness, several men knock him to the ground, pinning him there while several picks to the chest before the group of them stomp on his face until all movement ceases, and much like the devils, his body crumbles away into ash.

    You only have a glimpse of this through the bodies however, and have much more important things on your mind. Such as surviving the rush of people who move out to try and surround you. Most of them might not know how to fight, and they were disorganized, but there were still a lot of them, and they were all pissed. Pissed at themselves, pissed at fate, or just pissed off from being a slave to the devils – whatever the reason, they were all angry and now that the authority of the devils was monetarily gone they were all looking for something to vent that anger into. Likely once you and everyone else was gone, they would turn on each other unless someone like the big man came up with the idea to go looking for some other external victim.

    You are only struggling against this veritable tide of bodies a moment before a figure lands next to you, sweeping aside several ranks with a single blow. Melcara, naturally, the wounded angel evidently willing to fight to the death beside you. Of course, that was not her first plan.

    “We should withdraw! Fighting this filth serves no purpose!” Melcara declares, swiping Crx’s spear back and forth at the crowd valiantly. It keeps them back for a moment, but then the next wave ducks under the swing’s arc, and once again you’re both fighting for your lives.

    Out of the corner of your eye, you watch a group circle around you to approach Limier, Teareal, and Jim. As usual, the tattooed mass of Jim is largely useless, cowering ineffectively at the angry slaves’ approach. Now free, Teareal arms himself with a shovel, while Limier scoffs. In a blur of motion, the assassin proves she’s still quite capable, cutting through the front half of the slaves with ease. While she’s busy wading through the second half, however, Teareal seems to suddenly get a bright idea in his head. Well, not quite bright, but understandable given the situation.

    Turning away from the fight, he runs up the nearest slope to the next level, before hopping straight up and pulling himself up onto the next one above that. He was clearly making a break for the stairway leading back up to the manor, where Adamè (and possibly Vylethar) awaits.

    He doesn’t forget you entirely, however, for as he continues to ascend he begins tipping over piles of crates, carts full of rock, and stands of equipment. These in turn crash down onto other pieces of mining equipment, and quickly turn into an avalanche of junk that rains down on the crowd. Which thankfully clears a pathway through the closing in crowd of slaves to the next level, and relative freedom beyond that as most of the slaves were now clustered down on the bottommost pit. Of course, nothing prevented them from following you, but even if you stayed and fought it might be better to do so with the advantage of height.

    “Go!” Melcara shouts, shoving you back towards the mount of debris. Now gripping Crx’s spear in the middle, she fought with both the blade head and heft, twirling both around to send slaves flying. Once you seem to be clear, she twirls the spear around herself one last time, and then takes to the air, turning to follow you. A hail of thrown objects follows up after her, and one of them gets lucky enough to strike true. A mining pick lodges itself in the fallen angel’s back, eliciting a scream as she spasms and begins to plummet back down to earth. Somehow, she changes the fall into a glide, and crashes to the ground a step behind you.

    “Help.” She manages to gasp, as emboldened, the slaves charge forward.

    The Perist Residence

    Kasanip

    “It certainly is!” Cerise announces with a smile as you shake Carlain’s hand. He accepts the offered hand with a grunt and a cool nod. Clearly, something had changed in the young lad you remembered, who had somehow grown into the young man before you. The young man with . . . issues, apparently. Possibly they stemmed solely from the onset of puberty, although you sensed there was a deeper motivation than just teenager angst.

    “Carlain is going to be initiated in the order, but first he wanted to apprentice underneath a member of each Season. He doesn’t know which one he wishes to join, you see. But I have my hopes, which is why I snagged him as my apprentice first.” Cerise explains with a smile, breaking the ice that had begun to settle after Carlain’s cool greeting. The effort was even enough to get Carlain to manage a slight smile.

    “She thinks I’m destined for Winter. But as you can see, I’m not much for White.” He says smoothly, with a slight self-depreciating smile as he tugs on his black overcoat. That seemed a little bit more like the Carlain you remember. Unfortunately, your reunion with your dearest friend and her brother is interrupted by Berrick, and of course the serious matter at hand.

    “Thank you for coming so quickly, Isera. Hopefully between the four of us, we can make some sense of this tragedy.” Berrick shakes his head. “Truthfully, even having experienced it personally, I can barely make sense of it. Our attackers were powerful . . . and strange, to say the least. Fortunately I was able to escape with the Count and his family after sending out that alarm. I was unable to return to help our the Perists, who seem to have borne an even worse assault.”

    A note of deep sorrow enters Berrick’s voice at the mention of what had happened here and his inability to prevent it. Clearly, he had grown quite close to the Perists, and it was little wonder, having lived nearby them for so long. And, of course, you had heard he had provided schooling to one of the Perist daughters, whom the Seasons had been watching with great curiosity.

    Berrick coughs loudly, snapping himself out of his reminiscence as he gestures to the estate.

    “Anyway, we were just starting our examination of the grounds when you arrived. I’ll let you see for yourself what we’ve found so far, and then present my story of that night after you’ve had time to digest things on your own.”

    Cerise gives a worried frown as she looks back at the estate.

    “It’s very bizarre, Is. I hope you can make some sense of it, because I can’t. At least, not without a few more hours of study.” She adds with a wink and competitive nudge.

    Berrick taking the lead and Carlain trailing behind, Cerise walks beside you as your small group travels back up to the Perist residence. They immediately lead you through the burnt remains to a relatively clear area, what was presumably once a courtyard of sorts. Even from a distance, you notice the bodies. There was a line of them, just over a dozen in all, lying stretched out neatly.

    “We found them like this.” Berrick explains as you approach.

    “Yeah, it was sick!” Carlain chimes in, his tone suggesting a more suggestive than literal interpretation of that word.

    Berrick kneels down beside one, gesturing at the charred corpse.

    “As you can see, the fire has mostly destroyed the bodies, but a few things are still evident. One, they “died” peacefully. Two –“

    Berrick lifts up the corpse’s two arms, and despite the lack of flesh you can still tell from the bone structure that they once belonged to two different people. Or perhaps not people, because it looks like one arm ends in something less like a hand and more like an oversized claw.

    “- their limbs are horribly misshapen.”

    Dropping the limbs and dusting his hands off with clear disgust, Berrick moves over to another skeleton, toeing its only partially complete skull.

    “Three, some of the bodies appear to be in an advanced state of decay.”

    Berrick sighs.

    “I would normally call this necromancy, but from what I saw that night . . . this wasn’t some old corpse humper looking for a wild night.”

    Berrick looks up with an apologetic smile as Cerise stares at him, slightly in shock.

    “Pardon my language. I dealt with a number of necromancers in my youth, and old habits die hard.”

    Recovering with a dry cough, Cerise gestures to the bodies.

    “We have discovered a magical resonance lingering in some of the corpses, but I was unable to identify it. Yet. Perhaps you’d have better luck in determining, at least, if we are dealing with a necromancer?”

    Carlain snorts. “Yes, Isera. Tell us what you “see”.”

    Ignoring the jib about your eye, you focus on the corpses. You had noticed their unusual auras before, but had been distracted by Berrick’s demonstration. Now with a little peace and quiet, you are able to focus in on the auras. You see immediately that while perhaps similar to necromancy in that it involved corpses, this magic was different. Involving possession, perhaps, and a hint of transfiguration, unless those misshapen limbs had started out that way.

    Truthfully, you weren’t entirely sure what you were looking at here. It wasn’t necromancy, but clearly the corpses had been re-animated by something. Nor did the corpses seem to quite fit in with a golem-maker or mad alchemist’s work. You might have said “spirit possession” if these hadn’t been human corpses – you had only heard of spirits coming through and manifesting directly, or possibly possessing an animal host if needed. That left demonic/diabolical possession, but you didn’t sense that particular kind of taint like you did when called upon to perform exorcisms.

    “Any ideas, Is?” Cerise asks finally.

    The Capital

    Tackyhillbillu

    Your announcement that the entertainment was taking a break was met by a few quiet moans of disappointment. Not many, but the regulars of the Silver Bell had grown used to your performances. Some apparently had even grown to like them. But most importantly, the Hand agent still didn’t pay any attention to you. You think – like you, the agent undoubtedly would be able to watch people without directly looking at them.

    Your chest itches at the thought of a blade suddenly sinking into it with a discrete snap of the agent’s wrist, but your death is postponed for the moment. Instead, the agent merely continues talking to the barkeep, apparently clarifying a few of the directions – typical given how much of a twisted snarl the streets were down here. The fact that thieves looking for a few copper or ruffians just looking for a joke frequently stole the signposts didn’t help matters.

    Passing into the back, you slipped out one of the several back exits out into the alley behind the tavern, and slipped across the street to the alley on the far side. Crouched behind a pile of broken crates that smelled like they once contained moldy cheese, you await the Hand agent’s exit. It was possible he would stay and have a drink of his own, or slip out the back as you had done, or a hundred other possibilities.

    You were just starting to consider forgetting the whole thing and leaving town when the agent emerges from the front entrance. Looking as if he didn’t have a care in the world, the agent sets out down the street. A novice move, coming out the front and walking with such confidence – but then again, what reason did he have for deception right now? No one knew who he was or what he wanted, and anyone who threatened his identity could be dealt with swiftly enough. Few would even have an idea of what they were facing before the knife was buried in their chest. But you did, and so it was with great trepidation that you slipped out the alley and followed the agent at a distance.

    Being the middle of the day, a fair number of people were moving about in the street, having no wish to be caught having to do business at night – or at least seen doing business then. You therefore had a good number of bodies to put between you and your mark, but the same also applies. It was fortunate that you had a great knowledge of side streets and that the agent was not actively trying to lose you. Still, he wasn’t a complete idiot – he looped around the streets several times, and doubled back to your horror more than once. Clearly, part of his need for detailed directions was in being able to do this complex pattern through the streets, until he was finally satisfied he had lost any pursuit.

    Leveling his path out, the agent continued boldly walking down the street, slipping into an alley that you knew led to a Thieves Guild safehouse. Had some minor bandit king run afoul of the great Baron? Possible, but unlikely. The Baron had other methods for dealing with such an individual rather than sending one of his personal assassins.

    Your curiosity driving you on, you cautiously approach the mouth of the alley, painfully aware someone could be watching from one of the nearby windows. But at least they would only be a thief, and not an assassin with good reason to murder you in cold blood. Peering into the alley, you see the Hand agent has reached the other end, and was now standing in the middle of the tiny clearing formed in the midst of several two-story dingy houses. Several men waited at the doorway to house at the far end of the clearing, and as the agent stepped into the clearing they moved to greet him.

    To your surprise, the agent removed his weapons, holding his arms out at his sides as he handed the nearest man the instruments of death. Of course, there were not *all* of the agent’s killing tools – he still had a garrote, a few poisoned needles, and at least one stiletto on him you would wager. If he did, the thieves didn’t find it in their cursory pat-down of the agent.

    Apparently satisfied, the biggest of the thieves motions the agent to the doorway, and together the two of them head inside while the other two take up position back by the door.

    Consulting your mental map, you realize there was a nearby alley where one of the building’s gutters was loose (probably deliberately). It left an easy way to clamber up onto the roof, and from there one could cross over the buildings to the clearing. Or, alternatively, circle around to the side of the safehouse and peer into one of the windows. To be sure, the route would be guarded, but possibly not well. There were already at least three thieves present at the safehouse, plus whoever was inside. The thieves wouldn’t want to gather in too large numbers here, in the event that the constabulary staged one of their very occasional raids.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  15. - Top - End - #405
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    Phaedra

    Soras Teva Gee

    Frowning at your formal title, Pan nonetheless has a mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he blows one last chord before falling into step beside you. Despite his relatively light dress, the fey clearly didn’t feel the cold, at least not as sharply as you did. But that was also the way of things, and you had learned to deal with it. Still, despite his clear acceptance of your unspoken invitation to walk along, there was an unusual note of excitement in your friend’s movements.

    “The soft places, you say? Well, that’s hardly a dangerous place, but it’s rather boring too. Just a great big expanse of nothingness, till you come round again. So . . . why would Papa send his little darling out there, hmm?”

    Your fey companion hummed loudly, clearly enjoying the riddle posed by your secretive mission. It is obvious when he figures it out, when his jaw literally drops open a little a few moments later.

    “You’re going back, aren’t you!? Back to the mortal realm!”

    Pan gives a literal bleat of excitement, before slapping both hands over his mouth and looking about nervously. No one else seemed to be nearby in the dark forest, although you had learned long ago that appearances could be deceptive. Still, Pan couldn’t contain his evidently excitement as he hopped in wide circles around you. Finally, seeming to calm himself enough to speak at a low whisper, Pan moved his hands away from his face.

    “*The* mortal realm!? Papa wants you to go back there?” He hisses, still shivering a little. He pauses for a moment, clearly thinking, and then he adds something quite unexpected, even for Pan.

    “Take me with you! Please?”

    After another pause, he blurts out, “It’ll cancel out your remaining debts to me. All of them! In fact, I’ll owe you!”

    Now this was completely unprecedented. It didn’t seem like some sort of perverse prank either – you knew Pan well enough to know he couldn’t fake *this* much excitement. He genuinely wanted to go with you into the mortal realm. But what was most puzzling about this whole thing was why he didn’t just go if he wanted to go.

    And then the realization hit you. Yes, the Queen had prohibitions about traveling into the mortal realm except on official business – which this apparently was. But you had still heard stories of various fey crossing over, and even occasionally of a “prank party” traveling out to toy with a few careless mortals. But . . . maybe not every fey *could* do it. And somehow, having been born in the mortal realm, even without any experience you were still capable of crossing over. Suddenly, Papa sending you on this mission was making even more sense than it did before. Of course, even if you were capable of crossing over to the mortal realm and then easily blending in, were you able to cross *back* over?

    The Northern Forest

    Gorgondantess

    At your sudden appearance the man starts, cursing as he leaps up too quickly and nearly goes toppling into the stream. When he turns around to see you standing right behind him in a form you hoped would ease communication, he curses even louder and leaps backwards. This move naturally results in him landing feet first into the stream, and he curses and sputters even more as he slips on the rocks and goes splashing into the water. Another softer cry escapes his lips as he sits back up, raising one hand from the water to reveal a piece of metal sticking out of his flesh. The metal shard appears to be attached to the string, and via the string to the wooden rod the man you had dubbed Richard had been waving around a few moments ago.

    Flailing with his other hand for the rod, Richard manages to catch it before it can drift further downstream, and due to being attached to his hand by the metal shard, possibly drag him down the stream as well. Still sputtering in confusion, the man looks you up and down with an expression you would judge to be full of apprehension. Finally, he gives an uneasy laugh and crawls up onto the stream’s embankment – on the side across the stream from you.

    “Fishing for mah dinner, lass. Although I seem to have caught more than I bargain fer.” He grunts, looking down at the metal shard still embedded in his palm. Sticking the rod carefully between his legs, he begins carefully prodding the metal shard with his free hand, wincing as he does so. Pausing, he looks back up at you as most of his apprehension quickly fades.

    “And Richard be my name, though most call me Trapper Pete. Or just “hey you”, if they feel like being rude.”

    The man curses as with a final deft twist, he extracts the bloody bit of metal, and then shrugs as he drops it back into the water. Taking the rod back into his free hand, Richard, or Trapper Pete as some call him, raises his injured palm up to his mouth and begins sucking on it. Through a mouthful of palm, he grunts.

    “Ye have me at a disadvantage, lass. Who might ye be? I didn’t think anybody lived out this way. Twas the whole reason I came out here this far, don’tcha know.”

    Johannville

    Morpheus

    From the top of the wall, you hear a dry chuckle erupt into a loud – but quickly hushed – guffaw. The spotlight shifts away from you, and you hear a clattering from above, as if someone was clambering down a ladder with great haste.

    “I recognize that voice now! No one else could spin a yarn out of thin air like that!”

    With a loud creak, the gate is unlocked and pushed open, revealing the guard who had been interrogating you. You recognize him immediately as Gilbert, the former head of your admittedly modest town guard. You don’t, however, recognize his uniform, which is a completely ugly shade of black, and has none of the adornments his previous uniform as captain had. You suspect during your absence Gilbert had been demoted.

    “Johann! It is you!”

    Stepping out through the gate, Gilbert looks as if he is about to scoop you up in a bear hug before he realizes the inappropriateness of such an action and stops. The man coughs nervously.

    “Oh, it’s so very good to see you, sir! Begging your pardon, but things have been awful since your . . . ah, departure.”

    Holding the gate open, Gilbert motions you inside while looking around cautiously.

    “This is too exposed of a place to explain right now. And no offense sir, but you look awful. Head to my house – your remember my wife, Clara? I’m sure she’ll remember you, and let you right in. I have to stay here and continue standing watch until morning. We’ll talk then, after I’m off-duty and you’ve gotten a chance to rest. Hurry, and stay out of sight! Not every guard remembers you as fondly as I do, sir.”

    Closing the gate behind you, Gilbert waves you off towards the village, while starting the long cold climb back up into his guard tower. You do remember the way to Gilbert’s house, it being a surprisingly modest affair for a captain of the town guard. You also definitely remember the pies Clara used to make – truly exceptional. Of course, it being just the start of spring, such pies were likely to be in short supply. But one could hope as you trundle off through the slightly thinner snow covering the grounds of the town proper.

    You were just coming up to the first street when in the distance you see a light approaching. The sight quickly resolves into a pair of shivering guards holding a lantern, and looking none too pleased to be out and about in the dead of the freezing night. Unfortunately, you recognize neither of them, and so it seems likely these are some of the chaps Gilbert warned you about.

    Luckily, they were so focused on keeping warm and walking over their own footsteps in the snow that they were completley oblivious to your presence – for the moment at least. There was also an alley nearby that you could probably slip into, and from there it was a right, left, cut across the main street, another right, one more right, and then a hop, skip, and a jump to Gilbert’s residence.
    Last edited by Inspectre; 2009-10-10 at 09:57 AM.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  16. - Top - End - #406
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Argan stood for several seconds, tempted to just leave once more. But his curiosity was still growing. What was a member of the Baron's Hand doing meeting with the Thieves Guild? What he had observed showed that the Hand had been expected, to some degree. Balenced against that curiosity was the knowledge that there was a good chance he had been observed. The Thieves weren't as good as him and the Hand, he'd bet, but all it took was one getting lucky.

    And it appears that I am still going to be an idiot.

    Argan sighed, making his decision quickly, swiftly and easily pulling himself up using the shutter, to reach the roofs. He'd prefer to do this without any killing, and if he had to do any killing, he'd like it to be the kind that didn't get him noticed, and forced to do some more.

    "So up we go."

    Argan easily made it to the roof, and began walking slowly along the row of houses. He didn't want anyone below him to notice that there was something above them.

  17. - Top - End - #407
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Archpaladin Zousha's Avatar

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    Hondshioh

    Hondshioh watches the carnage erupt in horror. Angels fighting their holy servants? An angel, an avatar of justice and mercy, acting as a common executioner? An angel...lying to him? This had to stop. He knew these paladins were good people. The "angels" had to be ended. Perhaps the fathers and General Windriver, whose "blasphemies" now seemed all too true, would have an explanation for this afterwards. He drew his blade, but instead of challenging Murlexa, he strides towards the other two angels who are attacking Windriver.

    "Two against one? Those are NOT fair odds!"

    He brings his massive sword into the fray with a powerful upwards slash, hoping to at least turn one angel's attention away from Ander.
    Last edited by Archpaladin Zousha; 2009-10-12 at 05:12 PM.

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  18. - Top - End - #408
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    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Umber nodded at Seymour, even as he moved to kneel before Bran, his hands already moving in a complex, weaving patterning, tightening the flows of energy into his body and directing them more precisely. The feeling... it was incredible. It was like awakening from a dead dream. Like hearing the heartbeat of the universe singing in your blood. Like being locked in a darkened room for years, wrapped in thick cloth, and then being suddenly thrust into the heart of a bustling metropolis. He'd forgotten how many senses he'd lost, how much he'd given up - and certainly, he had given up much to get it back. But at the moment, he wouldn't trade it back for the world.

    He felt the working coming back to him, as if he'd never left it. For years, he'd had to make do with cast-off cantrips and workaround solutions, drawing on stored power, unable to touch the flows of power he'd known were there, cut off forever from the illimitable powers of the cosmos that existed just beyond his fingertips... and now... it was back. And it felt good. Having made do with table scraps and raw bones for years beyond count, he was presented with a feast beyond all measure. The amount of raw power he could direct was still meagre by his standards, of course - but he realized suddenly that his millenia of study had given him a degree of finesse that he might never have found with the easy solutions of his old power in hand. A hard-won lesson, but a valuable one.

    The power flowed in sublime patterns beneath his fingertips as he worked to heal the boy, deploying all his skill to maintain his life and what little of his talent that he could. He owed the boy that much - his power, after all, had been the catalyst for his return.

    Just as planned.

    Even as he worked, he began to speak. "Thanks aren't necessary, Magister Seymour. I was simply doing what had to be done. And I'm afraid that the threat isn't ended - I only succeeded in driving him off. Old Kartul's gotten stronger - and here I thought that fool had spent his time rotting in his tomb. I always knew he'd be trouble. Grandiose, grandstanding jackass..." He shook himself to clear his mind. The heady feeling of power was... distracting, to say the least. "But here I am, rambling. If you really want to thank me, get me some experienced healers out here. The boy's just been through a great deal of trauma, and I'll take all the help I can get at this point."

    He saw the working that Sohssal and Seymour were working on. Not a bad plan, actually - so he appropriated it. His frame was well-equipped to handle the influx of necromantic energy, and so he drew it inward, feeding the growing flame of his power - carefully, so as not to overtax himself or smother the spark of talent that had been reborn within him. Still, something felt... different. The necromantic energies had a greasy, disturbing taste to them that he hadn't felt in... Gods alone knew how long. It was a reminder, and a chilling on - his immortality would fade. How long would he have, after that?

    As long as he chose, his inner voice answered with a snarl. He was Umber, and by all the gods and demons, he would not die until he was good and ready. And certainly not with so much left undone. With that in mind, he returned to the task at hand. He had more important things to dwell on now than petty mortality.

  19. - Top - End - #409
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    Kasanip's Avatar

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    Isera Harvent

    Isera had to suppress the grin at imagining Carlain taking instructions from his older sister in the ways of magic. No, he most certainly wasn't one to sit around in books and things. Still... it seemed to Isera surprisingly, well, prudent of him to apprentice out to the different Seasons. And in that sense, having Cerise as his first 'master' was definitely a good choice, Isera decided. Though Carlain did seem to have issues, Isera couldn't fault him for that. She certainly hadn't been a model student in her teen years. She wondered who in the five of the Autumn Canticle would get the kid young man when the time came. Her father? Doubtful, he was way too 'busy,' to speak to his daughter, much less have time for apprentices. Herself? Now that was a thought that caused her stomach to turn a bit. Not that the young man was unlikeable- Isera remembered him well back when he was like her own little brother. Still, she wasn't on good enough terms with the Seasons to get an apprentice - even if she knew the family better than anyone else. Oh well. She dismissed the thought from her mind.

    Cerise's nudge brought the smile back to Isera's face for a minute. Oh sure, they'd played this game since they were kids - who was better at such-and-such, but Isera was better at on-sight investigation. And she'd show why - it took cool experience and talent with a penchant for instinct to decipher these kinds of cases. Even as she jumped at the chance to compete with Cerise again, she reigned in that competitive drive and used it to fuel her brain.

    What was left of her smile disappeared as she turned to business, listening carefully to Berrick's explanation as they came upon the corpses.

    Looking at dead bodies was never a pleasant sort of investigation, but Isera had done it enough times, and decided rather affably that it was better to look at corpses that weren't moving rather than the type that shambled towards you.
    At Berrick's use of the old slang 'corpse humper,' Isera stifled her amusement and shot Cerise next to her their old wry, secret smile quickly before listening to her analysis yet so far.

    She ignored Carlain's jab as best she could. The lad had been even younger back at that time, just a little kid brother who had had little interest in playing with the two girls. He'd grown up in a whole different world than Isera did after that day and hopefully if he learned a bit of humility from Cerise, he'd avoid making the same mistakes Isera had. Besides, she'd heard enough eye jokes to last her a lifetime. Mentally she added Carlain's sarcastic demeanor to the growing list of things to talk to Cerise about, when they next had the chance to catch up. But now there was business at hand.

    Isera had dropped to one knee to get a closer look at the corpses, focusing and deciphering the colors - pairing them off and categorizing things as her mind tried to reconstruct the scene.
    "Strange." She muttered, staring at the corpses for a few silent minutes. Finally Cerise's question caused Isera to rise again slowly.
    "I can't say I've seen this before." She admitted. "But if we're talking just solely based on the magical auras...then it's more similar to possession than necromancy." She said. Isera gestured at the mangled limbs on one of the corpses. "This is either some kind of transfiguration, or it was like it before. Not likely an alchemist's work either." The thought had occurred to her that if it was possession, there should be a kind of taint. The evilness factor, as she dubbed it, was missing as well. But, since the creatures weren't currently being possessed by some demonic force, then she couldn't say for certain that wasn't the case. Isera turned to Berrick and Cerise.
    "I know it's still early in the investigation, but has anyone talked to the locals? If these corpses are from a town nearby here, then it's a start." She paused, silently dreading the answer, and then added.
    "Also, are there any survivors from the Perist residence who could shed some light into what happened?"
    Last edited by Kasanip; 2009-10-13 at 04:54 AM.
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  20. - Top - End - #410
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    [[OOC: Sorry this took so long to get up - it's been an interesting weekend...]]

    Pyrene the Temptress

    Once again Pyrene ignored the Baron's undisguised mockery, putting on an expression of neutral interest as he listed her possible fates. When Klaus was dragged in, she allowed her surprise and puzzlement to show, then forced herself to show no emotion when she realized how the Baron intended to use him. Through sheer force of will she kept her expression that of mild interest and curiousity, though internally she was raging against the nobleman for putting her in such an uncomfortable position. She was not stone, and though she owed Klaus nothing, she did prefer not to kill. Having Klaus' fate directly tied to her own decision felt too much like deciding how to kill him.

    Glancing up, she realized that both men were watching her - the Baron expectantly, Klaus with resignation. Though she knew little of the Baron aside from common hearsay, she had no reason to trust that he would keep his word, even if she did take one of his options. Briefly she toyed with the idea of accepting option two, then twisting the magical compulsion they would surely use to target the Baron instead of Klaus. It would serve him right to have his plan backfire. On the other hand, twisting a compulsion once it was set would take time, time she may not have. She could attempt to twist it by thinking of something else before it was set, but that could be risky since she had no way of knowing exactly what the command would be. No, ultimately that was not a realistic possibility.

    "This is an interesting dilemma you have presented to me," she said coolly, as if discussing a thought experiment rather than a situation which would affect the lives of at least three real people. "Four options offering varying levels of pain and humiliation for me, and the fate of my companion as well as myself hanging on my decision. The more uncertain the option I choose, the less pleasant his fate seems to be. Clearly then, the aim is to make both of us suffer emotional distress as well as physical. As a sadist, you receive a level of satisfaction from that which I would wager at least borders on the physical."

    Now her tone was almost lecturing, like a teacher explaining a particularly simple concept to a particularly dense student. "This is confirmed by your crude attempts at humiliating me with mentions of the lifestyle which until recently was my livelihood and my only known heritage. Indeed, such strong tendencies make it entirely questionable that you would keep your word about refraining from any course of action which appealed to you thus. They also lead one to wonder how you have kept your reputation as near unsullied as you have, which in turn implies a level of cunning which also makes trusting your word a risky proposition at best. In short, even if a normal human being could find a morally acceptible alternative among the options you have laid out, your lack of trustworthiness makes such a decision virtually meaningless in terms of probable results. While problematic for the victims of your scheme, this in itself is not a mistake on your part. Indeed, it only increases the potential emotional distress, and thus your pleasure. However, now we come to the specifics of the situation, where you have erred.

    Now Pyrene slowly stood up and, continuing to speak, began pacing up the table until she stood equidistant from Klaus and the Baron Gast. "As you mentioned, Queen Titania of Phaedra believes me to be her daughter. As she is inhuman, it follows that, if she is correct, I also am more than human. Given this possibility, what makes you think that this man's fate would affect me at all? As it happens, all connections between this man and myself have already been severed. As with the Countess Ashargrin, there is nothing owed between us, not even the loyalty between two of the same race. His death would trouble me not at all.

    "Yet perhaps I have lived too long among the humans, or perhaps I am simply squeemish, for I find myself reluctant to watch his death in exchange for my freedom. Since the first two options willingly accept bodily harm, and the last puts me under your thumb far more thoroughly than either of my heritages would allow comfortably, I will choose none of them. In short, Baron Gast, I will not dance to your tune like a puppet to your will. You are not wrong that I have few goals of my own, but at least I choose who pulls my strings. I have no desire to be manipulated by you, and I would rather cut my strings and walk by my own meager strength than allow you to use me."
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  21. - Top - End - #411
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Morpheus's Avatar

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    Johann is relived to find his town is somewhat maybe possibly under his control. He walks in and is still dreadfully cold. He rewraps his plaid scarf around his neck and starts off into town.
    Upon seeing the guards he hides in a nearby doorway. He waits with his heart pounding in his chest. He waits in the 1 degree warmer doorway until he is positive that they didn't notice him.
    He then sneaks out into the cold street before walking down into an alleyway. *I have been down this alleyway before! It should take me to Gilberts place. I just need to follow my nose to where the pie should be.......I wonder what kinds she made. I am hoping for a huckleberry. Delicious. OR a shepherds pie. Savory pies are always scrumptious. Or maybe a nice berry rhubarb with clotted cream sploped on top. Or a peach cobbler fresh from the oven........ Johanns mind continues to think of all of the options as he makes his way to the house.
    He starts into the alleyway and goes almost to the end of it when he reaches the box of crates that are always there. Climbing up onto them. He surveys down the alleyway to make sure no one is following him. He then jumps onto the roof, barely, before hurrying along the slant of a roof. He gets to the end and jumps before falling and lands on the other roof. He goes to his left and continues down some other roofs. He jumps along the roofs before hoping down. He skips merrily along another alleyway before taking some turns and reaching the house. He knocks on the door and removes his cloak. He waits patiently for the smell of the pie to ease his curiosity and to provide entrance into the warmth.
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  22. - Top - End - #412
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    Tare fought his way bodily to the stairs, finishing off stragglers and the occasional loose ex-slave that slipped past Limier with brutal kicks, punches, and pin-point stabs, his attacks not softened in the least by mercy or compassion. These were barely human, in disposition if not origin as well, and he felt no remorse even in stabbing them through the heart. Besides, they were already dead, and therefore could not 'die'. Tare could imagine that the process was quite agonizing. These had earned it.

    Once he'd neared the top of the staircase, he turned back to shout. "Pull back, Limier! We're almost--" His voice died in his throat when he saw the angel get hit. "No..." It was horrifying to watch the beautiful creature plummeting, then slowing slightly as her wings flailed at the air, and landing hard on the stair behind him. Tare glanced back at the horde behind them, still throwing things up the stairway after them.

    "Help." She begged. He reacted.

    Reaching down, he snatched up the spear that had clattered to the stairs with its previous wielder. In the same movement, he stepped forward over the wounded, prostrate Angel, gripping the weapon that he had no earthly clue how to effectively use with a fierceness that surprised even himself, and braced himself against the onrushing tide. Something sailed past his head, and fortunately missed, but he didn't flinch. Tare reared back with the spear, pointing its barbed tip down toward the teeming masses. The young street thief, so sorely transposed out of his element and into no-man's-land, poured his heart and soul into that throw. It showed. Arcs of purple-hued lightning laced up and down his hands, and then along the entire length of the spear, focusing on the Spearhead and reverberating along its entire length. Tare wasn't even aware that the weapon in his hands was glowing with energy that he himself did not know he had. So tight was his focus on bringing down that Spear with all the might he could muster, he did not hear the bird-chirp of excited lightning along its length.

    He felt something inside of him snap.

    The spear shot from his hands like the Bolts of Heaven, and landed like the Hammer of Hephaestus. The stone stairway below his feet disintegrated like sand. At the spear's point of impact, which it practically flew under its own power into, erupted in a geyser of mud, blood, and lightning arcing in every direction.

    Tare staggered backward, but still had the presence of mind to avoid tripping over the angel. "I feel... Dizzy..."
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  23. - Top - End - #413
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Sohssal

    Being incorporeal, Sohssal was not very concerned about the brick flying through his body. Ah, you've already got the hang of moving objects. Now I have to think of another way to keep you busy...try seeing if you can possess people. Don't try it with anyone here - we're all either very powerful or very injured, he informed Roger.

    "Now, then. Umber...Kartul can probably wait. I couldn't help but notice you've got a bit of magical ability now. Care to explain how that got there?" he inquired.

    Sohssal kept his previous plan in mind for later. All he had to do now is grill Umber to pass the time while absorbing more of the lingering magic, then he could finally leave this place (not that this situation didn't pique his curiosity. He'd most likely come back later). His lab awaited, after all, and now that he had a good chunk of his power back Sohssal would find any excuse he could to get back there and retrieve his stuff - violently, if necessary.
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  24. - Top - End - #414
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

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    Marisiel

    Marisiel paused on the brink of saying no. He wants me to see the grounds when I should be seeing to my duties? was her first thought... but she'd delayed to see the city, had she not? Ysora and she had agreed that it would be better for one of them to investigate while the other spoke to the ruler. She could begin by checking the palace grounds.

    Besides, Istomilo was second only to Titania herself, and surely privy to all her councils; she could talk to him in her stead. "All right," she said, falling into step beside him. "I am curious to see what changes you've made." And because this was a little too much like a lie, and she was nothing if not scrupulously honest, she added, "although I'm afraid that is not unrelated to my business here."

    She fell silent for a few seconds, ignoring Istomilo's questioning glance and thinking upon how best to phrase it. There was a reason Ysora had been the one sent on ahead to the Queen: she was the better diplomat. "Istomilo, the Valkyrie is... concerned about Phaedra. I am, too. I saw a number of spirits in the streets, none of which belong in a human city. Do you know what they were doing there?"
    Last edited by The_Snark; 2009-10-13 at 05:19 AM.
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  25. - Top - End - #415
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Octavio rolled his eyes at the cry for help, though he felt an acute diswhoever had done this. Honestly, what sort of loser used undead in this day and age? It was downright disrespectful to use anything less than highly-trained and highly-expendable troops in today's day and age! But, he supposed, undead had their place in the everyday army. As did sending chunks of obsidian raining from the heavens (Though he, personally, preferred the age-old tactic of just getting some trolls to raise hell and walking along through the remains).

    But with all of this going on, the flesh-warping artist knew that bothering with the undead would be useless. After all, what did they have that would interest him? Bones could only be used in conjunction with muscle and tendon! What little flesh they had was dead and cold, useless to a man of his stature! He was not a necrophiliac, he had no love of the dead! He yearned only for the living and the life within them, and these pitiful creatures were of no interest to him! Unfortunately, he would have to get through the undead to get to the living. Hopefully there was more than just some annoying little boy, or else he would be a very unhappy man.

    Moving with a burst of speed, Galloway focused his mind, a few syllables leaving his lips as he mimicked the powers of a spider. Precious lifeforce and stamina poured into his hands and arms, the tiny barbs of the arachnid emerging betwixt hair follicles. Attempting to find traction on the building adjacent to the alley, he kicked with his feet, trying to find traction as he forced himself towards the rooftop, looking to evade the reanimated corpses entirely in his pursuit of the little boy.
    Last edited by Darth_Malevo; 2009-10-13 at 01:22 PM.
    Gotta keep on trollan' trollan' trollan'

  26. - Top - End - #416
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    A Really Confused Mechanical Mechna of Doom with a Soul of a Human

    THWAP!

    Watching Ysora’s head snap around like the ball on a yo-yo being played with by a hyper-active cat Incom mentally winces. Part of him screams out against himself, trying to leap in a suicide move at Celestan, to beat that form so like his own, to rip it apart, to crush his head, to make him feel what Ysora feels like this very instant, to make him then experience the horror of what HE went through. To rape his soul with the essence of a dragon, to tear him apart piece by piece, forcing him to accept oblivion, to welcome it , and then rip it away and…..

    “Stop it!”

    Realizing that his fists had been curled so tightly that the talons were leaving dents in his palms Incom relaxes them, spreading them out. Thankfully Celestan had been so focused on his assault on Ysora that he didn’t notice Incom’s reflexive gesturing. Now he appears to be even more distracted by Sara as the two of them argue back and forth. Letting them argue over the treatment of Ysora Incom forces himself not to leap out and slam against the brick wall of mental chains when Sara kicks Celestan.

    Yet despite all odds, such an ineffective assault served its purpose. Celestan steps back after releasing Ysora and leaves. Looking down at Sara in a mixture of awe and wonder as she tends to the angel one can only wonder how such a caring and naturally “good” girl could be born in such a dark ago. Already everything that she has gone through she is still able to be who she was to start with. Was this divine intervention? Was it her way of rebelling against her family? Would it lead her to a long life or like so many before her would she fall into oblivion?

    No matter the answer there was only so long one could hold up to anything like that.

    And Sara’s turn arrived as they finally left the brig and were out of sight of everyone else.

    “O-oh gods . . . what was I-I thinking? He could have k-killed me! Why is my brother so m-mean? Who’s right? Y-ysora, or my f-f-father?”

    Now is your chance! Corrupt her mind, turn her against her father. Make it brutal and twist the blade as much as possible! Burn all bridges!

    Her father is evil. Ysora is evil per programming, created by the Baron. Does she even have faith in her family? Does she need additional torture?

    Looking down at the tear-streaked face of Sara Incom slowly lowers his massive frame. Moving one taloned hand carefully [said hands were expertly designed for complex and delicate tasks] and wipes the tears off her face.

    ”People act in ways that are difficult to comprehend. Your brother may enjoy being mean and cruel, yet I suspect that is his reaction to losing his humanity. He and I may have souls of men, but without bodies of men are we still men? If he feels anything like I do he is at a crossroads, and is scared.”

    Standing up slowly Incom provides a hand for Sara and helps keep her standing.

    ”As for who is right, I don’t know. I have seen too much and not enough. I do however thing that Ysora is right in many ways, as if your father. Yet I think they both are wrong. It is up to you to decide who is right, Ysora, your father, or will you find your own truth?”

    As he speaks the words Incom looks down at his mechanical body and wonders what his own truth is as well.
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    Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...

  27. - Top - End - #417
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    Korram grits his teeth as Seraph enters the prison, forced to remember Katrina's words. When he had been captured, he had hoped that he would either escape or die before he had to face Seraph again. But of course it wouldn't work that way. He's already been through the wringer today, so why shouldn't life pile more s*** on him. Korram takes a deep breath as Seraph...no...Seraphan speaks. At first, his only response is an even, malevolent stare. Then:

    "You make it sound like I'm a corpse."
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  28. - Top - End - #418
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Gorgondantess's Avatar

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    She watches, careless as the man flails about, simply standing with a bemused face, completely still, staring him in the eyes. "My name is Maria. I don't actually live around here; I'm just passing through."
    Frowning and watching the man, she is able to divine what he is doing, but not why. Sitting down, she takes from a rock behind her, as an identical rod springs from her hand. Quirking a brow, she casts it into the water, imitating the man's posture, movements and technique precisely.
    "If you want a fish, why don't you just catch one then?"
    Quickly bored by the lack of results, she begins reaching into the water with her other hand, snatching up fishes one by one and stacking them in a pile next to her.
    Last edited by Gorgondantess; 2009-10-13 at 07:09 PM.
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  29. - Top - End - #419
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Ander Windrivver

    ((For reference, Ander's old sword is called Justice and his new one is called Sin-Eater. In the confusion of the beginning of the fight, Ander drew Justice out of habit.))

    GET OFF OF ME!

    Ander roars in frustration as Marlexa slays Marius and begins her murder of the other paladins. This wasn't supposed to happen. Angels were supposed to be Miram's servants, not these...abominations.

    Hondshioh's surprise attack gives Ander the respite he needs. With one of the other angels now focusing on the half-giant, Ander bull rushes the other into the wall, momentarily stunning it. The few seconds is all Ander needs to sheathe Justice draw Sin-Eater and impale the angel through the chest. With Hondshioh and the other paladins finishing off the other angel, Ander turns his attentions to Marlexa.

    Speaking prayers of retribution to his deities, Ander summons a multitude of holy chains from the ground around the ritual circle. The chains snake their way toward Marlexa, binding her arms and legs and dragging her into the middle of the circle. More and more chains sprout from the ground until all but her head is bound, trapping her in the middle of the still-active Truth Telling circle.

    You listen up, and you listen good. I am on a mission under the direct orders of Miriam and Athelion. I am neither a heretic nor a traitor. He turns to the paladins. You all heard me tell my story in the truth circle. These angels are not sent from Heaven! Ander turns back to the bound form in the circle, leveling Sin-Eater at her throat. The sword was howling in his mind, pleading with Ander to finish the kill. Who sent you? Where are you from? Tell me. NOW.
    Last edited by Baerdog7; 2009-10-16 at 01:15 AM.
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  30. - Top - End - #420
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Soras Teva Gee's Avatar

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    Maya Wayborn

    Maya blinked in surprise as Pan figured out her task. She really hadn't meant to give all of that out, but it seemed to have gained her an advantage. She'd never seen Pan this excited. Well maybe not quite true, but the satyr must have lost his wits to make an offer like that. Maya couldn't resist, she so rarely got to pull one over on anyone.

    Now how to play this right? Papa wouldn't be happy with her if she defied his orders. And the Queen, the thought hurt. Then again her orders were really vague come to think of it. Just find the old court retainer. She would have thought Papa at least would have been more specific with her. Unless, he wanted her to sneak around restrictions. That was a strange thought. And it gave her a solution too.

    "Well Pan, I can't just take you now. It not like I've done this before, and of course our lord Ode Berreron would be most livid if he knew..." Maya said dropping most of the formality, though not for Papa. You never knew who was around to listen. "Then again would be asking a bit much for me to drive you off instead. So if I don't and you promise a binding three times to obey me if we happen to end up in the mortal realms, I think that would put us about even now wouldn't it. By the way I've been studying a spell that should open a small area not just move me."

    As she spoke Maya kept walking. If Pan agreed then she would not have technically taken him anywhere, it was just happenstance he tagged along. Nobody could argue with that. Might end bad for the satyr, but if he wanted to leave more then she did it was his risk to take!

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