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  1. - Top - End - #421
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    beyond the furthest star
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Umber

    Umber looked straight at - or, depending on how you wanted to say it, straight through Sohssal. He wore a broad, wolfish smile. "Oh, I daresay Kartul can. The skeletal old pederast always was afraid of Death, no matter how deep he tried to hide it - and I gave him a taste of oblivion's edge tonight.

    As for my power... Well, without revealing too many secrets, when I put myself in my current condition, I was one of the greatest sorcerers who ever lived. I gave up my magical prowess for immortality... but I've always been one to have an escape strategy. Tonight, with the fruition of long years of planning, I exploited said strategies. The glimmer of power you see is but the spark that kindles the bonfire. Soon, I'll regain my old prowess. I've been preparing for this day since time out of mind - and I have a great number of accounts that will need settling.
    "
    Like dragons and/or allegory? A little writing project I'm working on. Check back for updates, and feedback is always appreciated!

  2. - Top - End - #422
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    The Baron’s Estate

    Dorizzit

    Seraph refuses to meet your eyes, although he does not wince at your words.

    “Yes. You are a doomed man, Korram. You are to be executed at dawn, like a common thief. There will be no appeal, no delay, and no escape – not this time.”

    Seraph pauses for a moment, and then continues.

    “For what it is worth . . . I owe you a debt I can never repay. But neither can I go against my father’s wishes.”

    Katrina, who had been staring at Seraph quizzically, suddenly gasps. For a moment, her mouth drops open, before tightening into a grim frown as she grips the iron bars of her cell.

    “You!” She hisses, her voice dropping reflexively into the one she uses for Kris.

    “I recognize you. You son of a bitch. You goddam son of a bitch!”

    Seraph turns away from you to look at Katrina.

    “Yes. I have also come to confess my sins. It was I who destroyed Callaway. It was I who killed Katrina’s guardians. And it was I who sought to ruin your reputation amongst the common people, and have you branded a monster. I was . . . a different person back then.”

    “You were a different person? Pgh, is that supposed to make me feel better!? Is that going to bring back the dead!? I know, how about give me back the past eight years of my life!”

    Seraph raises his eyes to meet Katrina’s furious glare.

    “Perhaps you should say “thank you” for sparing your life, and sparring Korram the pain of losing his child as well as his wife. I understand that agony *quite* well.”

    “YOU SENT ME TO HELL!”

    Seraph turns away, not answering as he looks back to you. Although he has always been taciturn since you met him in Ironheart, the struggle to maintain his composure now is clear on his face.

    “My wife is all I have left now, Korram. I must protect her . . . whatever the cost. Surely you understand that?”



    Lonna

    The Baron listens quietly and impassively to your absolute refusal to choose. He seems to mull your words over a moment, and then chuckles.

    “Sadist. Tyrant. Monster. I’ve been called all these things and worse, by people far more imposing than you. And yet I must simply laugh at you all, for none of you understand me. But perhaps in time you will – allow me to explain.”

    The Baron smirks and shakes his head.

    “Any idiot can inflict pain and derive pleasure from it. But pain is such a transitory thing. Typical for weak-minded rabble to scramble after, but not particularly interesting. No, I am much more interested in the aftereffects of pain, the scars it leaves behind. And I am quite interested in just how much pain an individual can take before they begin to crack! Now that is truly interesting, watching the slow decay of an individual’s mind as they are pushed beyond what they are capable of enduring. Every individual is different, and more or less receptive to different sorts of pain. It’s like a puzzle, figuring out *just* the right physical, mental, and emotional torments to inflict to break a creature’s mind like an egg.”

    The Baron scoffs with a shrug.

    “Of course, one can simply use brute force. Eventually, over months or even years of torture, all but the hardiest of minds give way. But it’s always much more rewarding to find an individual’s break points. Everyone has their weaknesses, after all, and finding them to exploit is an interesting puzzle in itself.”

    The Baron examines you critically, a smile playing over his face as he eyes you up and down.

    “Yes. I imagine, for example, that you would be much more hesitant to declare your separation from humanity if it was your little sister’s fate hanging in the balance. Ariella, isn’t that her name? Oh yes, I know all about her. Was that it, hmmm? You sacrificed yourself, your own future, your own will, for hers? What would you be willing to do now in exchange for her safety . . . or would you simply let me peel the little bitch in front of you and not care?”

    The Baron sits back and thinks for a moment, allowing the threat to hang in the air. Then, he merely shrugs.

    “Unfortunately, we might never find out. I have no idea where you little sister is right now. I do know that Duke Volesin is looking for her – no doubt seeking to exchange an eye for an eye – one sister for two sons. Personally, I think he’s coming out behind on the deal, but I suppose you might feel differently.”

    The Baron leans forward and flashes you a smile.

    “Which brings me back to my original point – you. You claim to have some meager strength of your own, and that you will walk free rather than under my influence.”

    The Baron spreads his hands wide and scoffs.

    “I gave you that opportunity, to leave and never come back. But you refused to choose such an option. You refused because you are weak, not strong! And just like all weak-minded fools, you seek to justify your cowardice by blaming an external source. Life is full of cruel choices! But instead of making a choice, you shrink back, scared and unwilling to embrace an unpleasant alternative! And then you have the temerity to stand back and point at those strong enough to make such choices and pass judgment! Well, if being strong enough to make such choices makes me a tyrant, then so be it! If trying to teach you to do the same makes me a sadist, then so be it! And if teaching you the consequences of indecision makes me a monster, then so be it!”

    Reaching forward, the Baron slowly picks the crossbow up, sighting down its length at you.

    “By the way, are you familiar with the story of the Uncertain King? Apparently, a great king was once given a choice to destroy the world or heal it. As the name implies, he couldn’t decide which option to choose, so he committed suicide. And because of his *lack* of choice, our world has continued to suffer in squalor for millennia. I always think of that story whenever I must make a difficult decision. It always convinces me that choosing an option is always better than none. And since you have placed your ultimate fate in my hands instead of yours, I have now chosen.”

    In one smooth motion, the Baron shifts his aim away from you to Klaus and fires. The bolt pierces cleanly through his right eye, and he falls forward onto the table, shoving the bolt in even deeper, which is quite unnecessary as he was instantly dead anyway. Smoothly, the Baron rises from his seat and gestures to his two lackeys.

    “You, get rid of this. You, escort the prisoner to the carriage outside for transport up to the Gastly Truth.”

    As the two lackeys move to obey, the Baron sets the crossbow back down on the table and picks up a napkin to dab at his mouth.

    “So, now we shall do what I want. You will be taken aboard the Gastly Truth, and there you will have what little will you supposedly possess stripped from you. And after I have broken you, I will remold you into something more fitting. I am sad to say that I’m quite the busy man these days, so it is unlikely I will be able to oversee it personally. Perhaps I will give you to Cheran as a plaything after all . . . or perhaps the entire crew. I’m sure they could all use some . . . entertainment, that only a woman of your skills can provide. In any case, this is good-bye Pyrene. I regret to say you were quite a disappointment.”

    And then without another word the Baron turns away, while the second lackey motions for you to stand up.

    Dawn’s Hope - Monastery

    Baerdog7

    As the other angel is pulled off of you by the very large and very brave acolyte who had led them in, you bullrush the other angel into the wall. The angel grunts as her back slams into the wall, stunned long enough for you to switch weapons. As she raises her sword to begin another exchange, you smoothly lift Sin-Eater and plunge it into her chest. The blade passes through her armor as if it isn’t even there, and she screams in agony.

    But only for a moment, as her body goes completely slack a moment later and she falls back off your sword. In the back of your mind, you note the copious amount of blood running down the length of Sin-Eater, and then seemingly absorbed into the blade. You also note that the angel’s body does not disappear in a flash of light as angels usually do when slain. The lifeless expression on the angel’s marred face would be troubling if you had the time to lament her death. Unfortunately, you had two more angels to stop.

    Turning to face Murlexa as she cuts down another paladin and kicks an unarmored acolyte backwards into the ceiling, you begin a binding spell. Although typically used against evil beings, you are sufficiently competent in the ritual to alter it. A chain lashes out, snagging Murlexa’s free hand and tugging her back towards the ritual circle. This throws her off-balance enough that her next swing misses, saving one paladin’s life if not all his teeth as Murlexa smoothly plants one foot and pivots, bringing her other foot up into his face with jaw-shattering force.

    Continuing her turn, Murlexa spins around to face the ritual circle, bringing her sword down on the chain wrapped around her wrist, breaking it. Meanwhile, another chain has snaked forward, wrapping around one of the angel’s feet. Murlexa hefts her sword again, but is interrupted as one inventive paladin charges forward, slamming his shoulder into her back. The angel is sent stumbling forward, allowing several more chains to pounce.

    Although Murlexa is able to break several more chains, the outcome is now no longer in doubt. More and more chains appear, wrapping themselves around Murlexa faster than she can break them. The chains begin to pull Murlexa slowly into the ritual circle, allowing even more chains at the far side of the circle to join in. As the chains trap Murlexa’s legs, she springs into the air, attempting to pull herself free with flight. This abruptly backfires as several chains snag her wings, sending her crashing back to the floor. Before she can recover, she is dragged into the center of the ritual circle and the remaining chains pounce. For another few seconds her sword arm is held aloft, slashing at the chains closing in, but then her arm is pinned against her side and the sword is twisted out of her grasp.

    The angel struggles back up to her knees before the chains pull themselves taut, restraining her completely. Still Murlexa thrashes, at least until Ander holds his blade up to her throat. Despite this threat, the angel twitches against her bonds, although these movements seem almost involuntary. The bizarre runes covering her skin seem to almost glow as she glares defiantly up at Ander. But then following a particularly violent shiver, she lowers her eyes.

    “Kill . . . me.” She rasps, as the runes begin to noticeably glow. She opens her mouth to continue, but screams as the runes flare in unison. She thrashes violently for several seconds, then stops as the runes’ glow fades. Tears of blood begin to form at the corner of her eyes, flowing swiftly down her face.

    “G-grey . . . son.” Murlexa manages to grate out, a moment before she begins coughing up blood. The angel slumps to the floor.

    “My . . . sisters . . . *help* them!”

    The angel gives a final sigh as blood continues to pour from her nose, mouth, eyes, and ears. A moment later, and Murlexa is clearly dead, her lifeless body lying as still as the angel Ander had killed a few moments before. Something felt wrong here to the experienced paladin, even beyond the fact that two dead angels were now lying on the floor. In the background, Hondshioh continues his duel with the other angel, who seems reluctant to use her full strength against the acolyte.

    Archpaladin Zousha

    Alerted by your roar, the angel you had chosen whirls around. She expertly brings her blade around and down to parry your rising attack. There is a furious clang! from your blades at the impact, the shock traveling up your blades to cause both of your arms to shudder. It is hardly surprising that an angel is strong enough to block your attack, although you do find it interesting that you are nearly as strong as she is. But not nearly as fast, as she expertly pirouettes around to your left, brining her blade up and around. You are just barely able to step back in time to avoid the worst of the attack, not having sufficient time to block, but the sword’s tip still tears a ragged line in your robes. And your skin, as your chest begins to burn and grow warm with a thin trickle of blood.

    “This is not your fight.” The angel hisses, twitching oddly before stepping forward and swinging again. You are able to block this blow, but the angel locks her blade with yours and pushes, shoving you back several steps. Then you regain your footing and push back, leaving the two of you straining again each other to no avail.

    “I do not . . . wish . . . to harm you. But . . . I must. My Lady . . . commands it!” The angel grunts, again shivering violently from something unrelated to your fight. A tear begins to form in the corner of her eye, streaking down her face a moment later.

    “Please . . . surrender. Or I will kill you!”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    With your consent, Istomilo nods and turns, leading you into the castle. He doesn’t take the lead for long, instead dropping back to walk with you side by side.

    “We have made a number of changes over the past years. You showed us so much, but I think you will find we have done an excellent job teaching ourselves as well. Recent advances have increased quality of life for all citizens tenfold!”

    Istomilo seemed poised to continue on in his praises, until your words finally caught up with him. He stops suddenly, turning to look at you. Again, you realized he seems a bit nervous.

    “Um, well, yes. Actually . . . we . . . invited(?) them. They’ve proven to be quite useful in our research. I . . . I know they aren’t supposed to be here. But there’s only a few of them, and mostly they’re just here to provide a power source. If you were encountering them in the city, though . . . maybe a few people starting summoning them with permission?”

    Arguably, communicating with spirits and drawing energy from the spirit world was not strictly forbidden. Having them roam around most certainly was however, and it was definitely forbidden for spirits to co-inhabit a human body. You aren’t seen any signs of this last bit, but had noticed a few humans wandering around the city with magical tattoos that could potentially serve as anchor points for spirits. Unfortunately, they had all disappeared out of sight before you had a chance to talk with any of them.

    However . . . you could tell from Istomilo’s tone that he was lying, or at least downplaying the truth. You had heard him speak publicly on the night of Titania’s coronation, as well as during the farewell ceremony. He was a very smooth talker in front of others, but for some reason most of his suave demeanor faded when he spoke with you. Although, you had to acknowledge with a tinge of guilt, it made him much easier for you to read than Titania.

    Before you could continue your conversation or even proceed further down the hallway, a young girl skipped around the corner ahead. She was quite young for a human, perhaps six years of age, and seemingly quite happy as she was humming. You were no judge of human beauty, but she seemed fairly pretty, with lively green eyes and brilliant red hair.

    The hair seemed to move with a life of its own, and this was what caused you to examine the girl more closely. A cold sense of horror began to crept over you as you saw the girl’s true nature. Her soul was only part human! Spirits had been merged with the girl’s soul, turning her into a sort of amalgamation of human and spirit. Although likely fully human initially, several spirits had been somehow woven into the tapestry of the girl’s soul. You weren’t sure how such a thing could be done, or even why it was done.

    Slowly, however, you work the reasoning out in your head. Spirits were the essence of living creatures other than mortals – animals, plants, and the elements themselves. When the creature died, its essence returned to the whole, to be reborn again in a new body at a later date. This was not the case with mortal souls, which passed on to eternal rest in either the Heavens of the Hells. Theoretically then, what would happen to this hybrid girl? Would she pass on to judgment, or would she be reborn in a new body at a later date? Was that what they were hoping to accomplish?

    Whatever the reasons or methods, this was horribly wrong. Tampering with souls was nearly inconceivable. You could feel a small flame of instinctual hatred sprout deep in your heart. The girl was an abomination. She would have to be destroyed.

    But then, of course, your reason caught up to your emotions. Whatever this girl was, she was innocent of any wrongdoing. You had seen Evil take on many “harmless” disguises before, but she seemed to be as she appeared – a normal young girl blissfully unaware of her corrupted nature. Was it fair, then, to kill her simply because you found her repugnant? But what should you do then? Blissfully unaware of the conflict racing through your mind, the girl turns and smiles in that enthusiastic way only children can manage.

    “Daddy!” She cries, exchanging skipping for outright running forward towards you. Laughing a little, Istomilo bends down, scooping the girl up into his arms. Looking over at you, however, his smile fades and he seems rather embarrassed.

    “Err . . . I had hoped to explain further, but, it has been ten years. This is my daughter, Princess Pyria. Pyria, this is Marisiel the Protector. She’s an archangel.”

    “Hi.” The girl said, looking at you with a directness that was unusual for her age. “You’re very pretty.”

    “She certainly is.” Istomilo agreed with a nod. The girl paused for a moment, and then blurted out, “Are those wings real? Could . . . could I touch them?”

    The City of Amaranth

    The (Destroyed) City Slums

    Iethloc

    Yeah yeah, okay. I suspect that’s going to be pretty hard, given, y’know, everybody around here’s dead.

    Roger gives a mental shudder.

    Although, y’know, after having you rattling around inside my head all these years, I’m not sure I really want to subject someone else to the same thing.

    However the vampire acquired his magical talent (likely somehow via the ritual he just did), he now used it to heal Bran’s remaining injuries, stabilizing him. He also seemed to follow your lead in absorbing some of the remaining necromantic energy of the crystals. Fortunately, there was a great deal of magical energy to absorb, and so Umber’s efforts did not impede your own. That could have gotten annoying, very quickly. Also fortunate was the fact that you were feeling much stronger now. In another few minutes at this rate, you would likely be ready for teleportation back to your laboratory, whatever condition that was in.

    At that point, Seymour speaks up.

    “I will see what I can do – certainly the boy can be moved to a safer location. We might all be sort on healing magicks for awhile – no doubt anyone who has survived this devastation will be quite injured.”

    Seymour tilts his head for a moment.

    “That’s interesting . . . apparently there’s been a break-in at the Great Library. One of the books from the ancient collection was just stolen. The guards chased the perpetrator for several blocks, but ultimately he got away after running straight up a brick wall! Damn vampires.”

    Seymour nods at you.

    “In any case, I believe my associate asked you a question.”

    Before Umber can finally answer, however, Ross is grabbing him by the shoulders. There is a desperate look in his eyes.

    “You saw that filthy worm Helion up there, didn’t you!? Now that the lad is out of danger, tell me! Where is my family!?”

    Darth Malevo

    Hoping to avoid the undead entirely, you seek to embody the aspects of the spider as you sprout tiny hairs from your hands. These allow you to pull yourself up the relatively smooth walls of the nearby buildings, although it’s a bit hard to do with just your hands. Fortunately, the walls aren’t entirely smooth, and with a little bit of effort your feet find traction against the wall.

    Up, up, and up you go! Finally reaching the roof of the building, you clamber up onto it. There was no one up here, which was fortunate as that was the entire reason why you had chosen this route. Moving across the roof of the building, you arrive at the side facing the alleyway from where the boy was crying from, and look down.

    Sure enough, there was a young boy, perhaps twelve years old, balanced precariously on a narrow window ledge perhaps six feet off the ground. And trying in vain, but trying all the same, to get at him was a pair of zombies. Naturally, more shambling corpses were doing their shambling about in the alleyway, but they seemed rather disorganized. Either they didn’t care for the boy unlike their fellows, or those two below him were the only bright ones in the pack. Assuming the word “bright” could ever be used in the same sentence as “zombie”.

    In any case, it would be a fairly simple matter for you to climb down there and retrieve the boy. Of course, it might be a bit more difficult climbing back up with the boy either tucked under one arm, or hanging off your back like a monkey. There was option two, as well, of course, which was to let nature take its course. Assuming there was anything natural about zombies. Anyway, you could simply spare yourself the trouble and watch the boy die. He couldn’t hold his balance there forever – sooner or later he would slip or the zombies would get lucky with their flailing grabs. You could also walk away, you suppose, but you couldn’t recall ever seeing a young boy get torn apart by zombies before.

    WhiteKnight777

    Although unpleasant, absorbing the necromantic energies of the crystals did allow you to finish healing Bran’s injuries. The boy was stable and out of danger – at least as much as an unconscious boy could be in a half-destroyed city. At your words Seymour nods, although he frowns a little.

    “I will see what I can do – certainly the boy can be moved to a safer location. We might all be sort on healing magicks for awhile – no doubt anyone who has survived this devastation will be quite injured.”

    Seymour tilts his head for a moment.

    “That’s interesting . . . apparently there’s been a break-in at the Great Library. One of the books from the ancient collection was just stolen. The guards chased the perpetrator for several blocks, but ultimately he got away after running straight up a brick wall! Damn vampires.”

    Seymour nods at Sohssal.

    “In any case, I believe my associate asked you a question.”

    Before you can answer, however, Ross is grabbing you by the shoulders. There is a desperate look in his eyes.

    “You saw that filthy worm Helion up there, didn’t you!? Now that the lad is out of danger, tell me! Where is my family!?”

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    Taking a deep breath, Sara slowly nods. The shaking seems to have mostly stopped, although she still seems to be breathing heavily.

    “F-for what’s it’s worth . . . Incom. I think you’re still the same good . . . man who saved me. You have to be.”

    She manages a weak smile.

    “I guess . . . everyone is afraid . . . deep down.”

    Steadily herself, Sara offers you her hand. It takes you a moment to realize that she wants you to take it. You aren’t sure how it would look, the Baron’s daughter leading a mechanical weapon of death by the hand, and your programming certainly doesn’t recommend it. But the fact that despite your nature Sara still trusted you was . . . comforting, somehow.

    “I don’t know what I should do yet. I’ve never had to make . . . these sorts of decisions. I just floated along, and tried to please my mother while staying out of everyone’s way. But now . . .”

    Sara shrugs and manages an actual smile.

    “I feel different. I met so many new people, and I met that nice woman . . .”

    Sara smiles fades a little as she self-consciously shivers.

    “And that awful man. But – I survived that. And now I do know that I don’t want anyone to suffer like that.”

    Here, however, Sara slumps a little and shrugs.

    “But I’m not sure what I can do. I just snapped when I saw how Celestan was acting. But if he had really wanted to keep hurting Ysora, he could have. I couldn’t have stopped him. What am I supposed to do then?”

    Sara sighs and shrugs.

    “I’m not very hungry anymore. Can we just go back to the infirmary?”

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    The sudden display of power certainly had its effect on the assembled ex-slaves. Those closest to the blast were bodily hurled back, and the remainder reflexively slid back in fear. For a moment, the huddled masses of once-human filth paused silently to contemplate this turn of events.

    But then the moment fades, and with another outraged cry the mob surges forward again. Or to the side, as the case may be – your efforts had destroyed the stairway leading up in this part of the room, but there were still a few ramps scattered about. A few of the slaves remained at the bottom of the shattered stairs, continuing to hurl picks, rocks, and whatever else was at hand up at you.

    Despite your dizziness, you knew you had to make it up to the top. You avoid tripping over Melcara, taking one step towards the top before stopping. After all this, you couldn’t really leave without her.

    Fortunately, the angel had somehow clambered back up onto her knees. And from there, she rose up unsteadily onto her feet, swaying from side to side. She reaches around behind her, and with another loud scream, leverages the pick out of her back and tosses it aside. Then she reaches out to you, throwing one of your arms across the back of her neck. She in turn throws her one arm across your back, and supporting each other you both unsteadily being to ascend towards the top.

    “Where . . . did you learn?” Melcara huffed, clearly referring to your most recently displayed trick. Honestly, you had no idea yourself, but seemed to be rapidly gaining quite the array of magical tricks far beyond even the simple ones you had mastered before. It would seem necessity bred invention.

    Above, Limier and Jim awaited, near the stairs leading up into the manor proper. Of Teareal, he was nowhere to be seen.

    “Idiot’s going to get himself killed, and there goes my paycheck.” Limier groused by way of greeting. Jim looks you and Melcara up and down nervously.

    “Uhhh . . . you both look like Hell.”

    “Thanks.” Melcara replies, without the usual sarcasm. Evidently she was taking it as a compliment.

    The Perist Residence

    Kasanip

    Berrick grunts thoughtfully at your analysis.

    “There is a small town nearby, of course. The bodies certainly could have come from there. We haven’t had an opportunity to question any of the citizens as yet, although I can confirm that, thankfully, the town was not attacked. The Duke’s estate and the Perist residence seem to have endured the attack solely. As for survivors . . . “

    Berrick shook his head.

    “I was able to get the Count’s family to safety, but other than them and myself, there are no known survivors who witnessed the attack. Both Ruya and Alya Perist are away, so only Soneir and Ayse, his wife would be present. They didn’t have any servants of their own, likely due to the sensitive nature of their work.”

    Berrick looks down at the bodies.

    “I was there for the attack itself, of course. I didn’t get a good look at the attackers, as they were all shrouded in long grey cloaks. Presumably these were to help prevent easy identification, although it could possibly be a group’s uniforms. They were all obviously magically capable, flying about and performing other impressive athletics like leaping over the wall. They were also quite durable – I blasted one into the wall with a bolt of lightning. The creature actually seemed to enjoy it, and crawled backwards up the wall afterwards! After that display and seeing that I was outnumbered at least seven to one, I chose to withdraw and get the Count to safety.”

    “Such magical abilities do seem to suggest some form of possession. Otherwise, why allow such powerful servants to be consumed by the fire?” Cerise noted. Carlain snorts.

    “Great. So we have some demon running around that can turn people into superhumans.”

    “Corpses, actually, dear brother.”

    “Whatever. How do we know that thing is not still around?”

    Cerise shoots a look at you and sighs.

    “Because, it’s doubtful anything that powerful would have remaining hiding from us. And, Isera would probably be able to see anything that powerful quite clearly, despite most attempts to hide. Also, as Isera said, there doesn’t seem to be any demonic taint left behind – so it probably was not a demon.”

    “Oh. Right.” Carlain grunts, apparently content to fade back silently once more. Berrick chooses this moment to hum thoughtfully.

    “You know, I just remembered something. The Perists had some dealings with spirits, their daughters being particularly adept at communing with the spirit world. They even made themselves a pet, a guard dog, out of a spirit possessing the body of a dead dog . . . thing. Quite disturbing looking, but relatively harmless. I thought it was a form of undead at first, but the Perists informed me that the proper term was . . . “Chimerae”. Hmm . . . not quite, actually. I seem to remember this creature of theirs being subtly different than an actual Chimerae, more like a spirit borrowing the body rather than animating it fully. Perhaps that is what we’re seeing here.”

    “Wonderful. So Momma and Pappa Perist were making some more of these . . . chim-whatevers, they got loose, torched the place, including themselves. Can we all go home now?” Carlain snorted, earning a warning but still playful swat from Cerise.

    “You shouldn’t jump to such conclusions, brother. Remember, careful study prevents mistakes.”

    “Yeah yeah.” Carlain mutters, earning him another light swat from Cerise.

    “Besides, you forgot the Count’s residence was attacked by these creatures as well. Are you saving they broke out, wrecked havoc here, went over there, and then came back to burn themselves up?”

    “Well . . . maybe . . . there’s still more of them out there, and these are just the ones that didn’t get away?”

    There is a lingering, cold silence over the ruins at that thought. A few moments later, Berrick interjects with another thoughtful hum.

    “The boy is right, Cerise. It is at least a possibility, though an unlikely one. Although the residence is largely destroyed, there were some underground rooms. Perhaps there will be answers down there.”

    Carlain waves his arms around at the piled wreckage.

    “Right. Anyone see a staircase?”

    Cerise smiles as she gives you a wink.

    “We don’t need a staircase. We’ve got Is. If these underground rooms were important, they would be warded, right? Maybe Is can pick out where the staircase used to be by picking up the aura of the spells guarding it.”

    Looking around at the wreckage, you admitted it was possible. Particularly if the Perists did indeed heavily ward the stairway down to their lowest level. You could see a confusing swarm of magical auras here and there, distorted by the debris scattered everywhere. By concentrating you might be able to sort out the largest concentrations, although you might need to shut your normal eye while doing so to help remove the confusing tangle of wreckage. Of course, walking around this place while essentially blind was likely to be hazardous, as while your eye could detect subtle differences between magical auras, it was not so good anymore at separating charred wooden beam from ground.

    The Capital

    Tackyhillbillu

    Your ascension up to the roof is rather noisy by necessity - the rain gutter you are using was rather rusted and loose. Still, you make good time up the wall. Good enough, in fact, that you arrive just below the top when a curious face pokes itself over the side. As the man’s eyes widen in surprise, you brace yourself against the rain gutter and throw one fist up as hard as you can. The shock from the impact travels down your arm, threatening to shake you off from your perch. With a pained grunt, the man’s face falls back out of sight – you had perhaps a few seconds to get up there before he started screaming.

    Gripping the gutter tightly once more, you flip yourself up the remaining distance onto the roof. For a moment you are perched precariously on the edge, but then manage to roll away onto firmer ground. Flopping yourself over to the man, holding the bloody nose you gave him, you grab his head and flip it up, only to slam it brutally back down against the roof.

    Thankfully, he crumples with the first slam, and despite his mangled nose is still breathing. You roll him over onto his side to make sure he doesn’t choke on his own blood, and then move on. Back in the day you would have swiftly finished him, but those days were long over. Besides, perhaps you could come back later and interrogate him for whatever meager information he possessed.

    Looking around cautiously, you don’t see any guards up on the nearby roofs, and proceed towards the house. You move as quietly as possible, not wishing to create a clatter that someone in one of the houses you are crossing over would hear. Finally, you reach the edge of one of the houses ringing the clearing. Crouching down, you peer across at the thieves guild safehouse.

    Most of the windows are either shuttered on the outside or curtained on the inside, but you can see movement from one of the second story windows. For a second, the curtains part and you can see a man staring out the window. You recognize him as Brock, the nominal leader of the Thieves Guild! Over his shoulder, you catch a glimpse of the table, another man, and the Hand agent. Then Brock pulls the curtains tightly shut, and you see no more. Unfortunately from this distance, you cannot hear anything either.

    You are aware that most safe houses have secret trapdoors built into the roof, allowing for thieves to escape out the top while the guards were breaking in at the bottom. There was a gap between the safehouse and the house you were on, but as intended it was easily jumpable. That would make a fair bit of noise however, enough to possibly be noticeable by those assembled below, or even by another nearby lookout. Still, you had come this far, and still knew little more than you did before. What was the leader of the thieves guild meeting with a servant of the Baron? You had to know.

    Phaedra

    Soras Teva Gee

    Pan considers your offer in confusion for a moment, but then understanding dawns in his eyes and he nods vigorously.

    “Certainly, certainly!” He says, continuing to follow after you. You were out of the forest now, heading out into the blank emptiness. One spot seems as good as another to you, and so a short distance out you slow to a stop. The forest was still just barely visible, but you doubt that would be a problem. Of course, you had never done this before, so what did you know?

    “Anything I could do to help?” Pan asks. There really wasn’t. You just merely had to concentrate. Closing your eyes, you stretch out with your mind, and after a few moments start to feel the borders of your world. It was a truly odd sensation, but you concentrate further, seeking to turn the wall into a window. And then open that window and step through to whatever lay beyond.

    Suddenly, you feel a rush of sensation, and the brief sound of rushing wind. Then, with a loud pop! you feel as if you are somewhere different. Instead of the stifling silence presence in the nothingness expanse, you hear several birds chirping mournfully in the distance. You can only assume they’re birds, all of your knowledge of the mortal realm essentially secondhand.

    A warm breeze washes over you then, and you *know* that you’re no longer in Phaedra. Opening your eyes, you see that you are in the middle of a barren expanse, only one that is much different. For some distance on all sides of you, the charred remains of a forest stretch. Although not everything is gone, for here and there birds sit perched on the wreckage, and in the distance you can see normal forest.

    At least, you assume it’s normal forest – it’s large brown trees covered in budding green leaves. No snow anywhere in sight, which is definitely a bizarre concept for you.

    Suddenly, movement off to your left catches your attention, and you turn your head to see Pan untangling himself from a burnt remains of a thorn bush.

    “So . . . this is the mortal realm? Not much to look at . . .” The satyr grunts, looking clearly a bit disappointed in what he canceled all your debts for.

    The Northern Forest

    Gorgondantess

    (You wanted excitement. Fine, you’ll get excitement. Have a little dread first. )

    Richard – or Trapper Pete if you prefer – continues to gape at you in astonishment as you first produce an identical fishing rod out of thin air, and then simply reach into the water, pulling out fish one by one. He slowly takes a few steps further back away from the river back.

    “Hey . . . you some kinda mage or something? Because I’ve never seen anything like that. I certainly can’t do it, that’s for sure! If I could, well then I guess I wouldn’t need this here rod, now would I!?”

    Looking at the rod, and then at the mounting pile of fish by you, Richard shrugs and tosses his fishing rod over his shoulder. “I don’t suppose ya could teach me to do that, could ya?”

    For a moment, you sense another intelligent presence here in the forest with you. In this physical form, your sense are somewhat more limited, and most of your information comes from what you would assume humans use to gather information about their surrounding environment. Thus, you also think you see a flicker of black clothing – a man in dark robes – briefly appear from behind a tree before ducking back out of sight. It seems to have come from a tree located some distance past Richard, off to the left.

    Clearly, Richard has not noticed anything, as he continues pleasantly chattering away.

    “Hmmm. You know, on second thought, I’m getting hungry. You let me have some of those fish you just caught, and I’ll let you use my fire to cook up the rest of them for yourself. How’s that sound? We split them, fifty-fifty. Then maybe tomorrow you can teach me that trick?”

    Johannville

    Morpheus

    You manage to make your way stealthily down alleyways and across rooftops. You notice several more pairs of guards on your way, sweeping the streets and looking quite bored while doing it. What they were looking for, you had no idea, but evidently whoever was in charge here now took security much more seriously.

    From one of the rooftops, you are able to catch a glimpse of your own manor – the place looked like a fortress now, with a new wall around the outside blocking most of your home from view. No one seemed to be patrolling around the outskirts up there, although you noticed a few lights and shapes moving along the top of the wall.

    Proceeding onward to your current destination, you arrive there without further incident. Unfortunately, the welcome smell of baked pie does not greet your nose, although at least there is a slight flicker under the doorway indicating a fire. Knocking politely on the door, you are rewarded by the sound of movement within. A few moments later, the door creaks open, revealing Clara. She is obviously surprised to see you.

    “Johann!” She murmurs, blinking at you. “Um . . . come in, come in! You must be frozen solid!”

    She pulls the door open wider and steps back, allowing you entry.

    “The children are asleep right now, so please be quiet. I’m afraid we don’t have any pie, but I was warming up some of yesterday’s soup on the fire for when Gilbert gets back. Will that be alright?”

    Without waiting for your answer, Clara shuts the door behind you, locking it. She then goes over to the table, picking up the two wooden bowls there and moving over to the nearby cabinet to pull out a third one. Other than the kitchen table, the utensil cabinet, and the fire with heavy iron pot, there isn’t much in the room. Strange, considering there used to be several pieces of artwork decorating the place. Perhaps they had to sell such things following Gilbert’s apparent demotion?

    “How did you manage to escape, Johann? We heard you had been imprisoned in Ironheart!”

    Clara asked conversationally, beginning to ladle some of the soup out into the three bowls. Compared to the slop you had been fed in the prison, it smelled heavenly. Of course, the mention of your most recent vacation resort also caused the brand burned into the inside of your right forearm to start aching. Or that might just be the residual chill you felt.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  3. - Top - End - #423
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    Tare turned wobbily, prepared to carry the wounded angel behind him the rest of the way up the stairs himself. It turned out to be a very good thing that she was able to carry him instead. Even through those first unsteady stairs and all the way up to rejoin Limier and Jim, Tare could feel the Celestial creature next to him recovering her strength. If anything, it was all Tare could do not to collapse under his own weight as the adrenaline wore off.

    But the most unsettling thing was the weird emptiness in his chest-- there was no pain, no numb ache like before, it just felt... empty.

    Tare chuckled ruefully at the angel's labored question. "I'm not... sure. And I don't... woah..." His vision swam for a second, and were it not for Melcara, he would've feared that he might tumble right off the side of the stairway. "...I don't think I could do it again."

    Tare groaned when he learned that Teareal was missing. Where did he think he was going? He hadn't actually told the foolhardy elf where Adame' was, only that he'd found her. "We can't stop," Tare said, trying to clear his throat and support a little more of his own weight. Heavens knew, Melcara could do without any more of a burden than she had to carry.
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  4. - Top - End - #424
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    Archpaladin Zousha

    Alerted by your roar, the angel you had chosen whirls around. She expertly brings her blade around and down to parry your rising attack. There is a furious clang! from your blades at the impact, the shock traveling up your blades to cause both of your arms to shudder. It is hardly surprising that an angel is strong enough to block your attack, although you do find it interesting that you are nearly as strong as she is. But not nearly as fast, as she expertly pirouettes around to your left, brining her blade up and around. You are just barely able to step back in time to avoid the worst of the attack, not having sufficient time to block, but the sword’s tip still tears a ragged line in your robes. And your skin, as your chest begins to burn and grow warm with a thin trickle of blood.

    “This is not your fight.” The angel hisses, twitching oddly before stepping forward and swinging again. You are able to block this blow, but the angel locks her blade with yours and pushes, shoving you back several steps. Then you regain your footing and push back, leaving the two of you straining again each other to no avail.

    “I do not . . . wish . . . to harm you. But . . . I must. My Lady . . . commands it!” The angel grunts, again shivering violently from something unrelated to your fight. A tear begins to form in the corner of her eye, streaking down her face a moment later.

    “Please . . . surrender. Or I will kill you!”
    "You are not an angel. Angels do not lie. They do not murder. May Miriam and Athelion have mercy upon you. Please...forgive me."

    He holds up his sword.

    "Oh, you gods who hold dominion over us all, grant me the strength of the very stone!"

    There's a cracking and grinding noise and Hondshioh's skin begins to harden and take on the color of granite. He moves into an aggressive stance and attacks with renewed strength. Hondshioh's giant blood was now obvious to all. Any blade that struck him now would meet only unyeilding rock.

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  5. - Top - End - #425
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Argan winced at every single noise he made, but kept pushing onwards. He had come this far, and he wouldn't stop just because he might alert someone to his presence. He just focused on ascending the wall as quickly as possible, trusting his instincts to see him up. The appearance of the guard was met with a smile. The fellow had made a mistake. Argan didn't stop to consider his options, throwing a swift fist into the man's face and then throwing himself up onto the roof. He almost killed the man, the same instincts that had guided him this far, but stopped before that. He wasn't that person anymore, not without a need. Argan walked over to the edge of the roof, casting a look at the unconsious man, before just shaking his head. He should have killed that man back there. He was caught up in his former life, and he'd have to adapt that morality if he wanted to get out without ending up dead. But he didn't, and he wasn't going to go back and slash the man's throat.

    I've gotten soft. Good. Better that then what I was.

    Argan sighed, looking at the gap, already knowing what he was going to do. He'd come this far. There wasn't any going back now.

    "That had better be worth all this effort."

    Argan sighed, shifted the cloak and the rest of his items a little, before just shaking his head. He should have worn his 'work' clothes. These were good for keeping people from suspecting him, but not much else.

    Oh well. Hindsight and what not.

    With that, Argan took a few steps back, and using that as a running start, leapt for the gap. Even as he landed, he pulled out the Knives he had stowed up his sleeves. He wanted to do this without killing anybody, but he wanted to survive this far more.
    Last edited by Tackyhillbillu; 2009-10-19 at 05:38 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #426
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Gorgondantess's Avatar

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    'Maria' furrows her brows, examining the fish. "No, I'm not a mage. And I don't think it can be taught... I just *know* how to do it. Like walking, you see." She scoops up the pile of fish, stepping across the water lightly. Despite their flailing, not one escapes her grasp. Near the man, she dumps them at his feet, smiling up at him. "Well, since I can't teach you that trick, can I still have just one fish? I don't really need much."
    She notices, the figure, then, narrowing her eyes. "Why hallo there."
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  7. - Top - End - #427
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    Kasanip's Avatar

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    Isera Harvent

    Isera mentally grimaced as Berrick related the sad fate of the Perist parents. Well, he didn't actually say they were dead, or even if their bodies were around. She made a mental note to look into that later - perhaps they were somewhere in the wreckage still. An analysis into how exactly they were killed could be useful if they were going to size up these...monsters' abilities.
    Monsters...
    She had identified them as that without much thought. Even if they were the victims of possession, in the wake of the attack the only thing that could describe their power was terrifying. Really there was no better word for them at the moment.

    She listened dispassionately as Berrick described the abilities of the creatures as best he had, mentally categorizing it away as possible useful information. She had thought before that someone had brought down the hammer on this place, and the creatures certainly sounded powerful enough to fit that description. Berrick was an experienced mage, and well versed in fighting technique. Though Isera allowed herself to muse for a second that he was getting a little old now... But no, if a canticle of summer had difficulty in a fight with one of them, she trusted that it was one hell of a foe. The two daughters - what was their names? Ruya and Alya? They were in for some tragic news, Isera thought grimly. Poor girls.

    Isera raised an eyebrow as Carlain started to speak his peace, and she struggled to keep a smirk from covering her face as Cerise shot her a look. Isera tilted her head just a fraction - one of the secret gestures she and Cerise had long shared. Don't mind me. Go ahead. The look suggested. And she allowed herself to think for a minute more while Cerise showed Carlain up.
    Berrick's insight into the Perist's research brought her out of that however. Isera crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her stance a little.
    Chimera.
    Now that was interesting. Spirits possessing dead creatures was...well, rare. Isera couldn't recall ever encountering such a thing herself, but obviously she couldn't discount it as a possibility - the Perists' research obviously proved that. Still, with runic sorcery it was possible...Runes were good at anchoring essences. They provided a decently stable platform and focus point- longer lasting than words or most other forms she was familiar with, save alchemy.
    But she hadn't seen anything that resembled runes or even the traces of magical runes on these bodies, which meant that if it was spirit possession, it had a different focus. Was it purely spirit possession, or was someone binding spirits to them? Perhaps the runes had been drawn on and obliterated in the conflagration... Still not enough information, though the coinciding attacks on both residences suggested to her that it was most certainly an orchestrated affair, and absolutely not a random event as Carlain seemed to suggest. Her instinct for the moment was there was a hand in it from this side of the spirit world.
    Isera allowed a subtle smirk to cross her features as Cerise put Carlain in his place again.
    That there could be more of these monsters out there was an uncomfortable thought, and Isera absently shoved her hands back into her coat pockets while a cool silence fell over the group.

    “The boy is right, Cerise." Berrick said at last. "It is at least a possibility, though an unlikely one. Although the residence is largely destroyed, there were some underground rooms. Perhaps there will be answers down there.”
    To this Carlain waved his arms wide, gesturing at the piled wreckage.
    "Right. Anyone see a staircase?" Cerise smiled at Isera and gave her a wink, and Isera let her smirk blossom into a toothy grin.
    Three strikes kid. She thought. Well, at least he was trying, though he obviously didn't have the patience for this kind of work. As Cerise offered a brief explanation of Isera's abilities, Isera gave Carlain an insufferable wink of her normal eye and then turned to the wreckage.
    "With all this rubble about, it may take a while. The staircase could be buried under debris even. I'll find it, if Carlain will dig it out." She said, flashing a smile at the pair before pulling her hands out of her pockets again and setting to work.

    She stepped carefully through the debris, mindful of hanging beams and weakened boards. It'd be quite a bit embarrassing to fall through the floor and sprain an ankle at this point. After an initial walk around, when she felt she was more confident about where the location of hazardous objects were, Isera closed her normal eye and focused on the wreckage in earnest.
    Last edited by Kasanip; 2009-10-19 at 04:05 AM.
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  8. - Top - End - #428
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    Johann Ludwig von Brandenburg

    Soup will be fantastic. I love the warm broth combined with veggies and a meat and maybe bread...Do you have any bread?...with the coldness outside it will warm up lil' ol' me. hehehe. Johann grabs the soup and starts eating before he talks. He has a mix of feelings because he is cold but his hands are really warm from the soup.

    I managed to escape Ironheart through a great feat of will and intelligence. I managed to lure the guards to sleep through a long tale and songs intertwined in it. Once they where asleep I stole one of there keys through spoons I kept from dinner that tied with my garment string. I then let myself go and put the guard in my place so they could be preoccupied for a bit while I tried to find myself a way out. I then went looking for my belongings, because I quite needed them. Any one I met along the way I told them a story about how I was allowed a chance to breathe and take a stroll around the prison because I was somewhat trustworthy and then I continued to talk to them until they wanted to leave. I then managed to find my stuff. I grabbed it and waited until what I thought was night time for me to take my leave. I continued along the corridor until I found what seemed like an exit then I ran for it. I came up to no avail. I continued onward for I felt a sense of urgency. I walked and walked and came to no end. I yelled 'IS THERE NO END TO THIS' and then I managed to trick a guard, for I told him 'I am a merchant who came to Ironheart looking for the Baron to trade with him, but he didn't want to trade with me, and I was afraid I was in the wrong area and that he should help me find my way out.' I think it worked for I found an exit and took my exit stage left. I then had a hard time making my way back to town. FOR you see I had no compass or map so I had to go over dunes of white sand, and peaks full of chocolate. I passed through rivers filled with crocs and snapping fishes. I ran through forests and had to remember where I was going. I then remembered that the Elven Forest is directly east of Ironheart. And I had been going the wrong way for quite some time. So I turned around and sighed one of those big sighs that you sigh when you are tired and you are wanting to be resting with a cool honey ale at your side on a table with a long pipe down at the ground with good tobacco in it, and to have a breeze caressing your feet and to be in the land where I belong and where I am happy. But sadly I was no where near it. I went back to Ironheart and managed to get back to the land I remembered and found my way back to good ol' Johannville. Now tell me, what has happened to this town I used to remember in that dreadful cell they called a prison living quarters during my time in Ironheart. Has anything bad happened? What of my manor near the edge of town with the big garden and my Inn? What of my Inn? Also what of my dear sweetheart I have had my eye on for sometime, Susie Proudfoot? How is she? I remember her honey blond hair that tumbled in locks from her round face that was always smiling. Her rosy cheeks that light up a room. Her feet that distinguish the Proudfeet from the rest of the halflings in the world. Ahhhh....Good ol' Susie Proudfoot.....And what of the rest of the townfolks? How are they? Johann thinks for some time on the questions he has. He then remembers the loudness of his voice he has and the kids asleep up stairs and looks to see if they are watching him. They were always fond of him and his stories. They always wanted him over for dinner, for that meant he would stay for a pipe and dessert and tell them a bedtime story, ahh, those where the greatest they thought. He quiets his voice down a bit, but he isn't talking so it doesn't do much good. He then pulls out his pipe and tobacco, and sees if its ok to smoke since he finished dinner. When Gilbert arrives Johann offers him some tobacco too.
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  9. - Top - End - #429
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Slowly accepting himself as Incom Morgan

    Nodding towards Sara as she asked to go back to the infirmary Incom took her hand. Carefully adjusting his grip to be as delicate as possible on her fragile limb the two of them start to walk through the corridors. Thinking back to her earlier question about what she was suppose to do Incom mulls it over a bit.

    ”No-one expects you to be a hero overnight. You are still a young girl, a girl who has been exposed too much pain and sorrow. However as you grow, keep those memories in your mind, but do not let them consume you. Learn from them, observe and decide how to best make it so that you can help stop others suffering like Ysora when you have the knowledge and power.”

    Pay, you must pay… you must pay for your crimes against the earth…

    Mentally blinking at the odd music that rose in his mind Incom briefly scans around. Other than a few other personal of the Ghastly Truth who were making pained efforts to avoid looking at the imposing GHAST. Shrugging it off he continues to walk Sara back towards the infirmary.

    And beg, you will beg… you will beg for their lives and their souls…

    Yeah, burn….

    Stopping at the doors to the infirmary there is something odd. A tingling presence at the base of his skull, yet Incom knew that he needed to return Sara before too much more time elapsed.

    You will burn in hell, yeah you’ll burn in hell,

    Sending a mental command to the ship the doors open and it is thanks only to automatic processes that Incom continues to walk through into the infirmary with Sara.

    For standing in the infirmary ripping the proverbial skin off one researcher and slapping another with said skin is Isabelle. Halting her triade she turns to look at the forms of a GHAST holding the hand of a small human girl. Eyes narrowing she turns, elaborate dresses swirling around her and she starts to stalk forward.

    Burn in hell, yeah you'll burn in hell for your sins.

    Where was that cursed music coming from?
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  10. - Top - End - #430
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

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    Marisiel

    For several seconds, Marisiel could only stare. Then she abruptly extended one wing forward, taking advantage of the girl's request to provide a distraction.

    She hadn't seen a soul twisted in some time—not since the war, in fact—but that alone shouldn't have made it so unnerving. It was the place, perhaps. They were in the heart of Phaedra, the kingdom she and other angels had worked hard to help build, populated with the mortals they had saved from Azguloth's incursion. Many of them had fought alongside Heaven's forces, and she had been impressed with their willingness to stand against foes far greater than themselves. She thought of them as comrades, albeit distant ones, and she took the Valkyrie's interest in Phaedra as a sign that her goddess did likewise. Finding a child whose soul had been twisted here was like finding a flayed corpse in a flower garden.

    And the fact that it wasn't one of Azguloth's abominations made it all the more unnerving. A demon would have been simple; kill it and the problem was solved, or at least staved off. But this was a child's soul. She (it! it! a little voice screamed, don't think of it as a girl or you will be unable to do your duty! but it was ignored) carried no responsibility for what had been done to her. And she didn't seem malicious or dangerous, as Azguloth's distortions did. The girl was a victim here, her soul tampered with in ways she could not have understood or agreed to.

    And she might have to be killed for it. Marisiel tried not to think about that. She'd killed humans before, of course; Azguloth had tempted many mortals into serving him. But that was different—those humans had forfeited any right to protection or mercy. She was the Protector; it was her ordained duty to protect mortals. Killing them was... discordant. Wrong.

    The same feeling she got when she looked at the girl's soul, in fact.

    She looked over at Istomilo, who was looking... anxious. Guilt? Perhaps. Perhaps not. She didn't think he could have done this to his own daughter and still felt any affection for her. Could he somehow not know about it? Mortals lacked many of the senses angels did, after all. So she wouldn't accuse him of this blasphemy right away. Istomilo had done many good things in Phaedra's service; he deserved the benefit of the doubt, and if he was somehow ignorant of what had been done to his daughter he deserved to hear it more tactfully.

    She turned slightly towards Istomilo, so that her still-outstretched wing put the girl outside the conversation, fixed him with a steady eye, and realized she didn't have any idea how to bring it up sensitively. Stalling for time, she asked, "Princess?"
    Last edited by The_Snark; 2009-10-21 at 05:09 AM.
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  11. - Top - End - #431
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    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Umber gave the mage a slightly amused look. "I'm fairly sure I just answered the question, old boy. In short: I'm back."

    His expression turned sour, however, when Ross began to speak to him. "The smug little bastard didn't give up anything useful. Don't worry, however. With my old powers returning in force, I'll be able to work a divination. A little blood and hair from you should let me home right in on your sun. Maester Seymour" he said, turning to the mage "If you've such a thing as a scrying mirror, it'd be useful - failing that, any silver mirror would do. I could do it in ditchwater, of course, but the trappings always make things easier - especially if there's protections around his kin."
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  12. - Top - End - #432
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    Pyrene

    Thoughout the Baron's rant, Pyrene remained silent, barely twitching when Klaus was killed and masterfully keeping her mask of scornful indifference in place even when Ariella was obliquely threatened.

    Only as the Baron was walking away did she speak, choosing her words with care. "Stories change with time. I know another version. The choice was indeed to destroy the world or heal it of evil. But to heal it he would have destroyed the souls of every being in the world, making them nothing more than will-less animals with no capacity for good nor evil. Is this version true? Who can say? But perhaps the Uncertain King made the correct decision after all..."
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  13. - Top - End - #433
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Sohssal

    It's actually fairly easy to possess corpses, given the fact there's nobody home to resist you. Just get used to the idea and it should come easily - oh, and if you do try, be sure not to possess a corpse that's decomposed, he explained to Roger.

    Sohssal continued siphoning off the necromantic energy. It was like drinking sour milk, but he kept himself going by thinking what it would be like to have his lab back. This shouldn't take very long... he reminded himself.

    Umber immediately caught his attention when he began talking about scrying. "Ah, don't worry about the mirror. I can scry quite well with just water. As well as anyone with a mirror, I would dare to say, he said hastily. He wasn't 100% sure about that last part, but given his condition he did have to practice a lot using scrying pools instead of scrying mirrors. Not giving them a chance to disagree, he immediately conjured up a small stone basin and turned up some earth into a basin to hold it. Conjured water wouldn't last as long as normal water, but it would scry just as well. "What did you need to find out?" he asked.
    Last edited by Iethloc; 2009-10-21 at 03:21 PM.
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  14. - Top - End - #434
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Korram Alstan

    Korram remains silent during the exchange between Katrina and Seraph, his face, unusually, clear of emotion. When Seraph turns and addresses him, he is silent for several seconds before he speaks, slowly and tiredly.

    "Seraph. When I first met you, I trusted you simply by expedience of the fact that we had a common, overwhelming enemy. When it was revealed that you were the Baron's son, I took your explanation, scant though it was, at face value. Later, when Katrina was telling me about how you destroyed Callaway, she described you. Oh, she didn't know it was you, but the whole 'human with black wings' bit is unique. I was angry, at first. I felt betrayed, but...I got over it. Thought it through. And if you say that you have changed since then? I believe you. Look, what I'm trying to say is...I forgive you, and I understand your pain. You're doing the right thing now, even if it doesn't feel like it. You're a good person, Seraph. Don't forget that."
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  15. - Top - End - #435
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    The Baron’s Estate

    Dorizzit

    At your words, Seraph’s face falls, and he hangs his head. The proud warrior seems to be on the verge of tears, and his voice is thick.

    “I did not regret what I did then, but I do now. But whether with malevolent joy or sorrowful reluctance, I must still continue to obey my father’s wishes. I did not expect your forgiveness for what I have done. I can only hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for what I must do now.”

    Across the aisle from you, Katrina stares at both you and Seraph in shock.

    “You *forgive* him!? What the Hells!? This . . . this thing butchered our hometown! He enjoyed it, he said so himself! And you’re just going to let that slide!?”

    Katrina kicks the cell bars angrily and steps back into a fighting stance.

    “Well I’m not going to chicken out! I owe you a debt of pain that can *never* be repaid! Come on, open this door up so I can give you some, right here, right now!”

    Katrina kicks the cell door again, wincing a little from the impact but still looking ready for a fight. For his part, Seraph ignores her as he continues staring at you with a mournful expression, clearly torn. Then, he seems to renew his determination, visibly straightening up.

    “I have lost a son. I cannot lose my wife as well. I do not know if you can forgive me of this last sin against you Korram, but for her sake I must do it anyway. I must deny you this last night of your life with your daughter, finally reunited after all this time.

    With one last gasp of effort, Seraph turns smoothly to face Katrina. He steps smoothly over to in front of her cell, producing a ring of keys which he slips into the lock, wrenching the door open. Katrina leaps out to meet him, but the fight is as decidedly as one-sided as her earlier fight against Cheran.

    Nimbly ducking under her thrown fist, Seraph delivers a hard punch to Katrina’s mid-section, following by a rising elbow to the chin. As your daughter goes down, Seraph follows her, delivering a hard punch to her jaw that seems to render her unconscious. Manacling her hands behind her back, Seraph then tosses Katrina over his shoulder and carries her out of the cell. Closing the cell door behind him, Seraph pauses a moment to look at you again.

    “We are all leaving tonight. Tomorrow morning you will be executed by a handful of the staff, your soul collected to be installed in a GHAST at a later date. Your death with be unnoticed and unmourned by anyone of import, and it will be without purpose. I am truly sorry Korram. For everything.”

    And then without another word, Seraph strides off, carrying Katrina loosely over one shoulder up the stairs and out of sight. The door at the top of the steps clangs open, and then shut, and once again you are alone. Or perhaps not, as you are suddenly aware of a presence in your cell. Turning, you are shocked to find a strange woman standing there, examining you quietly. Dark tattoos cover her face and hands, and they dance and twist strangely in the dim torch light, seeming to have a life of their own. As you recover from your shock at suddenly being no longer alone in your cell, she greets with smoothly with a slight bow.

    “Good evening, Korram Alstan. I was wondering if I might have a few moments of your time. I have . . . a proposition . . . for you.”

    Lonna

    The Baron does not reply to your revised version of the story, and a few moments later you are hustled out by the lackey. You have not gone far down the hallway before your lackey hands you off to several other lackeys (his lackeys?) who seemed to be standing around in wait.

    “Get her secured aboard the next carriage going up to the Ghastly Truth!” The man says simply, and then turns away and hurries off, apparently having far more important things to do than escort you away. These new escorts of yours seem well equipped for the task, however, swiftly grabbing you by the arms and practically dragging you along. As they go, they lock a pair of manacles around your wrists, although this seems to be more of a formality than anything else given the slack in the chain.

    As you are half-escorted, half-dragged down the hallways of the estate, you notice a great deal more lackeys bustling about, most of them packing or carrying things. It seems as if the Baron was planning a trip of some sort, and was intent on taking most of the estate with him given the frantic pace of activity.

    Finally outside, you see several air carriages settled in the grounds, some of the beautiful landscaping you had observed on your way in crushed beneath them. Apparently whatever trip was being planned, it was being conducted in haste, with little thought towards maintaining the grounds. Unless of course it was always this way, and the Baron simply had several excellent and tireless gardeners in his employ. Somehow, you doubted it.

    Likewise, you are somehow not surprised when your escorts drag you over to the most heavily guarded carriage of the trio currently sitting in wait. With a few clipped sentences explaining who you were and your destination (the Ghastly Truth’s Brig), the lackeys hand you off to the guards.

    With a smirk, one of them opens the carriage door with a low bow.

    “Your seat awaits, your Highness.”

    Another guard roughly grabs you to shove you inside – as well as take the opportunity to cop a few feels.

    “Yeah, let us know if you need anything!” He adds, as you narrowly avoid banging your head on the top of the doorway.

    The interior is dimly lit, the last few rays of sunlight feebly crawling in from the small window on the far side of the carriage’s cabin. It is much smaller than the last one you are in, although it has the similar configuration of two long, padded seats facing each other with a small door leading into the pilot’s chamber.

    The same obnoxious guard who shoved you inside follows you in, maneuvering you into one of the seats and strapping in. At least this time you had the option of undoing them if you so choose, despite the guard wagging a finger in your face.

    “Now be a good lady, and keep sit and silent. We wouldn’t want you to crack yourself one during flight, and give yourself a crown!”

    That said, the guard leaves, slamming the carriage door shut behind him, and leaving you alone with the carriage’s other sole occupant. A sense of déjà vu cannot be helped here, as it is once again Countess Amelia Ashargrin, looking as bound and as unhappy as she was the last time you met in this fashion. This time, however, the Countess does manage a wry grin.

    “We really need to stop meeting like this, Pyrene.” She says with a quiet chuckle that is not reflected in her eyes.

    A few moments later, the carriage door suddenly opens again to you and the Countess’s mutual surprise. A third woman enters the carriage, likewise escorted by a guard but with a good deal more respect you note. The woman is quite the strange sight.

    Like you and the Countess, she is dressed in an elegant dress, although her hair is disheveled and dark circles hang under her eyes. Also like you, she is wearing a set of manacles although she doesn’t carry herself like a prisoner nor does the guard treat her like one. Beneath the cuff, one of her wrists is tightly wrapped in a bandage, as if she had been badly cut there recently. And most interestingly, although you had never suffered it yourself your experiences allowed you to identify it in the woman – until recently she had been pregnant.

    The woman takes the seat next to you, and then closes her eyes with an exasperated sigh.

    “That will be all.”

    “Ma’am, the flight could be quite turbulent. For your own safety, you should be strapped in.”

    The woman opens her eyes to affix the suddenly sheepish guard with a withering stare. With several quick, furious movements, the woman buckles several of the seat’s straps around herself. The straps were quite loose and their arrangement haphazard, but they might keep her from flying out of her seat should the carriage take a sudden dive. The woman sits back again and crosses her arms petulantly.

    “Satisfied?” She hisses with a sneer, and the guard hastily nods an affirmative as he backs out of the carriage and shuts the door behind him. With another exasperated sigh the woman leans back into her chair and closes her eyes again.

    “I doubt the three of us have anything in common, and in any event I have nothing to say to either of you. Please, if you must talk to each other, do so quietly. I have a headache.” The woman whispers, her eyes still closed. Across the aisle from you, the Countess makes a curious expression as she looks at you. Shrugging as best she can, she inclines her head towards the mysterious woman.

    Dawn’s Hope - Monastery

    Archpaladin Zousha

    “Then you will die!” The angel hisses, advancing on the acolyte paladin once more. Fortunately, he summons his skin of stone before the blow lands. The blade impacts with tremendous force against the giant’s neck, but barely manages to nick Hondshioh’s skin. The angel pauses a moment in surprise at the utter failure of this blow to completely behead the paladin.

    This pause proves to be a fatal error, as Hondshioh quickly recovers his balance and then counters with his own swing. Even with their incredible regeneration, angels are apparently unable to regrow their own heads, as the angel’s head and body tumble to the floor in separate directions. As with the other two angels, this angel does not disappear in a flash of light, her body remaining in a bloody heap on the floor.

    Silence rains over the room for several tense moments, and then the Abbot finally speaks up. “So . . . those weren’t angels?” He asks to the room. He is rewarded with mostly shrugs and concerned glances from the others. A few paladins are too busy checking on their injured comrades to answer. One approaches Murlexa’s chain-wrapped corpse, toeing it warily as if she might spring up and continue to fight.

    “A grave sin has been committed this day.” One of the older paladins grunts, kneeling with his sword lying on the ground before him. “Whoever is at fault, this wrong must be avenged.”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    Again, Istomilo looks away from his daughter towards you with a guilty expression.

    “Um . . . ah. Yes.”

    As if by way of explanation, he raises his free hand, revealing a particularly ostentatious ring.

    “As I said, it has been quite some time, Marisiel. In addition to my duties as Seneschal, I am now Consort to the Queen.”

    Istomilo nods at Pyria, who was examining your wing with a quiet, intense interest, gently running her fingers through your feathers.

    “Pyria is my daughter – as well as Titania’s. Thus, she is the princess of Phaedra and will likely assume the throne, when the time is right.”

    This would not do at all. Miriam would never allow such a twisted soul to sit on the throne. The thought of all your precious work guiding the humans, thrown away within a single lifetime should the girl embrace her twisted nature, was deeply disturbing as well. And yet your reason continued to argue against your instinct, as this was still just a human child. Her path in life was not yet decided, and it was unfair to pre-judge her actions as evil.

    However, this argument was put to the test as a small burst of fire suddenly erupted from Pyria’s hand, scorching several of your feathers. The young girl jerks her hand back as if struck, tears springing into her eyes.

    “I’m sorry!” She balls, and Istomilo quickly tries to shush her.

    “It’s alright Pyria – she’s still learning to control her powers, Marisiel, please forgive her – see? You didn’t do any harm, it’s alright. Marisiel is fine, see?”

    Looking down, you see that your divine regeneration has already taken care of the minor wound, replacing your burnt feathers with several new ones. In truth, you had barely felt the injury to being with, along the lingering stench of burnt flesh remains as a reminder. For a moment, you are grateful that you are not Hephestia – she would have already ripped the child in half, for this injury if not already over her nature. As humanity’s protector, however, you are learned to have far greater patience. And this was clearly an accident – there had been no malice on the child’s face, either during or after the incident. And she was clearly regretful for her actions . . . but was that enough? And would it also be an accident when her monstrous nature manifested fully and directed her to lead Phaedra to ruin?

    In any case, Pyria has finally calmed down, and Istomilo turns his attention back to you.

    “Ah . . . in any case, as you can see, our daughter is quite special. We, umm, hoped that with her unique abilities, she would be able to lead our kingdom to even greater heights. In service to the Valkyrie and the Lightbringer, of course!”

    Istomilo looks down at the floor and sighs.

    “Mmmm, this isn’t coming out well. Perhaps the Queen would be able to explain our reasoning more clearly.”

    Istomilo reluctantly looks at you, and then back down the corridor you had traveled.

    “Would you prefer to speak with the Queen instead, or continue our tour?”

    The City of Amaranth

    The (Destroyed) City Slums

    Iethloc

    In response to the paladin’s request for divination, you conjure up a simple basin and water. The thought of using a mirror, especially a [i]silver[i] mirror, sent shivers down your invisible spine. At your request for what was to be scryed on, Ross steps eagerly forward.

    “My family! Show me where they are, right now!” Ross growls, looking expectantly into the basin. With Umber moving up to stand beside him and the rest keeping their distance, you start to work your magic.

    An image quickly appears, blurry at first but quickly sharpening as you continued to concentrate. You sensed the location you were scrying on – some old tomb in a nearby town, not far from here as a matter of fact. You could probably give the paladin detailed directions to it if he wished, but it seemed a mute point anyway. His family was already long since dead, eaten by some vampire.

    Upon seeing the state of his family, Ross is silent for a long moment. And then to your surprise, he finally reveals the true source of his odd nature to you by tearing up into the half-man, half-beast form of the werewolf. Shoving Umber roughly aside, the werewolf paladin bounds down the street with a loud howl of anguish, quickly disappearing around a corner.

    “Well . . . that was unexpected. I take it the news is bad, then?” Seymour asks quietly.

    Really, all of this was nice, but it was nothing more than yet another distraction from your efforts to return to your laboratory. Fortunately, you had perhaps only another minute in this dreary place before you would be strong enough to leave it. Although perhaps not for long, depending on how interesting the studies in your laboratory had come along in your absence. You didn’t have much hope for any of them, but perhaps a few had somehow managed to thrive in your absence. In any case, it was time to gather your companions if you wanted to take them with you. Omega was still off to one side, sitting on a hunk of rubble, apparently in quiet self-reflection. Roger, however, was nowhere in sight, perhaps hunting down a body of some sort to appropriate.

    WhiteKnight777

    The old mage simply nods at you explain the answer to Sohssal’s question. He seems about to offer his own services, when the ephemeral mage conjures up his own materials. The display is mildly impressive, but nothing particularly new as far as conjuration magic went. Hopefully the magicks involved would be stable enough to give a clear picture of Ross’s family – the paladin didn’t seem in the mood for patience. Abandoning you, the paladin approaches Sohssal.

    “My family! Show me where they are, right now!” Ross growls, looking expectantly into the basin. The rest of the group looking on quietly, you move over to stand beside Ross as Sohssal begins working on the conjured basin. A grainy image slowly begins to become reflected in the pool of water, quickly gaining focus and brightness.

    Your sharp eyes make out the scene a few seconds before Ross does. The image displayed in the pool is that of a mausoleum, a stone room either somewhere beneath Ironheart or elsewhere. The desiccated corpses of a woman and child lie on the floor, the state of their bodies and bloody clothing suggesting they had been that way for quite some time. Their torn throats leave no question as it what was the cause of death or who was responsible.

    His eyes going wide, Ross simply stands there speechless for a moment. Then with a primal howl of fury, he bursts up into his werewolf form and whirls, shoving you out of the way. Still howling in furious anguish, the werewolf paladin bounds off down the street, quickly disappearing from sight.

    “Well . . . that was unexpected. I take it the news is bad, then?” Seymour asks quietly.

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    Isabelle’s anger burns with a menacing light, although it fades ever so slightly upon seeing you and Sara enter.

    “You are lucky fortune has smiled on you so. Next time, make sure you don’t let my daughter out your sight unless you are sure of her location.”

    Then she turns to you and her daughter, forcing a smile on her face.

    “Are you alright, daughter? Did you get something to eat?”

    “It turns out I wasn’t as hungry as I thought.” Sara replies, her past bravery forgotten in the face of her mother’s growing grimace of disapproval.

    “So I heard. The Brig is a very dangerous place for you to be. You could have been injured.”

    “I . . . I don’t think so. Ysora is a nice –“

    “Ysora is your enemy! Do not think even for a moment that she wouldn’t seek to use you against your father! Is that what you want?”

    “I don’t . . . n-no.”

    Isabelle manages another smile as she reaches down to brush a strand of hair out of Sara’s face.

    “Good girl. It’s not your fault, you’ve never been aboard the Ghastly Truth before. And you’re still probably not feeling well after your experiences. *Someone* should have been taking better care of you.”

    Isabelle shoots you a dirty look before turning back to Sara, her voice dangerously sweet.

    “Now, I want you to promise me that you won’t go back down to the Brig again. At least not without me with you.”

    “A . . . A-alright.” Sara says dejectedly, although she manages to match her mother’s smile as Isabelle lifts Sara’s chin up with one finger.

    “Good girl. Now why don’t you lie back down and rest for a bit?”

    Glancing back at you, Sara walks away, climbing back up onto the bed and lying down obediently. A few of the meatsacks wander over, running their hands over her in divination spells, evidently to confirm her health as stable. Your attention is taken away from Sara as Isabelle addresses you directly, her voice softer, but just as angry as it had been with the meatsacks.

    “*Look* at me, PR-10000-IM! How dare you endanger my daughter so!? You are here to *protect* my daughter, not indulge her! I don’t care how interested my husband is in you, fail me like that again and I will have you melted down into scrap! Do you understand!?’

    Isabelle looks away from you down at her hand, fingering the silver band awkwardly.

    “Now get out of my sight. You are released from your duties as my daughter’s protector for the day.”

    Leaving the infirmary quickly as ordered, you wander where you should go. Most GHASTs have a particular duty at any given time – it was rare for them not to have any assignment, even something as simple as “patrol over there until told otherwise”.

    Still, despite your stored knowledge of the airship, you had little personal experience of its layout. Examining the schematic, you notice something interesting. Along the underside of the ship is a large cargo bay. There are several such cargo bays along the length of the Ghastly Truth, but this one was labeled as “Guest Cargo Bay”. Something about that location intrigued you, and you soon found yourself wandering off in that direction. Even if you were currently unassigned a task, you could still make yourself useful by determining what all of these obscure location names meant.

    It is a fairly long trip down to the “Guest Cargo Bay”, but a rather uneventful one. Other than a few GHASTs and some maintenance technicians, there doesn’t seem to be anyone down here at present. The automatic door leading into the bay requests your authorization to be here, which you automatically send back. Such a request is not unusual for sensitive areas of the ship, but it is odd for it to be in place on a cargo bay. Luckily, as a GHAST you are granted automatic clearance to all but the most sensitive areas of the Ghastly Truth, and the door slides open a moment later.

    Immediately, your eyes detect a massive serpentine bulk lying on the floor of the cargo bay some distance away. Your senses identify it as rock, but highly magically active. A moment later, it moves, and a large reptilian eye opens to gaze at you. Your archive of information identifies this creature simply as “Akor”, the last surviving dragon.

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    Melcara’s grip tightens as you begin to slump and threaten to topple over. Despite her injuries, you can tell she still has a great deal of strength. Enough to probably crush you in a one-armed bear hug, but Melcara manages to keep her grip gentle.

    “Do you . . . need me to . . . carry you?” She wheezes, as the two of you reach the bottom of the stairs leading up into the manor proper. Teareal is nowhere in sight, having already fled upward. Wearily, you urge the others to begin pursuit while beginning your own gradual ascent. Limier takes off at a full-speed run, while Jim hangs back, looking at you uncertainly. Finally, with a great deal of hesitation, he turns back and slips your other arm over his own shoulders. His stooped shoulders offer only a modicum of support, but the effort is appreciated all the same.

    Gradually, the noise of the pursuing mass of ex-slaves fades away as you travel deeper into the manor. Like Teareal, they had no idea where to go, but unlike Teareal they had no destination in mind either. With any luck, they would spread out and become distracted with looting and vandalism.

    Of course, you know exactly where to go to reclaim Adamè, if not find Teareal. As luck would have it, you find them both reunited. But as your particular brand of luck would have it, the reunion was not a pleasant one.

    Turning the corner leading up to the second story, you see Vylethar at the top of the stairs, holding a feebly struggling Adamè in his arms. He’s holding a knife up to her throat, although that seems rather unnecessary. Crowding the stairs leading up to the lord of the Screaming Dark Estate are perhaps two dozen women, armed with makeshift clubs. Another two of the skimpily-clad masked females are standing in the hallway over a prostrate Teareal, beating him severely. You recognize the two from Vylethar’s introductions – Viviane the Red and Madeline the Brown. Vivian is continuing to merrily pummel Teareal, while Madeline has turned back to address Vylethar, weaving a question with her fingers.

    “Yes, *kill* him! He is a danger to this estate!” Vylethar snaps, struggling to hold a hysterical Adamè. He is nonetheless careful not to let his knife slip and draw blood.

    The Perist Residence

    Kasanip

    Carlain sputters at your offer to find the staircase in exchange for his clearing it, and Cerise giggles. Even Berrick manages a slight smile at the boy’s discomfort as you set out around the estate grounds. The first pass is merely practice, identifying and committing to memory all of the hazardous spots. Then the second time around is for real, as you close your normal eye and gaze fully into the realm of magic.

    As before, the estate is a shifting mix of auras and fading magicks, the confusion only compounded by the aura-scattering rubble. But slowly you focus in on each individual aura, and from there begin to rule them out one by one. Finally, you locate a suspiciously large concentration, most of them flickering quite faintly through the earth. A few even appear to still be active. Opening your good eye once more, you had to admit you could almost see the top of the stairway now in the charred pillars.

    Reluctantly, Carlain steps up, beginning to make a series of gestures. With a telekinetic shove, he smashes away one of the heavy pillars lying halfway down the pile obscuring the ground. He begins to cast again when Berrick pokes him in the back with his staff, interrupting him.

    “I believe the deal was for *you* to clear out the staircase, not wave your hands. Besides, you should conserve your magical strength in the event we find something . . . unpleasant, down below.”

    Carlain glares at each of you in turn, but then his shoulders slump in defeat.

    “Fine.” He grunts, wading into the middle of the rubble and beginning to scatter the burnt wood and stone by hand. It takes him a number of minutes to clear most of the rubble away, and despite his best efforts he is unable to move aside the large pillar braced across the center of the pile. Still, you should be able to duck under –

    “Hey! ****, I found something! It looks like a hand!” Carlain shouts, bending down to examine the rubble at his feet closely. Suddenly, he jumps back with a curse.

    “It just moved!” He shouts, his warning followed a moment later by a naked, rotting figure bursting out of the remaining wreckage. One eye socket is empty, but the other still holds a yellowed orb with a green iris, that flicks over the lot of you.

    “Ahhh . . . you have liberated me. My thanks!” The figure hisses, its words clear despite the ruin of its throat. Nimbly despite its decomposed state, the figure leaps down off the rubble, swatting Carlain aside. “Allow me to reward you!”

    Stepping in front of you and Cerise, Berrick begins casting a spell. Whatever it is, he does not get a chance to complete it before the figure waves its hand. “No.” It says simply, and you feel a rush of power fill the air as Berrick’s spell is ripped apart! Berrick’s eyes fly wide in surprise at this counter magic, and so great is his shock that he almost doesn’t get his staff up in time parry the creature’s clawed hand as it covers the distance between them in a single leap. A second swat with its other claw tears the staff out of Berrick’s hands.

    Before the third and likely fatal blow can come, a pair of fiery orbs slams into the creature’s back, sending it flying against a nearby pillar. Rising from his prone position, eyes blazing, Carlain begins summoning another pair of orbs. These strike the pillar itself to little effect as the creature gives another powerful leap straight up. Then, its limbs bending backwards unnaturally, the creature clambers up the rest of the pillar’s height, perches on the top for a moment, waves, and then leaps off, out of sight behind a pile of rubble. You hear its mocking voice a moment later.

    “Poor little humans. You have no idea the things in which you mettle. Why don’t you go back under your beds, and pray I never find you?”

    “Why don’t you come out here so I can kill you! Again!” Carlain snarls.

    Berrick picks up his staff as Cerise begins muttering the words of a shielding prayer. She glances over at you, clearly looking for guidance. Despite the rubble and auras, you *think* you can detect a faint spiritual essence moving around behind the rubble, trying to circle around behind you all.

    The Capital

    Tackyhillbillu

    With your running start, you clear the gap easily, landing in a crouch on the far side. Drawing the knives hidden up your sleeves, you wince at the noise your landing had made. Not especially calamitous, but still loud enough that someone with sharp ears would have heard. There were probably a lot of someones with sharp ears beneath you right now.

    Still, couldn’t dwell on that right now, and after a moment’s pause to see if anyone would be stupid enough to shout an alarm, you move on. A few swift steps brings you up to the concealed trapdoor built into the roof. To your trained eyes, of course, the trapdoor stands out almost as much as if it had been labeled.

    Now was the tricky question – do you wait for someone to come up to check on the noise, or risk climbing down into a potential ambush? Fortunately, that dilemma is quickly solved for you as the trapdoor begins to swing open. Shifting around the trapdoor so that you were behind it as it opened, you wait a beat for the trapdoor to swing fully open and for someone to start scrambling out. Then with a swift deliberateness you kick the trapdoor shut, trapping the thief climbing out and muffling the sound of the trapdoor with his body. Then, before he can cry out an alarm, you silence him and drag him the rest of the way out onto the roof, keeping the trapdoor held open with one foot.

    (You can decide if this thief is dead or simply unconscious. I also figured you didn’t want to bother fighting unprepared mooks. The next guys you encounter, should you get into a fight, are going to require actual effort on your part however. )

    Swinging the trapdoor back open, you smoothly descend down into the hallway. You are wary of a second man waiting for you down in the hallway, but it seems these thieves haven’t quite yet mastered the buddy system. This is quite fortunate, as it gives you a moment to hang on the ladder, considering whether you should close it or leave it hanging open. Undoubtedly whoever had sent that thief up onto the roof was going to be expecting a report back very soon, and anything out of place like a trapdoor hanging open would look very suspicious. Of course, your prey was likely going to get very suspicious in short order when that thief doesn’t report back, so leaving yourself a clear, if obvious, path of escape might be for the best.

    In any event, the quiet but tense conversation coming from the nearby room attracts your attention shortly thereafter. Slipping closer to the open doorway, you listen attentively.

    “Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, our little “arrangement”. Look, how much plainer do I need to be here? We’ve got most of the order complete, but we’ve run out of, ah . . . “ink”. So if your boss wants the job done on time, we need more of it.”

    The voice is confident, but rough, the sort of voice belonging to a man growing up into the life of a street thug. The voice that answers him is much softer, but carrying a tone of malice, and clear annoyance.

    “We’ve already given you enough to complete the job. Why was it not sufficient? Stop dancing around the question and *answer* it!”

    “ . . . . Alright. The city guard seized one of the shipments. It happens, random chance. I doubt they know what it is, but anything like that is bound to raise some questions. And questions make the city guard nervous. It’s probably sitting in one of their impound houses right now.”

    “Then get it back. You’re *thieves*, aren’t you?”

    “Look. We have an arrangement with the city guard. We don’t bother them, they don’t bother us – much. We *could* bribe them to get the shipment back, but that’s going to raise our costs for this job. Our costs go up, the Baron’s costs go up. It’s simple Economics . . . or do you need me to explain *that* in-depth too?”

    “The Baron does not tolerate failure lightly, Brock. And you haven’t given me much reason to report this as anything but a failure to him.”

    “Yeah, well . . . you’re just one of his dogs. When you go back to whine to your master, tell him I haven’t seen much from his end either. We’re just a bunch of normal people down here . . . with extraordinary connections. The Baron ought to understand that, having experience with it himself, no? So if he wants us to accomplish extraordinary things down here, we’re going to need some help. Or at least some incentive to rise to the occasion.”

    “The Baron has already been more than generous in providing you with the girl. I will repeat my warning not to try his patience right now.”

    “And that gift was most appreciated. But that was then, this is now. I’ve already told you what our problems are. If the Baron wants to help us with those, we would be happy to conclude our joint venture. Otherwise, he’s simply going to have to wait, lack of patience or not.”

    The posturing between the leader of the Thieves Guild and the Baron’s assassin continues, although they continue to speak in code. What “ink”? What job? And who was this girl? You wonder if only Brock and the assassin are privy to the details, or if the lesser members of the Thieves Guild are aware of what is going on as well.

    The Northern Forest

    Gorgondantess

    (Hmmm . . . growing menace or complete chaos? Let’s go with chaos. )

    Richard looks at you in jaw agape shock as you smoothly gather up the fish and walk across the stream to join him on the other side. It’s becoming such a common sight on his face you are beginning to wonder if that wasn’t his normal appearance while interacting with others. He nods numbly at your offer to simply take one fish in exchange for the rest. As he bends down to gather up the fish, in a much clumsier mess than you had accomplished, you call out to the figure.

    There is no answer, but a few moments later the figure reluctantly appears from around the side of the tree. Appearing perhaps a bit chastised, the figure silently approaches you. During the figure’s approach, which takes a few minutes due to his deliberate steps and considerable distance from the stream, Richard watches in silent confusion. Not with open-mouthed surprise as he had done so frequently around you, but a tight-lipped curiosity.

    As the figure approaches, you finally get a good look at him. You’re fairly certain it’s a male humanoid, but it *is* difficult to tell. The figure is swathed head to toe in black robes, which somehow fail to stand out against all of the greenery around you. Only the figure’s eyes are visible beneath a hooded veil, a piercing blue.

    Ignoring Richard completely, the figure comes to stand directly in front of you. The figure examines you for a long moment, and then gives a low bow. You understand that such things are a gesture of respect amongst humans. And this knowledge leaves you completely unprepared for the unnamed figure’s next action.

    In a blur of motion, the figure removes his hands from where they had been tucked up into his sleeves. In one is a crude-looking stone dagger, which he doesn’t hesitate to plunge into your chest! Although seemingly crude, the dagger was not mundane stone. Although physically real, your body was merely a construct of your will, capable of flowing around any obstacle. A dagger made of stone, or any other material for that matter, would simply sink into your “body” harmless as your “flesh” flowed around it. And, with a brief moment of concentration, the blade would be dissolved into energy and absorbed into your form.

    But as noted, this dagger was not mundane stone. It cut your flesh, causing blood (in reality a liquefied form of your energy) to spurt out from the wound. The blade of the dagger was cold to your senses, and you were unable to dissolve it anywhere nearly as easily as other matter. And there was pain.

    You were aware of the existence of pain, at least on a vague unspecified level. This was the first time you had truly experienced it first-hand, however. The experience should have been thrilling, but in the heat of the moment at least, you had to admit that the sensation was quite unpleasant.

    Leaving his weapon protruding from your chest, the figure spins around, allowing you a brief glimpse of his back before he brings his foot up and out. The kick strikes the hilt of his knife solidly, driving it fully into your body. Only the tip of the weapon now protrudes outside your body – and that is from your back.

    The pain now reaches a new threshold you believe is called agony. Reflexively, you do what your assimilated human experiences tell you to do in this type of situation – you open your mouth and emit a wordless wail. It is difficult to think right now. The pain – no, the sheer agony – makes it difficult to do anything but continue to scream as your lifeblood pours uselessly out of your chest. You begin to feel your body growing weak, and you topple backwards into the stream. This time, you do not float on its surface, but instead crash down into the water. It is cold, but the sensation is a trifling one compared to the sharp burning in your chest.

    You being to feel another new sensation – fear – when you suddenly realize that you can’t shift forms. The knife in your chest is anchoring you somehow, drawing your essence in around it so that you are trapped in this pain-filled prison of flesh. You’ve never experienced anything like this, and it was all happening so fast!

    Too fast, as the figure spins around again, kicking the mouth-agape Richard backwards into a nearby tree. Then he produces another pair of the hateful daggers from the sleeves of his robe, throwing them down at you. Agony explodes into being in your right wrist and thigh as the twin daggers embed themselves into your body there. The one hitting your wrist passes completely through, its tip embedding itself into the muddy rocks below. In your weakened and confused state, it is enough to hold you immobile for the moment.

    Jumping down with an elegant flip into the stream beside you, the figure brandishes a third set of daggers. Twirling them around, he prepares to plunge them both into your body – you would presume in the region of your face and neck. Only Richard’s timely arrival stops him, as the burly trapper flings himself into the stream to grapple the figure about the waist and hold him back. That barrier wouldn’t hold your assailant back for long, however, as the cloaked figure smoothly brings his knee up into Richard’s crotch.

    Dimly, you become aware through the pain that although you cannot shift your own matter or that of the knives, you can still affect your surroundings. Which, naturally, include the streambed, Richard, and the assailant.

    Johannville

    Morpheus

    Clara listens to your story intently, providing you periodically with soup and bread. Compared to what you had to try and digest in Ironheart, this was a grand feast, but you could still tell it was lacking, at least compared to your memories of past dinners here. When you are finally finished, you look around for the children. Surprisingly, they are not there watching you raptly, as they once used to. Clara smiles sadly as she notices your search for them.

    “They are quite tired. The work in the mines is very hard on them, but at least they are allowed to come back home at night. And they haven’t suffered any serious injuries, thank the gods. There . . . there have even been several deaths.”

    Clara pauses in quiet grief for several seconds, and then continues.

    “A lot has changed since your arrest, Johann. The Baron appointed a new mayor . . . Tinavius Augustus Winthrop the Third. He is, uh . . . of short stature like you, with a bushy grey beard. But oh, Johann, he is your complete opposite in every other way! At first we found him humorous – we even called him the Tiny Tyrant – but nobody was laughing when he turned Johannville into a prison! None of us may leave, even to tend our meager fields or animals. Instead, we are all forced to work in the mines, or worse, his manor house, and he pays us in meager rations from his imported stores of food. We are one of the lucky families, because at least Gilbert is still in the militia – those who serve as the town guards get a little more than the rest. The overseers down in the mines get even more, but Gilbert doesn’t have the heart for that.”

    Clara shakes her head as tears begin to form in her eyes.

    “Susie went up to the manor several months ago to have a talk with Tinavius. She never came back, and I fear the worst! Oh Johann, you have to help us! Maybe you can convince him to listen to reason, or just go away!”

    At this point, the door opens, and a half-frozen and very tired Gilbert limps into the house, quickly slamming the door shut behind him. He manages a weak smile at you as Clara gets up to help him over to the table. While his wife sees to getting soup for him, Gilbert unbuckles his belt, allowing his weapon to drop to the floor. He stretches and stares at you sleepily for a minute, and then nods.

    “So . . . has Clara told you anything? If she has, I imagine you see that we’re in a heap of trouble here. Tinavius rules the town in an iron grip, but even if we all rose up against him he would still be safe in his – your – manor. He’s converted the entire thing into a fortress, and only the most trusted members of the town are allowed inside. He also seems to warded the grounds with some sort of terrible magic. Stepping in the wrong place creates a massive blast of fire to leap up from the ground!”

    At this point, Clara joins back in as she sets Gilbert’s meal down in front of him.

    “Little Wert – you remember him, don’t you? The poor dear just wanted to go up and play along your manor like he used to. He lost a leg to one of those blasts – and he’s still forced to go into the mines along with the other children!”
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  16. - Top - End - #436
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Archpaladin Zousha's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    Dawn’s Hope - Monastery

    Archpaladin Zousha

    “Then you will die!” The angel hisses, advancing on the acolyte paladin once more. Fortunately, he summons his skin of stone before the blow lands. The blade impacts with tremendous force against the giant’s neck, but barely manages to nick Hondshioh’s skin. The angel pauses a moment in surprise at the utter failure of this blow to completely behead the paladin.

    This pause proves to be a fatal error, as Hondshioh quickly recovers his balance and then counters with his own swing. Even with their incredible regeneration, angels are apparently unable to regrow their own heads, as the angel’s head and body tumble to the floor in separate directions. As with the other two angels, this angel does not disappear in a flash of light, her body remaining in a bloody heap on the floor.

    Silence rains over the room for several tense moments, and then the Abbot finally speaks up. “So . . . those weren’t angels?” He asks to the room. He is rewarded with mostly shrugs and concerned glances from the others. A few paladins are too busy checking on their injured comrades to answer. One approaches Murlexa’s chain-wrapped corpse, toeing it warily as if she might spring up and continue to fight.

    “A grave sin has been committed this day.” One of the older paladins grunts, kneeling with his sword lying on the ground before him. “Whoever is at fault,
    this wrong must be avenged.”
    Hondshioh

    After the battle ends, Hondshioh's skin loses its rocky texture, and he collapses to his hands and knees. It's almost as if his own armor is weighing him down.

    "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry." He manages to say. The expression on his face is one of absolute shock at what he has just done.

    I killed an angel?! How could I have done that?! What was wrong with them?! What's going on?!
    Last edited by Archpaladin Zousha; 2009-10-21 at 10:32 PM.

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  17. - Top - End - #437
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Gorgondantess's Avatar

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    I am going under the assumption here that, when creating the body, it made it to be far more strong and fast and such than would normally be visible. Just FYI.
    And I decided that, having learned language from undignified country folk, her language would be quite base. Yay.
    Also: you never got back to me on that PM, so long ago.
    Also Also: Am I going to be encountering a lot of these daggers? Because seriously, that sucks. I understand you'd like to bring me down a notch (and I need it), but I created a being... and completely nullifying that being's power on a regular basis (i.e., whenever I need it) would prove to grow tiresome fast.
    Not accusing anything, of course. Heck, this might be a one time thing. Juuuust trying to give my views on things.

    "What the fuh-" is all Maria can sputter before the kick sends her reeling. She splashes into the water, with a dazed groan as the man stabs her once more, in the thigh and wrist. She largely ignores Richard's trials, feeling little empathy or gratitude for him as he fights, really just wishing he would last longer- there is a more germane being to think of. Pushing off with weak legs into the current, trying to make her getaway, she scrabbles with feeble, pale fingers at the daggers, hoping the source of her pain and debilitation would end when they do.
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  18. - Top - End - #438
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    Korram nods at Katrina's outraged remark.

    "You do not know the man who is before you now, Katrina. I do. I hope that one day you, too, can forgive him for what he has done, but I wouldn't be surprised if you can't."

    He clenches his jaw as Seraph knocks Katrina out, caught in a flurry of emotions. As Seraph turns to leave, Korram regains the ability to speak, if only a little.

    "Nothing is without purpose, and I will not die at the hands of some trumped up lackeys."

    He says the last with a sardonic twist of his mouth, knowing just how likely his death is. He watches Seraph and Katrina leave, maintaining his composure until they're gone. Then, he slams his remaining fist into the wall with an inarticulate shout of rage and helplessness. Shoulders sagging, he turns to the back of his cell, only to find...a very strange looking woman. He jumps back, instantly assuming a fighting stance. When she talks, though, he lowers his fist. He eyes her warily.

    "Talk. I'm listening."
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  19. - Top - End - #439
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kasanip's Avatar

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    Isera Harvent

    The sudden assault from the decomposing figure had caught the group nearly entirely off guard. Berrick's quick response had only earned him a quicker retort, by a creature with considerable magical power at it's disposal. Isera had followed the creature with her eyes as best she could, but it was the blur of spiritual essence in it's wake that truly was helping her to keep up.
    Carlain's attack had been a welcome surprise to Isera (though not perhaps, the monster), and gave her the opportunity to act.

    Tactics. The monster had made a single simple gesture and one word to dispel Berrick's incantation. Even for the supernatural, that took a high amount of magic and a strong connection to the origin. Isera could do it too, but that would be her trump card here. In the game of single syllable incantations she was it's equal, if not better, for she had the element of surprise now. The monster had forfeited that advantage, though now it attempted to regain it by skirting around to flank them from behind.
    Tactics. If the enemy's potential is unknown, do not engage.

    Isera's thought though, wasn't about defense. No, defense was a delaying tactic. A tactic that would lead to them being pummeled by this creature as they forfeited their strengths in the face of it's mobility and unknown power. No, there would not be another chance to force such an opportunity. And yet her immediate priority was to intercept the monster's next attack. Interception could be considered defense by some, but if it was to provide a distraction and cover for Cerise, Isera didn't care. That'd work just fine for her purposes.

    "Carlain, Berrick, wait for a shot. Cerise, let's get some Protection up. Looks like it's going to try and flank us." Isera said, surprising herself at how calm and collected her voice seemed. Well, then again, she had seen enough surprising monsters in her short time here in creation. Somehow though, the thrill of it always seemed to get her blood pumping faster. Isera offered a grim smile and she pivoted on her foot (trying to keep the monster in her magical sight at the same time) and stuffed her human right hand into her pocket, leaving her gloved left hand curled in a fist at her side.

    Tactics. If presented with a situation where engagement is unavoidable, look for the first opportunity to retreat.

    If she was alone, she knew how she would have handled this gambit. She would have feigned ignorance of the creature's movements and then have called upon Veip as a spiritual barrier just as it charged again. But here that was risky - with the faint traces of magic and the rubble covered area, Isera was afraid if she averted her eyes she'd lose the spiritual signature in the surrounding confusion. No, she couldn't put the others at risk with that plan. They weren't that desperate yet.
    Carlain was exposed, but Berrick had him covered. Who would the creature go for? Not enough information. It was flanking... Maybe trying to get Carlain and Berrick's fire arcs interrupted by friendly bodies. Inter-place someone in between.
    There were only two other choices - Cerise, or Isera herself.

    Tactics. If no opportunity presents itself, make one.

    With a quick step to her right, Isera ended up back to back with Cerise. With that one motion she had opened up a larger radius of fire for Berrick and Carlain, as well as concentrated the monster's target in one area and given Cerise support and cover.
    There... Now it's got one target. One area from which to attack....
    By concentrating the monster's target locations, Isera now could pinpoint where the attack would have to come. And she'd be ready to bring up a spiritual barrier with a casual word, and hopefully as the creature slammed into the barrier, (Isera doubted it would stop such a powerful one - without Nir at least -), it should throw it off enough for her to follow her word with the syllable of Night - Lige. Needless to say, though the danger was immediate, the knowledge that could be gained from this monster was worth that risk and expenditure of power.

    As the creature was still out of sight, Isera raised her voice and called out to it.
    "Perhaps if you told us what the things are, we wouldn't meddle in them?" She posed as a question. She doubted the monster would tell her anything useful, but it never hurt to ask. She knew Carlain would be spitting a fiery glare at her. Poor kid had some wounded pride from getting bowled over by a corpse - even if it was well beyond the range of normal walking corpses. Carlain could bite his tongue for all Isera cared at the moment. Frustration and Anger wasn't going to do anything but cause them to make mistakes. She didn't have time at the moment to command the young man to do otherwise, and she prayed his quick thinking wouldn't put him in more harm.

    For now though, she needed focus. Reaction time. Something to play catch up with this creature while Cerise got to work on her barriers. And Isera had a psalm just for that. Under her breath, she muttered:
    "Lighten my being,
    Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
    Lest my enemy say,
    “I have prevailed against her”;
    Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved."
    Last edited by Kasanip; 2009-10-22 at 10:30 AM.
    Kasanip's Sketchbook 2 Thread
    It is difficult to speak English, please excuse mistakes kindly m(_ _)m

  20. - Top - End - #440
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Tackyhillbillu's Avatar

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    Argan had sighed when the trapdoor began opening. He disliked leaving things up to fate, but that was essentially what he had to do. He could, and did do his best to place himself in the best possible situation, but if the fellow opening the trapdoor had brought friends, this was going to end real quick. Argan might be able to get away, but that was about it. However, fortune seemed to still be smiling on this particular child today.

    Thank Miriam for that.

    The poor fellow was rather easily dealt with. Trapped under the trap door, there wasn't much he could do. Again Argan was faced with the choice of killing or not killing. And again, Argan made the same choice. He slammed the hilt of his Dagger into the man's right temple, not hard enough to kill him, but enough to make sure he wouldn't be waking up.

    Still not ready to play by the rules, am I?

    Slipping into the building carefully, Argan sighed, finally leaving the Trapdoor open. His friend outside was pretty clear proof he had been here anyways. And the conversation caught his ear pretty quickly. He sighed at the content of it. Coded, of course. But... still, something was going on. Ink, and a girl. Ink could be anything. It was just a code word. The notion of the Baron giving them the Girl made him more curious. Of course, it could be the simplest explanation. But the way the Hand said it didn't make him think so. The girl wasn't just being used physically. If so, the Thieves Guild wouldn't be put in a position of gratitude. Something more was going on. This particular expedition had only given him more questions to ask. And luckily enough, it had given him a few people to ask as well.

    And if not... I can go check on this Ink myself.

    Argan turned around. Today hadn't gone quite like he expected. But it was obvious that something was going on, and unluckily enough, he wasn't about to let it go. Argan turned, and headed back to the Trapdoor, aiming to reach to his first victim. After that, he'd have to deal with getting the man off that rooftop, but he could with that when he came to it. Argan still hadn't replaced his Knives. After all, this was the most dangerous part of this little escapade.

    Lady Luck has been fond of me this far...
    Last edited by Tackyhillbillu; 2009-10-22 at 11:37 AM.

  21. - Top - End - #441
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Morpheus's Avatar

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    Johann sits with his jaw agape. This is too much to bear for such a joyous mind like his. His mind may break from the amount of stress overload. He cries abit but then fills his pipe up and takes a smoke. After a couple minutes of deep silence, save for the puffing of Johann's pipe and for the clanking of Gilberts spoon, Johann quickly gets up with a desperate look on his face and exits through the door. He turns around with it open and says I am sorry. I am afraid I have overbooked my presence here. I must leave for I have important matters I must tend to. And with that I will say adieu and farewell, I will meet with you later.

    And with that Johann closes the door and runs off into the night wrapping his cloak around him and fastening it closed. He puts up his hood and hop, skips, and jumps onto a roof. It feels good to get the old joints moving again. But this cold isn't doing much good for them. Johann runs off over roofs towards the Fortress Manor. He doesn't care if guards see him, for he could easily out run and out sneak them in this cold and during the night. Upon reaching the wall of the manor he goes around the entire outside of it a couple times, from a safe distance where he can't be seen, and inspects every inch of the building looking for a spot for which he can get into the Manor. He looks for where guards are posted, where windows are, where lights are, where gates are, useful burglary knowledge he has. He also takes out his sword and has it in his hand. No reason he does it automatically. He puts it back thinking that it is a better place for it there and puts his pipe away too. He then waits for the opportunity to strike.
    Last edited by Morpheus; 2009-10-22 at 11:29 PM.
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  22. - Top - End - #442
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Umber looked at Seymour with an expression somewhere between grim and amused, the corners of his mouth turned up, showing sharp white teeth, but his ruby eyes hard.

    "Oh yes. Bad news for him. Probably bad news for anyone out-of-doors at the moment, too." His smile faded, and Umber frowned. "Yes, very bad indeed. His family... well, you saw." Umber shook his head, sighed, and turned back to the basin, taking it in his hands. A thought occured to him, and he set it back down, just for a moment

    With a flick of his fingers and a single word, a whip-thin line of green energy cracked out over the landscape, and a corona of irregular ebon shards circled slowly around Umber's head, gathering like tumbling miniature asteroids, slowly drinking in the ambient necromantic energies that still had yet to fade. Given his current state, they'd be useful as batteries for power - any extra energy he could muster would doubtless be invaluable.

    He turned his attention back to the basin once more, and began to tap the water with deft movements of his fingertips, creating rippling patterns in the cool, clear liquid. He chanted softly under his breath, letting his eyes loose focus and relax, focusing his thoughts on his long-lost love. Before he could find her, he needed her location...
    Like dragons and/or allegory? A little writing project I'm working on. Check back for updates, and feedback is always appreciated!

  23. - Top - End - #443
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Incom Morgan

    …falling through a void is a man strapped to a chair of stone and leather… bound by bonds of blood his wild hair flails around screaming… screaming as reptilian eyes gaze out from the maelstrom… death and destruction… flesh burning as woman crawl over him whispering promises of lust and betrayal… just to release… to give in… to be transformed…

    If his face of metal could smile Incom be smirking at Akor. Looking down at the face that haunted him for years he walks along the long catwalks around the creature of stone. There is oddly no one else in this particular chamber which suited him just fine. Feeling confidence rushing through him as more and more memories are unlocked and restored to him he walks around the large head of Akor. Observing the various bonds that wrap the stone form, and in several cases through the form Incom can’t but help to shake his head.

    ”So, you have your body, and I’m still here. So Akor I know you know who I am. We are alone. Why are you here? Who gave you the idea to use me? And what do we do now?”
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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...

  24. - Top - End - #444
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Pyrene the Diplomat

    Pyrene considered resisting the lackeys, but realized such an action would only slightly inconvenience them and would likely result in more pain and less freedom for herself. Instead she focused on not being pulled off her feet as they rushed though what appeared to be a major and hurried evacuation. Perhaps they were trying to pull out before the elven army arrived. Whatever alliance Titania and the Baron had had, it was unlikely that it would survive his refusal to turn Pyrene over to her "mother."

    The guard's behavior towards herself and the Countess was unwelcome but familiar, and Pyrene returned Amelia's attempt at humor with an ironic twist of her own mouth. "Unfortunately I lost track of Garthax when I was captured. I doubt we can count on his help again."

    When the new woman arrives, Pyrene watches the proceedings silently, assessing her appearance and behavior. When she speaks to her fellow travellers, declaring that they have nothing in common, Pyrene shakes her head slightly, struck by an unusual idea. It was a bit of a stretch, but if she was right...

    "My condolances for your loss," she murmured, loud enough for the Countess to hear but soft enough to not exacerbate the newcomer's headache. "But I believe we do have something in common. For one thing, all of us were held in Ironheart. For another, I believe Amelia met your husband, Seraphan, while he was searching for you there."
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  25. - Top - End - #445
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Meanwhile . . .

    (Scene song – Murmaider II – The Water God by Dethklok. Warning, loud metal music. But the lyrics are *so* appropriate. )

    Far out into the deepest reaches of the ocean, the mermen went to war. For centuries their civilization had teetered on the brink of collapse, isolated and unnoticed by the rest of the world. When their society had finally split several decades prior, it had fractured irrevocably into a dozen city states.

    Those city states had squabbled amongst each other for power over their rivals, but the bloodshed had been relatively minor. Until now, when three of the largest cities could no longer bear the existence of their hated rivals. Amassing their armies, the three cities sent them forth with orders to give no quarter. The three armies met above an unassuming plain in between each of their cities.

    Driven by bloodlust, the three armies surged forth without concern for tactics. Merman met merman in the middle of the undersea plain. Merman fought merman, and merman killed merman. The death count was immense, and the bleeding corpses quickly shrouded the area in a foul cloud of bloody water.

    But it was not the death count that was the most horrific outcome of the disastrous battle. No, it was what happened during the peak of the battle, where the cloud of blood had grown so thick the merman could barely even see themselves. Some of the blood by that time had drifted down to the bottom of the plain’s floor. All of the activity of the battle above had also stirred up the silt covering the bottom, exposing the ashes that had settled there millennia ago. When the ashes and the blood met, an ancient reaction began, and something old and terrible was reborn. The last thing any of the surviving merman within the blood cloud heard was triumphant laughter booming in their minds.

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

    Tur Villid looked out the window from the well-furnished office at the top of the human fortress’s central spire and breathed a sigh of satisfaction. Although the office had been trashed by whatever force had attacked here before the elves, it was still serviceable for his office, and the view was truly incredible. He could almost see the bulk of the human lands from here, lingering tantalizingly on the horizon.

    In any event, they would be leaving here soon enough, and so Villid had kept the office in the state he had found it in. He found it oddly prophetic, the human office has ruined as the human lands themselves would be soon enough. It would probably be necessary to leave a small garrison force behind in an attempt to hold the fortress, but the bulk of his forces would definitely be moving on.

    Sadly, neither Prince Teareal nor his betrothed had been not found here, including their bodies. Which meant that they were theoretically being held somewhere else, likely deeper in the human lands where it would be more difficult for the elves to launch a rescue operation. Of course, the humans likely had not anticipated a rescue invasion, and with the quick takeover of their precious fortress, would hopefully remain unaware until the onslaught crossed into the next phase.

    Looking out over the humans’ domain, the Tur frowned. He had been getting conflicting orders over where to concentrate his efforts. Titania had allowed him a free hand in this invasion, but had suddenly contacted him with orders to avoid the land known as the Barony of Gast. Villid had no idea why such an order had been given, but the Goddess was not to be questioned.

    Suddenly, a harsh chill passed over Villid through the window, and he reflexively knelt. Titania must have been furious, for the icy wind was the most numbing Villid had ever felt.

    I have reconsidered my intent for the Baron of Gast. He has taken what you seek, and has refused to give it back to me! PUNISH HIM!

    Before Villid could consider how typical this was, the wind faded. Evidently Titania was too angry to give any specifics beyond that. Which left all of the details up to him. The sudden about-face regarding the Barony did not concern the Tur – in fact it thrilled him. Now he would not have to reconsider his original invasion plans, and could plow straight through on his way to the human capital. And it would likely please Titania if he took no prisoners, save for the half-elf girl who had annoyingly eluded his grasp on several occasions now. He would not fail his Goddess this time. With a grim smile, the Tur left the office to inform his subordinates that they would be departing immediately.

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

    “Well, that was a dismal failure Greyson. Perhaps you would have more luck with pigeons?” Damont commented with a snort as the third angel fell within the projection globe. Despite their deaths, the magic within their bodies was enough to sustain the scrying effect for now, albeit from an angle looking up from the floor. Peering through the dead angel’s eyes at her fellows, Greyson frowned and pushed his glasses further up his nose.

    “I tried to tell you all that we weren’t quite ready yet. Still, this field test will prove invaluable in our work in making them more . . . complacent with their orders. And in any event, that was quite the unusual display. I don’t believe I’ve ever even heard of an angel dying from a single sword thrust to the chest, even from someone as skilled as Ander. That blade cut right through her armor, if you were watching! Hmm . . . I don’t recall Ander ever having two swords. Where did he get that one?”

    “Who do you think? Miriam! Oh, we are so screwed. M-maybe . . . maybe we should just surrender right now?” Quincy blubbered, much to the disgust of the other Exarches present.

    “Rather premature, isn’t it Quincy?” Exarch Adamus Crane remarked from his position at the end of the table. In response, Quincy whirled on the newest member, jabbing a swollen finger at him.

    “Y-you! This is all your f-fault! You told us to relax, that everything was fine!”

    “What are your blabbering about now?” Crane replied, his patience already wearing thin, and this meeting had started only an hour ago. In a surprising display of fortitude, Quincy continued his verbal assault.

    “You told us Ander and Karth were handled! You told us that they would never, ever ally together! Yet here Ander is, riling up our newest recruits into mutiny! And our spies report seeing him in Karth’s camp! They’re surely working together to destroy us, something you assured us could never happen! Well it did, and now Ander can kill angels, and we’re completely screwed!”

    “I believe the word you’re looking for is “revolt”. Mutiny tends to only occur onboard ships.” Tiberius grunted with a bemused grin, saving Crane the trouble of shutting the obnoxious loudmouth up. Reminding himself again why he couldn’t strangle the fat friar with his bare hands, Crane rose from his chair smoothly.

    “It is true that I informed this council it was highly unlikely for the two of them to ally together. So perhaps I was wrong.”

    “Backpedaling already, Crane?” Exarch Tyra asked, her voice just shy of a crow of triumph. Crane was happy to disappoint her with a smile.

    “I am willing to admit my mistakes. But more importantly, I am willing to turn my mistakes into opportunities.”

    With a grim smile, Crane turned to gesture at the viewing globe.

    “And Ander has just handed us a priceless opportunity. I wonder if he even realizes the magnitude of his error.”

    Crane actually allowed himself a slight chuckle as he moved out from around the table, coming to stand beside the globe as everyone in the room stared at him incredulously. He waited silently, until at last Tyra took the bait.

    “How so Crane? Or is this another one of your little word games?”

    (Scene song – The Hounds by the Protomen. If there ever is an Ironheart musical, this part is definitely begging for a Crane musical number. And this song would make an excellent backdrop for it. )

    “Of a sort, I guess you could say. Ander’s greatest threat to us is his ability to rally the people, and convince them that he is on the side of the gods. Karth has a similar gift for brainwashing the masses, but anyone of import knows he’s a monster. So other than the idiot peasants, few will willingly follow him. But Ander, ah . . . despite being declared a heretic traitor, Ander is still widely regarded as a hero. Which is stronger, I wonder – the people’s revulsion of Karth, or their love for Ander?”

    “Yes, wonderful plan Crane. I’m sure it will work . . . until Ander opens his mouth, and convinces everyone that despite everything Karth’s done, we’re still worse.” Tyra spits, but Crane’s grin only grows.

    “And what if Ander doesn’t get a chance to speak? What if the townspeople so hate him that they try to burn him at the stake on sight?”

    “And how do you intend on accomplishing this? Particularly if branding him a heretic and associating him with Karth won’t work?” Exarch Logan suddenly spoke up, apparently intrigued enough to comment. Crane’s smile widened into an absolute grin as he shrugged.

    “Simple. We make Ander out to be the man behind the monster. Or, perhaps the monster behind the man. Karth was still a member of his Council when Ander was thrown into Ironheart. Who’s to say that he wasn’t able to corrupt the mind of one member of this Council the last time he confronted us? And then, urged to madness by the heretic, Karth abandoned this institution to try to complete Ander’s work. And now that they’re both free, master and apprentice, they have come together to tear our beloved Church apart with more seditious whispers?”

    “You can’t be serious.” Exarch Tyra mumbled, leaning back in her chair in shock. Crane barely managed to suppress a chuckle at her discomfort.

    “Oh YES! I propose we brand Ander as not just a heretic, not just a monster, but a demonic force threatening to corrupt the very foundations of our Church! No one, not even us Exarches, is safe from his honeyed words! We will ensure that no one wishes to speak to him ever again! And then when next Ander comes forth to convince others to join his crusade, he will find a welcome of an entirely different sort.”

    Crane finally allows himself a dry chuckle as he nods at Greyson.

    “Besides, how much longer do we need to keep Ander busy? Another month at most? By then, we shall have an entire *army* of angels! Even if he can kill them easily one-on-one, even if he still somehow manages to convince all believers against us, he’ll barely be even a footnote in the new page in history we shall write!”

    Finally speaking up, Speaker Morganna brought the matter to a decisive close.

    “Being implementing this plan immediately Adamus. Greyson, I hope you aren’t exaggerating your progress, and that this little demonstration was not indicative of Project Angelus as a whole. All our hopes now rest on delaying and distracting Ander, which I believe this propaganda campaign will help along nicely. Karth will likely self-destruct, as he did before. And then we will merely need to sweep away the pieces, and prepare to usher in a new aura of peace over the land. Once again, all thanks to the gracious assistance of Miriam’s servants. All praise be to the gods!”

    “All praise!”

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

    In the privacy of her own cell once more, Ysora finally allowed herself to weep. The Baron had come to visit her personally at last. More GHASTs had been with him, and just like Incom and Celestan, these abominations had human souls bound with angelic and demonic ones inside a cold metal shell. She had thought with her previous experience she would be unmoved, but their presence was still deeply disturbing. She could almost hear the agonizing screams of her sisters from within the constructs, and the disjointed whispers of mortal minds bent towards serving the Baron without question.

    She had thought that beyond what he had already done to her and others, this was the worst the Baron had done. She was quickly shown how wrong she was, as the Baron offered to take her on a tour of the Gastly Truth. Unable to refuse the offer, Ysora had been escorted through the corridors of the airship by the contingent of GHASTs, with the Baron serving as the group’s guide.

    He revealed that this flying marvel of engineering was powered similarly to the GHASTs. Deep within the heart of the airship, thousands of captured angel souls sat within crystals, their energy siphoned off to provide the Gastly Truth with its power. The sight had broke Ysora’s heart. And then, on the way back, the Baron had shown her what he had done with Hephestia. Somehow, that had hurt even worse.

    After escorting her back to her cell, the Baron simply left. No torture, no threats, just a simple request that Ysora consider her own future, and how she could best come to serve him. She had managed to maintain her serenity as long as it took for them to leave and close the door behind them. Then she started crying and couldn’t seem to stop.

    She wasn’t even sure who she was crying for. Incom? Hephestia? Herself? The thousands of angels held captive within prisons of metal and crystal, used to power weapons that would undoubtedly be used against their Lady?

    Ysora’s grief was interrupted by the sounds of her cell door opening once more. Reflexively, she stopped crying. She couldn’t wipe the tears already covering her face, but she would not give the damned Baron the satisfaction of watching her cry. To her surprise and slight shame, it was only Nephilium.

    The son of the Baron blinked in surprise, swiftly slamming the door shut behind him.

    “What has happened here!? Cheran again?”

    He asked, his voice beginning to thicken with anger as he walked over to kneel down in front of her. She should not be seen in this, it was undignified. And a shiver of revulsion passed through her as she reminded herself that Nephilium was the son of the Baron, and a willing participant in all this. How could he?

    “G-go . . . away. I want . . . t-to be . . . aaalone!”

    Ysora hissed, her voice breaking despite her best efforts. In response, Nephilium simply produced the set of keys and set about freeing her. This was not the reaction Ysora had been expecting. In a flash, her confusion turned to frustration, and from there, into anger. As soon as one hand was free, she shoved Nephilium roughly away from her. The impact was enough to throw him backwards to the floor.

    “LEAVE ME ALONE!” Ysora shrieked, in a tone much louder than she had intended to use. Nephilium looked confused for a moment, but then picked himself up. And then he simply walked back over to in front of her and knelt down again.

    “What happened here?”

    Wanting him to leave and realizing now that the only way to accomplish that was to answer her question, Ysora opened her mouth to answer. Whatever she was about to say was drowned out in the loud sob as she lost her grip on her composure again. To her surprise again, Nephilium reacted by wrapping his arms around her.

    Her frustration momentarily resurfaced as she clenched her hand into a fist and slammed it down into Nephilium’s back, but he didn’t let go. After several more such blows her anger faded along with the rest of her remaining composure. She clung weakly to him, sobbing openly while he made soft shushing noises and ran a hand through her hair. For some reason, this was mildly comforting to her, and eventually her tears finally slowed to a stop.

    “Thank you. But . . . why? Why do you care?” Ysora eventually managed to whisper.

    “Ah. Only the blind can appreciate the terror of night. Err . . . I understand sorrow.”

    “Oh?”

    “Yes. You said I didn’t know what I wanted, that I had no focus. Once, I had it. Once, I had a wife. The center of my existence.”

    Nephilium paused for several moments before concluding abruptly.

    “But she’s dead now.”

    Despite her lurking anger and own misery, Ysora felt pity beginning to form in her heart for this strange man.

    “I’m sorry to hear that. What happened?”

    “I killed her.”

    That pity abruptly evaporated as Ysora’s exhausted mind struggled to keep up.

    “WHAT!?”

    “I am responsible for her death. I killed her.”

    “Wha . . . HOW? WHY!?”

    Nephilium finally pulled away from her, looking guilty? Troubled? Uncertain? Ysora couldn’t tell what exact motion was playing across his face at the moment. Suddenly, as if attempting to change the subject, he blurted out, “You remind me of her.”

    Ysora’s mind reeled from this revelation. Fueled by all she had seen today, her thoughts quickly turned dark.

    “So . . . is that why you’re always coming down here? Because I remind you of your dead wife? Who you apparently killed!?”

    Shock passed over Nephilium’s face, and his look only seemed to confirm Ysora’s suspicions.

    “It’s hard . . . not having a focus. Copper can still pass for gold if it’s gilded! No, that’s not . . . I mean, when I saw you, I remembered how it felt, and . . .”

    Again, Ysora felt a hot flash of anger, mixed with an odd sense of betrayal. And more than a little foolish for ever being duped that a son of the Baron didn’t have an ulterior motive regarding her.

    “Get out. Now.”

    Nephilium seemed ready to say something else, but this time Ysora had steel in her voice.

    “Get out!”

    Still looking confused and hurt, Nephilium returned her free arm to its bindings, pocketed the keys, and then left as asked. Once the door had been shut for a few minutes and Ysora was sure she was going to be alone again, she allowed herself to cry.

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

    “You can’t be serious.”

    Gazrul growled in surprise, looking up from the paper that had been thrown on his desk. Across the desk from him was Wulfric, standing at sharp attention. The fact that Wulfric was standing at attention instead of leaning across his desk was sufficient insinuation, but the gnoll commander refused to believe it.

    “I am.” Wulric said tersely, his voice low instead of its usual boisterous tone. Gazrul responded with a sigh and dropped the paper back onto the desk with a shake of his head.

    “I can’t accept your resignation at this time. Certainly not right now, after everything that’s happened. Malohk is still going to require rest for another week, half of our forces have been shredded by the attack on Amaranth, and now we need to fully regroup and return to the Baron’s residence. I *need* you.”

    Wulfric frowns, but hardens his face until the concern fades. He gives a forced shrug.

    “You’re just going to have to do it without me then. You got along fine before I came along.”

    “Yes, I suppose that’s true. You’ve really grown from the disillusioned young man I once knew. I thought you were happy here, and I know we’ve been in bad situations before, and worked for unsavory people before. So . . . why? And why now?”

    Gazrul’s eyes widen and then narrow in realization.

    “It’s her, isn’t it? Do you know her?”

    Wulfric’s tight-lipped grimace and sigh tell Gazrul he hit close to the mark. After a moment’s thought, he throws up his hands.

    “It’s complicated, alright? All I know is that this deal we’re in now smells. I want to have a look around, but I might have to do some risky things. Which means it would be better if I was no longer associated with you, that way you’re protected from whatever I kick up.”

    Gazrul leans back in his chair thoughtfully and raises an eyebrow. Having someone competent that was not associated with him checking things out would be useful. Gazrul had his own growing concerns about the Baron. But he has known Wulfric for long enough to know when he’s not being fully truthful. He gives his former associate a toothy grin.

    “But you are also interested in the girl, aren’t you?”

    Wulfric growls and slams his fist down on the desk.

    “I have never asked you for anything, not even a place in your army! You offered that to me! Now I want this one thing, just this one thing. I’ll give you whatever information I can garner, and I’ll come back when this is over if you’ll have me, even as a common footsoldier again. But I’m going, with or without your permission! There’s something I have to know, and I’m going to go find out, consequences be damned.”

    Gazrul spread his claws wide and nodded slowly.

    “Alright old friend. You may go with my unofficial blessing. Just be careful – while you’re protecting me from repercussions, I won’t be able to protect you either.”

    Nodding, Wulfric turns to go.

    “I’ll grab my things and be out of here in an hour.”

    Watching his friend turn away, Gazrul felt his curiosity piqued. So to Wulfric’s back, he asked quietly, “And what do you need to know?”

    At the doorway, Wulfric paused a step to give an even quieter reply. “I need to know if I love her.” And then he was gone.


    The Baron’s Estate

    Dorizzit

    At your agreement, the woman nods.

    “Very well. I understand that you are Korram Alstan, a former enemy and prisoner of the Baron. Normally I would not even consider talking to you, but . . . the situation has changed.”

    The woman suddenly winces as if pained, but recovers quickly with a toss of her head.

    “In any event, I will not provide you with my own name in the event you are re-captured, and I will certainly deny ever talking to you if asked. I trust you will do the same short of violent coercion.”

    The woman sighs.

    “In any event, down to business. I assume you would prefer to escape this place, and avoid your date tomorrow morning with an executioner. I am willing to help you accomplish this, in exchange for your assistance in a matter.”

    The woman kneels down, scratching at the floor with one finger. Shadows seem to twist and flow down her hand onto the floor, and where the shadows touch the stone colors begin to form. Within seconds, a photo-realistic drawing of Pyrene’s face is visible on the floor.

    “This woman is also a prisoner of the Baron’s. Her name is Pyrene.”

    A scowl crosses the woman’s face as she stomps on the picture, and it dissolves into a cloud of colorful dust motes.

    “She’s being taken aboard the Baron’s personal airship, the Gastly Truth. Apparently the Baron is taking a little trip to the capital. I believe your daughter is also being taken along, although that is not my concern, Pyrene is. In exchange for your freedom, I want you to sneak aboard the Gastly Truth, find Pyrene, escape with her, and then bring her to me. Whatever else you do beyond that is not my concern. What I want with Pyrene is not yours.”

    The woman stands still for a moment, twitching, and then extends a hand out towards you.

    “So . . . do we have a deal?”

    Lonna

    The Countess gives a slight shiver at the mention of Garthax, although she does manage a slight frown of disappointment.

    “While I will say that not being freaked out by that little creep anymore is a pleasant thought, he would be handy to have in this sort of situation. Are you sure he’s not just lurking around invisibly like he usually does?”

    Later when the woman had joined your group, your condolenscenes immediately got the woman’s attention. Her eyes snap open, and she looks at your with a mixture of suspicion and surprise while the Countess looks up at you in brief confusion. When you mention Seraphan’s name however, she nods vigorously.

    “Yes, we crossed paths and sought to escape together for a time. I see he managed to find you after all!”

    The Countess said with a slight smile, although that comment only seemed to hurt the woman.

    “A little too late, I’m afraid . . .” She murmurs quietly, and then looks at the two of you.

    “I’m Rose.” She says a bit more loudly. Sighing, she waves her hands at the Countess, and then at you.

    “I can only assume that you are the Countess Amelia Ashargrin. You, however, I don’t recognize, nor recalling being mentioned.” She asks, waving at you.

    Only a few moments after your introduction, the carriage door opens yet again. This time, you see that it is Seraph, carrying an unconscious and bound Kris. Only Kris is wearing a bright pink frilly dress. A bright pink frilly dress that seems to be perfectly filled out.

    Really, the discordance of this whole scene would actually be somewhat amusing if your sharp mind didn’t rapidly put the pieces together. Kris = Katrina Alstan, the daughter Korram had been searching for all this time. Did he even know, or did he still think his daughter was out there, somewhere?

    Which is also interesting is that Seraph and Rose don’t say a word to each other. After setting Katrina up in the seat next to the Countess and buckling her in, Seraph only pauses briefly to look at Rose. The two of them share a look for a moment, and then Rose deliberately looks away. Seraph sighs, and then turns away, exiting the carriage.

    The Countess gives you an utterly confused look, although after she shoots a look over at the unconscious Katrina you can tell she’s struggling not to laugh. A minute later, as the carriage starts into motion as it takes off into the sky, the motion jars Katrina, and with a low moan she slowly starts to come around.

    Gourtox

    Dawn’s Hope - Monastery

    Baerdog7


    Archpaladin Zousha

    (Hrm. Until Baerdog7 posts, it will be slightly hard to move things forward. Stupid lazy PCs. )

    Kneeling in a mixture of exhaustion and shock, you stare alternatively at the headless angel and at the floor in front of you. A great sense of guilt and loss comes over you as the full implications of what you have done hit you.

    A minute later, you feel a hand come to rest on your shoulder. Looking up, you see that the Abbot has come over to stand over you. But this doesn’t seem to be a glare of judgment, but a grimace of concern.

    “Hondshioh . . . there was nothing else you could have done. We still are unsure if these are even angels, or some sort of diabolical deception.”

    The Abbot’s face hardens.

    “Whatever the case, we shall get to the bottom of it.”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark


    The City of Amaranth

    The (Destroyed) City Slums

    Iethloc


    Darth Malevo

    WhiteKnight777

    Seymour gives no answer to your comments, save a sad shake of his head. Whatever he and Sohssal would be doing next, you had no real cares about. Your ephemeral colleague had provided you with a basin, and now it was time to receive some answers regarding your own love.

    Tapping into the basin, you allow your mind to relax as you pour memories and thoughts of Fianna into the basin. Then, once it had an idea of what it was looking for, you cast the scrying spell out into the world, scouring it for Fianna’s location.

    You don’t have to wait long before the pool begins to ripple, an image consolidating. It was quite the bizarre image, however. Fianna was sitting in a carriage, along with two other women. After a few moments of thought, you recognize one of the other women as Rose, the woman whose child was sacrificed beneath Ironheart. You didn’t recognize the blond though.

    At first you thought this might be some sort of revenge plot on Fianna’s plot against Rose, the Baron, and anyone else in the way. Two things spoke out against that idea though – one, as an emotionless being, “revenge” was probably a goal Fianna no longer pursued. Two, Fianna was also bound, with a set of manacles around her wrists.

    Suddenly, the pool rippled again, the image disappearing – an illusion of some kind? Doubtless Fianna would have taken precautions against anyone locating her magically.
    And then the image refocused, and your breath caught in your throat.

    There was Fianna, sitting in a carriage, vaguely similar to the one you had just seen her in a moment before. The carriage slows to a halt a few seconds after the image solidifies, and Fianna throws open the door. You catch a glimpse of the city streets as she steps out, thanking the driver. You recognize the city skyline as being similar to the capital, although it had been a few years since you have been there.

    Fianna begins walking up the street towards a well-to do inn, but slows to a stop, cocking her head. Then, she slowly turns, looking directly through the scrying pool at you.

    “Umber?” She whispers, her expression as flat as ever although she seems curious. Apparently, Fianna’s senses haven’t dulled in all these years despite her loss of emotion.

    The Gastly Truth

    Pwenet

    Looking up at you, the dragon sniffs intently, and then gives a rumbling chuckle.

    “So you found a way to cheat death as well, did you Incom? I should have suspected as much. Why do I have a feeling that we’ll be doing this forever?”

    Looking down at the dragon, you can see that in addition to the chains holding the massive stone form to the floor, a large number of runes have been carved into the rocky skin.

    “Admiring my tattoos, are you? Hmph, apparently some wench with more than a few of her own decided I needed them in order to maintain the magic sustaining this form. Hurt more than a bit, but it was well worth the pain in return for getting to keep living in this body. But then, we know all about pain in order to survive, don’t we?”

    At your questions, Akor snorts.

    “As you might imagine, I am here because I want to survive. The Baron offered to let me keep this body in exchange for staying here and serving as his guest. I don’t think he’s come up with a use for me yet, but I imagine he’ll think of some use for a dragon sooner or later, even if it’s one living in a body made of living stone. I couldn’t care less. Compared to being shoved in a miserable simian body for forty years, having to wrestle with some small-brained monkey who fought tooth and nail to deny me the barest hint of sensation, this is heavenly.”

    Akor opens his massive jaws wide, and then snaps them shut at you.

    “Speaking of you, I only took you because you were available. As you might suspect, when we first started our little dance inside your head, there weren’t many prisoners at Ironheart because it wasn’t actually a real prison. Although admittedly, I could have gone somewhere else and found someone more complacent.”

    The dragon shakes its head and rumbles.

    “You know, thinking about it, it was the Baron who contacted me. I was nearly dead at that point, so I was pretty desperate. When he offered me a strong body for free at Ironheart, I jumped at the opportunity. I probably should have seen something suspicious in that, and knowing what I know now I may have turned him down. Then again, because I was there with you, I finally got revenge against those damn cultists who exterminated my race. Did I ever thank you for that opportunity? No? Well thanks, Incom. That *almost* made it worth putting up with you for forty years.”

    The dragon sighs and settles back down.

    “As for what we do now, I tend not to think that far ahead. I guess we’ll repay the Baron for our shiny new bodies, hmmm? Really, so long as I survive to continue waiting for my destiny to play out, I don’t really care what happens. How about you? You got any new goals for yourself besides making “Harvey” miserable?”

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    The Perist Residence

    Kasanip

    “What would the fun in that be? Nobody told me!” The creature calls out with a giggle in answer to your question. Carlain groans out loud.

    “Stop with the rhyming and get on with the trying to kill us!” He shouts angrily, scanning the ruins futilely. The creature’s shouted reply had come from all around you, leaving you as still the only one able to track it as it circled around. It was clearly trying to skip around Berrick and Carlain and attack Cerise, as you thought. Apparently, however, it was not able to see you in the same way that you saw it.

    Which meant that when it suddenly leapt into sight over a pile of nearby debris, it was unprepared for you standing there waiting. Unfortunately, Veip barely even slowed the creature – despite possessing a corpse the creature was not undead.

    Whirling around at the sound of your voice barking the syllable, Carlain hurls his latest two balls of fire at the creature. It smoothly dodges both blasts in mid-stride, and continues on towards you. Berrick conjures a bolt of lightning from his staff, but instead of aiming at the creature he aims at the ground. The bolt of lightning creates a sizable hole right in front of the creature, and it tumbles down out of sight.

    But again, the delay is only temporary as it scrambles out of the hole in a flashing of legs and clawed hands a few seconds later. Fortunately, Cerise completes her own spell, summoning a series of runes that sketch themselves out on the ground between the two of you and the monster. As it leaps towards you, the air over the runes ripples, as the creature slams into an invisible wall. With a snarl it stops to slash at the barrier with its claws, and you feel a familiar wave of magical energy erupt as the runes melt away into nothing and the barrier collapses.

    But everyone’s efforts have bought you enough time, and with another loud shout you pronounce the Lige syllable. Interestingly enough, this time instead of forming runes on the corpse’s body, golden tendrils form on the creature’s body. These tendrils reach out into the air surrounding the creature, and wrap around invisible strings – presumably the directing spirit creature’s way of controlling the corpse. Speaking of runes, now up close you could see them, stitching into the corpse’s decaying flesh with black thread, and that shimmers with an inner malevolence.

    “Awww . . . ruin my fun.”

    The corpse grunts as you feel the creature straining against your control over the body. Unlike your usual efforts, this time it almost feels as if you were grappling with an unseen presence over control over the body. Which, really, was exactly what was going on.

    “So now what? You going to dissect me, try to figure out how all my little inside parts work?”

    “I was thinking we would kill you.” Carlain snarled, earning a mocking laugh from the creature.

    “Silly human. How do you intend on killing something that’s already dead? Heh, not that it matters. You can pound this body into dust, and I still won’t feel a thing.”

    “What are you? Why did you attack the Perist residence?” Cerise asked, moving up to stand beside you as she examined the immobile corpse with a mixture of revulsion and curiosity.

    “I’ve got a better question. How do you intend on convincing me to answer any of your questions?”

    The Capital

    Tackyhillbillu

    Your mind only churning with more questions than answers now, you turn away towards the trapdoor. As you being to move away, your sharp ears clearly hear the conversation in the room wind to a close. And you hear Brock utter a sentence that turns your blood cold.

    “Alright, now that that business is settled . . . how about we see who’s been sneaking around out there!”

    From the room where the conversation had been taking place, two thieves armed with crossbows burst out into the hallway. They do not hesitate to level both of them at you. From the stairway leading down to the ground floor, heavy foorsteps thunder up them, and another crossbow-armed thief appears to cover you from a different direction. A few moments later, a large man that could only be Brock steps out into the hallway, followed by the Hand assassin.

    “Hmmm . . . not one of mine. One of yours?” Brock asked a moment after peering at you intently. At his side, the assassin scoffs.

    “No, we work alone usually and –“

    The assassin pauses in mid-sentence, and his eyes flare with recognition.

    “You were from that bar I visited, the performer!”

    “Hmmmm . . . bar?”

    The Silver Bell.”

    “Ah. I could have somebody go down there, ask around if you’d like?”

    “No. I have better ways of getting answers.” The Hand agent growls, and a shiver goes down your spine at the thoughts of all the exact ways you knew of to get information. To your slight surprise, Brock looks a little displeased.

    “Sounds messy. You’re not going to be doing that in my safehouse. Here’s an idea, why don’t we just ask him?”

    Brock turns to you with a smirk.

    “So, boy – you got a name, and a good reason for being here? Or is my associate here right in that you seem to be sticking your nose weren’t it doesn’t belong, and that it needs chopped off?”

    Phaedra

    Soras Teva Gee


    The Northern Forest

    Gorgondantess

    While Richard is busy getting his ass kicked by your mutual assailant, you work on trying to remove the source of your pain. The one buried in the flesh of your thigh is not in particularly deep, and comes out easily despite only wildly flailing at it with your one hand. Having gone all the way through your wrist and into the streambed beneath, the knife lodged in your arm was considerably harder to dislodge.

    Almost by reflex, you begin to convert the matter in contact with your wounded hand. Part of the handle built around the knife’s stone head dissolves away, along with a small portion of the nearby streambed. The sudden influx of energy makes you feel a little better, and with the mud underneath your wrist gone you are able to pull free. Gingerly reaching your other hand over, you are able to quickly extract the stone head of the knife. Which left only the knife buried in your chest, still feeling agonizingly cold.

    Digging into the wound with one hand while you began to crawl away down the stream, you find that the chest knife has been wedged in between two of your generated ribs. The wound would be completely fatal to a human, but fortunately in your case you were not. A sudden grunt behind you suggests that you might still not be alive for much longer, as you shoot a look back to watch as Richard falls back into the stream, clutching his face. Delivering a last kick to the prone form, your assailant twirls his third set of daggers around again as he determinedly walks towards you at a rapid pace.

    Crawling along the streambed at your current pace was not going to allow you to outpace this human, obviously. It did, however, buy you a few more seconds to continue trying to extract the stone knife. Which, thankfully, paid off as with a last bloodsoaked tug, you rip the knife out of your chest and toss is aside. Beneath his veil, the man clearly frowns, and he pulls both hands back, preparing to throw his current set of daggers at you.

    Johannville

    Morpheus

    Gilbert and Clara look at you curiously as you bid your goodbyes to them both. As you slip out the doorway, you hear Gilbert whispers a “Be careful!”. And then you are gone, and outside.

    On your way through town, you have a few close calls with some of the guards, but for the most part they are too cold to notice you or particularly care. Eventually, you come within easy sight of your former manor. It does seem accurate to say that your home has been converted into a fortress, as most of the windows are now covered with either heavy shutters or a wrought iron cage. There also seems to be several heavy wooden fences thrown up around the open front of the manor, turning the whole place into a walled compound.

    Still, the fences didn’t concern you too much, nor did the barred windows particularly. There had to be ways for the guards to get in, and you were pretty good at scaling fences. Speaking of the guards, you could see about three pairs of them making rounds on the roof, about every ten minutes or so. These guards seemed slightly more alert than the ones in town, although that may just be because they get opportunities to go inside to warm up.

    The most concerning thing that you noticed was the small mounds of snow scattered about here and there. These must be the strange things that conjured limb-removing blasts of fire. They seemed to avoid the road leading up to the new heavy gate, but were scattered about pretty uniformly on the other sides of the mansion. There seemed to be more than enough space for you to carefully step in the empty patches of ground between the various mounds, although you would have to go a bit slowly in order to avoid making any mistakes.

    And, of course, with the guards patrolling around on top of the wall every ten minutes or so, you wouldn’t have much time in order to get to the base of the manor wall and out of sight. But if you could get there, the hard part (avoiding these fireball things) would be over. And you were Johann . . . you’d faced more difficult challenges than this (even if most of them were just part of the yarns you spun).
    Last edited by Inspectre; 2009-10-27 at 08:08 PM.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  26. - Top - End - #446
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Tackyhillbillu's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Argan watched his day go from middling good, to absolutely abysmal with what might even be called a wry smile on his face. He should have known better then to trust his luck. He hadn't done much to earn it, and that kind of luck had the habit of drying up in a flash. At the two armed men with Crossbows he dropped the Knives he had been holding. He could probably kill them both, but whichever one he picked for second would get a shot off. And the Hand would easily be able to take care of him, as well as any of their other friends. And the odds going from 2 v 1 to 5 v 1 didn't make him regret that decision. Argan listened to the conversation, the almost smile never flinching. He knew what would happen. He wasn't going to be tortured. He'd break, eventually. Everyone did, if you waited long enough. And he wasn't a noble enough soul to take it for long. If it came to it, he had a Knife or two on him that were liberally dosed in something that would make sure that wasn't a concern. However, Brock offered him an out, which Argan answered with a shrug.

    "Just my luck, eh? Larik Vale, also known as Argan to most. And my reason for being here is pretty obvious. I'm an informer for the Watch. Easy bit of coin, most of the time."

    Argan wasn't going to admit failure until it was impossible to prevent himself from doing so. If he could make the Hand believe that this wasn't his business, Argan's chances would swiftly become far better.

    "I got a description of your friend..."

    Argan nodded toward the Hand.

    "...and instructions to follow and find out what he was up to from my contact. Dunno why. And to cut a long story short, here we all are. I suppose you could torture me, but there wouldn't be much of a point to that. Killing me and dumping my body is another option, but one that I would rather avoid. So, I say we find a much more interesting third option. Your operation here has sprung a leak. No other way the Guard could be distributing your friend's description. If you are interested in finding out who, maybe I could be of service."
    Last edited by Tackyhillbillu; 2009-10-24 at 08:00 AM.

  27. - Top - End - #447
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Korram Alstan

    Korram listens silently as the strange woman speaks, his face never wavering from a distrusting, appraising stare. When she finishes and extends a hand, he thinks for a second.
    One second.
    Korram cracks his neck and takes takes her hand, smiling without mirth.

    "Very well, I accept your terms."
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  28. - Top - End - #448
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    Tare groaned at this new scene and dropped to one knee, pulling away from both of his supports to leave them free of his burden. His breathing was slightly labored, but he had not given up yet. "We have to stop him..." Tare muttered out loud, probably loud enough for the Angel and other prisoner to hear him. "Take this..." Tare handed his Silver dagger to Melcara, knowing that she would be able to do more with it than he could. "Try not to hurt the girls, if you can, but if you have no other choice, do what you must..." Tare began digging through his sash once more, searching for that healing potion...

    ((EDIT: If you'd like to move things along, go ahead and have Tare pull out the potion and down it.))
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-10-25 at 07:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Innis Cabal View Post
    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  29. - Top - End - #449
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Ander Windrivver

    Ander stands silently outside the ritual circle in the aftermath of the battle. His eyes move about the room, first inspecting the un-ashed corpses of the former angels, then coming to rest on Hondshioh and the Abbot. After several minutes, he speaks.

    The lead one used to be Marlexa. She guarded the Palace of the Sun. I knew her. He sighs deeply, rubbing his temples with a gauntleted hand. Abbot, have your priests wrap up the bodies and cast a preservation spell on them to keep them from decaying.

    He steps forward, speaking quietly into the Abbot's ear. Whatever magic was used on those angels is clearly still active to keep them from turning to ash. I don't like it, and would prefer to continue our discussion away from the corpses.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  30. - Top - End - #450
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kasanip's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Isera Harvent

    As Isera fought to keep control over the corpse, her mind clicked furiously.
    Veip hadn't even slowed the creature down. So it wasn't an undead. The corpse definitely was dead, but whatever was controlling it was not. Good to know.
    Lige hadn't bound it with runes, but with tendrils, arcing up to invisible strings into the air. Like a puppeteer and his marionette.... She thought. The black stitched runes upon the corpses flesh, glowed with power.
    They hadn't seen these kind of runes on the other corpses...but those had been burnt and blackened.
    This wasn't really possession either, Isera thought, keeping her face as neutral and concentrated as she could despite the ongoing struggle. It was like fighting a puppet. But where was the puppeteer? That was the real source of this trouble. Isera allowed herself to wonder if in fact, there had been only one puppeteer for this attack. One instigator, with many puppets.
    Not enough information yet.

    She turned her attention onto the monster again. Voice in rhyme, a playful demeanor, just a bit insane...certainly sounded like a supernatural entity - a demon? Again, slamming into the wall of the unknown.

    Carlain wasn't helping now, as the creature taunted him. But it let a few more clues fall. For one, it confirmed that the monster in front of them was not the controller.
    What a perilous situation though - should her control waver, or the spell end, Isera and Cerise alike were far too close to this creature for her comfort.
    "Cerise, I'm afraid we're going to have a difficult time bargaining with this one." Isera said, as lightly as she could. She kept her gaze fixed on the corpse and her spell and she addressed it.
    "Well, in general when we make deals, we like to bargain. She has asked you a few questions that we would like answers to, and we await you to name your price for these things." Isera said, as amicably as she could.

    A far-shot gamble to be sure - the creature pretty much just needed to refuse, and they'd be right back where they started, though the clock was ticking. But there was another subtle hunt for information in Isera's words. Demons and Devils loved to make bargains with humans - and always in their favor. With luck perhaps, she could either confirm that is what was pulling the strings, or at least cross it off of the list of things she constantly tried to analyze.
    Kasanip's Sketchbook 2 Thread
    It is difficult to speak English, please excuse mistakes kindly m(_ _)m

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