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  1. - Top - End - #91
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Korram Alstan
    Concerned

    Korram follows quietly as the Ghosts lead him towards their camp, saying nothing other than an assurance that he has no intentions of hurting Kat. When Calcifer alerts him, he tersely thanks the elemental. When the group sees the smoke, he nods.

    "That fire's probably not natural. There are some fire elementals in the area; I can deal with them, but I'd advise getting behind me."

    He takes the lead, or at least goes quickly towards the flames, readying a portal similar to the one he used on Infernas.

    Just like old times, eh?
    Oh, shut up.
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  2. - Top - End - #92
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Cpt. Soup's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Abbie Carmel (Miss Roseline)

    Abbie nodded to herself for a moment, seeming deep in thought. She finally turned to the guard and spoke.

    You've saved me from stony maw of that prison young man(if he isn't, then in comparison to her he is), it would be poor of me if I didn't do everything in my power to help your dear sister.


    She frowned before continuing.

    I can't promise I'll be able to save her, not until I can see the state of her for myself, I'd be lying otherwise. I'll be sure to try, with all this old woman has.

    She turns back to the road ahead. Once beyond the final defenses of Ironheart she would make time to consider the possibility of having to kill this young man. It all came down to a matter of location, if his poor sister was in a place that would take her further from the boglands then it may come to it; she only had so much time in her life, how precious every month, week, and day seems now.
    Last edited by Cpt. Soup; 2009-03-05 at 05:20 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #93
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    For but the first few seconds Tare was almost numb to this newest indignity added to the heap by the masked assassin, but when Limier begins speaking his brain catches up with the sting on his face and surges weakly into anger. He felt the dusty, irritating cloth of his burlap arraignments tear at the gloved hand's pull, but stumbled along with the insistent tug until they were already around the pool.

    Can I... can I survive this?

    A long pause.

    I don't know.

    His eyes remained distant and unfocused, barely keeping his balance after the assassin. Time seemed to slow.


    He stood alone. He felt ground beneath his feet, but there was none. Clouds tumbled across the sky in fast motion, but the sky was not above him. He felt he must be falling, but did not understand which way was down. He stood there forever. Then there was another.

    Where are you?

    I don't know.

    But I do, and therefore you do.

    Who are you?

    You do not know, and therefore neither do I.

    Time passed, an hour in a second.

    Where am I?

    You are not; this is not anywhere.

    Am I alive?

    Were you ever?

    He frowned. You ask too many questions.

    You don't ask enough.

    He sighed. Ok, why am I here?

    Because I need to tell you something.

    Then tell me.

    Do you remember where you are?

    He frowned again. The clouds faded, replaced by images of black trees and blacker sky; it appeared to him upside down. Yes.

    Do you remember why you are here?

    He thought... Can I survive this?

    The other nodded. But you do know.

    How do I know?

    Because I know, and therefore you know.

    He nodded as well. And who are you?

    You are.

    The scenery, now right side up, blurred past, the speed of thought, they rose above the treeline, over a cliff, and to two figures, remotely familiar, skirting around a pool that held dreadful foreboding. Slow for a moment, he recognized them both distantly, and then continued. Through walls of bone and stone, it stopped on the figure of an elf.

    Teareal.

    The other nodded. You remember.

    Why is he so important to me?

    Because he reminds you of another. They both do.

    He saw Adame', unconscious.

    Do they?

    Don't they?

    He sighed again. Can I survive this?

    Yes. I've seen it.

    Have I seen it?

    The other smiled. You have.

    The elves vanished. Then there was a third. She did not speak.

    Karami.

    The other nodded.

    I remember.

    We will never forget.

    The inside of his Right arm began to burn.

    There is a reason you will survive this, and it is not for you. It is not for Limier, it is only partly for the elves.

    He nodded, putting a hand to the cell number burned there and feeling it run cold. Time passed, the three of them standing there, but something had changed.

    His head hung. I will never forget... what I've done.

    The other nodded. Can you survive this?

    A pause.

    He smirked.

    Not good enough.

    The restraints of men? The justice of fools?

    Images of iron walls and locked cells.

    Not good enough. His arm stopped burning.

    The abominations of the damned? The gates of Hell?

    Hags and demons, horrors and a multitude of teeth, what he had seen and worse, the deepest nightmares of the mind.

    Not... good... enough. He looked up, and banished the fears from his mind. They fled at his word.

    The other smiled. Do you remember?


    I do.



    Tare's eyes snapped to focus. "Get off of me." He said quietly. He put a hand up and removed the assassin's gloved hand from his collar with strength born of will. His eyes met the orange goggles with a silver glow of their own. He broke the glare wordlessly, and let go of the assassin's gauntlet to walk past him, noiselessly as ever, to the door; he did not notice that the leather of the glove smoldered subtly as his touch left it. He stood before the door and took a deep breath... And opened the door.
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-03-05 at 08:05 PM.
    Deo Soli Sit Semper Gloria

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    Quote Originally Posted by Innis Cabal View Post
    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  4. - Top - End - #94
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Sohssal

    "Hmm...yeah, that's exactly what I think. I can go wherever I want, little snack, and if someone just so happens to be in my way, it's their fault for not moving in time," responded ominously as the communication crystal ranted. Soon after, he regarded the Manahounds with some interest. He'd have to remember these for later. Overcome by curiously, he inhaled deeply, seeing if he could feed off the feeders. Even with his inhuman face, it was easy to tell he was...almost giddy.

    He was no fool, though. As he inhaled, he tossed off a couple of spells to encase the Acolyte in powerful winds to keep him away from the Manahounds. Even if Sohssal didn't like him, he was a valuable asset. He did, however, assume Omega could elude them by herself, a reasonable assumption considering her previous feats. Sohssal himself could move quickly in his incorporeal form even without spells.
    Order of the Pstick Avatar by Sneak

  5. - Top - End - #95
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Gourtox's Avatar

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    Telest

    For the first time in a while he was feeling semi safe atleast until Lucure asks him the question. If they don't know about the demons should I really tell them? It might make them think I'm a demon. "It may claim to unescapeable, but its not. That is if there's a big enough distraction and for me that distraction was Ironheart being attacked. In the confusion I managed to escape, but I couldn't tell who was attacking. To be honest I was more focused on getting out and not getting killed in the process." He hoped they belived them for they out numbered him and are quite skilled.
    Avatar by Onasuma

  6. - Top - End - #96
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MrEdwardNigma's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Hans von Ravenstein

    "Hello!" the golem bellowed.
    "Your pursuers are gone. It's just me now, and I only want to ask a question. I'm looking for my friend. He might be mistaken for a necromancer by some, but he is a kind man"
    Hans dug up the picture only to realise they wouldn't see it from all the way up there. He also realised he was bowing his head forward, towards the dog and the picture, as if hiding his face with his hat from those above.
    "I thought you might have met him, being graverobbers and all. Don't worry, I don't mind. I can't even reach you from here. I just want to find him. I have a picture, but I can't show you from down here. He has some noticable scars though. And his name's Victor. Victor von Ravenstein"
    The golem tilted his head, just enough to look up at Ross with his empty eyes. Somehow he managed the begging puppy dog look, even with his monstrous face.
    Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2009-03-07 at 12:07 PM.
    Avatar by the illustrious Dr. Bath.


    The essence of a riddle is that it states facts by means of a combination of impossibilities~Aristoteles

    Help me run my very first campaign.

  7. - Top - End - #97
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Ander Windrivver

    (Yeah, it's looking like the family reunion will have to wait until after Ander's debriefing.)

    Ander's brief sense of relief turns to horror as Melissan falls through the portal. He can only watch, helpless, as she is beaten into submission by her tormentors. He briefly considers jumping through the rapidly-shrinking portal and bravely rescuing Melissan from her abductors. Melissan, who has always been so kind to him. Melissan, who had always greeted him with a smile.

    But he doesn't. He only watches as the portal shrinks and finally closes with a small pop.

    I'm sorry, Melissan. I'll find you if I can.

    Putting on a brave face, he turns back to the remaining angels, barking in the voice of a veteran officer.

    Back to your posts ladies, this ain't no carnival sideshow! Just cause Melissan is gone and I'm going to talk to the Management doesn't mean you get to slack off! Dismissed!

    He turns sharply on his heel and strides down the street, Seymour by his side. As soon as he's out of sight of the gate, he breaks into a run straight for the Palace of the Sun.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  8. - Top - End - #98
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Dasson

    Dasson, though definitely nearing towards panic was built for quick thinking in difficult places. For a moment, a seemingly long moment, he considers abandoning the man.

    He will only slow me down. He will only slow the others down. If we leave him more of the dogs will go for him and leave us alone. You've killed men, most guilty of crimes, but not all and you've allowed innocents to walk to there deaths. Leave him. He thinks.

    He can't though, he had given his word to help the others if they agreed to join him and as long as the man lived he would do his best.

    Dasson Raises his deadly carrot in the most dagger like manner he can and turns to help the wounded man.

    plans
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    Dasson is going to get the man on his shoulder for as long as he can, as the dogs close in he is going to turn on them and lash out. He's going to fight dirty, eyes, throat, balls, anything.
    Annoying Gamer says - Hollywood is sooooooooo unoriginal. Hey, check out my dual wielding drow Drazzit!

    Annoying Gamer says - My level 1 character's background is pretty complex. After fighting in the three great wars, he was forced to return home and kill an elder dragon single handily.

  9. - Top - End - #99
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Falconer's Avatar

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    Gazrul

    Just returning from briefing his officers, Gazrul lay back upon his cot. It had been a very long day. Setting up camp, the journey to the Baron's mansion, the meeting, the bizarre human procession...everything.

    It was then he realized there were several things that bothered him. The Baron, for one. As much as he (almost) respected the man, there was something about him that was...intimidating, to say the least. Unnerving. Even to a gnoll (such as himself) that was more than a good head taller than him.

    Gazrul turned over in his cot, trying to get comfortable, only to find that he couldn't.

    Restless, he rose from his cot and wandered around his tent with no particular pattern or purpose. Eventually he squatted down in front of a mirror, which he had picked up as reward from one of his campaigns.

    He looked quite different from others of his kind. His eyes were a bloody red. His fur was an inky black. He even had a few small patches of scales, and his tail was long and snakelike. Not to mention how he could breath fire. He was quite sure that most gnolls could not breathe fire. Proof of the blessing of the Ancestors.

    When he was a pup, he had often seen human missionaries in the streets, trying to bring the gnolls to the human's religion, "the-church-of-the-light". It never really made sense to him. The human missionaries thought it was barbaric and primitive to worship the stars. But the humans, who worshipped their two strange gods, never had any proof for their faith. But the gnolls did. All you had to do was look to the skies.

    ((OOC: Wow, did I just make this post into a stream-of-consciousness thing...?))

  10. - Top - End - #100
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Meltemi's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Ruya

    Ruya looked into the room from the relative safety of the door frame. Taking a quick inventory, she identified the four zombies, dispassionately noting their unusually wide range, and actively avoiding any speculation as to their original state. They might have been still alive when the cultists took them, might have even been this young girl's friends or family, might have - but that was dangerous thinking when they were now simply mindless guards. They remained still and unmoving, standing silent sentinel over the girl on the bed. As she saw the tear, Ruya recognized that what was keeping her still on the bed was not simply the zombies, but likely some sort of magical bind. Otherwise, the girl could have simply wiped the tears away. That would complicate matters, if she couldn't escape under her own power. For starters, Ruya wouldn't simply be able to fire off her Purification circle and make a break for it, because the beacon would draw everyone nearby here, and Ruya might not have enough time to break the bind before that even with her locks.

    There were, still, other options. Her shield was active, and she knew that most zombies were incapable of breaching plate armor, much less her magic. Her Lightning circle was fully charged, and she flexed her left hand slightly. Two charges in rapid succession would be enough to take down a zombie, and she had enough charges for the four in the room. The floor was thin, from appearances weak enough to break through, but many of these run-down slum buildings simply used tar and pitch-paper for sealing against the winter air. Finally, they were spaced far enough apart that she wouldn't be able to take out more than one, and a fire would not only threaten the person she had come to save, but also leave another clear sign for the cultists to return. Her best bet was to use her lightning rune, hope there weren't other zombies in the other two rooms, and use the door itself as a chokepoint.

    She drew her dagger, whispering the word to activate the accuracy circle emplaced in its hilt. Walking around the corner into clear sight of the zombies within the room and concentrating on the nearest target (it was no good thinking of them as the people they had once been), the dagger rose up to point directly at the first. "Feir dva." The invisibility that cloaked her from the girl's eyes and any other cultists that might approach from behind flickered only slightly at her own magic, but the two bolts of lightning that flowed through her arm and the dagger outwards to strike the zombie, the one that had once been a young child, solidly in the chest were clearly visible. The magic in her dagger already pulled her arm around to target the second zombie, the faint tug to the left and forward into the melee, but she didn't want to fight up close. She repeated her words as the three remaining zombies began to move to attack her, taking down the young man and drawing a bead on the next of the remaining two.

    OOC: Assuming the other two go down without incident or more than two reinforcements, a fairly significant assumption. ~_^
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    The zombies cleared, Ruya rushed forward, confirming first that the nearest was destroyed. Presuming the other three had been dispatched as efficiently rather than taking the time to check, she then rushed to the side of the girl on the bed. "Don't worry, I'm here to get you out," she said quickly, as she recalled her old lessons, trying to find the source of possible magical binds without direct implements. "Ah, right, you probably can't see me. Can you stand or move? I should be able to apply the same invisibility spell to you as well."
    Ruya Perist, Flight from Ironheart
    Teira Feiwright, Lost and Clueless

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

  11. - Top - End - #101
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Ardraket Oldn

    Standing within the courtyard of Ironheart Ardraket takes a moment to look around before he starts looking. His face set like he has a purpose he works on blending in as much as possible and look like he is as busy as everyone else. Searching the dark tunnels would be a waste of time without knowing more about the target, and the records might give him some information but there would most likely be mass confusion. Yet that area might be the best to find someone with information on prisoners that may have escaped.

    Nodding slightly to himself Ardraket starts making his way towards the spires, keeping his eyes open for any officer who would be vulnerable to a private conversation.
    My DM Reputation
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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...

  12. - Top - End - #102
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

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    Mar

    Mar flinched as the girl moved forward to touch her, then held still, surprised. She'd been talking to the boy, and forgotten that Caroline had asked a question, too.

    It was over before she'd figured out how to object; the girl had another question she didn't know how to answer, and the boy objected again. The two of them talked a lot. It was a little disorienting after the quiet (well, sort of quiet) days of cleaning in iron and stone hallways, especially when they wanted her to answer a question.

    Finally the two lapsed into quiet, both looking at her and waiting. She felt a nervousness quite separate from her anxiety about being found; it was like they were expecting something from her, and she didn't know quite what it was. "No," she said, voice sinking to a half-whisper. "It's all right. You don't have to tell him. Um." She floundered, unsure how to say what she wanted to. She didn't want them to tell anyone she was here, didn't want other people coming and staring at her and asking her things she didn't know, and she definitely didn't want anybody coming for her. But although she didn't want people to come here, she didn't exactly want the two who were already here to leave, either. Then she'd be alone in the cold again. And her place up in the roof had broken; it wouldn't feel safe to be up there.

    "You don't have to leave because of me," she finishes in a rush. "You can stay here and play. I'll, um. Just watch."
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  13. - Top - End - #103
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    The Mercenary Camp

    Falconer

    Finished with your meetings, you lounge around inside your tent for awhile until at last sleep calls to you. Your sleep is a largely calm and restful one, but late in the night you have a disturbing dream.

    It is night, and you are standing out under the stars, looking up at them as they begin to dance and shift, forming strange patterns and pictures in the sky.

    “Beware.” They intone to you, flashing with a brighter intensity, and you are suddenly convinced that these stars are actually your ancestors looking down with burning eyes.

    “Beware the gilded shackles of the iron hearted, the poisonous beauty of the eternal flower, and the swift wings of vengeance. Above all, beware your own treacherous heart, for it shall guide your feet astray.”

    A piercing coldness suddenly chills your body below the waist, and you find yourself attempting to ford a fast-flowing river, the moss-covered rocks beneath your feet providing only hazardous footing at best. The current is strong, threatening to push you off the rocks even when you do manage firm footing, and you are aware a single misstep could be your doom. Above, your ancestors continue their lecture.

    “The path you walk is treacherous and narrow, and it is one you must forge alone. Only you can choose where to stand when the time comes, but beware. Your heart shall stand divided against itself, honor against justice and duty against loyalty. You must walk the path between all of your desires, and embrace your true destiny at journey’s end. You must not step too early or too late, else you shall be swept aside and crushed.”

    The stars turn to streaks of light as they begin to fall from the sky like tears, and then like rain, and finally a deluge a light that leaves the sky an empty blackness.

    “Without you, even the sky shall weep bloody tears until all light is extinguished, and the world forevermore suffers in darkness. YOU MUST NOT FAIL!”

    And as even the inky blackness darkens and begins to fade away, your ancestors gift you with one final warning.

    “If ever you become lost and your footing uncertain, seek to follow the guidance of the bloody trail left for you. Your first guide shall have fur matted with its blood. Now go!”


    With a start, you awaken from your dream, shortly before the sun would have arisen and you would have awakened naturally. Other than the unease your dream leaves you with, you feel no ill effects from the night, and indeed feel quite rested for the journey ahead. It would take some time to cross the distance to the city of Amaranth and the forest beyond, sheltering Ironheart from the outside world.

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

    (As it turns out, the time of the journey brings you roughly up to the same time frame as those leaving Ironheart now one week after the attack. Imagine that. )

    The journey had taken you a little over a week, but now you stood at the base of the forested mountains leading up to the top of the range where Ironheart sat. It was time for your men to break up into their various hunting parties, their only link to each other the communication crystals that the Baron had so graciously provided.

    “Tell me again what our standing orders are again, sir.” Wulfric asks grimly as his small force begins to move their horses up the narrow trail cutting up the mountain. “If we locate this girl, are we to approach peacefully? Aggressively? Take her by force? If she is in the hands of other prisoners, should we capture those prisoners as well, or execute our best judgment?”

    The emphasis on the word execute suggests exactly what Wulfric believed on the matter of summary sentencing, and what that sentence would likely be for all prisoners caught save for the Countess. Although still a day or two’s ride from Amaranth, you were not so far away that recaptured prisoners during your sweep of the woods couldn’t be taken there for Malohk to judge them. Of course, depending on how dangerous those prisoners were, that might prove to be a tricky proposition. And the Baron had made it painfully clear that no harm whatsoever was to come to the Countess, although given his previously displayed pragmatism he might be willing to accept the Countess returned to him bound like a hog should her madness have descended into blind violence.

    The Ruins of Callaway

    Dorizzit

    At your suggestion, the Ghosts shuffle back, allowing you to take the lead. Kris immediately falls into step beside you.

    “The rest of you wait here.” He says tensely to his men, before shooting a harsh glance at you. “I’m not letting you out of my sight “Korram”. And this forest is my home. You can go back to the Hells if you think I’m not going to help save it.”

    Clearly resolute on this matter, Kris follows you closely as you make your way rapidly through the treeline to the source of the smoke. As you get closer, you can feel the heat of the flames, unnatural in their intensity and concentration. Rather than spreading outward into the rest of the forest, for now at least the fire was contained to a small inferno of a clearing.

    As you get closer, you can feel your skin prickling, but not from the heat. It is a strange feeling, leaving your guts queasy and giving you the powerful sense that you didn’t belong here. Calcifer likewise seems agitated, although he remains silent as you close the remaining distance required to see into the clearing.

    Inside the clearing, most of the existing trees have already fallen, reduced to smoldering ash. A few remain standing, charred black pillars clawing up at the soot-filled sky. Leaping back and forth between them is a number of dog-sized flicks of living flame, perhaps a dozen in all. The air within the clearing shimmers as plumes of hanging smoke curl and dance. And at the center of it all is a massive humanoid figure composed entirely of flame. Sensing your presence, the figure turns its head, fixating on you with its two eyes, blue flicks of flame in the otherwise reddish-orange body of fire.

    You . . . I remember you! The fleshy prison of my brother Calcifer! Do you remember me? I AM INFERNAS!!!

    The dog-sized flicks of flame have stopped leaping from blackened spire to blackened spire, instead crackling faintly as they watch this exchange. With each word, Infernas seems to grow more massive, his flaming body crackling loudly as it expands from twice to nearly five times human size, a giant of flame only slightly dwarfed by the skeletal trees.

    Come brother. Let me free you from that miserable prison once and for all! We shall then consume this ripe world together! It is ours for the taking!

    The Heavens

    Baerdog7

    At your barked orders, the angels all bristle. One even glares angrily at you, flaring her wings. “You do not tell us what to do, mortal. I don’t doubt that it is your kind who is responsible for this!” Immediately one of the other angels positions herself on the wall between you and the angry angel, blocking her from your sight.

    “Go Ander. We will continue to guard this city and its souls until none of us draw breath. If you are able to have an audience with our Lady, be sure to advise Her that we would nonetheless appreciate aid.”

    Turning on your heel with Seymour determinedly following along behind you, you race towards the Palace of the Sun. Arriving at the front gates, you find them still open but guarded by several more angels. Despite cautioning you that their Lady was not to be disturbed, they nonetheless admitted you entry into the Palace. With a soft whine, Seymour plops down in front of the gates, evidently aware that dogs were not welcome within the Palace. As you left your old friend behind and walked into the Palace, one of the angels guarding the gates disappears in another miasmic cloud.

    Rapidly making you way down the corridors that led you to the heart of the sanctum, you finally arrived at the entryway. Here the light was nearly overwhelming, a bright curtain that prevented you from looking directly into this innermost sanctum of the gods. Two angels standing by the door immediately move to block it, drawing their swords to cross them defensively in front of them.

    You are considering exactly what threats to utter to them when a booming voice comes from within the brilliant room. “Allow the Lord General to pass. I believe he has something important to report.”

    Moving aside with a chastised look, the two angels allow you entry. Stepping through into the room, you find that the interior of the room is considerably less dazzling than looking in from the outside. Nonetheless, every corner of the room is brightly lit, the crystalline walls, floor, and ceiling radiating an inner light.

    A long golden carpet stretches from the archway to the two huge thrones set on the dais at the back of the room. Seated on the right throne is Athelion, his massive ephemeral wings stretching out behind the throne to give the appearance that it was in fact the throne that had them.

    You knew that the gods were divinely morphic, meaning that they usually took on the appearance of someone already known to a mortal visitor – what they looked like to an angel you had no idea. It was no surprise to you therefore that Athelion appeared in the guise of your father, although how he likely appeared at the prime of his life. The image of your father favors you with a smile as he gestures at you to approach.

    “Come closer child. I sense that you are troubled. Speak your peace.”

    Suddenly, a brilliant burst of bluish flame erupts in the air just above the center of the room. The light it produces is blinding, and even through closed eyelids your vision goes white for a moment. Then the light fades, allowing you to see your mother floating down to the floor, flicks of the same bluish flame forming long flowing wings – Miriam.

    “Yes. Why have you come here? The heretic Church has not been cleansed, has it?”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    “Aw, come on! You have to play with us!” Caroline whines, earning a look of exasperation from William.

    “We really should be going anyway, Caroline. Dad’s going to be missing us soon.”

    William turns back to you. “If you want, tomorrow we can come back. Maybe . . . bring some food?”

    The thought of coming back and meeting with you again puts a large smile on Caroline’s face. “Can we? Really?”

    “Yes, I don’t see why not. We’ll have to be careful though. Dad won’t want us taking food of the table if we don’t intend to eat it right then, because he thinks we’ll waste it. But I could probably sneak some leftovers out.”

    Caroline looks back to you. “Will you still be here tomorrow? Please? I’d really like to play with you!”

    Silent for a moment, William looks at you, and then up at the hole in the ceiling. “Hey, before we go, I could try to start a fire for you. A little one, so it doesn’t risk burning the rest of this old barn down.”

    Caroline looks excited by the idea of you having a fire, and she immediately runs out of the barn, presumably to go look for wood. William simply shakes his head and squats down a few feet from you, brushing away the standing snow to make a patch of bare ground between you.

    “Now you’re going to have to be careful not to make too big of a fire, because even if it doesn’t burn the barn down, it’ll make a lot of smoke. But you aren’t going to want to let the fire burn down either or it’ll die out. So be sure to add a couple pieces of wood every couple hours. It should last you through the night that way, and our nights are cold around here so you’ll definitely want a fire!”

    As he talked, William also pulled out a small grayish stone from his pocket, worn smooth, and drew a small knife from his other pocket. For just a moment you felt a chill of terror run through you at the sight of the knife. Any moment now, you irrationally thought, William would look up at you, laugh, and then grab you. He’d hold you down, yelling at you to scream as he carved into your flesh.

    But no, none of that happened, and a few moments later Caroline burst back into the barn with an armload of sticks. “Found some!” Casually, she dumps the load at William’s feet, then dances back outside again, humming some sort of tune. William places a few of the smaller pieces into the swept circle, followed by a small scrap of paper he adds from his pocket. Then taking the stone in one hand and the knife in the other, he leans down over the small collection of wood and paper.

    He strikes the stone with the edge of his knife several times, and small points of fire leap off the stone where his blade strikes. Finally, one of those tiny specs lands on the piece of paper, and it bursts into flame. Quickly William positions the smallest pieces of wood, barely bigger than his fingers, against the piece of paper, and they too catch on fire.

    William looks up at you in satisfaction as he slowly adds larger and larger pieces. “My dad taught me how to start a fire. Winters here get cold, and he wanted to make sure I could do it at home if he wasn’t around and the fireplace had gone out.”

    Caroline returns again, this time cradling a bundle with one hand while dragging a rather large piece along behind her with the other hand. William scowls as he notices his sister’s effort. “We don’t need a piece that big Caroline! Put it back!”

    “But William!”

    “No, we don’t! Here, I’ll come help you.” William sighs, adding a few more pieces to the now crackling fire before getting up and leaving the barn with Caroline. You can hear the two of them chattering from outside, their voices quickly fading as they move further away from the barn, dragging the large piece of wood between them.

    Although small, the fire is already starting to warm the air around it, and you wonder if you shouldn’t get close to it. Daddy wouldn’t like it if he caught you sitting by a fire warming yourself. But William said the nights were even colder here, and your body was already starting to ache from the chill inside the barn.

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Meltemi

    Entering the room, you swiftly take down the four zombies in a display that is proof they had not been intended on dealing with anyone but a nosy neighbor or singular guard. As it turns out, your first target the little boy only required a single bolt of lightning to bring down, while the others had each required two, the last barely halfway across the room before the electricity suddenly coursing through its body returned it to its natural, inamublatory state. (You used up only seven charges therefore, not eight. )

    Through all this, the girl remains perfectly motionless on the bed, only her wide eyes evidence that she was aware of her rapidly changing surroundings. She likewise doesn’t respond to your questions save for blinking her eyes once and then giving you a heartbreaking, pleading stare.

    Now right next to the girl you can see and smell the full extent of what has been done to her. She has not bathed for several weeks, which is not a great surprise among those of the lower class, but the complete lack of care for her body is nonetheless startling. Likewise, her gaunt cheeks and parched lips suggest neither has she eaten or drank more than occasionally during this time. Her dress has been torn in numerous places, leaving it a mess of rags that barely afford her modesty. Numerous cuts adorn her skin beneath these holes in her clothing, and although none of them are serious a number of them have become infected.

    But it is the neat lines of wounds running up and down both sides of her neck that most grab your attention. Barely noticeable from the far side of the room, now up close they are unmistakable: neat pairs of puncture marks each spaced several inches apart, forming a dark line of either side of her neck from her chin down to her collarbones.

    A sharp chill of fear races through you at the sight of these marks, for there is only one creature you know of that leaves such marks on its victims: vampire. You had heard vampires were capable of many things, their exact capabilities based on which bloodline heritage they were descended from. Among this myriad of abilities was the ability to compel others to follow their exact commands with a harsh stare. You had never before heard of a situation this extreme before, suggesting that the vampire in question was rather powerful and rather cruel. Why the girl wasn’t already dead was a mystery to you however, as vampires usually finished their victims with the first bite.

    In any case, it would be possible to remove the vampire’s compulsion from the girl, and relatively easily assuming no other magical binds had been used. Of course, doing so would undoubtedly anger the vampire, wherever he was currently (although presumably, neither would removing his compulsion actually alert him unless he had set up another spell specifically to inform him of such).

    /ooc As a note to reduce some of your tension, no, the vampire hasn’t rigged his compulsion, having never needed to before now. So, if you’re willing to really irritate the vampire by taking his little cinnamon bun away before breakfast, you are welcome to do so. /ooc

    WhiteKnight777

    Ross manages a smirk at you for your comments about Bran’s tastes, and even gives a slight bark of a laugh and a slight shaking of his head at the mention you were robbing your own tomb. Most of his attention remains focused on the figure that had been chasing you, and was now standing at the bottom of the tunnel, apparently unable or unwilling to climb out after you.

    “Fortunately, you won’t need to go looking for any headstones marked with the runes. I broke one of them apart and kept a piece for later study.” Ross says, rummaging around in his sack of equipment. “Here you go.”

    Pulling out a sizable piece of granite, Ross handles it as if it were nothing more than a loaf of bread as he hands it over to you. Although far from complete, on the backside of the broken piece you can see runes traced in thin red lines. It doesn’t take you any effort to identify the “paint” as blood, nor the runes as once against being in the tongue of your ancient people.

    Although subtly different than the ones you found in Ironheart, you wouldn’t be able to identify the writer without having a larger sample of writing. Of course, given this was presumably part of a necromantic spell, you had a few ideas already as to which Lord of Blood was now taking the stage. Which didn’t mean anything good for the city of Amaranth from the looks of it.

    Still looking down the tunnel’s hole, Ross startles you out of your thoughts by shouting, “Victor? Sorry friend! I believed he perished in the last great battle of Ironheart! Bloody bastard died a traitor too, from what I remember! Although, that might not have been his fault, seeing how he seemed to be magicked into it! I could make a positive identification if you get that picture to me! I’m in the outer graveyard, outside the city right now!”

    MrEdwardNigma

    Although the figures above you continue to hold a quiet conversation, something about a broken headstone, they fail to reply to you. Suddenly however, the figure who had addressed you previously shouts down to you. His words are unexpected and deeply troubling.

    “Victor? Sorry friend! I believed he perished in the last great battle of Ironheart! Bloody bastard died a traitor too, from what I remember! Although, that might not have been his fault, seeing how he seemed to be magicked into it! I could make a positive identification if you get that picture to me! I’m in the outer graveyard, outside the city right now!”

    Short of somehow getting up the tunnel, you remember that the tomb entrance was inside the city. Fortunately, there was a gate nearby that you could use to exit the city into the outer graveyard. You seem to remember that it was still open, even at this late hour. Strange, considering the other city gates had been closed.

    Iethloc

    Extending your sense towards the manahounds as they rush towards you, you are able to analyze the magical energy resonating from within them. Much like elementals, their innate magical energy was part of their life force – depriving them of it was sure to result in their deaths. Unfortunately, you were unable to determine the exact methods by which Heath was able to create these beasts, as the spells used had merged together inside their bodies to produce a new and unique scent. You would therefore need to keep one alive for further study if you desired to learn more about them. Or perhaps simply ask Omega to rip the secrets from Heath’s brain when you finally found him.

    Desiring to protect your ally, you form a series of whirlwinds around the acolyte to keep the hounds away from him. As one, the three manahounds came to an immediate halt a number of feet away from your small band. All three briefly looked at the acolyte, and then they all opened their mouths and inhaled deeply. Streams of energy burst from the whirlwinds, dissolving them almost instantly, flowing directly into the manahounds mouths as the runes covering their bodies flashed to life. Afterwards, the three hounds turned their full attention up to you, completely ignoring the acolyte and Omega.

    You sensed a change in the bodies of the three creatures as they gathered themselves up to leap at you, and realized that instead of merely absorbing the energy of your spell, they were instead converting it to power a different magical effect. In this case, the effect turned out to be flight as the three manahounds leapt up into the air and stayed there, soaring the remaining distance towards you.

    One of the hounds suddenly yelps in distress as it bursts into flame, the price for ignoring Omega now paid. A moment later however, an icy wind surrounds the hound, starving the flames of heat. The creature is less able to deal with Omega’s next attack however, as she uses telekinesis to drag the manahound down from the air and slams it into the floor. The confused beast simply lies there for several moments, too stunned by the impact to continue.

    However, the other two manahounds are undeterred, and continue flying straight up to you, and indeed directly through you. You feel a sharp sting as the two creatures pass through you, snapping their jaws together rapidly through your ethereal body and siphoning away a small amount of your energy by their mere touch. It was clearly not as effective an attack as the two hounds had anticipated, and they growl in confusion as they begin to swing around for another pass. As they do so, you sense another change in them - their fangs were now augmented with magical energy, which likely would make their next attempts to bite you considerably more painful.

    Ironheart

    The Fortress Basement

    Cpt. Soup

    (I seem to remember your background essentially being seen from the presence of an outsider, and largely involving Abbie’s organization and its activities. I remember you were planning on adding Abbie’s motivations at a later point, but I don’t think you ever did. It would be helpful to me to know that information, otherwise I’m afraid you’re likely to be stumbling around in the dark.)

    Although you make relatively good progress in putting Ironheart behind you, eventually the lion proves its unsuitability as a draft animal. A few hours into your travel, the beast collapses, unwilling or unable to continue pulling the heavy cart behind it. Abandoning the cart full of corpses, the guard dismounts, helping you down, and then the two of you continue on foot.

    Despite the supposed abundance of hunting parties out looking for prisoners, you don’t encounter any during the rest of your travel during the day, and as the sun begins to set the two of you stop to make camp. Not wanting to send up a lot of smoke the guard creates only a small fire, but its heat is welcome nonetheless after a day where the cold has been slowly seeping into your bones.

    While you are settling in to dinner and sleep, the guard speaks a little about his home, no doubt in the hope of giving you useful information. Or rather, what he thought was useful information. You didn’t particularly care what sort of crops his family and their neighbors sought to plant in order to eke out a living nor the difficulties therein, but you did gleam a few useful pieces of information. The town was outside of the Barony to the northwest, closer to your old home of the boglands than Ironheart but still some distance away.

    Due to being located a short distance outside of the kingdom’s borders to the southwest, traveling to the guard’s village would tack on a few extra days of travel as opposed to traveling directly to the boglands from Ironheart. Plus however long it would take to cure the guard’s sister of her unusual ailment.

    Then again, from the sounds of it the guard’s town was out of your former area of influence, at least on your mental map of the kingdom. This meant that no one there was likely to remember you, for better or worse. Returning to your old stomping grounds just outside of the boglands carried with it its own advantages and dangers, and it was possible a fresh start elsewhere might work out better in the long run.

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    Lucure is clearly surprised by your revelation. “Attacked, you say?” The elf asks, immediately lapsing into quiet thought. Finally, he nods and turns back to you.

    “I have no idea who it could be that would attack the humans, for we surely did not. And it sounds as if the attack was quite significant if it afforded you an escape. The Tur will be most interested in hearing every detail, I am sure. This may be the chance we need to truly strike the humans down once and for all!”

    Lucure’s voice grows increasingly excited, and the other elves likewise seem relieved that Ironheart’s garrison was significantly weakened by this “mysterious” attack. Although certainly, there is also an undercurrent of worry, for who was powerful enough to seriously challenge the fortress of Ironheart, were they still lurking about, and would they prove hostile to the elves as well? Knowing that the attackers were without a doubt demons, you knew the answers to two of those questions, but not even you were sure if any demons yet remained alive within the walls of the fortress – there were many, many humans there, enough left that they evidently felt confident enough to send out hunting parties for you.

    “We are almost back at the camp, friend. Do you require food or rest before meeting with the Tur? I am sure he would appreciate a full and detailed report of everything you saw during your escape. Any information on the layout of the fortress, the guards, and these mysterious attackers would be very valuable.”

    Lonna

    Eyes still a bit wide from shock, Klaus nonetheless nods at your request.

    “Certainly, certainly . . . I had already put together a set for you when you woke up. They’ll probably be a bit big, but probably a better match having shrunk a little from their original size.”

    Turning away from you, Klaus steps out of the room for a moment before immediately returning with a bundle of carefully folded clothes in his arms. He hands them to you, and then moves back over to the door.

    “You’ll need to be careful of your bandages when pulling on those breeches, although I suspect your leg has likewise considerably healed. Now I’m going to step out and give you some privacy, but I’ll be right outside the door. Just call when you’re decent again and we’ll talk. Start thinking about why the thugs at Ironheart put a collar on you. They only put those things on people they suspect are mages, so you must have done something that got them antsy.”

    Without another word, Klaus steps through the doorway and closes the door behind him, leaving you alone in the room. Or perhaps not since Garthax could be lurking about invisibly. Ruffling through the clothes, you can see that Klaus left you a flannel shirt along with a set of breeches made out of a thick cloth similar to the burlap sack you initially wore in Ironheart, although not nearly as scratchy. Also included were a leather belt, presumably for ensuring your extra large pants stayed put and a few other minor items (feel free to add any other said minor item, or not. I honestly have no idea whether a quasi-medieval society would have, say, socks or not. )

    As you shift on the bed, your wounded thigh gives out a twinge of pain, suggesting that it’s not fully healed yet. Considering you didn’t feel like screaming either, Klaus guess that your leg was well on its way to a full recovery was likely accurate however.

    Thinking back to your first days in Ironheart, you find you couldn’t really remember much before awakening before the Judge. Those few days before you had been secluded in the Crystal were now simply a horrific blur of terror and being manhandled and threatened by the guards. And whatever they may or may not know about you, it probably wasn’t worth it to try and go back there to ask them.

    Pwenet

    Walking up to the main gates of the fortress, you pass by a number of guards engaged in the same tasks as those you first spoke to – collecting and burning the bodies of the dead. Most were too busy to even notice you pass by, but those few who did nodded a greeting and then returned to work. A momentary thrill passed through you as you passed through the open gateway into the fortress itself, the same brief thrill that you always got upon flawlessly infiltrating a location.

    Once inside it took you a little while to surreptitiously find your way around and up into the correct Spire, but eventually you did. Along the way, you passed by countless bloodstains, both human and definitely not, although only a few bodies. Clearly the guards had focused on removing bodies from the interior first, and it seemed likely that by the end of the day they would be finished with that task. Unfortunate, given that it would be an easy matter to dispose of a guard and leave him in such a way as to suggest he had been a part of the slaughter.

    Still, in their rush to finish cleaning out the halls, perhaps the guards would be in a rush, not taking the time to notice this guard was one of the few they recognized – a mutual survivor of the attack. That could also be an advantage in ensuring that you presence, or any evidence thereof, was not discovered until it was much too late.

    Finally, you reach the archive room, where information about every prisoner ever within Ironheart’s walls was supposedly stored. You find only three guards, two of which are engaged in pulling down stacks and stacks of leather-bound books down from the shelves lining the walls. The third seems content to direct them from a padded chair near the center of the room, and you can see an officer’s epilates on his uniform. Noticing you, the officer swivels in his chair and raises an eyebrow.

    “Yes sergeant, what is it? We’re almost ready to bring the first selection of records down to be disposed of.”

    DJDeMiko

    Behind you, you can hear the dogs snarling as they close in on the two of you. Throwing the man’s one arm around your shoulders, you allow him to lean on you as you jointly hobble away from danger. When you can tell that the dogs are virtually on your heels, you let go of the man and whirl, ready to attack with your makeshift dagger. You find one dog already in mid-air, having decided to leap the remaining distance. Your split second reflexes are enough to bring the arrow around, slashing a wound across the dog’s face a second before it collides into you with a loud yelp.

    The force of the impact drives you to the ground, momentarily knocking the air from your lungs as the dog lands on top of you. Your attack had momentarily disoriented it, giving you the precious seconds needed to regain your breadth and get your arm up before the dog recovered and lunged for your neck with an eager snarl. You were able to get one arm up in front of your throat, under the dog’s chin, keeping its snapping jaws a few inches away from your face by sheer desperate strength alone.

    In your other hand, you thought you had the arrow, but as you prepared to bring it around again you realize that it had slipped out of your hand! A quick pat down of the snow surrounding your hand did not recover the weapon either, and with the moment’s delay the dog pushes down another inch closer to your face.

    Suddenly with a loud roar, the man you had assisted joins the fray, crashing into the dog and knocking it off of you. The two roll several feet away from you, wrestling viciously in the snow. Finally, the man manages to wrap an arm around the dog’s own neck, and with a savage twist ends it life. Allowing the dead beast to slip out of his grasp, the man gives a heavy sigh of relief and turns to look at you.

    “Much obliged for the help.”

    The man holds up a bloodstained, familiar looking arrow.

    “Thanks to you tossing me this, I was able to get a lucky jab in the other dog’s throat when it pulled me down. Figured you could use the help afterwards.”

    The man pulls himself up into a sitting position, wincing as his wounded foot drags across the snow-covered ground. He extends a hand towards you.

    “Think you could give me a hand up?”

    The Hells

    Outside the Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    His hand removed from you, Limier stops, allowing you to pass as he stares at his slightly smoldering glove. “Well . . .” He says with a muffled chuckle. “Let us proceed then.” He follows you up the short flight of stairs to the door, which you now open without hesitation. You do, however, open the door discretely, pushing it slowly open with barely a whisper from its hinges.

    Beyond the now open door you see a richly appointed hallway, something that would look more appropriate in the hall of a noble were it not for the black stone walls and general atmosphere. A luxurious red carpet stretches down the middle of the hallway, flanked at periodic intervals by paintings and statues. Most of the statues are carved out of the same black stone as the hallway, and feature variations on the same theme: graphic depictions of humans and angels being tormented and devoured by diabolic figures.

    The paintings are even more monothematic: all of them feature a blond-haired man with piercing blue eyes, standing bare-chested with a red robe draped over his shoulders and a smirk on his lips. What is interesting about the paintings, however, is the widely varying skill of the artist responsible – some paintings are almost life-like, while others are almost a caricature of what it is supposed to depict. An aura of wrongness comes from each of the paintings however, as if that is not all there is to see about the man.

    From the doorway, the hallway stretches off to the left and the right. You catch a glimpse of the woman-thing carefully navigating a set of stairs at the far end of the right side of the hallway, before disappearing around the corner of a landing on the stairway. From that direction you can just faintly hear the sounds of screeching, although the screeching of a stringed instrument being played poorly, and not from a person.

    To the left the hallway goes down to the far end of the manor being similarly curving around out a corner out of sight. There are no steps going up or down so presumably the left hallway leads to the remainder of this floor, while the right hallway leads up to the second. In addition to the two hallways, three open doorways are set into the one wall, leading directly into the heart of the manor. Two lie between you and the left hallway, while only one lies to the right.

    Attracted by one of the lifelike paintings, Limier walks directly up to it, staring thoughtfully up at the painting. After a few moments, he shakes his head with a soft curse. “Wonderful. Of all the places to end up . . . I should have recognized the name. Stupid, stupid!” Exasperated, Limier turns to you with a hiss, gesturing up at the painting. “Do you have any idea what sort of devil would own a place like this? That looks like that naturally, here in the Hells?”
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  14. - Top - End - #104
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Umber

    It didn't take a genius to put the puzzle pieces together. A necromantic cult, the tongue of his birth, the same arcane sigils that the Lords had used to seize their immortality all those millenia ago.

    This was not good. Kartul was Umber's equal in many areas of magic, and his superior in his particular discipline - and that had been when Umber had been in possession of all his faculties and abilities. And he did not doubt that the potent vampire had only grown in strength, whereas Umber had lost much of his former potency. Umber fancied that it was time to find what he needed and get the hell out of town. It certainly wouldn't be the first time. He was startled out of his reverie, however, by the conversation Ross was having.

    Ah, yes, Victor... I do believe he was not under his own control when he assaulted us. Nevertheless, there's a great deal to be done. I rather suspect this is the handiwork of Kartul - one of my old associates, and probably the single greatest necromancer in existence. If he's coming here, I doubt that either of us could stop him - I certainly can't, not with my magical faculties being nonexistent. The only chance is for me to complete the task I have already begun, and regain my former potency. Of course, I'm not sure I'd risk crossing him even then - or whether I have a reason to, frankly. Of course, with my luck he wants to destroy the world or conquer it or some such nonsense. It seems to be one of those centuries.
    Like dragons and/or allegory? A little writing project I'm working on. Check back for updates, and feedback is always appreciated!

  15. - Top - End - #105
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Pyrene

    Accepting the clothing with a slightly embarrassed smile, Pyrene waited until Klaus stepped out before beginning to dress, starting with the flannel shirt. For the first time she found herself sympathizing with the spoiled young men she had left devoid of clothing when she had been known as the Temptress. Remembering the one man she did not feel pity for, she shied away from that train of thought - the last thing she needed now was to dwell on bad memories.

    Fastening the belt to hold up the oversized breeches and picking up the thick woolen socks, she called to Klaus that she was decent and sat down on the bed again. When he poked his head in, she looked up and smiled more confidently than she had a few moments before. "Could you ask the Countess to come in? Garthax too if he's not already in here. They should probably hear this also."

    While Klaus disappeared into the next room, Pyrene's eye fell on the broken manacles still serving as unlovely anklets. Touching one of them gingerly, she tried to recall the exact feeling from the moment of the mage collar's release and attempted to will the manacles off in the same way. {{If this succeeds she'll take of the manacles before putting on the socks - otherwise she'll just put the socks over them.}}

    When Klaus returned, Pyrene waited for her audience to get settled, then pulled her knees up under her chin, ignoring the mild protest from her injured thigh, and spoke.

    "I'm not quite sure where to begin. I told you, Countess, that I've gone by many names, and Pyrene is only my most recent one. What I didn't tell you is that you've probably heard of me as Pyrene the Temptress. I became the Temptress in order to provide for my half-sister, Ariella -- to make sure she never has to live the life our mother lived, or die the death she died.

    "Ariella was very young when our mother... when an angry customer killed our mother. It wasn't hard to find a family willing to take her in. She's fully human, unlike me. Mama said my father was a half-elf, though how she knew that I have no idea.

    "Anyway, I've been sending money to pay for Ariella's upbringing ever since. As the Temptress I was able to make more than ever, without hurting anything but the pride of some spoiled, rich young men. Everything was going according to plan until one of those men turned out to be like Mama's last customer. He pulled a dagger on me, there was a struggle, and somehow the knife managed to hit one of the big veins in his neck.

    "They caught me shortly after that and put me on trial. One of the court magicians got really worked up and kept calling me 'a wicked sorceress.' I had no idea what he was talking about, so I thought he was just trying to make me sound more dangerous than I was so they could do something drastic. When I got sent to Ironheart I figured my theory was right.

    "After the collar zapped me the first time I realized I'd been using magic to help me lure in marks. Since then I haven't really had much of a chance to figure out what I can and can't do. What I did figure out I had to learn on the fly, trying to get away from Alph- from the mage.

    "I guess that fight must have brought the magic to the surface. That, or maybe the dream I had right before I woke up - it felt too real for a dream. I couldn't see anything, but I could hear and feel and smell. I've never been able to smell in a dream before. A strange voice called me 'daughter' and said I hadn't fulfilled my potential. Then it told me to 'awaken.' The next thing I remember is waking up in the bed, and the rest you know."


    {{OOC: If there are major reactions / questions in there, Pyrene will pause / answer as appropriate before continuing.}}

    "Now that I've told you all that's relevant about myself, I have a couple questions for you, Klaus, if you don't mind. You're a former Warden of Ironheart, correct? So why didn't you leave us, or at least me, to freeze? You must have seen the brand before you got us here. For that matter, why are you on such poor terms with the Baron that turning us in would endanger yourself as well?"
    I started a blog!
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  16. - Top - End - #106
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Korram Alstan
    Oh S***

    Korram stares in horror at the manifested Lord of the Inferno. He leaps out of the way of a sheet of flame, rolling and hastily making a portal similar to the one that defeated the elemental last time. Korram heaves it at Infernas, and the portal passes through its targets arm, absorbing a large chunk of the appendage. Infernas, however, merely chuckles horribly before regrowing the limb fully.
    Alright, I can still do this. Just gotta aim for the body next time.
    Korram pulls together the energies to make a portal once more, binds them together, and heaves the collection at Infernas...to no effect whatsoever. In his surprise, Korram barely manages to dodge the retaliatory strike.
    Uh...Calcifer?
    What do you want me to do? Portals are powerful magic. I can only put together one every few hours. So I'd advise that you figure out a different way to defeat Infernas.
    Korram's momentary indecision costs him, as Infernas releases another deadly tongue of flame. Korram manages to dodge, but only barely, and the intense heat blisters the skin of his left arm. Screaming in agony, it's only his fear of further burns that keeps him moving.
    Calcifer? I need that arm! Heal me up!
    ...
    What is it? Calcifer?
    Infernas has the same powers as me. I cannot heal wounds inflicted by him.
    Same powers...wait a minute! That's it!
    Korram rolls, coming up an firing off a blast of flame at Infernas. The titanic elemental easily absorbs it.
    Perfect.
    Korram opens himself up, allowing him to absorb flames directed at him. Tensing himself up, he allows Infernas power to surge over him, drawing it in and using the energy. This is effective...for approximately three seconds. The power overwhelms Korram, and he ultimately is forced to leap from the flames, barely avoiding serious injury.
    Calcifer! Help!
    What? Do I have to do everything? Fine...
    Calcifer opens "his" mind to Korram, granting him greater understanding of the nature of fire. The regular fire found in Korram's plane is the lowest, and Banefire is the strongest, but there are other, intermediate ranks. Calcifer opens Korram's mind to one of these.
    Remember: Infernas is as powerful as me; you have to incapacitate or kill him with one shot. I would prefer that you leave him alive, however. He is my friend, despite the fact that he is...misguided.
    ...alright...
    Korram draws upon Calcifer's power, boosting his abilities to superhuman levels. He jumps and rolls away from Infernas next attack, and then leaps into the air, using a branch from a nearby tree to propel him high above Infernas.
    Whereisitwhereisitwhereisit...THERE!
    Korram descends like a meteor. As he falls, his arm ignites, but not with his characteristic crimson fire. Instead, blue flame licks his arm, but does not burn it. Falling past Infernas, Korram stabs his extended fingers down into Infernas' shoulder. The titan's laughter is cut short into a scream of pain when Korram severs the appendage, which falls to the ground and shrivels as the blue flames consume it.
    "The Fire That Does Not Burn...long, stupid name, but I like it."
    Infernas shrieks out incoherent threats as it disignites its body.
    "Sorry, I couldn't hear that. Guess it's time to wrap this up."
    Korram spreads the flames up his body, and then propels himself straight into the middle of Infernas' stomach. Emerging out the other end, he bears with him the charred corpse of Infernas' new host. With a quick motion, he severs the head from the body, searing the latter with the blue flames. In one final motion, Korram wreaths the head in blue flames, keeping them away from Infernas but making sure he can't extend his reach from the head. Korram stands and turns to Kris, tossing the head up and catching before putting it under his arm.
    "Alright, we're done here. Lead on."
    Last edited by Dorizzit; 2009-03-31 at 08:19 AM.
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  17. - Top - End - #107
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Dasson

    Dasson nods his thanks to the man, not wanting to waste more time, and proceeds to help him run again.

    He will continue running in the same direction with the same plan.
    Annoying Gamer says - Hollywood is sooooooooo unoriginal. Hey, check out my dual wielding drow Drazzit!

    Annoying Gamer says - My level 1 character's background is pretty complex. After fighting in the three great wars, he was forced to return home and kill an elder dragon single handily.

  18. - Top - End - #108
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Telest

    "Yes, food and rest would be nice. It's been a while since I've had much of either." What am I going to tell them? I obviously can't tell them of the demons, so what can I tell them? "I'll try to remember as much as I can." He turns to look at the elves surrounding him. They were definately military with the way they acted. Alert and orderly. He watched as they marched carefully through the forest.
    Avatar by Onasuma

  19. - Top - End - #109
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Sohssal

    The incorporeal demon grinned - or whatever the closest he could get to that - as he briefly pondered over the nature of these interested manahounds. However, once they tried to devour HIM, he had to put a stop to them. "Now it's time for the hands-on part of this experiment..." he half-muttered, and gathered up a bit of magical energy. He shot a lance of it towards each manahound, but he doubted they could absorb it. It was dispelling magic. But instead of simply snuffing out magical energy, it unraveled it. This was a spell Sohssal developed after he needed to devour magical energy to survive, since it left behind the raw energy of the spell for him to absorb. Just to be safe, however, he sank into the floor as the manahounds came, so either way he wouldn't get devoured.
    Order of the Pstick Avatar by Sneak

  20. - Top - End - #110
    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Ruya

    As Ruya saw and recognized the puncture marks for what they were, she drew in a sharp breath. It would be a simple task to break the compulsion: a simple blood circle naturally attuned to the same magic vampires manipulated subconsciously to survive, and was the most efficient method to break a vampire’s spell. It had been one of the less pleasant circumstances that had given her a need for such a spell, but she did have to admit it had ended up far more useful than she would have preferred.

    Holding her dagger tightly, she pricked her thumb and forced a drop of blood to well up. As she lightly used the point of the dagger to trace out the small circle on the sheet beside the girl’s neck, she couldn’t help but think about what this meant. She had only had to ever deal with one vampire, and every time she had faced that creature, she had always had several mercenaries between her and him. Varlest had not been a pleasant sort, being cruel, petty, and vindictive even at the best of times, and she had first met him as an adversary during a mission with several other mercenaries that had ended up a massacre. He had also dealt primarily in necromancy, especially zombies like these, and he had usually worked through cults and subversive manipulation, using his ability to sway or outright compel others to his advantage. Still, he was not the sort to play about with anyone, being paranoid enough to consider anyone and anything a potential threat, and from what she had learned, most vampires were more like him than the mystery guest who had done this. Also, the minor issue with Varlest being the culprit was that he was quite dead. Normally for a vampire, that was tautological, but in Varlest’s case, Lucine, Sahli, and Harn had confirmed that he was nothing more than dust scattered on the wind, the last of the three going into morbid detail in the (vain) hope that she would be discomfited by it.

    The circle complete, she checked it and frowned. Correcting the two mistakes she had made, she activated the circle and felt something ease slightly in the air. Noting with some distaste that her invisibility had been dispelled yet again, she made a mental note yet again to look into modifying the Veind rune on her back to let her inscribe full circles without disrupting it; she still hadn’t succeeded, just as she still hadn't found a method to magically inscribe circles on her body painlessly, but it would be invaluable if she could find a way. The girl looked directly at her now, and Ruya helped her up, at least so that she could sit upright unaided. She asked with concern, “Can you walk? I’ll recast the invisibility spell on us both, and we can get someplace safe.” Her dagger still out, she began to use it to create a larger circle on the floor, the same as the one on her back, with that same rune in the centre. It would be just large enough for the two of them, since using separate spells for the two of them would also render them invisible to each other. It would also still take a few minutes to finish, long enough for the girl to rest a little bit and recover a little bit of her strength.
    Ruya Perist, Flight from Ironheart
    Teira Feiwright, Lost and Clueless

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

  21. - Top - End - #111
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    MrEdwardNigma's Avatar

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    Hans von Ravenstein
    "...Perished?"
    The word echoed through the golem's head. He couldn't believe it. These meant thought they actually knew his master, and he was dead. Then again, Victor wasn't that uncommon a name. Besides, it was unlikely for Victor to have been magicked into anything. No, Hans couldn't quite imagine what life would be like without a master. The humongous heap of metal crawled up and stretched out. Bits of dirt rolled down from the slopes.
    "Catch!" he said to the man above, throwing his doggy up.
    "And now stand aside, please"
    Hans' hands dug themselves into the dirt, and heaved. The huge metallic horror crawled up through the tunnel, collapsing the whole thing behind him, and making the hole bigger by about three times it's original size. In a cloud of dust two hands thrust out of the pit and ten fingers digged themselves into the earth. Hans crawled out.
    "Hello. I am Hans. Hans von Ravenstein" he said.
    "Please don't be alarmed" he added, shyly adjusting his hat.
    Avatar by the illustrious Dr. Bath.


    The essence of a riddle is that it states facts by means of a combination of impossibilities~Aristoteles

    Help me run my very first campaign.

  22. - Top - End - #112
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    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    Upon opening the door and looking inside, over the period of the next 10 seconds or so Tare stopped stock still, stared, blinked sharply a few times, glanced around, made a face, and blinked again, in that order. Stepping to the side to let Limier in, he frowned incredulously. Just as Limier was looking at the painting he caught the last glimpse offered by the... thing.... that had led them in here retreating around the distant corner, and he bristled in its direction, ready to follow it, to discover why it was here, and use that information as a starting point from which to branch out in understanding into whatever else was happening around here. He paused, however, upon noticing Limier talking to him, or perhaps to himself. Then the assassin turned, definitely speaking to the street thief.

    “Do you have any idea what sort of devil would own a place like this? That looks like that naturally, here in the Hells?”

    Tare frowned at the ominous connotation that question held, doubting that it was good news whatever the answer was. He shrugged. "I know very little about... this place, or what might be found in it." He said, looking around ironically at the totally unexpected appearance of a furnished mansion hinting of refinement and aristocracy where he had expected something much closer to the Machiavellian designs of Ironheart. "I am completely outside of my areas of experience... Well, perhaps a few things overlap. Entering a wealthy estate without it's Master's knowledge is not quite as foreign, I suppose," He said with wit running dry, not taking much amusement in his own joke. "What do you know?"
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-03-24 at 07:50 PM.
    Deo Soli Sit Semper Gloria

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    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  23. - Top - End - #113
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Ander Windrivver

    Ander bows before his two deities.

    Pardon my intrusion, Lord and Lady. I have news from the mortal plane, he says, rising to his feet.

    I regret to inform you both that I have not yet purged the heretic church, and I fear we may have larger concerns. I was captured, due in no small part to my hubris, and imprisoned in Ironheart. I spent most of the last fifteen years hanging upside down by my feet from an unholy symbol of Slevir while members of the corrupt church harvested my blood for their heretical rituals. He sighs and begins pacing back and forth.

    So after fifteen years of hanging by my feet, I was approached by a devil. He was able to project his consciousness into my cell, but not physically manifest. He told me that he would help me escape, if only I would agree to purge the heretic church. I was confused, naturally, and disgusted by the thought of consorting with a servant of Azguloth. I decided that it was better for me to go along with him in the meantime if it meant I was able to escape from Ironheart…

    Ander spends the next hour retelling the events of his escape from Ironheart. When finished, he takes a deep breath and looks his gods in the eyes.

    Lord Athelion, Lady Miriam. I beg your forgiveness for the hubris that helped lead to my capture, for consorting with servants of Azguloth, and for allowing Ysora to remain in enemy hands.

    He begins pacing again.

    There are several things we need to address. First and foremost is what to do with Melcara. She has demonstrated to me that she regrets the actions that led to her fall and the things she has done since. She is afraid. She is afraid that Azguloth will destroy her for helping me and that you will destroy her for betraying Heaven. Please, I’m sure that she can be redeemed if only you can show her the way. She needs to know that you forgive her. She needs to know that she can reclaim her place here. With Ysora and Hephestia missing you need an archangel to lead your heavenly host. Melcara can be that angel.

    There is also the issue of Ironheart to discuss. We did succeed in interrupting the ritual and defeating the Heirarch, but Azguloth is not secure. The key is in the lock, it has just not been turned. Azguloth is stirring and the Herald has been released. Once somebody is able to reunite the remnants of the Prophets, you can be sure that they will seek to finish their task.

    There is also the issue of the Baron of Ghast. His army is strong, and he has a lot of ambition. He wants power and will do anything for it. Ysora and the souls of Dacien and his sister are currently in his custody and that is outrageous! The man must be dealt with!

    Finally, there is the heretic church. Right now, all I know is that they are involved in some way with the Baron and I suspect in some way with the plot to free Azguloth, but I do not know to what extent. I have learned that Exarch Morganna is now Speaker of the Church and that Karth the Purifier has been exiled for heresy. Apparently he was also too vocal about the spreading corruption within. I do not know whether Speaker Morganna is corrupt or not. Either way, if you send me back to deal with the church I believe I should attempt to find Exarch Karth first.


    Ander stops pacing, sighs, and looks Athelion and Miriam in the eyes.

    That is my report. We are fighting a war on several fronts and I, unfortunately, cannot be in all places at once. What would you like me to do? Bring Melcara before you, secure Ironheart, go after the Baron, or find Karth and begin the cleansing of the Church?
    Last edited by Baerdog7; 2009-03-25 at 12:09 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  24. - Top - End - #114
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Cpt. Soup's Avatar

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    Abbie Carmel

    Abbie nodded along with whatever the guard said. She became aware that her seeming interest only pushed him to gab more about his family, not the slightest bit enthralling but she supposed she was just too polite to tell him to shut up. She had to admit that she would do well to follow this man. The backwater of a village he called home was well beyond Ironheart and the baron's prominent sphere of influence. She securely believed none had an inking her her being anything more then an old cultist, and an old woman was hardly worth the trouble of recapturing with plenty of lunatics freshly freed from prison. She didn't like to admit it to herself but it came anyway. She was old, too old to be undergoing hard travel in these wild parts alone, it was bothersome that she considered that she needed this man. She rolled up in her blanket nearby the fire and waited for the relieving embrace of sleep to take her.

  25. - Top - End - #115
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

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    Mar

    Mar huddled closer to the fire, wrapping her wings about herself again to help keep warm. She knew about fire: they'd had it at home, and she had stayed well away from anything larger than the lanterns. She hadn't realized it could make you warm instead of hurting you. It would have been nice to have a fire back in her room at home (but he'd never have allowed that, oh no). She wasn't supposed to, but... it was so cold. It was easy to do something Daddy said was bad when he wasn't here to watch her, frighteningly easy.

    Besides, she was running away already. A little thing like a fire didn't matter, compared to that. And it was nice to feel warmer in the cold air. Very nice.

    Her wings were pleasantly hot in front by the time the voices came back into hearing distance, though she was still cold where she wasn't facing the fire. She was relieved to hear them; William and Caroline were odd, and she didn't know how to talk to them a lot of the time (Daddy didn't encourage her to talk much), but they weren't scary. She liked listening to them. They reminded her of the little bits of pleasant dreams she'd had, in between nightmares and waking...
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  26. - Top - End - #116
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Falconer's Avatar

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    Gazrul

    In reply to his lieutenant's question, Gazrul directs his horse to circle the group of men he had selected this task.

    "Your orders, men," he said "are fairly simple: find the Countess, first and foremost. Once we find her, we'll bring her to Amaranth and then to the Baron. Anyone else in these woods is to be apprehended, checked for a prison number, and then either released or sent to Amaranth for judging, depending on whether or not they are marked with one."

    "Any criminals you encounter in these woods: treat them how they treat you. If they run, simply catch them and bind them. If they attack you, beat them down and bind them. If they try to kill you… use whatever amount of force you feel is necessary. If you encounter a mage or something you and your group can't handle, flee and call for backup. We'll get to you as soon as we can. The Countess, however, is not to come to harm under any circumstances. When you find her, approach her peacefully, and only go to the chase if she flees. Be aware she is not entirely sound of mind, and she may try to attack you. If that is the case, do NOT harm her in any way. If the Countess comes to harm, consider this mission failed, and none of us are going to get paid so much as a half-copper. So trust me when I say that we CAN'T afford to fail."

    What he did next Gazrul tried to make as dramatic as possible: his horse reared and neighed wildly. He drew his sword, and hot flames and smoke erupted from his mouth.*

    "We will find her!", he shouted. "The Ancestors are with us, and we shall triumph always!"


    ((OOC: Rousing victory speech? Check.))

    ((* OOC Again: just in case anyone dared to forget he can breath fire ))
    Last edited by Falconer; 2009-03-30 at 09:33 PM.

  27. - Top - End - #117
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    The Ruins of Callaway

    Dorizzit

    After your short but intense fire fight with Infernas, Calcifer’s knowledge allows you to summon a fire that the inferno lord cannot so easily shrug off. Interestingly enough, plunging through the middle of him does not reveal his former human host, but it does speed up his demise considerably. And yet despite this, Infernas laughs.

    Fool! Do you not realize where you are? *Cackle* You’re standing in the middle of a Nexus! Within a few hours I shall return to this pathetic world of flesh!

    Through your mental link you can sense Calcifer’s shock and horrified understanding of his previous feelings of unease. In the same moment, he allows you access to information as to what exactly a “Nexus” is. It is a point where the barrier between the world of spirits and the physical world has collapsed, essentially merging the two worlds together and allowing its denizens to cross back and forth between the two worlds. In addition, most spirits believed that once long ago the barrier did not exist and the two worlds coexisted. Now, such a merging was usually temporary, and actually bad for both worlds as spirits rushed out into an area that might be incapable of supporting them.

    Yes, I see you understand now. Soon both our worlds shall be rejoined! She has shown us the way, and you will not be able to stop us!

    With a last mad cackle, Infernas finishes melting away, his essence returning to the spirit world on the other side of this “Nexus”.

    You can sense Calcifer’s dismay.

    This is not good Korram. I sense what they were trying to do here was anchor the Nexus in place by making the spiritual resonance on both side match. If they succeeded, this portal between our worlds will never close! And only time will tell if they were able to alter the resonance enough, or merely scorch a few trees.

    Looking across the blackened field, you see Kris sheathing his weapons. He has a few minor burns and is burning heavily, but otherwise seems to be alright. “Those other flicks of flame came to life and decided I would make good fuel for the fight while you were dealing with the big one. None of them will cause us any more trouble.”

    Kris wipes a spot of soot off his face with the back of his hand and looks around the clearing. “Never saw anything like this before. Good thing those things can die from a knife in the back same as anything else.”

    Kris turns away and starts walking back towards the others.

    “We aren’t far away from camp now. Nice fighting.”

    The Heavens

    Baerdog7

    (Given how much of this already very big DM is Miriam talking, I'm not going to do the size boost. Just picture that her voice is booming in your head, mmkay? )

    It is intimidating to deliver such a dismal report to anyone, let alone your gods masquerading as your parents. It was also disturbing to see the ever deepening frown on your mother’s face, especially given how rare that expression was for the face’s true owner. The two gods are silent for a moment, and then Miriam speaks. It is clear she is trying to choose her words carefully, but not all venom is gone from her voice.

    “I am pleased that you are here to give such a detailed report, especially given the difficulty of acquiring information from within Azguloth’s ancient prison. I am *not* pleased, however, by your conduct. You are still human, and this makes you blind to the dangers of association with these abominations. As a result you are even more susceptible to their lies and deceptions. Already I see how you are beginning to become twisted to their will, and not Mine! Before you would have destroyed the abomination without a second thought once it freed you. But instead you suffered the devil to live, and consented to traveling with it, allowing it more opportunities to pervert your heart! And worse still, you allowed Azguloth’s whore to live! But worst of all, you have been duped into bringing her case before ME!!”

    For a moment, Miriam’s wings intensify, changing from blue to white-hot flames, filling the room with that utterly overwhelming illumination. In addition, this time there is a wave of heat that washes over you, and for a moment you are sure that you are about to be incinerated. But then the heat and light fade, and you can see your mother hovering in the air before you, fists clenched and her face a mask of barely contained fury.

    “Allow me to assure you that in this case, your compassion is in error. She is not a victim, and whatever she told you was lies designed to manipulate you. Her sins are unforgivable, and have irrevocably damned her! She is sorely mistaken if she thinks betraying her new Master will win her any favor, for it merely confirms her true nature! And perhaps if you had been a more faithful follower, you would have recognized her for what she is and sent her slithering back to the Hells!”

    On his throne, Athelion quietly clears his throat, and you can see much of the anger retreat from your mother’s face, although you suspect it still lingers below the surface.

    “I am sorry Ander. That last comment was unfair – your own loyalty is not in question. But perhaps now you see the division that she creates. She is alarmingly good at deceit. At planting dangerous ideas into the hearts and minds of others, and then denying her own involvement. I am sure she told you some tragic story to prey on your human sensibilities. But her words are not truth, and you must not listen should you encounter her again, lest your own soul fall into perversion. So that you may see her for what she truly is, I will tell you the truth.”

    Miriam closes her eyes, grimacing as if recalling a painful memory.

    “The truth is that Azguloth’s whore did not fall, she was cast out. I hurled her from the Heavens down to her true home the way a human healer would cut diseased flesh from the body to save the rest. She believed Azguloth was right, that humans should be allowed to descend into savagery without direction from the gods, and that We should negotiate with Him. Her poisonous words were whispered into the ears of countless numbers of her sisters, and with Armageddon fast approaching such sedition could not be allowed. In the end I had to remove several other angels who had likewise become too corrupted by association, but the whore was the first to be dismissed. There was simply no other option, other than to destroy her soul, and such a thought is abhorrent to Me. And so I sent her and her corrupt sisters to join with Azguloth exactly as they wished. She made her choice, and I have no reason to trust her again with another chance to corrupt even more of her sisters. I have no reason to even believe that she is sincere, for they are merely words, which she has already proven quite adept at twisting to suit her own ends. Although your choices are your own, I strongly urge you that should you encounter her again, you destroy her without hesitation or pity. She can only do more evil to innocents while wandering the face of your world. But enough about Azguloth’s whore – we have more important concerns.”

    Miriam then lifts one hand to hold it outstretched, palm up. A pillar of fire erupts from Her hand a moment later, quickly solidifying and fading away to reveal a sword which She grasps by the blade with Her other hand. She offers the hilt of the blade to you, and as you take it into your hands She pulls Her hand up along the blade leaving a heavy blood trail. With the top half of the blade soaked in blood, the excess liquid slides down towards the hilt, and within a few moments the entire blade is coated. The blood then seems to seep into the metal of the sword, and within another few moments the blade is dry again although now the strange dull metal of the weapon has a slight reddish tint to it. In other ways, like your previous gifted blade the workmanship of the sword is exquisite, and you can see the hilt of the weapon is encrusted with jewels. Miriam then hands you a similarly beautiful scabbard as she begins to explain the weapon’s purpose.

    “I am growing increasingly concerned by the disappearance of My servants, and the growing rapidity in which they are being taken from here. I do not know our enemies’ intentions with that many angelic souls, but there is a chance that in addition to Azguloth’s whore you will cross swords with other angels. In such a situation this blade will give you a significant edge. I am sure you have by now been witness to the impressive regeneration gifted to both you and My servants. This sword has been imbued with the reverse of the energies woven into your bodies that grants such power. As such, wounds inflicted upon divine creatures by that weapon will not regenerate, and indeed likely be difficult to heal through magic, mortal or divine. It’s entirely possible that the mortal shell of an angel cut by that blade will bleed to death eventually from even the smallest of wounds. I hope I don’t have to tell you not to allow yourself to be injured by it, and certainly not to allow it to fall into the wrong hands.”

    Miriam shakes her head and then casts her eyes down to the floor, focused on something unseen beyond the floor’s surface.

    “I shall be honest when I say that I do not know if you should even return to the mortal realm at all. You are indeed only human, and perhaps it was a mistake in the first place to send you, especially alone. I am becoming convinced that your world is too far gone beyond one man’s ability to save it.”

    Miriam shakes her head and looks back up at you.

    “I dislike interfering too directly in mortal affairs, for other than Dacian and the meaningless rebellion of undeath, your lives are all insignificantly short. To deal with every troublesome mage who summoned an angel to bind into service would result in the Heavens emptying to deal with every new mage that appeared every second from our viewpoint here. Large organizations, such as the Church, are dangerous however if left to continue corrupting future generations, which is why you were sent. But even such organizations can seldom withstand the onslaught of time. As such the world is birthed anew every few centuries, and no mortal ambition can last. What is happening now, however, is different.”

    Miriam clenches her fists once more, and that withering look of disapproving anger returns.

    “The Baron personally angers Me. He taunts Me with his blasphemy, and his imprisonment of Ysora and Elandra is an affront which shall never be forgiven. With each passing moment he inflicts a new offense against the world, his latest being the capture of Incom Morgan’s soul! But . . . it will be difficult to move against him directly. Everything is moving so quickly, and the Baron is not our only enemy.”

    A note of . . . exhaustion(?) has crept in underneath Miriam’s anger now.

    “Despite his successes, the Baron is not the grave threat facing your world. The danger comes from a multitude of individuals just like him, each in pursuit of their own agendas. Ironically, Dacian controlled or directed many of them, and his defeat has only spurred them on towards their own goals. Singly they hold no more chance of achieving a meaningful victory than any who had come before. But together, they hold the power to mar the face of your world forevermore. I am not sure what can be done to stop them. It . . . may require direct intervention to save your world, even without Azguloth becoming involved. Perhaps the world has simply fallen too far, and a cleansing is necessary. I need more time to determine what path must be taken for the world’s salvation. You are to return and do what you can to stem the tide of darkness, starting with the Church. You will face many difficult moments in the time ahead, Ander. You must remain strong in your convictions, no matter what faces Azguloth’s servants choose to wear before you. You may go now, unless you have other pressing questions.”
    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    You are finally growing warm when William and Caroline return, each carrying a bundle of thick sticks. These they add to the pile, and William nods in satisfaction. “That should last you all night. Just add a couple every time the flames start to get low. You can do that, right?”

    Caroline dusts her hands off, and then pouts. “Are you *sure* we have to go William?”

    William glances at you, but then firmly nods. “Yes, I’m certain. It’s getting late and dad is going to be upset if we don’t get back soon.”

    “Awright.” Caroline says, continuing her pout, but then smiling again as she looks at you. “We’ll come back tomorrow, okay!? We’ll try to bring you something to eat too! Uhh . . . angels need to eat, don’t they?”

    “Come on.” William says, taking hold of Caroline to guide her towards the barn door. “We will come back tomorrow. Remember, put on only a handful of sticks every time the flames get low and you should be fine. Goodbye Mar!”

    And with that, the two children disappear again, and you are alone with just the fire for company. You realize suddenly that you feel exhausted, and evidently the brief sleep you managed before the children arrived had not been much. But you weren’t sure what to do about the fire either. Should you just hope to wake up in time to put more sticks on, or should you put a few extra on in the hopes that it will keep the fire going until you wake back up? You also remember seeing a large piece of old dusty cloth up in the chest, that you might be able to stretch out and wrap around yourself for warmth. Or, assuming the cold in the barn didn’t grow too bad again, you could simply curl up and do what you did every night before this: endure.

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Meltemi

    Preparing the small rune with your blood, you quickly dispel the vampire’s hold over the girl. The girl winces as her stiff body is finally granted the ability to move again, and quite clearly grunts in pain as you help her to sit up. And yet as the thought finally dawns on her that she is free to move again, she clings to you with surprising strength. She then begins to make a horrid croaking sound, which you eventually determine to be sobbing from the shivering of her body that accompanies each distorted wail.

    Eventually you are able to calm the girl down, and she sits back against the headboard of the bed, arms wrapped around herself and still shivering. She occasionally flexes her limbs, and slowly nods when you question her if she can walk. You notice her eyes flit about the room, rarely staying in one spot for long. She barely even looks at you, and *never* up at your face, even as she opens her mouth to croak out a few thin words.

    “Maybe. Water? Please?”

    The girl raises a finger to point at a large wooden cup sitting on a nearby stand, close to the bed. It is within easy reaching distance of her, and yet the girl does not reach for it herself. Nor does her expression imply that she expects you to grant her request.

    She sits there passively for another few moments, and then tilts her head back, as if to show you the bite marks on her neck.

    “I belong to another. He’ll be mad if you –“

    Here the rush of words seems to get caught in the girl’s throat, and she coughs loudly for a minute before finishing.

    “If you eat me.”

    WhiteKnight777 & MrEdwardNigma

    Ross catches the offered dog, cradling it under one arm and favoring it with a slight smile. The dog sniffs the armored wolfman intensely, and then gives a short bark and wags its tail vigorously. Ross’s perpetual scowl deepens as Umber explains the likely source of the arcane runes.

    “Great. It’s a sure bet Helion is here to meet up with him; he seems to have a fascination with your kind. And that’s another of your foul ilk running around, about to make a mess of things. And really, is there a single one of you that *hasn’t* tried to destroy the world? I suppose you haven’t done so yet, but I’d bet you have a contingency plan for such in the event you get bored. Bah!”

    Ross turns away at the sound of Hans burst up through the earth, quirking an eyebrow at the giant metal golem. “A golem eh? This is starting to sound like a bad joke involving a tavern.” Ross looks the golem up and down thoughtfully, before offering the dog back to him.

    “Interesting. I guess Victor wasn’t only interested in flesh. Well big fella, what are you going to do now? Because I could probably use another set of hands tonight if you aren’t the squeamish sort. I’ve got a necromancer to foil, and sissy boy here is planning on cutting and running.”

    Ross hooks a finger at Umber and shakes his head with mock sadness.

    “Dunno why he’s so yellow, especially after we already sent one of his comrades packing. But then, that seems to be his solution for everything. Run away and hide until the danger has passed. Pah, vampires. Should be able to change into poultry instead of bats.”

    Ross shrugs.

    “But go on, run away little bloodsucker. Take the boy with you and keep him out of trouble – if I find out you’ve been feeding on him though, I’ll rip your fangs out. Of course, if your plan is to go back into Amaranth, I’m afraid you’re out of luck as the gates are closed at night. No one’s getting back in there until sunrise, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to wait that long.”

    Iethloc

    Each struck by one of the rays, the two manahounds howl in agony as ribbons of magical energy burst from within their bodies. Part of their physical body actually disintegrates from the process, leaving them a pile of disparate pieces that collapse messily into twin piles onto the stone floor. Meanwhile Omega has used telekinesis to slam the third beast repeatedly against the ceiling before dropping it back down to the floor, and it now strongly resembles its pack mates.

    The acolyte does his best not to become ill as he steps over and around the dead dogs, focusing his attention on the communication crystal in the ceiling.

    “That’s twice now you’ve failed to kill us. If I were you, I’d make this easy on myself and just give up. Come on out here, tell us what we want to know, and maybe I won’t kill you.”

    Do you really think I could have gotten as far as I have if I told every idiot who came around whatever they wanted to know? Still, my previous defenses have also proven sufficient to deal with such idiots. I know when the time for negotiation has come. Tell me what you want, and perhaps I can give it to you. Surely you have been sent here for a reason. Perhaps to claim some dirty little secret I hold over one of the other Council members?

    Ironheart

    The Fortress Basement

    Cpt. Soup

    You do your best to curl up and go to sleep despite the cold, hoping that you had not escaped from the iron walls of Ironheart at last to instead die in your sleep. It seemed that such was not to be your fate, for late in the night you are awakened from your slumber.

    At first you are unsure what it was that causes your eyes to suddenly snap open, but then you see a dark figure standing over you. It is not the guard, but rather someone else, a bit taller and more slender, with a nocked bow aimed downward at your chest. The figure shifts back a step upon seeing you awaken, and by the moonlight streaming down through the trees you can see enough of its face to identify it as an elf.

    “Don’t move, or perish.” The elf says to you with a slight accent.

    Beyond him, you can see two other elves approaching the guard, one elf kicking him awake while the other quietly commands him to lie still.

    “You are prisoners now.” The elf covering you says. “Do as we say and we won’t kill you yet. Now what are you doing out here? Were you sent out on patrol?”

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    The small band of elves quickly leads you along through the forest, until at last you come to the elf encampment. Although your people preferred to sleep under the stars or in hammocks, here the cold climate made that impossible. As such, the encampment strongly resembled a human one, with numerous tents scattered within a small clearing and throughout the trees surrounding it. Near the center of the clearing stood a considerably larger tent, which was no doubt where the Tur was currently.

    As promised however, the small band of elves leads you not to that central tent but to a smaller one within the clearing a short distance away. The elves settle you down in front of the fire pit set up in front of that tent, offering you a blanket to wrap around yourself as further protection against the cold. Interestingly enough, within the fire pit was not a fire, but rather a large crystal jar containing a swirling mixture of liquid. Known as alchemist’s fire, it was often used to create more controllable sources of heat and light than actual fire. Right now, the mixture of reagents was set to produce more heat than light, due to it being day.

    Looking around, you noticed that while many tents were clustered around a single fire pit, there were easily a dozen such pits within the clearing alone. The Tur had brought a very sizable force with him indeed, along with a considerable amount of resources for an assault against the fortress.

    Nodding at you, the other elves depart, leaving you and Lucure alone. Momentarily ducking inside one of the tents, he returns with a clutch of berries and a waterskin. “Here, eat your fill my friend. I should also be able to provide a change of clothes if you so desire. And if you still require some rest, you may sleep within my tent for a few hours. The Tur will wait no longer than that I’m afraid – I believe he intends to launch the attack against Ironheart as quickly as possible before the enemy can react. And naturally, your information about the fortress being greatly weakened would be most helpful in accelerating those plans. But for now, eat and rest. You have certainly earned it.”

    Falconer

    At the end of your rousing speech, your men gave a loud shout of agreement, one and all, gnolls and humans. Following your decree, they split up into their separate groups, each search party seeking to carry out your orders how best they saw fit. Within perhaps half an hour, most of your men were gone, heading off into the snow-covered forest. It would take days for you to search the entire mountainous area surrounding Ironheart. Hopefully, the Countess had found somewhere relatively safe, and would still be alive when you eventually found her (and you would find her).

    Taking charge of your own personal search party, you set off into the forest, following the paths as best you could to help the horses in their ascent. A few hours pass quietly with you and your men encountering nothing but small game animals, and the communication crystal humming occasionally as the search party leaders check in.

    But then Harold Delmonte, one of your lieutenants, calls in and his brief report causes your blood to begin to race. “Sir! We’re under attack!” In the background, you can hear loud shouts as orders are given, and men scream out their dying breaths, along with the steady whistle of arrows being traded back and forth. “We were following a trail, we thought it would lead us to a prisoner! Now we’re suddenly taking arrow fire from the trees! They’re in the damn trees!”

    A second later, the communication crystal goes dark with a final loud shattering sound. Although hardly familiar with this magic, the only thing you could assume that could cause such a thing was for the crystal on the other end to suddenly stop working. Judging by his reports, Harold’s party was not far from your own at the time of his attack. If you hurried, you might arrive in time to assist . . . or merely to stumble into the same ambush.

    Lonna

    You manage to get dressed quickly, with only a slight twinge of pain from your thigh. Unfortunately, the iron shackles still locked around your ankles are less cooperative than the magical metal collar, even when you give a frustrated, vigorous tug on each of them. Rolling your socks up over the unpleasant reminders of your stay in Ironheart, you call out to Klaus.

    Within a few minutes both Klaus and the Countess are sitting down in front of you, each cradling a large steaming tankard of something. Klaus hands you a third tankard before pulling up a chair, Rudolf curling up beneath it.

    “I figured by now the two of you would be getting hungry, but after dinning on Ironheart fare I didn’t think you could handle anything too rich. So this is just a bit of thin soup to get you started – try not to burn your throat. Unlike your friend, who got a bit too eager.”

    Klaus chuckles, as a slight blush begins to form on the Countess’s cheeks. “Although withering in the long-term, in the storm-term starvation is “merely” extremely unpleasant. The Baron’s men saw I got just enough to keep my hunger at a sharp edge.”

    “Yes, well. Ironheart’s unpleasantness is behind us all now, although never forgotten.” Klaus adds, his face beginning to darken into a rare frown. But his dark expression quickly fades as he motions for you to deliver your story.

    Throughout it, Klaus’s expression remains neutral, as does the Countess’s expression on the surface. But you had developed some talent in being able to read people, and underneath that façade of calm you could see the Countess cycling through several emotions throughout your story – dismay, disgust, sympathy, and amusement foremost among them. Klaus seems to take your story at its word, although the Countess occasionally asks a minor question – Did you show any other signs of magic before, How you chose your marks, Where your victims predominantly rich merchants or actual noblemen, etc. Eventually she seems satisfied, although you still sense that she is somewhat troubled by your choice of profession.

    At your questions, Klaus’s face darkens again, although he forces out a dry chuckle.

    “The reason I didn’t leave you all out there to freeze is because I once almost suffered the same fate. For my refusal to continue as Ironheart’s new Warden on my first day, the Baron had me killed. I was led out into the woods by a team of my own men, and shot in the back. They left me for dead, and would have succeeded were it not for Rudolf’s mother. Gods know why she saw me as a friend instead of food, but she woke me up and led me back to her cave, and then saw to it that I had food. I only survived because of her, and I never forgot it.”

    Klaus pauses to lean down and ruffle Rudolf’s ears, who whines appreciatively.

    “I had served under the previous Baron of Gast. He wasn’t a great man, but he knew his limits and trusted his people to serve him well. The new one though, his son or an imposter, was simply an ambitious thug. I didn’t like him from the moment I laid eyes on him, and he quickly proved me right after he delivered my new orders. There’s something about him . . . I don’t doubt that he’s a man, but as such he’s the worst of everything man has to offer.”

    Klaus shakes his head.

    “So after I recovered, I built this modest cabin out here, beyond the range of the usual Ironheart patrols. I had grown used to living up here in the mountains anyway, and returning to civilization might have meant someone recognizing me and the Baron getting word that his men hadn’t finished the job.”

    Suddenly, Klaus expression changes to an anguished look, and he holds his head in his hands. “But the truth is, I’m just a damn coward. I didn’t even try to get word out. I knew the Baron was a bastard, but I never imagined he would inflict such misery on women and children too!”

    The Countess lays a hand on Klaus’s shoulder. “You weren’t the only one who turned a blind eye to the Baron’s actions. We all did. Trying to do anything about it by yourself would have surely led to the demise you feared. And if you hadn’t been there, Pyrene and myself would have frozen to death.”

    Suddenly, you see Rudolf become alert, raising his head and cocking his ears intently. Klaus immediately notices as well, becoming businesslike once more.

    “What is it old friend? Do you hear something outside?”

    Rudolf’s only response is a low, soft growl as he rises onto his feet and pads out of the room. Klaus shoots you both a look.

    “We might have company. You two stay here. I’m going to go get my welcome crossbow.”

    As Klaus leverages himself out of the chair and walks over to the ajar door that Rudolf slipped through a moment later, the Countess shoots you a worried look.

    “Can you walk Pyrene? If Klaus the hermit has visitors, I suspect we’ll be needing to run shortly.”

    DJDeMiko

    With the man heavily leaning on you, he manages to hobble along with you to the edge of the forest. Ducking into the cover of the trees, you find yourself safe, at least for the moment. What’s more, the other escapees are nearby, kneeling down behind a large half-rotted away log. They peer over the top of it at you and hurriedly wave the two of you over.

    Once safely behind the log, the man collapses with a low groan, eyeing his foot with concern. Two of the other members of your little band quickly tear strips from their burlap garments, seeking to bind the injury at least enough to stop the flow of blood. The others, not busy with being treated or doing the treating, turn to you.

    “What do we do now, Dattan? It was bad enough that we’ve got guards and hounds after us, but now there’s some third party here killing everybody!”

    The Hells

    Outside the Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    “An incubus.” Limier hissed in answer to his own question. “A diabolic seducer and tormentor of women, much in the same way a succubus targets men. I’m sure he’ll be quite taken by Prince Teareal’s betrothed, but not so much by Prince Teareal himself unless he’s a very unusual incubus. More likely, he’ll see Prince Teareal as a threat once he realizes their relationship, and move to eliminate it.”

    A note of concern has crept into Limier’s voice, and he looks down each hall intently as if doing so would tell him where they would lead.

    “I also overheard the name mentioned several times while at the Baron’s estate, although I do not know if as an ally or enemy. Therefore, I do not wish to move directly against him for that reason, among other things. We must find Prince Teareal quickly and discretely, and then leave this place. Perhaps Vylethar would not mind if a slave at best and a competitor at worst mysteriously vanished.”

    Limier turns back to you, his tone starting to regain its usual measured composure.

    “We should split up to cover more ground. Once Prince Teareal is found whoever finds him should take whatever steps are necessary to retrieve him and then escape. We’ll meet back up at that cabin I passed in the woods just before we met – I believe you spent some time there?”

    Limier turns away to begin moving down the left hallway, but stops suddenly and turns back to you.

    “You know, I have a son. For some reason you remind me of him. Be careful out there. I’m not stupid enough to endanger an assignment over personal feelings, but I might shed a tear at your passing.”

    Whirling away again, Limier smoothly glides down the hallway away from you.
    Last edited by Inspectre; 2009-04-03 at 12:19 PM.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  28. - Top - End - #118
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan
    Is having one of those days

    Korram wrinkles his nose at the charred smell in the air. He rests for a minute, giving Calcifer time to begin to heal the wounds inflicted by Infernas. Calcifer works slowly, and bids Korram to continue. To try to distract himself from the pain of his flesh being reknit, he begins talking to Kris as they walk to the camp.
    "It may not be so great. We took them down now, but somehow they managed to open a Nexus..."
    Kris' look of confusion gives Korram pause. When Calcifer had given him the knowledge, it was as if he had known about Nexi his whole life, and it seemed alien to him that Kris didn't know about it. Then he realized what had happened.
    "A Nexus is a congealing between the world of spirits and our realm. If they can match harmonics, then it becomes permanent. Basically, if they light enough stuff on fire...we're looking at a whole army of those guys."
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  29. - Top - End - #119
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Umber snorted, his tone dripping sarcasm Oh, certainly, let me go risk my life for a city I have absolutely no stake in, and whose citizens would, in fact, tie me to a stake and burn me if they knew what I was. If I needed to fight, I would, but I haven't survived as long as I have by throwing myself into danger at every available opportunity. I rather like living, thank you.

    He sighed, staring into the blackness moodily. Still, perhaps there is something in what you say. Information would be valuable at this stage, and if that little bastard Helion is intent on meeting with my old friend, I doubt they've anything good in mind. And I'm sure it'll probably involve me eventually. Perhaps I can convince the old boy not to side with whatever that little wretch has planned. Mmmm... and I still need supplies, and that really can't wait. All right, Ross, I'll stick with you, for now - but I'm still not throwing my existence away for these rabble.

    When Hans emerged, Umber looked him up and down curiously. He'd seen far stranger things in his time, so if Hans was expecting much of a reaction, he was going to be disappointed. Indeed. If you'd like to tag along, feel free. I'm sure we'll need all the help we can get.
    Like dragons and/or allegory? A little writing project I'm working on. Check back for updates, and feedback is always appreciated!

  30. - Top - End - #120
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MrEdwardNigma's Avatar

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    Hans von Ravenstein
    The golem had stood there, staring. The reaction of the two midnight wanderers wasn't quite what he had expected it to be. There was no fear in their eyes, no gazes of horror. They just accepted his existence with a shrug. One of them even recognised what Hans was, a golem, which was a surprising feat. Hans was the only of his kind, after all, and he had doubted anyone but Victor had even looked into the subject. Sure, alchemists would know what you were talking about, but actually recognising a talking, walking golem as such instead of as some fairytale creature was probably even beyond most of those who'd picked up any of the scribblings on golems.

    Hans vaguely remembered why he had crawled up as he stood there gaping at the unperplexed madmen. His hand went into his coat and produced the scroll with Victor's face on it, rolling it open. There seemed to be very little reaction to the sight of his master's face, which was more of a confirmation than anything else.

    "Tag along?" the golem eventually said, realising he was being addressed.
    "I... I don't know. I was planning to- I do not know what I was planning to do. I should visit the master's grave. This necromancer, I fail to see why he should be stopped. Simply performing a particular school of magic does not seem enough of a crime to warrant violence. The dead are just that, dead, and leaving them rotting in the ground is just a waste of resources. There is too much prejudice towards honest folk who break some small minded rules, instated by clueless peasants"
    That was pretty much pro-verbim Victor, that last bit. Somewhere in his mind Hans realised, but he couldn't help agreeing. He shrugged, which was sort of an odd sight.
    "If this city needed saving I would help, no matter what it's citizens thought of me, or would do to me if they could. Ignorance is not a crime, and if it were, then certainly it would be it's own punishment"
    That was definitely not Victor. Scruff barked in agreement.
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