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  1. - Top - End - #211
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Dorizzit's Avatar

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    Korram Alstan

    Korram hisses in unpleasant surprise as the GHAST reforms itself, effortlessly repairing his hard-wrought damage. He considers experimenting until he can figure out a way to permanently destroy it, but decides against it. Time is of the essence and Kris' is in danger. Hell, Korram's in danger, too. Accepting Kris' guidance, Korram flees through the forest, raising his eyebrows as Kris deters the metal being with a log trap. They dash madly away from the scene of the impact, sprinting until Kris loses his breath and they are forced to stop. Korram contemplates whether or not he is ever going to stop having to run for his life on a regular basis. Kris cuts through his thoughts, accusing him of cutting a deal with the Baron. Correctly. Korram stares Kris down, his flinty red eyes staring down the enraged revolutionary.

    "Yes. I did. During my escape from Ironheart, myself, a number of other prisoners, and several of the baron's sons and other elite forces teamed together to halt the reawakening of Azguloth. We were successful, but at the end we were left weakened and outmatched by the Baron. He gave us all a choice: we could swear to leave him alone, surrender, or die. I had promised Calcifer that I would have him removed as soon as I could, so I cut a deal with the Baron; he would leave me alone until I could release Calcifer, and then I would return to his custody. Make of that as you will."
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  2. - Top - End - #212
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Sohssal

    "Theoretically. But I'm not about to test how strong that connection is," he commented somewhat snippily. As the smells of the pyramid washed over him, he let out a curious "hmm".

    It's not a matter of individual power. I once bound a few elementals and demons into some spires in my lab to constantly generate magical energy. A better question is why someone would ever need to levitate such a large amount of stuff. It's just a huge waste! he responded to his associates.

    This time constraint would only serve to chafe me. If these really are vampires, then I could easily get in over my head. All I could do is constantly suck in all the power that pyramid is radiating and hope I don't meet any particularly ancient specimens... he pondered to his co-conspirators. He decided to test the waters first, to make sure that the energies of the pyramid could nourish him at all. He inhaled briefly, absorbing a bit and taking a closer look to see if there's anything unique among the magical scents.
    Order of the Pstick Avatar by Sneak

  3. - Top - End - #213
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Pyrene

    When the Countess related her description of the nightmares, Pyrene flinched, avoiding the pity in the noblewoman's gaze. "Yes, that was Ariella. But it was just a nightmare. Just a nightmare," she repeated, trying to convince herself as much as reassure her companion.

    After the second memory exchange, Pyrene shook her head in answer to the Countess's question. "I didn't have the power, much less the time, to help them," she said softly. "I can only hope that with the creators of the Prism gone, they will be left in peace. What about Seraph and Korram? How did you get separated from them? And did you ever figure out how you knew Seraph?"

    After listening to the Countess's answers (and making the appropriate reactions) Pyrene advised the Countess to get some sleep and quietly called Garthax over. "Well Garthax, we're out of Ironheart," she murmured with a smile. "When we met that's what you said you wanted. What do you plan to do now? We've all sort of been assuming that you would come with us, but you don't have to stay with us if you don't want to. Is there somewhere you want to go? Something you want to do?"

    {{OOC: If, as I suspect, Garthax says he will stay with Pyrene, she will answer with a single, honestly bewildered "Why?"}}
    Last edited by Lonna; 2009-06-25 at 04:12 PM.
    I started a blog!
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    Thanks to Kasanip for the great avatar of Pyrene!
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  4. - Top - End - #214
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Baerdog7's Avatar

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    Ander Windrivver

    Ander sits back in his seat as he sips his wine, considering Karth's offer.

    Hmm, yes you have a good point Karth. I agree that we would be much more successful if we pooled our resources. I'm glad you suggested it, really. I was afraid the Church would have done so much damage to my name that I would have had to talk you into it. I'm glad I was wrong.

    He finishes the rest of his wine and leans forward.

    So, tell me a bit about the disposition of your forces and where we are. Come to think of it, I'm not exactly sure where we are. It's lucky my teleportation spell landed me as close to you as it did. Anyway, I'm rambling now. Tell me about your forces and what you've been able to accomplish. Which territories have been brought over to our side and which ones are you targeting next?
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  5. - Top - End - #215
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Gourtox's Avatar

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    Telest

    He pauses for a brief second thinking about what had been said. We might be able to sneak in there and get past the guards, but we would probably be caught on our way back. I'm not going to risk my life so stupidly for these elves. Looking Lacu he says, "He's right Lacu. That would be suicide. We should return with what information we have. If we stay here longer they'll wonder what happened to those guards and start looking for them."
    Avatar by Onasuma

  6. - Top - End - #216
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    Tare listened closely, actually interested in what Vylethar had to say, both about the Grounds and its inhabitants. Periodically the pad of a footstep or an absorbed "Mmhmm..." Would echo from a random location around Vylethar, sometimes further up ahead, sometimes from one side or the other, but seldom from where it was expected to. Tare betrayed a shudder upon mention of the Pool, and his mercifully limited knowledge of what it held beneath the impossibly still surface.

    "So... They are all dead. I guess... that makes sense. I mean... how else does someone get... down here?" He asked aloud, as though wondering what that meant about himself. His voice originated from a spot just out of reach at Vylethar's left.

    And it was true-- most people were. In the whole mansion, as far as Vylethar knew at least, there were only two exceptions. Just then, Tare spotted one of the other ones... Though it would certainly have been a touch harder for the Assassin to spot him.

    "...But it's not important, I guess. You certainly do have a fantastic Estate, your Lordship," He said, not a hit of concern or worry in his voice upon spotting his unorthodox ally. In fact, it was almost a load off of the mind as opposed to having no clue at all where the sneaky... person was.
    Deo Soli Sit Semper Gloria

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    Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.

  7. - Top - End - #217
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Ardraket Oldn

    Listening to Vash with one ear Ardraket calmly cleans the knife that he used to kill the demon, while making sure to save some of the ashes. In his line of work one never knew when certain remains might be useful. The question posed to him however was interesting for while they had some knowledge as to where his target went to there was the greater question of what happened here, and what could have possessed the Baron to let another prisoner go free.

    Seeing that Vash is still leaned in close enough Ardraket whispers over towards him as well.

    “I’m disturbed that the Baron let a prisoner such as your target go without a fight. Yet we only have a matter of time till order comes back and staying hidden becomes all the harder. Let’s take a leisurely exit from this place and if we notice anything useful we investigate, otherwise it is time to make our exit. I’ll let you deal with the theatrics.”
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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...

  8. - Top - End - #218
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Falconer's Avatar

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    Gazrul

    "Malohk! Malohk! Answer me, damnit!"

    Things were clearly spiraling out of control here. The elvish military (may the Gods damn them all!) planning some sort of invasion, and now some manner of disaster at Amaranth that...that may well have left Malohk dead. Gazrul began to pace back and forth, the strain of the situation weighing down on him. What could he do? And most importantly? What could he do right now?

    Wait a minute. He had a few, smaller garrisons at towns very near Amaranth. He picked up the crystal (dropped in his anger) and immediately contacted the men there.

    "Attention! This is Gazrul! I want you to send your fastest scouts to Amaranth immediately! Immediately! There's some kind of crisis there, and I want to know the second you find out!"

  9. - Top - End - #219
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Meltemi's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Ruya

    To Delora's whispered question, Ruya gave the best answer she could. "I can't say, but working with the guards will be better than working alone, especially with vampires walking the night."

    They made their way out, after checking to confirm that the street was deserted, and at Delora's suggestion, they started to make their way through the gate. When the gnolls appeared, Delora started backwards with fright, and Ruya froze, her hand on her dagger, as she saw their drawn weapons and armour. They carried themselves professionally and with a military bearing, and though they relaxed their weapons slightly as they recognized them as civilians, she noticed that they kept them at ready. Some of the other gnolls were watching her, others watching their flanks and rear for other activity. Their behaviour, Ruya realized ruefully, seemed to confirm that whatever had happened, it was not limited to the slums or outside the city walls. “Identify yourselves,” the leader snapped, looking from one to the other curiously. “Do either of you know what is happening here?”

    In reply to the question, Ruya shook her head. "We don't know. We've fought one vampire further into the slums, and saw another here. She opened this gate and left by way of the rooftops. We could not see what direction she went in." She paused for a moment, switching gears. "It's very unusual to see gnolls this far from the borderlands. If I may, who are you, and do you know any more about what's happening here?"
    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?

  10. - Top - End - #220
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Inspectre's Avatar

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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    “So let me get this straight. You made a deal with the man who killed Sarah, who killed your wife!?”

    Angrily Kris storms toward you, and when he reaches you he swings his clenched fist around. (You can decide if the fist connects or if Korram glides out of the way.)

    “Bastard! This man is responsible for so much evil, including the past eight hellish years of your daughter’s life! But you played a part in that too, didn’t you!? Was Ironheart that brutal, did it break you? Break you so thoroughly that even now, free at last, that instead of finishing what *you* started, or Hells, going someplace far away from here, you’re going to go back and lick the Baron’s boots again?”

    Kris throws his hands up in a snort of exasperation.

    “You know what? I’m done.”

    Turning away from you, Kris starts to walk off into the woods again, still ranting to himself.

    “I’m done with this whole revolutionary ****. I’m done trying to live up to some schizophrenic ideal that was built up around a man who doesn’t even believe in it anymore. I’m done with this futile, miserable struggle that I was born into. I’m going to go someplace nice and quiet where I can make a living as an artist. Or an artist-thief. Or something. Anything’s better than staying here, getting caught, and turned into a miserable bootlicker.”

    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    Karth smiles and gives a little shrug. “Oh yes, I have heard many stories about you. Quite frankly, none of them concern me – any enemy of the Church is an ally of mine. So long as you are willing to strike down the true heretics and non-believers when the time comes, I doubt we shall have any conflicts.”

    Noticing your empty glass, Karth refills his own first and then offers you the remainder of the bottle. He chuckles and wags a finger at you as he does so.

    “Ah, down to business immediately. I like that. I’m afraid our forces are unbloodied, and mostly consist of farmers and tradesmen from outlying communities scattered about the kingdom. The soldiers and loyal knights within our ranks are being used to quickly train them, and progress is being made. I still question their bravery and ability to stomach the struggle to come, however. Which is precisely why we’re here actually, in the western province of Whilm. There is a mid-sized town a short distance away, Dawn’s Hope, which is home to one of the Church’s main training grounds for paladins. Despite its importance the town is home to only a small garrison force beyond the trainees and instructors, making it a valuable target with minimal defenses. I have already handpicked a force of men to go secure the town while the less battle-ready troops pack up camp. I would be honored to have you lead the force by my side, and perhaps we can even convert a few of the trainees away from their heretical beliefs! What do you say – partner?”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    The next few days are quite uneventful, as no one comes to disturb your solitude. Not even Caroline and William make an appearance. You are strangely disappointed at their absence after their promise to return, and wonder if their father, Jacob, had ordered them to stay away. You are painfully aware of the necessary cruelty of fathers.

    You make a few attempts to wander out into the forest surrounding the burnt-out barn, but always find yourself back at the barn before nightfall. For some reason, you simply can’t convince yourself to leave. It was reasonably comfortable here, and for the first time in a very long time, you felt safe.

    On one of your trips, you had caught a glimpse of a town through the trees, numerous buildings scattered around a wide dirt road. You could dimly hear the sounds of people talking and laughing, along with the barking of dogs and other sounds typical of when friendly neighbors congregate.

    You were almost tempted to investigate further, but then a familiar shiver of fear warned you off after it occurred to you that you had no idea how anyone would react to a winged girl stumbling out of the woods. Caroline and William had been rather friendly, but Jacob was guarded at best.

    Other people might react less favorably, and what if one of them knew Daddy? They’d grab you, and drag you off to him, and then he would punish you horribly. He would whip you, and beat you, and tie you down so you could *never* run away from him *ever* again. The very thought of that was enough to send you stumbling back to the barn, where you curled up into a ball in the middle of the floor and shivered until nightfall. That was the one thing that you now knew you did want – to never have to endure Daddy’s teachings again. Even if that made you the truly wicked girl he always said you were.

    In the end, however, your peace didn’t last. In mid-afternoon of your fourth day within the barn, you heard someone approaching at a run and shrieking your name. A few moments later, Caroline burst into the barn, breathing heavily and stumbling to a halt in front of you. Scarcely had she hit the floor before she rebounded back up onto her feet, grabbing your hand and tugging on it.

    “Mar! You have to help! It’s William, he fell! We were playing up on the cliff, Dad said we shouldn’t play up there, just like we shouldn’t visit you, but we went up there anyway! And William, he – he tripped and fell! He landed on a ledge below and I can’t reach him to pull him back up! I think he’s hurt! Please, you have to help us!”

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Meltemi

    “Vampires? Mmmm.” The lead gnoll grunts, motioning several of his men(?) forward. In response several of the gnolls move past us, heading into the gatehouse. The other half of the force remains by their leader, studying both you and Delora intently. For some reason, they all have particular interest in your forearms.

    “We were not aware of the presence of vampires within the city. Thank you for this information. We ourselves are unsure exactly what is going on, save for the city’s defenses seem to be sabotaged.”

    The lead gnoll nods his head at the black pyramid now dangling in the sky behind you.

    “Given that . . . thing’s sudden appearance, it would be easy to assume an all-out attack upon the city is eminent.”

    Hearing soft footfalls behind you, you turn to see one of the gnolls has returned. He delivers a crisp salute before reporting, “Sir, we found the guards within the gatehouse slaughtered, and the controls for raising and lowering the gate destroyed.”

    The lead gnoll opens snarls at this, and barks something like sounds much like a curse, even if you don’t understand its full meaning.

    “You have five minutes to attempt to access the chain holding the gate up and sever it. After that, we are withdrawing from this location back to headquarters.”

    The lead gnoll turns his attention back to you and Delora. “The two of you are welcome to join us – you should be safe there. At least as safe as one can be in this damned town.”

    Delora’s face pales in concern.

    “But the slums . . . aren’t you going to evacuate them? Try to warn everyone?”

    The gnoll leader sadly shakes his head.

    “I am afraid we do not have the time or warriors to alert the townspeople and guide them to safety before a possible attack. I must look out for the wellbeing of my men, and then the wellbeing of those people I can save.”

    “You mean the nobles and merchants, still locked away in their palaces.” Delora said bitterly, turning away from the gnoll to look at you with pleading eyes. “Please, Ruya. Isn’t there anything you can do to warn all these people? If the outermost gates are just like this one, there will be nothing to stop the vampires from pouring into the slums and slaughtering everyone in their sleep!”

    WhiteKnight777

    (Going to split you and EdwardNigma up for the moment since you’re in separate places. )

    “I wouldn’t say *considerable*.” Ross grunted, waving his hand dismissively at the swarm of gargoyles clustered about in your section of the sky, the only clear patch forming a path up to the balcony. “Still, I’ll take care of the lad, don’t worry.”

    At your offered arm, Mellita smiles and slips her arm inside of yours. Together, the two of you ascend up past the ranks of hovering gargoyles, until at last you’re above them. A few moments later, you reach the balcony, lightly touching down on its surface.

    Immediately in front of you is a blood red carpet, leading through the wide open doorway into a richly furnished interior room. Adornments made out of gold and other precious materials lie scattered about the room, making it feel much like the tomb of one of those idiots who thought wrapping themselves up in cloth was a good way to attain immortality.

    Perhaps a dozen well-dressed figures are standing, sitting, or kneeling about the room amongst all the valuable objects. As one, they turn to look at you, their bright crimson eyes and pale faces giving their identity away. Strange really – Kartul had always been more of a loner back when you associated with him. And speaking of the devil, a near-skeletal figure was perched on an ornate throne made of ivory carved to look like actual human bones.

    Looking up at you with his burning pinpricks of eyes, Kartul raises a crystal glass filled with blood.

    “Welcome old friend. The newest of my supplicants informed me that you might be coming. I do hope you have come here with the intention of standing with, and not against me. Although what’s left of your meager skills will not be needed, we must still set an example for our children.”

    Kartul gestures with his “wine” glass to the assembled vampires, who turn back to face him and kneel, heads bowed.

    “I don’t see Master.” Mellita leans in to whisper to you, but it seems Kartul’s hearing has improved, as he nods sagely.

    “Yes. He is below, preparing to undergo the Metamorphosis into one of this world’s true heirs. The time of the mortal creatures has passed, and soon enough they will be nothing but a pathetic memory.”

    Pausing to take a sip from his glass, Kartul then continues.

    “So tell me Umber, my old friend – why have you come here?”

    MrEdwardNigma

    “I wouldn’t say *considerable*.” Ross grunted, waving his hand dismissively at the swarm of gargoyles clustered about in your section of the sky, the only clear patch forming a path up to the balcony. “Still, I’ll take care of the lad, don’t worry.”

    At Umber’s offered arm, Mellita smiles and slips her arm inside of his. Together, the two of them ascend up past the ranks of hovering gargoyles, until at last they are past them and reach the balcony, disappearing from your sight.

    As soon as the two vampires are gone, the gargoyles swoop in closer, pressing in from all sides – you would guess that there are at least forty of them all told.

    “Massster ssssaid to let the vampiresss through. He sssaid we sssshould kill any other intruderssss on ssssight.”

    Ross just rolls his eyes and readies his warhammer. “Great. I’m sure that’ll win your “master” some points with King Bloodsucker. Hmph, maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll both kill each other, even if that will spoil my own fun.”

    “No one can defeat the Massster!” The gargoyles hiss as the front ranks move in to attack.

    “Yeah yeah, I’ve heard that one before alright. Guess what – they were wrong, and I was right. Now ssssshut up and let’ssss ssssee if you can fight any better than you can talk!”

    “Um . . . maybe we should run away instead? There is an awful lot of them.” Bran suggests as he repeats his previous tactic, freezing an approaching gargoyle back into a plummeting block of stone. Two more instantly move in to take the fallen one’s place.

    Before Ross can respond, the front ranks of the angry gargoyles reach him, three of them coming within range of his weapon. The first one is shattered by a hammer blow, but the other two crash into him, shrieking as they pummel him with their fists and rake at him with their clawed feet.

    Three gargoyles likewise descend upon you, their fists ringing harmlessly off your metal hide. Scruff’s urgent whines remind you that he is not quite so invulnerable, and it is likely that eventually the gargoyles will manage to dent something more important than your armored skin.

    Iethloc

    You’d know better than I would about the effort involved, but if nothing else, it certainly is impressive! And rather intimidating.

    Absorbing a small strand of the energy radiating from the pyramid, you attempt to analyze it. What you find is most intriguing, although also worrying. It is without question necromancy, bitter-tasting and vile, but nonetheless nourishing in a pinch. It is also the strongest necromancy you have ever sensed, beyond even your own initial attempts at immortality. You also quickly realize that it is not trapped demonic or elemental spirits that are being used, but human souls that are providing the power source for the pyramid.

    Only the blackest arts of magic could do such a thing, and while you had toyed around with some aspects, you quickly abandoned that line of research. You are not adverse to some risk, and particularly weren’t while you were still just a mortal man. But you are also a pragmatist, and you realized even in those desperate times that those magicks are *quite* hazardous. The danger comes not just from the volatile nature of the magic, but also because they are quite aberrant to the natural order. Paladins, angels, and other lapdogs of the gods could clearly sense the presence of such magic, and they could be quite aggressive in putting a stop to its use. The fact that the pyramid’s owner was willing to make such an open and grandiose obscene gesture to every holy being in the city said quite a bit about his power – or arrogance.

    While your senses are still outstretched towards the pyramid, you feel another sort of energy suddenly form within the pyramid, and then spike outwards in all directions. It is hard to exactly define this new wave of magical energy, as it consisted mostly of chaotic and disruptive fragments of magic. You hadn’t quite seen anything like this before, although it did bare some familiarity to a school of counterspells designed to confuse various spells by saturating the area with magical energy. Within only a few minutes, the wave has completely engulfed the city, and remains in place as the pyramid periodically sends out new spikes of energy into the existing spell.

    Only a minute later, Seymour comes back into the room, scowling as he throws a heavy overcoat over his shoulders.

    “You all are still here? Well, I’m afraid you’re going to be staying for awhile yet, as something just interfered with my communication crystal in the middle of my conversation with the Chief Councilman. Blasted thing just gives me a mess of static now. I even tried to teleport out to the front gates of his estate, but the damn spell backfired and I nearly ended up inside the floor! So I’m going on foot, and I advise you to do the same unless you think you can overcome this interference.”

    Finished with his report, at least for the moment, Seymour moves over to one corner of the room, fiddling with one of the floor boards until at last he pulls it up to reveal a trapdoor. Reaching inside, he immediately pulls out a bundle of some sort, which he spreads out on the floor next to the trapdoor. As the folds of cloth fall away, you can see an array of potions, wands, and several various orbs, all of which radiate with fairly strong auras of magic.

    “I’m going out there prepared for anything.” Seymour grunts, slipping two of the wands into his overcoat and one of the orbs into his pocket. Pausing as he surveys the remainder, he looks up at you.

    “This is probably the best of the best here, the stuff I save for a really bad day. You three can help yourselves here. Don’t know if it’ll do you any good, but at least you might have a quick snack in your pocket in the event you need to recharge. We haven’t always seen eye to eye Sohssal, but in case neither of us makes it to see the dawn, I just want you to know you’re the closest thing I’ve ever had to a true friend.”

    (If you have any ideas for magical gear, feel free to include the list in your next post. Seymour will likely have at least some of it, provided it’s not too far out there. Or, Sohssal could just greedily grab some of the most heavily enchanted stuff, and shove it into . . . Heath’s(?) . . . pockets without bothering to figure out what the stuff does. )

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    The conflict is clear on Lucure’s face, but eventually he bows his head with a sigh. “I suppose you are right, Telest. No information is worth it if we fail to return. At least now we know that their outer defenses are weak, although some effort has been made to maintain the inner walls. Let’s us depart quickly.”

    Taking only one more minute on the wall to throw the guards’ bodies down onto the ground where they will hopefully be mistaken for corpses missed during clean-up, the group swiftly makes its way back down the rope. It is only the work for another minute to undo the quick-release knots holding the rope to the battlements, and coil the rope back up. As your group sets off quickly across the snow, you can see another patrol of guards passing through on patrol. Thankfully, they do not notice your shadowy movements across the barren field of snow, and within minutes you are once again in the safety of the forest.

    From there, your group makes the return trip to the elf camp in silence. Once you have returned, Lucure nods at you. “I shall go deliver our report to the Tur, if he is still awake at this hour. You may return to my tent and rest for the moment.”

    Walking back through the camp to Lucure’s tent, you notice that despite the hour there is a good bit of activity about the camp. It is possible that this was simply preparation for the attack, but given that small teams of elves periodically left the camp as if leaving on patrol, you did not think so. Whatever was going on, you had no one really to ask, and so you retired to Lucure’s tent once more.

    Unfortunately, your work evidently was not yet done this night, for scarcely had you settled in and began to drift off to sleep but you were roused by Lucure.

    “Apologies, Telest. But the Tur wishes to speak with you again about an urgent matter, and it simply cannot wait. Please, follow me.”

    Again Lucure leads you over to the Tur’s tent, and you enter to find him quietly discussing something over a sketched map of the area with several others elves. The Tur looks tired, as could be expected, but also rattled by something as if things were not going according to plan. Nonetheless, he manages a smile as he looks up to see you. He dismisses the other elves, and motions for you to sit across from him once more.

    “Ah, Telest. My apologies for keeping you awake. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone is going to get much sleep for awhile. There is still much work to be done, and I’m afraid a new, ah . . . concern has come to light. You did good work in scouting the human fortress, and your discretion in that matter proves you could be suitable for this new task I have for you. Yes, I know I said you would only have to do the scouting for the fortress, and even that was optional. Now I am asking you for an additional favor, one which I will do everything in my power to make worth you while should you succeed. There is a girl, not human or elf, who must be found. Immediately. Are you interested?”

    Falconer

    Despite the late hour, your men were well trained. Once they finally picked up on their end, they rubbed the sleep out of their eyes and come to attention quickly, listening intently to your orders. All of them agreed to send their fastest scouts to Amaranth, although all of them cautioned that it would take several hours for word to return.

    One lieutenant was especially confused, stating that he had spoken with Malohk only a few hours ago. The lieutenant believed he had caught sight of a potential escaped prisoner, and had contacted Malohk for advice on how to proceed. At that point, nothing strange seemed to be going on, and Malohk had calmly given instructions to cautiously approach and attempt to identify who the prisoner was first, in the event it was one of those you were supposed to ignore.

    So whatever was going on in Amaranth, it had only started within the last few hours. Unfortunately for the moment, there was little else you could do but wait, and try to get some sleep.

    (If you want to do anything else before going to sleep, post it up in your next post and we’ll handle that first. Otherwise, several restless hours pass. )

    You spend the next several hours in restless sleep. Although your mind demanded to know what was going on and was consumed with worry for what was happening to your men, including Malohk, your body had been trained to take advantage of every opportunity it got to rest. Ultimately, your mind and body compromised, and you spent the next several hours in a light sleep. Light enough that the chirp of your communication crystal was enough to awaken you immediately. It was the lieutenant stationed in the town nearest to Amaranth. He did not have good news.

    “Sorry sir. I’m afraid we lost communication with the scout. I equipped him with a crystal and told him to report in every fifteen minutes. His last report was that the city was now within sight, and a number of large fires seemed to be raging uncontrolled within the city walls – some kind of battle was taking place. He said he was going to go in for a closer look, but that was over half an hour ago. Either something is preventing him from using the communication crystal, or he’s dead. What are your orders for the rest of us, sir? Should we start digging in to defend this hamlet, or evacuate it in the event whatever is attacking Amaranth comes here next?

    Lonna

    The Countess returns your quiet comments with a soft sigh of her own. “Is there anyone who is not suffering in some way? In answer to your question, I sacrificed myself in an exchange – myself for Katrina, Korram’s daughter. Evidently the Baron had captured her and sent her to Ironheart. As for Seraph, it was revealed during the exchange that he was Sir Seraphan, one of the Baron’s sons! I can only hope the three of them somehow survived, and that Seraph – Sir Seraphan found his missing wife.”

    At your suggestion the Countess nods, curling up a short distance from the small fire with a heavy blanket wrapped around her. With your one associate drifting off to sleep, you turn your attention to Garthax. The imp’s motivations had always been strange and mysterious, and although some of that could certainly be attributed to his nature, you still want answers. As usual, Garthax is recalcitrant.

    “Garthax will stay with Mistress, if that’s alright. Garthax has no plans.” Garthax replies with a tiny shrug. “Garthax merely wanted to get out, to escape. Anywhere is better than there!” Garthax adds with a violent shiver.

    “They treat offal better than Garthax down there!” The imp growls, jabbing a claw down at the ground, his meaning of “down there” quite clear. “Garthax saw portal, took chance, then Garthax see Mistress! Mistress good er, mistress, not abuse Garthax! Mistress keep Garthax safe, Garthax follow wherever, until –“ The imp pauses, tiny clawed hands comically rubbing its chin for a moment before it shrugs again and finishes “until Garthax think of something better! But Garthax never betray Mistress, oh no!”

    Judging by the tone of his voice, the little **** was sincere in his statement of loyalty, although he *was* also a creature of the Hells. His word was only worth so much, and if he saw a great enough opportunity he would probably not think twice about betraying you. That was likely how business was simply done down there.

    (I’m going to assume you drift off to sleep at this point, having no one else to talk to except Klaus or Rudolf (barring any Garthax follow-ups). Feel free to add your questions in your next post and we’ll handle those first. )

    Theme: On the Wane, Sirenia

    Curling up across the small fire from the Countess, you wrap a blanket tightly around yourself and attempt to drift off to sleep. Surprisingly, you must still be exhausted from your ordeals because the walls of the cave fade to black within a minute.

    As before, you find yourself standing in darkness. No, not darkness you realize now, but a bleak twilight lit by neither sun nor stars. Instead, the dim light seems to be provided by your surroundings, which radiate with a faint inner light. Some places are brighter than others, and in the distance you can see countless points of light dancing amongst trees. Or, at least, crystalline structures that bear a strong resemblance to trees.

    Looking around as your eyes begin to adjust to the gloom, you see that you are standing atop a small hill. A worn pathway snakes down from the hill and enters the crystal forest, and from there possibly leads to the large formation of crystal you can just barely see far in the distance. It looks much like a castle carved from ice, its bright whiteness standing out starkly against the faintly twinkling forest around it. Were it not for the sharp contrast, you might not even have noticed the structure at all.

    Suddenly, a cold wind kicks up, whipping your hair about your face. And the rustling, quiet voice you had heard in your previous dream speaks once more.

    “Greetings to you again, daughter. Have you enjoyed your true talents? Do you see now the truth from the lies? And with that truth, the path you shall walk?”


    Pwenet

    Vash’s only acknowledgement is a slight nod, and then he leads the procession back up to the surface. Thankfully, you have no further encounters with the Hells’ spawn, and none of the guards seem to notice you slipping a vial full of the imp’s ashes into your belt. Once back up into the fortress proper, it is surprisingly easy to detach yourselves from your escorts, and from there make it back out into the inner courtyard.

    It is only then that you realize you have spent the past several hours within the sunless depths of Ironheart. Outside, it is now pitch-black night, although the inner courtyard is nonetheless brightly lit up by dozens of torches. Few guards are down on the ground within the courtyard, although you can definitely see a number of shapes moving about the torches up on the wall.

    Vash discretely leans over to you. “So, I doubt the guards are letting anyone leave at night. We going to find somewhere to hole up until morning, or are we hopping over the walls – both of them? Furthermore, once we’re out of here, where are we going first? I know the closest city is Amaranth, and both of our guys seems to like attention, but would either of them really be stupid enough to go there? And finally, since we seem to be dealing with similar targets, are we going to continue to work together or go our own separate ways once we get out of here?”

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    “Yes, although we occasionally get some warlock or crusading paladin down here that is still breathing. At least, when they first get here – the Hells tend to have a poor effect on one’s health if you’re just a mortal. Thanks for the compliment, although I’m afraid I can’t take all the credit. Much of this place’s . . . décor was set up by my predecessor. Unpleasant fellow really, but then again what demon *is* pleasant?” Vylethar responds, still proceeding down the hallway. Suddenly however, he stops, quickly enough that you nearly run into the back of him. Head cocked as if listening to something, a smile spreads across Vylethar’s face. “Why, hello there. And who might you be?”

    A moment later, Limier bursts into the hallway from the open doorway, stilettos flashing out from under his cloak. Seeing Vylethar, he abruptly pauses and shakes his head as if to clear it. Then he relaxes, stiletto-equipped hands dropping down to his sides. His voice has an odd tone to it . . . was – was Limier trying to sound pleasant!?

    “Hello. You must be Lord Vylethar.”

    Lord Vylethar turns to face the masked intruder, and actually grins despite the fact that Limier could probably stitch a giant “L” in his well-toned chest with a flurry of thrown stilettos.

    “Indeed I am! Although you can drop the “lord” bit for now, I’m just Vylethar to my friends. We are friends, aren’t we?”

    Numbly, Limier nods.

    “I suppose so.”

    “Good! Now then, why don’t you tell me what you’re doing sneaking around in my estate. If it was to see me, you could have just knocked on the front door! I’m always happy to see a pretty new face around here. Even if it is obscured by some dreadful mask – what’s up with that, anyway?”

    Sheathing his weapons, Limier uncomfortably adjusts the adornments concealing most of his face from view.

    “I doubt you’d find my face pretty if you got a good look at it. In any case, I’m here to collect Prince Teareal, whom your servants abducted.”

    “Teareal!” Vylethar’s eyes flash, and his smile changes to a smug one. “So he *is* down there in the slave pits. Excellent news, this shouldn’t take long at all then. Why don’t you come along with us, - “

    “I usually go by Limier. But I suppose you could call me Limi, if you wish. I’m not sure why I’m going back down there with you however, unless you plan on giving Prince Teareal over to me.”

    Vylethar nods and smiles again. It isn’t a pleasant smile.

    “Alright then Limi. You’re coming along because you look pretty handy with those little knives of yours. When we get down there, I want you to use them to peel “Prince Teareal” like an apple.”

    Again, Limier violently shakes his head, but takes a few shuffling steps forward.

    “But if I do that Vylethar, when I return to the mortal world I won’t get paid! I also imagine my employer will be quite upset with me.”

    “So? All the more reason never to return! Wouldn’t you like to stay down here with me anyway?”

    “I-I . . . guess so.”

    “Great! It’s settled then. We will all go down to the slave pits, find Teareal, you peel him while I and Ahmed watch, then we go find you something a little more comfortable to slip into.”

    “A-Alright.”

    Limier crosses the remaining distance quickly, while Vylethar offers an arm. To your ongoing surprise, Limier takes it, and arm-in-arm the two of them begin to walk down the corridor again. As your little procession continues from this minor interruption, you can hear Limier whispering. It’s very soft, enough that your sensitive ears barely pick it up, so it seems a good bet Vylethar is clueless.

    “Tare. I know you’re there, I heard your voice earlier. Would you kindly punch out Vylethar’s magnificent face? Don’t hurt him though! I . . . I would be sad if he was hurt. Gods DAMN it! DO IT NOW!”
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  11. - Top - End - #221
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Umber

    Umber sighed as he walked through the chamber, looking around. He had to smile... it reminded him so much of the old days. Had he been like this, once? All this pomp and pretentiousness? He supposed he had, and perhaps he still was... but at least he did it with style. This sort of thing was just bad melodrama.

    He arched one eyebrow, wearing a small, amused smile, his tone even. "Meager? That's interesting, Kartul, since you never seemed to be able to create the Elixir on your own. As I recall, my skills were just as essential as yours in crafting it. As for what's left... well, no point in going into all that right no."

    He buffed his nails on his shirt, assuming an air of amusement. "So, given yourself a promotion to "Ungod", eh? Well, it's better than going with the whole "As-a-God-am-I" schtick. I mean that one is pretty much garunteed to end in ashes." he shook his head again, suddenly growing serious. "But what am I here for? Information. Helion was manipulating Fianna back at Ironheart - on your orders, perhaps? Which brings up the interesting question of what you had to do with my imprisonment. But nevermind that. What's fifty years? No, the point is I want to know where Fianna's gone. You know how I felt about her, Kartul. I don't expect you to understand it, or even care. But I do. I want to know where she is, because I owe her an end to what she's become, one way or the other. "

    His face grew set, and something changed in his manner. Beneath his usual jaded mannerisms, something else shined darkly through. Nowadays he was a wanderer, a vagabond who roamed the world only for his own amusement. But beneath that, sleeping uneasily was the warlord, the sorcerer-king whose grip had once held fate of nations and the lives of kings. There was steel in his eyes and in his voice, and one hand sat on the pommel of his sword - not a threat, but a promise.

    "And by every god above and every demon below, Kartul, I am going to find out where she is, so if you or your little spawnlings have any information, I will have it, and swiftly. I have little enough time to waste with your theater and your games and your drama. Some of us have work to do."

  12. - Top - End - #222
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Pyrene

    Pyrene couldn't help smiling at Garthax's antics as the imp tried and failed to come up with any kind of plan beyond following the first human he had seen outside of Hell. "You're welcome to travel with me as long as you wish," she assured him. "And you don't need to call me 'Mistress' all the time either; that was only needed in the carriage to bluff the guards. You can call me Pyrene, like before."

    Retrieving a blanket for herself, Pyrene glanced at Garthax again. "I don't know if imps need to sleep, but if you do, now is a good time. This may be the best campsite we'll find between here and the Viscount's castle."

    Curling up across the small fire from the Countess, Pyrene wrapped the blanket tightly around herself and quickly drifted off to sleep. Finding herself in the dimly lit dreamscape, she was faintly puzzled, aware that she was dreaming but unable to understand why she was dreaming such a cold and barren environment.

    The sudden wind and quite voice that accompanied it were familiar, and Pyrene quickly realized that just as with the last time she heard the voice, this was less a dream and more a vision sent by a powerful and unknown being - a being that had for some reason taken interest in her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspectre View Post
    “Greetings to you again, daughter. Have you enjoyed your true talents? Do you see now the truth from the lies? And with that truth, the path you shall walk?”
    "Lady," said Pyrene respectfully, "I have barely begun to grasp my power. I understand just enough to know that I understand nothing," she added, thinking of a strange old priest she met almost a year before becoming the Temptress. He had seemed more than half mad, but he hadn't condemned her for her profession, and his favorite saying seemed oddly appropriate just now.

    "As for truth and lies, how am I to separate the two? One man's scripture may be another man's heresy, and a truth may become a lie if no man believes it. What truth do you offer? What lies do you reveal? What path would you have me walk?" She hesitated an instant, then pressed on with her final question, her tone less formal and more challenging. "Lady, who are you, and why do you call me your daughter? My mother was killed before my eyes."
    Last edited by Lonna; 2009-07-03 at 01:46 AM.
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  13. - Top - End - #223
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OverWilliam's Avatar

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    ~Tare

    Tare was glad that he was invisible. Because there was no way he could have resisted the gawking reflex, even if it had blown his cover wide open. As it was, he got to hang out to one side, trying to pick his jaw up off the floor as... Whatever this was happened in front of him. Well, that's it then. I am so dead. He did manage to keep from making too terrible a show of choking on his tongue, however, as the next wave of nausea caromed off of his stomach, but only barely. When the two started skipping off arm-in-arm, Tare swore he was dreaming.

    Oh, what a good thought that was right now! Any moment he would wake up, hanging from the ceiling by his chained bare feet, given maybe one meal a day, interspersed with regular beatings and the very real threat of being executed at any moment. Tare almost sighed wistfully.

    When Limier whispered, he blinked in surprise, but was already moving. Perhaps he had subconsciously activated his Speed ability, because all of a sudden, the others' footsteps slowed down almost to a stop. He didn't even notice when the Silver dagger appeared in his hand, and didn't have much time to think before leaping forward. If he had time, however, he might have wondered why there is never time to think.

    At any rate, before the last words had left Limier's mouth, Tare was already in mid-air behind the somewhat taller-than-he Vylethar.... And was ramming a silver dagger with impossible speed right into the base of his skull.
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-07-03 at 05:15 AM.
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  14. - Top - End - #224
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Korram Alstan

    Korram sees the fist coming, but allows Kris to strike him and remains silent and still through the boy's ranting. When Kris finally tires himself out, Korram speaks.

    "Kris. I think you misunderstand me. Ironheart did not break me. Oh, it tried. I barely knew what the inside of my cell looked like. Whenever I wasn't being tortured, I was usually in one of the holding cells in the torture chambers. The guards were cruel to mere thieves who got unlucky enough to be sent to Ironheart. But they knew me. They hated me. I couldn't do a thing against them, and they knew it. But I never gave in."

    Korram walks towards Kris, until he is standing right in front of the disillusioned revolutionary.

    "When they stabbed me, I insulted them. When they broke my arms and legs, I bit at them. When they lit me on fire in their pathetic version of irony, I spat in their faces. You know how I endured it all? I remembered. I remembered the look on my wife's face when they dragged her away from me. I remembered my daughter as she was torn from my arms. I remembered every cruelty, every damn thing the baron had done to me and the people of this barony, and I took it all. I took it deep inside and I crushed it into a core of hatred which kept me strong. I cut a deal with the baron because I would never, ever leave him alone. I will kill that smug sonofabitch with my bare hands or I'll die trying. That's why I cut a deal. The Baron offered to let me go if promised to disappear and leave him alone. The Baron took everything from me. All I have left is my honor. I won't abandon that."

    He brushes past Kris, heading north.

    "I have to go to the capital. If you want to leave, no one's stopping you."
    Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.

  15. - Top - End - #225
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Mar

    It was strange to hear her name shouted; she almost didn't recognize it like that. Daddy didn't shout very often, and usually by then he was angry enough that he was calling her names. Nobody else called her by name, except recently—Julian, William, Caroline.

    Mar couldn't help shying away at Caroline's sudden entrance, and again as her hand was snatched at; she jerked it free once without trying, though it was only a moment before Caroline caught it again. She wasn't used to people touching her, didn't like it. Then she realized Caroline was terrified, and then the smaller girl's words sank in.

    Hurt? She wants me to help? Mar stared for a few seconds, not sure what to say or even think. She liked William, she didn't want him to be hurting, but what was she supposed to do? Why had Caroline come to her for help? Mar hadn't helped anyone... well, Julian, once. But she'd been the only person around (and she'd almost killed him, too). She didn't know how to help a hurt person. "I—uh, I... I can- okay," she said, stuttering until she spoke fast enough to get all the words out in one breath. It was hard to think right now, and if she let herself think while talking she messed it up. "I don't... where is he?"

    Maybe Caroline would tell her how to help. That thought eased her rising panic, reducing it to bubbling nervousness: it was something she could cling to, an idea to follow. She just had to follow, and then Caroline could explain what she should do. That was easier.
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  16. - Top - End - #226
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Gazrul

    Gazrul gave a deep growl, a few sparks erupting from his mouth as he did. Damnit. Damnit. Damnit. He took a deep breath, trying to think rationally despite his frustration.

    Okay. So a force is sacking Amaranth. It is battling the garrison of guards and my soldiers there. It has, it seems, killed Malohk. It has killed the scout who was nearing the city walls without being near enough to be recognized.

    He looked back down from his ponderings at the crystal, with the soldier still waiting patiently for orders.

    "I want you to defend your positions. Call for backup from our camp, three-hundred of our men are there to help. That being said, I want you to send a few more scouts. Only volunteers, though. I don't want an unwilling man sent on what might be a deadly mission. Once you know what manner of force it is that besieges Amaranth, contact me at once and the both of us shall take appropriate action. If you cannot discern what foes are there, start preparing for a siege, and coordinate with the other villages around your position. And, again, contact me at once. And finally", Gazrul said, "send a messenger to the Baron telling him of what has transpired."

  17. - Top - End - #227
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Iethloc's Avatar

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    Sohssal

    (normally when I get free reign over magical items, bad things tend to happen to other people. Although Sohssal is already good at that without magical items )

    "There's magical interference everywhere in the city. It seems someone in that pyramid is saturating the city with magical energy to confuse spells. Not that giving me more magical energy would stop my spells, at least as long as we're not too close to the pyramid," Sohssal explained. Just to be sure, he inhaled some of the errant energy. He doubted he could absorb enough fast enough to completely lift the interference, but he could at least help himself.

    Normally, his demonic face wasn't particularly expressive, but it was obvious his eyes gleamed with interest at the sight of the magical stash. The first thing he grabbed - or levitated, rather - was a cluster of tiny orbs that formed a larger one. It'd make a useful backup if someone counters his spells. With the kind of magical energy and experience Sohssal can bring to bear, he could force several uses out of these powerful Blast Globes in a day. He also grabbed a Globe of Sunlight in case of vampires. The orbs would make a good snack, too.

    After that, Sohssal gave Seymour what he hoped was a supportive nod. Emotional gestures weren't his forte, especially after a bitter year in Ironheart. "Now let's go smash that pyramid - the smell's getting to me," he declared.
    Last edited by Iethloc; 2009-07-07 at 06:10 PM.
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  18. - Top - End - #228
    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Ruya

    Ruya looked from Delora to the patrol leader. “I don’t...no, I might have something.” A spell came to mind, an early experiment in sending messages she had done when she was 12. It had been a petulant prank more than a real experiment, making a great deal of noise and little else, but it would have covered a great area if it hadn’t interacted poorly with the tower shields that warded the laboratories. Still, there were no shields here to amplify and reflect the power of the circle back on itself to set off a repeat of that unfortunate event. She gave a glance up at the pyramid floating overhead; its magic permeated the area, and she didn’t know what effect it would have on her spells, but she still had to try. “It’s a spell. It just makes a lot of noise; I can’t carry a real message on it without a lot more work and time we don’t have, but it should wake up most of the city, and with that thing overhead, I think most people will know enough to run. This won’t take more than a few minutes if we work together. Do any of you have anything made of glass?” she asked the gnolls. “A bauble or a bead or anything?”

    She dropped the bag onto the ground and began rifling through it, finally pulling one particular book out from near the bottom. Clearly well-worn from several years of age and use, childish, blocky handwriting covered every page, and she leafed through it until she found what she was looking for. She pulled out two pieces of chalk, then handed one to Delora before pointing at the outer circle. “Copy this, exactly as it appears here.” The gnolls watched, their nervousness at their exposed position suppressed under their professional demeanour, as the two began to work. Ruya had kept the more complicated core of the circle while giving Delora the shielding and focusing runes, which, despite her inexperience, she was copying to the best of her ability. Ruya was already modifying, not just copying, the core of the circle, even as she stayed out of Delora's way, adding the experiences she had learned from the message spell she had given to her sister, from courier work and other communication spells as a mercenary. It wouldn’t be fancy; it was crude and slapdash, and it would probably be as loud and unearthly as a demons’ banquet, but it wouldn’t knock anyone insensate. Probably. At least, not outside the circle itself. She decided not to dwell on it too much.

    The circle finished, she placed the glass object the gnolls had given her in the empty area in the centre, and looked at the others. “You may want to cover your ears.” She pulled out swatches from her bag that she used to plug her own ears before turning back to the circle. She gave it a final glance-over, making corrections both in the runes she and Delora had made, enough to at least ensure that the spell wouldn't fail entirely on its own, and began the incantation.
    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?

  19. - Top - End - #229
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Ander Windrivver

    Ander leans forward and refills his glass as Karth explains his plan.

    Ah, yes I know Dawn's Hope. I finished my paladin training there, oh so many years ago. He leans back and takes a sip of his wine. What's the time table for this mission? I'd like a chance to inspect the strike team before we march. I'd also like to bring up the matter of the young man who I was traveling with. He shows great potential and I'd like to bring him on as my squire. Could you speak with his commanding officer and appraise him of the situation?

    Ander is halfway through another sip of wine when another idea comes to him. Oh! I also wanted to ask how long until the quartermaster can have a campaign tent erected for me. If I am going to be assisting you in the command of this army, I will need a place to do it from.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Baerdog: super genius.

  20. - Top - End - #230
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    The Ghosts of Callaway Camp

    Dorizzit

    As you begin to speak, Kris slows his steady march away, eventually grinding to a halt. As you come up to in front of him, he meets your eyes with an angry glare. But as you begin to enumerate all that you have suffered, his vision begins to falter. When you reach the loss of your wife and daughter, Kris’s stare breaks completely, and he looks away to the ground at your feet. When you mention your undying hatred of the Baron however, Kris’s eyes snap back up to yours, obviously in confusion.

    “Then why - I don’t understand.”

    Leaving Kris momentarily confused, you begin to walk north, towards the capital. Behind you, you can hear Kris stumbling to catch up.

    “Hey, wait! What do you mean!? Are you going to give up and surrender to the Baron, or are you going to kill him? I don’t think he’s going to let you do both!”

    Catching up to be beside you, Kris grunts as he motions you in a slightly different direction.

    “That way will get you to the capital quicker – should be a game trail in another mile or so.”

    As if realizing what he was doing, Kris scowls. “And I’m only helping because I need to get away from here too! I’m done with this place, and I suppose the capital is as good as anywhere else. Hope you don’t mind me tagging along, Korram.”

    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    “As did I. A pity it has come to this, but it must be done. As for the time table, we really should move quickly before the Church lumbers itself into a battle-ready stance. Although the town is built around a small mountain, only the training compound is walled. It should be a relatively simple matter to assault the place unless it turns into a siege and the Church is able to quickly send more men to relieve the trainees. But I can see the value of a commander becoming familiar with his men. Perhaps no more than a week before we are standing on the battlements of Dawn’s Hope, triumphant?”

    Karth pauses to take a long sip of wine, then continues.

    “As for the boy, I’m sure you will need an aide of some sort. I’m not sure he’s really the most . . . qualified for that, but I’m sure you would make an excellent teacher for him. I’m sure any of my men would be happy to help you with anything else that the two of you would need. I will have him sent to you to begin his training tomorrow.”

    It is obvious here that Karth would have preferred to assign one of his veterans, and therefore someone loyal to him alone, as your personal assistant around camp. Clearly he still doesn’t quite trust you, which was rather fitting since you didn’t quite trust him either.

    “As for your lodgings, I’m afraid for tonight you’ll have to do with an officer’s tent that I will have cleared out for your sole use. Perhaps tomorrow after discussions with the quartermaster we can erect a more suitable quarters for you. Anything else?”

    After answering the last of your questions, Karth smiles and nods.

    “Very good. I am glad to know that we are allied against our mutual enemy. I will talk to you further in the morning about our specific attack plans, I suppose. For now, I think it would be best for us to both get a good night’s sleep.”

    Karth escorts you to the outside of his tent, and directs two of the guards there to direct you over to your new quarters and to remain there to ensure you had everything you need. Without much preamble, the two guards lead you over to a medium sized tent, which apparently currently housed one of Karth’s knights and squires. The knight was apparently one of the lower-ranking ones, as the guards didn’t treat him or his squire with a particular amount of respect as they roused them from bed and chased them both out.

    Surprisingly, although initially angry at the rude awakening, the knight was almost apologetic have being informed that the tent was for you, under Karth’s orders.

    “There is a bottle of Donovale 338 at the bottom of the chest, sir. Please help yourself.” The knight said with a low bow, before grabbing his gawking squire and wandering off, presumably to find the next lowest member of this peasant army who had a nice bed and displace him in much the same way he had just been.

    After ensuring that the quarters were well enough to your liking, the two guards set up flanking position outside the mouth of your tent. It would seem that for the moment, you were almost as much of a prisoner here as you were at Ironheart, although the accommodations were certainly more pleasant despite their crudeness.

    Eventually you bed down for the night, your mind filled with concerns, all of which would naturally have to be dealt with tomorrow. Finally, you manage to push them all out of your conscious mind, and drift off to sleep. A sleep that is shortly interrupted by the sound of low talking outside the tent. You have just achieved full wakefulness and were able to rise to see what’s going on when a figure slips through the open doorway. Hesitantly, the figure approaches your bedside, and kneels down beside you. In the darkness of the tent you can’t really see your visitor’s features, but you recognize the whispering voice. It is Melcara.

    “Good evening Ander. I apologize for waking you, but I wasn’t sure that I would be able to see you during the day. I . . . told the guards that I was . . . a gift, from Lord Karth. I’m not sure they believed me, but it was all I could come up with, and it seems to have amused them enough to let me through. I . . . am sorry for the implication.”

    Stonefall

    The Surrounding Forest

    The_Snark

    Taking your question about William’s location as agreement to help, Caroline runs out the door while maintaining her grip on your hand. The result is that you are practically dragged along behind a child a little more than half your size. Nonetheless, you run as well, doing your stumbling best to keep up with her as you both enter the forest. Despite being breathless from likely having run all the way here, Caroline continues to move at a rapid pace through the forest.

    Still, it is several minutes before the trees begin to thin out, and you see yourself standing before a sheer cliff face. Predictably enough, Caroline points upwards, near to the top of the cliff face some several hundred feet overhead.

    “We were . . . playing . . . up . . . there when . . . William . . . fell! Hurry!”

    Dragging you along again, Caroline leads you along the cliff face until the rocky face breaks apart at one point, forming a rough path upwards. The unusual cut of the rock suggests that the pathway was manmade, a fact your mind barely has time to register as Caroline drags you upwards.

    Even more so than the forest, the uneven and treacherous footing slows your ascent, but soon enough you are both at the top of the cliff. The sight from up here is really something, as you can see the forest stretching out below you, and beyond it the town and surrounding farm fields. You don’t have much time to admire the view, however, before Caroline wearily pulls you forward again. This time you are going back the way you had came along the cliff face, only now on top of it.

    Soon enough you reach a patch where the edge of the cliff seems disturbed, a small patch of rock recently displaced from the side of the cliff. And, peering over the side at Caroline’s urging, you see William lying perhaps five feet down, precariously balanced on a narrow ledge jutting from the cliff face. He is unmoving and thin lines of blood cover his face, but his soft moans are indication that he is alive but unconscious. Given that the slightest movement on his part might be enough to pitch him off his ledge down the remainder of the cliff face, however, the young lad might not be alive for much longer.

    Sucking in air greedily, Caroline collapses onto the top of the cliff face next to you. Still, she somehow manages to get out between breaths.

    “You’re . . . an . . . angel! Fly . . . down! Please! Help . . . William!”

    The City of Amaranth

    The City Gates

    Meltemi

    With the gnolls standing guard, you locate the runes necessary for the sound-generating circle. You and Delora then carefully sketch out the circle on the cobblestones near the gate. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Delora seems to be a reasonably fast study, and manages to sketch out her assigned portion without a single mistake.

    When asked, one of the gnolls manages to produce a glass bead that had been woven into its mane of hair. Aware of what is going to happen, you very cautiously drop the bead down into the center of the circle, back away, and plug up your ears. Seeing your reaction to the circle, Delora and the gnolls do likewise, the gnolls even going so far as to fall back a number of feet away from the gate.

    Taking a deep steadying breath, you then read through the incantation to activate the circle. A few moments after you finish, the runes flare to life, the glass bead shatters, and a thunderclap that nearly pitches you backwards off your feet erupts from the circle.

    Surprised at the sound’s intensity even with their preparations, the gnolls howl loudly, their cries joining the cacophony that resounds throughout the city for the next minute or so. When the sound finally fades and the ringing in your ears stops, you can hear a great deal of shouting coming form the direction of the slums.

    “Thank you!” Delora says, her thin face actually managing a smile of gratitude as she looks back through the gate.

    “We have given them a fighting chance. Now we must fall back to safety.” The leader of the gnolls grunts, motioning for his men to depart the gate. “The two of you should come with us. I am sure our leader would be very interested in meeting a powerful witch such as yourself.”

    The gnoll gives a low bow of respect, but the tone of his voice implies that his offer is not merely a suggestion.

    “Do you require anything else from here before we depart?”

    WhiteKnight777

    At your initial comments, Kartul crushes the ornate goblet he was holding in his hand, coating it in spilled blood.

    “Do not mock me, Umber! You were valuable once, but sentiment will only get you so far.”

    Kartul’s voice is practically dripping with disdain as he tosses the ruined goblet aside, holding up his stained fingers and flexing them while watching with mild interest.

    “Look at you now. Powerless, alone, wandering aimlessly just like that drifter tramp you were always so taken with. Speaking of her, I haven’t seen or heard from her in millennia.”

    Kartul’s voice takes on a bitter, quiet tone.

    “Not that I heard from anyone in millennia after I was imprisoned beneath the earth in that miserable fool’s idea of irony.”

    Turning his burning eyes away from his fingers and back to you.

    “So to answer your questions bluntly, “old friend”, no, I did not send Helion. He came to me. I have heard nothing about your precious harlot, save a brief mention from Helion that she was trying to end the world with that fool! And you’re quite right, some of us do have work to do. I, for example, have a city to educate. If you aren’t going to join me, then go slink off into a dark corner somewhere else and cry over your lost love.”

    The remaining patches of skin hanging from Kartul’s jaw twist up into a smile, as he is clearly aware that he is goading you.

    “After all, it was your fault that you lost her.”

    Iethloc

    Sniffing this new aura of magical energy flooding the city, you detect as before that it is a mish-mash of various communication and divination spells. Although it has a slight after-taste of necromancy, it is also considerably more edible than the magicks sustaining the pyramid would be.

    “Wonderful. Even more good news.” Seymour grunted as he slipped a few last wands into his coat. Apparently satisfied with his armament, he nods at you. “Good luck.” And with that, Seymour departs the room, and is gone.

    Omega only gives a curious look at the stash of magical items, and then turns away. Of course with her formidable talents, she has little use for magic. Roger, on the other hand, spends some time shifting through the various items with you. It is clear that he doesn’t recognize most of the items or what they do, but he nevertheless slips a few potion vials and orbs into his pockets.

    You know, a thought has just occurred to me. Save for you Sohssal, none of us knows how to fly. And while you can carry us along in some wind or something, I’m not sure I want to trust that in the event we get into a fight or something otherwise demands your attention.

    If there is a non-magical way to enter the pyramid, I should be able to teleport myself and Roger up to it. It would be . . . unwise to attempt to teleport in through the walls without being able to see.

    Well, considering everything else we’ve seen, the vampires roaming the city probably have some way to get in there. Of course, whatever is living in the pyramid probably has defenses set up to deal with any unexpected visitors, so maybe just blowing a hole in the pyramid’s side is the best way to handle this one after all. That’s assuming any of us could even get close enough to that thing to do the blasting.

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Falconer

    “Yes sir. I will begin fortifying the town immediately, and perhaps see if the town militia can be integrated as well. Messengers will be sent to all nearby towns, and I will equip a messenger with our fastest horse to contact the Baron. I would send more volunteers to scout Amaranth, but you know how your men are sir – they would *all* volunteer. I will select several more scouts and tell them to keep their distance. Do you have any further orders?”

    After listening to your reply, the image of the man salutes. “Very good, sir. We will do you proud.” A moment later, the communication crystal goes dark, only to light up again a moment later. It is Wulfric. He seems surprised to see you.

    “Greetings, Gazrul. I was expecting to find you asleep or out on patrol due to insomia – I’ve been told the crystal would record any sent messages.”

    Wulfric coughs loudly and pauses to adjust his uniform. He doesn’t seem to have slept at all yet.

    “In any case, speaking with you will make delivering our current status easier. We’ve located a cabin in the woods, quite peculiar. Abandoned, save for the four bound elves we found on the floor, one of which was already dead from a crossbow bolt in his head. I considered taking the three survivors along with us as prisoners, but we’re having difficulty as is dodging the elves, and returning back to camp would postpone our mission. So I ordered all three of them executed before proceeding to search the cabin. If the bound elves weren’t enough evidence that someone recently lived here, sir, there was a burnt out fire in the kitchen and a great deal of belongings thrown about – somebody left in a hurry. We also found a set of ruts in the snow leading out into the forest before disappearing – some kind of sled or possibly sleigh. We’re going to head out in their general direction now and see if we can find the owner. Perhaps whoever lived here can shed some light on what the Hells is going on around here. Do you have anything for me sir, before I let you go back to sleep?”

    Lonna

    Briefly, you hear a faint rustling sound enter the wind. It takes you a moment to recognize the sound as laughter.

    “We are more alike than even I thought.”

    The wind responds, failing silent again as it listens to your questions. At your final assertion, however, the wind whips up violently, freezing you to the bone as it slashes at you.

    “YOUR MOTHER WAS A LIE!” The wind howls savagely as it envelops you again, nearly bowling you over.

    “AN INCONVIENENT, BUT NECESSARY LIE TO COVER THE TRUTH!”

    As quickly as it had started, the wind dies down again, and you barely even hear the next words, hardly above the volume of a whisper.

    “All so that Fate might return to its proper course. I grow tired of carving these canals to channel it, my daughter, and so you cannot afford to fail. Not this time.”

    The wind nearly dies completely, and when it returns it is back to its original intensity, and almost warm compared to the chilling blasts you had been subjected to a moment earlier.

    “I can sense your mind is still clouded by others’ lies. I will try my best to guide you through the dark forest and into the light, my child. You do indeed understand nothing, your mind caged by years of lies. It would take so long to explain –“

    “Too long!” The wind hissed, before returning to its almost sweet tenderness it was using now.

    “At least in this limited way. We must meet, and sooner rather than later. I will show you everything, and then you will understand our truth. I have dispatched my mortal servants, the elves, to find you. They will show you the way to find me. You will not be harmed – on the contrary, you will be freed!”

    The wind begins to die down, but suddenly picks up again.

    “For now, know simply that I am Titania, Goddess and Queen. And *I* am your mother.”


    A moment later, your eyes snap open and you draw a shuddering breath. Despite your blanket and proximity to the fire, you are freezing, and can feel your body beginning to shiver violently in an attempt to warm you back up. Looking around the cave, you can see the Countess still fitfully asleep, and Klaus beginning to stir, Rudolf curled up by his feet. From the mouth of the cave, you can see the darkness beginning to fade into light – morning was coming early it seemed.

    Feeling a slight prickling of your scalp, you incline your eyes upwards to see Garthax precariously balanced on a point just above your forehead.

    “Good morning Mistress Pyrene.” The imp hisses. “Garthax didn’t sleep, but then Garthax never does!” The imp’s fang-filled mouth droops into a frown. “Are you alright, Mistress Pyrene? You seem very pale, more so than usual! You were also moaning, but Garthax assumed that was usual for human females while sleeping.”

    The imp shrugs his shoulders and nods at the Countess, who was indeed groaning a curse as she rolled from one side to the other.

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    At the touch of your dagger Lord Vylethar stiffened.

    “Aw, Hells.” He manages to croak as dark blood bubbles up from the wound. A moment later, and he falls forward off of your blade onto the floor, landing heavily face-first. Instantly the blood on your blade vanishes, trickling off as flakes of ash, while Vylethar’s body likewise begins to disintegrate. But not before Limier stiffens again, and then springs into action, pulling a foot back and delivering a hellacious kick to Vylethar’s crotch before it manages to disintegrate. He is pulling his foot back for another kick, but this time only scatters the pile of ashes that the former ruler of the Screaming Dark estate has now become.

    “He’ll be back.” Limier growled while turning back towards you, almost pensively. “So . . . what were you able to discover?” He asks a moment later, his voice once again that of the professional assassin, and as if the bizarre scene you had just witnesses had never occurred.

    “I found Prince Teareal, but he is heavily guarded and thoroughly chained. None of the devils standing guard seemed to have any of the keys, so I assumed Vylethar or Crx has them. I have not seen Crx yet, and was looking for him when I . . . ran into the two of you. Were you able to find anything of note on the second floor? Perhaps a way to escape this damned place?”
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  21. - Top - End - #231
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    Umber

    Umber regarded his old comrade with a suddenly flat expression in his eyes. After a moment, he spoke. "Yes, it was. It was my fault I lost her, and if there is anything I regret of the path I took to this existence, it is what became of Fianna. But at least I can remember what it was like to love, Kartul. My heart may not beat, but it hasn't withered entirely. Mock my sentiment if you will, but it is better than the ragged, tattered thing that your soul has become.

    For all your pretensions, Kartul, and for all your power, your existence is a hollow one. You will never know satisfaction, and all your achievements will taste of is dust and ashes. And no matter how many times you've told yourself you've won, in the silence where your heart used to be, you will know it was a lie.
    "

    Umber smirked. "Or perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps you are deluded enough to convince yourself that something so superficial as temporal power is satisfying. Perhaps you're mad enough to find pleasure in a dead and lifeless world. If that is the case, then all I can muster is pity for you, Kartul."

    He shook his head slowly. "But as you say - our bickering serves little purpose. Direct me to where I may find Helion, and I will leave you to your... amusements." he said, glancing scornfully around at the cluster of little leechlings fawning over Kartul like brain-damaged puppies.

  22. - Top - End - #232
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    Pyrene

    "I'm fine Garthax, just cold. I had a... strange dream." Carefully dislodging the imp from his perch, a shivering Pyrene crawled over the cold ground to Countess Ashargrin and gently shook her awake. "It's all right," she murmurred as the noblewoman came out of what Pyrene could only assume was a nightmare. "You're safe, for the moment at least."

    Climbing to her feet, Pyrene greeted Klaus and retrieved a few cords of wood to revive the fire, which was little more than coals. Only when she sat down again did she realize that her leg hadn't so much as twinged at her movements. Surprised, she looked at her left hand. Where the crossbow bolt had penetrated mere days ago, the only sign of injury was a faint puckering of the skin, invisible unless you were looking for it. Gingerly she touched her leg, finding that there was no pain. Though it was difficult to tell how visible the damage was without removing the breeches, there also did not seem to be a significant amount of flesh missing - a sharp contrast to the recent memory of the bloody chunk she had left in the elite guard's mouth.

    There is no denying this makes things easier, but how am I healing so fast!? Is this because I'm part elf? Or is my power helping me to heal? Absently she began finger combing her hair. The familiar ritual soothed her, and the comforting warmth of the fire slowly banished the chill of Titania's anger. What does Titania want from me? Miriam's the only goddess of whom I've ever heard, and whatever I said about scripture and heresy I find it hard to believe I could have missed even a rumor of a true diety. And what did she mean I could not afford to fail "this time"? Fail at what? Who does she think I am that I would have failed her before? I have never met her before she first manifested in my dream.

    Shaking her head, Pyrene left off her fruitless pondering and focused on detangling her hair, staring at the dancing flames. As a child she had watched fire for hours - in lanterns, fireplaces, even candles - imagining that they were gateways to a different world. She had even imagined a friend who lived within the flames, when she was of the age for such things. Even now she could almost see the blue teardrop eyes, the white-edged hair -

    The half-remembered image dissolved from the fire as Klaus sat down next to her and offered her some food. Taking it with a small smile and nod, Pyrene ate quickly, offering some to Garthax. Once everyone had eaten, she helped pack up, reluctantly putting out the fire while the Countess and Klaus loaded everything onto the sleigh. As the four strange companions continued their journey, Pyrene decided that she would keep her conversation with Titania to herself.
    Last edited by Lonna; 2009-07-12 at 10:33 PM.
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  23. - Top - End - #233
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    Telest

    He thinks about what the Tur said for a moment before saying, "Yes, I'll find her for you." At least this way when I go home I'll have some money for my family. That doesn't matter anyways if Vira found out about this and I didn't help that girl I'd be in serious trouble, she's always had a soft spot for those that don't fit in. Ah Vira I can't wait to see you again. I wonder if our baby is born yet and if it's a boy or girl. He quietly waits for the Tur to reply as he continues to think about his family.

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  24. - Top - End - #234
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    Ander Windrivver

    Ander allows himself to be escorted to the tent and thanks the guards as he enters. It's not as large or well furnished as his tent during the Crusade was, but it would work for now. After a short inspection of the tent and it's contents, Ander takes a seat in the best chair he can find and falls asleep. It was a habit he had picked up during the Crusade and Ander had always preferred to sleep sitting up while on campaign. Not only was it easier to do in armor, but it was also easier for him to get up in a hurry should the need arise. Upon hearing voices outside his tent, Ander slowly opens his eyes, listening intently to try and make out any words. Realizing that the intruder is Melcara, he relaxes a bit as she approaches.

    “Good evening Ander. I apologize for waking you, but I wasn’t sure that I would be able to see you during the day. I . . . told the guards that I was . . . a gift, from Lord Karth. I’m not sure they believed me, but it was all I could come up with, and it seems to have amused them enough to let me through. I . . . am sorry for the implication.”

    No, it's alright Melcara. I thought I saw you in the camp earlier today. I'm glad you found me. He rises from his chair and gathers his weapons, also trying to sense if Peeping Tom is nearby.

    Walk with me. I don't want to talk here.

    Ander helps Melcara to her feet and strides out of the tent. Any attempt by the guards to convince him to stay in his tent will be answered with gruff rebukes about "kids these days not paying any respect to their elders." If they try and physically restrain him, Ander will respond with non-lethal force to incapacitate them. Once away from his tent, Ander will wander around the camp slowly making his way to the edge before slipping into the darkness beyond the army's campfires.

    So Melcara, how are you? I hope nothing interesting happened while I was gone.
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  25. - Top - End - #235
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    ~Tare

    Tare had faded back into visibility shortly after removing the blade from Vylethar's skull, as well as dismissing his Speed boost. He paused for a minute to note that using that skill such was quite useful-- and by turning it back off when he was done, it didn't even use up that much juice.

    When Limier turned back to him, the Assassin found Tare staring at him incredulously once more. Even after the awkward attempt at glossing over what just happened, Tare's expression hardly changed. "Ok, I'm just going to say this plainly... what the crap just happened? You had that freak dead, then he smiles and bats his eyelashes and--" Even without the Incubus' physical presence, Tare again felt he might be sick. "It's a good thing I was here, otherwise you might have ended up--" Tare cut off the middle of that sentence with a groan. Yeah, that mental image made it several times worse. "...You would have killed Teareal. Without arguing. What in the hells were you thinking?" He said softly, staring at the assassin that he thought he could trust for temporary at least, his eyes silently querying, Whose side are you on here?
    Last edited by OverWilliam; 2009-07-15 at 01:42 PM.
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  26. - Top - End - #236
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    Sohssal

    Soon after Seymour left, Sohssal realized that a demon walking through the streets would attract unwanted attention. So, he held (levitated?) up the Globe of Sunlight and disappeared into it. This form should be inconspicuous. We just have to get close and then I can install a door for us, he informed his accomplices. Using his flying spell, he began navigating his way out of the house. He wouldn't have to worry about stealth until they got outside.

    However, we're probably going to have to walk to the pyramid. Someone who can send out this much magical interference will probably be able to detect when I bypass it, so we shouldn't teleport until we're right on top of them, he speculated. Once they were outside, it wouldn't be hard for a small, flying orb to find places to hide. He began zipping from place to place towards the giant conspicuous pyramid.
    Last edited by Iethloc; 2009-07-15 at 04:03 PM.
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  27. - Top - End - #237
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Ardraket Oldn

    Looking over the positioning of the guards Ardraket grunts slightly under his breath. Years of experience told easily override the irrational desire to rush into the hunt which would be foolish at this stage. They had a simple lead yet their targets did not know about him and Vash which gave them the advantage for now. It would be better to gather more intelligence and get some rest before starting the hunting anew in the morning.

    “There is no rush, last I was told there was no time limit on this case. I am curious to see if we can find some more clues about our targets, let us wander through the prison during the night and see what we can find along with getting some rest. In the morning we should attach ourselves to one of the details retrieving corpses during which we can slip away after leaving the prison and head to the closest town, unless we find something during the night. As for working together, let us continue until our targets separate.”

    Since they had already gone through the Archives room and the cell of the prisoner Ardraket mentally thought about what he knew of the prison and what possible other sources of information he and Vash could utilize here.
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  28. - Top - End - #238
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    The Purifier’s Camp

    Baerdog7

    “Your arrival was difficult to miss.” Melcara said with a hint of mirth. “And certainly, we may speak elsewhere. I . . . hope you have returned with good news. It has been over a week since your departure into the Heavens. I was beginning to grow worried.”

    A familiar hiss in your ear answers your question as to Peeping Tom’s location without having to sense him.

    “I was confident you would return, Lord General. Did you enjoy your vacation? We’ve been quite busy down here.”

    Although the guards did not hear your whispered conversation, Melcara’s ears were clearly sharp enough to hear Peeping Tom.

    “Yes, we have. A few days after your departure, a recruiter for Karth arrived in town. Since we were unsure how long it would be until your return, we thought it prudent to infiltrate the forces of this man we had heard so much about from the priest.”

    “Heh. Yes, that stuffy weakling wouldn’t shut up about him after that recruiter made his dire pronouncements in the center of town. Karth certainly has an interesting sales pitch – “Join the Enlighted or risk condemning yourself to eternal damnation.” Pity neither of us really has to worry about that anymore.”

    As you stand up, Melcara slips one of her arms into yours, pressing herself against you slightly. She seems to ignore Peeping Tom’s latest comments. Arm-in-arm, the two of you approach the tent entrance, Peeping Tom presumably following along invisibly.

    Outside, Melcara smiles at the two guards, who were already moving not to block your path, but rather to follow. They seemed intimidated by your angry bluster that you could handle things by yourself, thank you, but you could tell nonetheless that they were considering following at a discrete distance. Then Melcara softly joined the conversation.

    “The Lord General wishes to spend the evening beneath the stars. Don’t worry gentlemen – I’ll take good care of him. We’ll be back before sunrise. No one will ever know we left the tent.”

    After a moment’s pause to chew her lip seductively, Melcara smiled at both of the guards.

    “I’d be most grateful if you two would stay here and make sure this little deception went undiscovered.”

    Slowly, both guards nodded and stepped back into position, although they still seemed to briefly consider following you. An elbow from one to the other seems to remove the last traces of that idea, however.

    Sighing softly as the two of you put distance between yourselves and the tent, Melcara shakes her head. Although still cowled, now out in the moonlight you can see enough of her face to notice her features are striking – and entirely human. Apparently noticing your examination, Melcara chuckles softly, which only adds to the illusion that the two of you are wandering out into the woods for a lovely evening together.

    “Yes, I have assumed the guise of a human as part of “joining” Karth’s army. You were not aware angels were capable of this?”

    Thinking back, you dimly recall hearing stories about angels being sent out to discretely give aid to humans while not revealing their divine origins. Nonetheless, a great majority of angels appear exactly as they are – armored valkyries sent out by the gods to destroy their enemies.

    Finally, the two of you slip beyond the last line of tents and into the forest proper. Once out of sight, Melcara slips out of your arm and positions herself up against a nearby tree. Her head lowers, and one hand reaches up to nervously twirl a lock of hair dangling out of her cowl, a very human gesture of anxiety.

    “So . . . how was the Heavens? Still bright as ever?”

    The City of Amaranth

    WhiteKnight777

    At your insults, Kartul laughs – a hollow, grating sound.

    “Ah, this takes me back. Poor Umber, always mocking what he fails to understand. Such drive, such talent, all wasted on a fool.”

    Kartul interlocks his bony digits, looking over them with a leering grin.

    “And now, all is as it should be. You have reaped the reward for your choices – nothing! And soon, I shall reap mine. A new perfect world, a world where our people do not have to live in fear, cowering in the darkness! We shall stride boldly out into the sunlight and claim our place as this world’s masters!”

    Like a sword, Kartul jabs a bloody finger at you.

    “You sneer at the thought of me ruling over a dead world. But at least I shall be a ruler once more, as I was meant to be! While you –“ Kartul snorts. “You are nothing more than a pauper. I shall waste no more of my time on you. One of my children will lead you down to speak with Helion, and then I expect you to wander off into obscurity. Good bye, Umber.”

    By way of dismissal, Kartul turns away, leaning over to discuss matters quietly with one of his toadies. Meanwhile, one of the others, his eyes a burning crimson, moves out from the others and beckons dismissively at you and Mellita.

    Just as you are about to leave the room, however, Kartul looks back up.

    “Oh, and Umber? Don’t suddenly get it into your head to interfere. I will send your ashes to join Gilgaem and Marialta’s at the bottom of the ocean.”

    The vampire toadie leads you out of the throne room and through several dark stone hallways, each one packed with various undead abominations. None of these lesser cretins were worth you even noticing, but a number of them looked at you with interest. Had it not been for your guide, they likely would have attacked you on sight.

    Finally, your small procession emerges into a small, plainly furnished room. Kneeling on a small cushion in the center of the room and looking thoroughly bored is Helion. He smirks as he looks up to see you and Mellita enter.

    “Ah, I see you’ve found my little sweet. Thank you for returning her to me. Considering we aren’t friends, I’m assuming this isn’t a social call. Of course, you and Lord Kartul *are* old friends, aren’t you? Did you come to bum a drink off him? He’ll probably have plenty to spare in a couple hours.”

    The toadie coughs loudly. “Actually acolyte Helion, this one is here to speak with you. He has already seen and been dismissed by Lord Kartul.”

    At this, Helion snorts.

    “I wasn’t aware we had any unfinished business, Umber.”

    Iethloc

    Agreeing to your plan for now, your two accomplices follow you out onto the street. You had not exited Seymour’s estate on foot yet, and so it took you a few precious minutes to locate the front door. It was built vaguely along similar lines to Heath’s estate however, and once you realized this you were able to quickly deduce the necessary path.

    Once outside, you passed through a small garden patio before reaching the main gate, which Seymour had left open. Conveniently enough, the gate swung closed behind the three of you, magically locking shut (little more than a cantrip actually – you doubted it would take you more than a few seconds to remove the lock if you needed to regain entry).

    Leading the way through the dark streets by the light your new home produced, you made fairly good progress in approaching the pyramid. For the moment, it seemed to be settling over one of the outer parts of the city – from your current angle, you had no idea which, but it seemed safe to guess the slums or some other nonessential and thus minimally guarded location.

    Surprisingly, or perhaps not given the circumstances, the streets are quite busy at this time of night. Well-dressed people and those clad in armor clamber about, looking up at the skies in trepidation. What is surprising is that there does seem to be a purpose in their movements, as for the most part they are all heading in one direction. You guess it to be the Nobles’ district or some other already defensive portion of the city, given several people’s shouts that they would be safe there, wherever it is that they are going.

    At one point, a somewhat unusual sight piques your interest – a roving band of gnolls and humans happens upon your group. Naturally, they completely fail to notice you for anything other than a sun globe, and Omega has assumed the illusion of her former human appearance. Therefore, the band of heavily armed creatures focuses on Roger.

    “Where are you going!? Not that way. Come, we will lead you to safety.” The lead dogman growls, presumably irritated at leading another lost merchant away from danger. Roger simply snorts in reply, and nearly walks through them.

    “Not going that way lads. I’m going to check out that pyramid. Official Mage Council business.”

    The band moves to block his way with a joint snarl for a moment, but then the lead gnoll motions them away.

    “You are a brave human. Foolish, but brave. If you survive, we are gathering near the Cathedral within the Noble District. It seems to be one of the few areas not compromised in security. Beware – the shadows move of their own will tonight, and the dead are restless.”

    “Hmph. You’re telling me.” Roger grunts as the band flows around him, leaving him and Omega standing in a somewhat deserted street once more.

    From there, you seem to have little other encounters save for the odd band of people hurriedly fleeing their homes towards the safety of the Noble District. You are now sure that the pyramid is hanging silently but malevolently over the slums of Amaranth, according to the signposts you see.

    You are almost to the gates of that district when you have another unusual encounter. Another band of armed gnolls is quickly fleeing from the gates leading into the slum district, beyond which you can hear loud shouts and panicked screams as people there are apparently only just now aware of the danger hanging over their heads. The terror of the low-class filth is perhaps slightly amusing, but not terribly interesting to you.

    What is interesting, however, are the two young women that the band of fleeing gnolls seem to be escorting. The one is a sickly girl, who smells even sicker, likely the result of being under the spell of a vampire, at least until recently – his magical musk, for it is certainly that heavy and repugnant to your senses, still lingers on her but appears to be fading. Somewhat unusual, were it not for the fact that you were likely in a city lousy with vampires at the moment. Of far greater interest is the other young woman – she shines with a brilliant magical aura. It is unlike anything you’ve ever sensed before, a chaotic mishmash of styles and sources, that nonetheless have somehow been woven into a singular whole. Even more interesting, it seems bound to her very flesh – you doubt that you would be able to drain little more than a drop of magic.

    Ironheart

    The Surrounding Mountains

    Gourtox

    The Tur’s face splits into a relieved smile at your agreement. “Excellent, excellent. I have a number of my men already searching for this girl, and I will send word to all of them to provide you with whatever aid they can. I understand that “girl not elf or human” is very little to go on. Hopefully, my . . . sources will soon provide me with more information. It is *crucial* that this girl be found however. For now, you may rest and meditate on whatever additional resources you might need – healing poultices, supplies, a mount, whatever. Just bring this girl back to us safely. I suggest you set out at first light.”

    (If you can think of anything other than your military equipment that your character would want, ask for it. Assuming it’s not completely outlandish, the Tur will probably give it to you without comment.)

    Dismissed by the Tur, you retire to Lucure’s tent once more. Mulling over what this girl’s description could possibly mean, you fall asleep quickly. A few hours later, Lucure once again wakens you. Outside, you can see the darkness of the forest just beginning to lighten with the coming of dawn.

    “My friend, the Tur has instructed me to escort you over to the army’s quartermaster to acquire whatever supplies you need while setting out on your search. Additionally, we have some disturbing news. Last night, some of our advance scouts in the forest encountered a large force of dog-men – gnolls, they’re called. It is said that they reside primarily in the desert along the humans’ eastern border – a fair distance from here! What they are doing here is unknown, but we did repulse their advances. It’s possible that they are mercenaries – humans were seen with them. Regardless, if you should encounter any more patrols of them, you may treat them as hostile as any of the other humans.”

    Lonna

    At your touch, Countess Amelia starts awake with a soft gasp. Although she quickly comes around, her eyes are still filled with horror.

    “I saw his face. Alphonse.” She says simply, turning her focus onto the waning fire. Wearily, she rubs at her eyes as you stoke the fire back up and smooth your hair. Klaus groans as he gets up from his bed to help make breakfast. Nonetheless he at least seems somewhat happier than he had been last night leaving his home.

    Ultimately though, all of you ate in silence, each of you too haunted by personal demons to speak of them. Garthax tries part of a sausage link that you offer, and although he seems to enjoy it, he dislikes the rest of your meal.

    “Plah! Does Garthax really need to eat anymore of this, Mistress Pyrene!? How do humans survive on this!?”

    Before you can comment, Rudolf’s ears suddenly perk up. Realizing this for what it is, Klaus motions for quiet as he reaches for his crossbow. So armed, he begins to creep towards the cave entrance. As he passes, he motions for you.

    “Put out the fire and gather up the supplies. Have Amelia start loading the cart. I’m going to take up a guard position near the entrance until you’re done. Be ready to hop in and get going as soon as I get back – you have three minutes.”

    Klaus slips out of sight towards the cave entrance, only to return a minute later. With him are two elves, one of whom has a readied bow held against his head while the other carries his crossbow, examining the weapon with a mixture of disgust and curiosity. He looks up with a smile, and although his human still carries an accent, it is nonetheless perfectly understandable.

    “Ah, so our shaman’s vision was correct. I assure you despite appearances, we mean none of you any harm. All we want is to speak with “the girl not of elf or human born”.”

    The elf looks at both you and the Countess with some confusion.

    “Hmm. Do either of you know who that might be? Perhaps one of you had an unusual birth, or is more than they first appear?”

    Pwenet

    Vash nods at your analysis, although you can tell he is unhappy with waiting. Typical reaction for a young hotblood – hopefully, he would have the fortune to survive until he gained the wisdom to allow his blood to cool. These were very dangerous men you were hunting, not some overweight slob merchant who had unknowingly insulted a minor lord.

    Unfortunately, while investigation of the area you hadn’t yet searched – the Spires – yielded some interesting results, most of it was not relevant information. There were various scuffles and deaths in the towers above Ironheart, including some that involved relatively important figures within the former prison. The quartermaster, for example, was found ground nearly into a fine paste within the prison’s treasury – identification was only possible via the rings on the one intact hand.

    That story had led to the one useful piece of information you acquired – Ander’s gear was missing from the treasury, but Karth’s was not. Of course, judging from the logs Ander’s gear were all priceless artifacts, while Karth’s equipment seemed to have been scrounged from his former time as a general. A pity, really, as if Karth had taken his gear you might have been able to arrange for some sort of scrying. It also seemed unlikely that due to their differences in escape, equipment, and location, Ander and Karth were currently working together, despite someone wanting them both dead.

    You aren’t sure whether it was Fate rewarding you or cursing you, but as you were thinking about retiring to the Guard Barracks for the night, you encountered the lieutenant whom you had used earlier.

    “Sergenant.” He says simply while giving a nod of respect. He likewise gives a similar nod to Vash. “Priest.” However, he then ignores Vash entirely while looking you over with a critical eye.

    “I’m afraid I have bad news. A number of our men haven’t reported back from their patrols earlier today. Quite a few of them were out hunting some of the remaining prisoners who managed to somehow escape the prison entirely. It seems likely that some of them have failed in bringing those escapees to justice, but it is worrying for so many to fail like that. Our spotters also report seeing a large fire several miles away in the forest, with what appear to be smoke signals requesting help in moving injured. My commanders had chosen me to lead the patrol that goes out to investigate this likely ambush. I’ve seen how you handled yourself down in the tunnels, and I would like to ask you to come along.”

    Both a blessing and a curse. You could easily escape the walls by going along with the patrol, and then slipping off into the darkness at any time. But large numbers of men disappearing during the day suggested that someone worse than prisoners was out there in the forest. Given what you had seen lurking below the fortress, it wouldn’t be surprising for a number of demons to have slipped away into the woods after the battle. And they tended to be considerably better at fighting in the dark than you were.

    The Hells

    The Screaming Dark Estate

    OverWilliam

    Limier sighs at your insistent questioning, although it seems to be more out of reluctance than annoyance. Then the cloaked figure who has been terror, hunter, and erstwhile ally shrugs.

    “I was afraid such a thing would happen, which is why I had been hoping to avoid Lord Vylethar entirely. I had also been hoping it was some sort of conscious charm, an ability that the incubus had to activate, but no, it’s a . . . a sort of aura. I was unable to resist, and at the time, his suggestions seemed like a good idea.”

    Again, the assassin sighs, and looks at you hesitantly from beneath the concealing cowl.

    “You aren’t going to let this drop, are you? Very well. I shall endeavor to explain, but only in return for your sworn word not to reveal what you are about to learn. And if I learn you have broken that word, I swear that you shall not live to see a sunrise beyond that day.”

    Sighing again, Limier reluctantly begins to explain.

    “I . . . have many enemies, as you can imagine. Having made a habit of survival, I have discovered that the less my enemies know about me, the better. Few know anything about me.”

    Reaching up, Limier pushes back the cowl, and pulls off the strip of cloth wound around “his” head that further obscured it from view. With only the goggles remaining, the assassin is certainly now a very strange sight. Long wavy brown hair, streaked with grey, is pulled back neatly in a bun that is tied around the midpoint of the scarves now hanging down. The murky brown eyes, discolored to a burnt orange by the goggles, look at you piercingly for a moment. Then the assassin quietly replaces the scarves around her face, and flips the cowl back up.

    “Yes, Limier the great assassin is a woman. A woman with a son. And considerable expenses from his treatments. So here I am in the Hells, trying to rescue the heir to the elven throne only so I can let him go with a pat on the head as soon as I escape. Now then, assuming your curiosity has been satisfied, can we proceed to do just that? The dungeon is this way.”

    Limier begins to set off down the way Vylethar had been leading you, but something suddenly catches your eye in the pile of ashes he left behind. A closer examinations reveals a glint, or perhaps a soft glow, and what appears to be a metal ring with several finger-sized gems attached. Although it hardly looks like one, you know a keyring when you see one.
    Last edited by Inspectre; 2009-07-17 at 10:01 PM.
    I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.

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  29. - Top - End - #239
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lonna's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Pyrene

    The sight of Klaus re-entering the cave with an arrow poised to go through his head caused Pyrene to freeze in the act of smothering the fire. Titania's words echoed through her head:

    I have dispatched my mortal servants, the elves, to find you...

    The lead elf's question confirmed what Pyrene had already suspected. This was not merely an ordinary scouting party, but a search party sent specifically for her. She glanced at the Countess, meeting her frightened gaze with a calm she did not feel. This woman had saved her life and promised to care for the sister for whom Pyrene had sacraficed everything. At any cost she must allow the noblewoman to find refuge with the Viscount, and Klaus was the Countess's best hope for getting there safely.

    "If you truly mean us no harm, perhaps you would be so good as to cease threatening the gentleman with you," suggested Pyrene quietly. "I can assure you neither Amelia nor I will be particularly cooperative if he is injured. I give you my word that none of us will attempt to harm you so long as you do the same."

    The lead elf seemed to consider this for an instant, then nodded to his companion, who lowered his bow and shoved Klaus stumbling across the cave. As Pyrene and the Countess both moved to steady him, Pyrene whispered to her two companions.

    "Both of you stay behind me as much as you can; they won't hurt me so I can act as a shield for you."

    Taking a step forward, Pyrene spoke in a more normal tone, deliberately pushing her hair back from one ear and privately mourning the loss of the blue silk dress, in which this scene would have been much more striking. "I am the one whom you seek, for I am neither human nor elf, but both. What do you want of me and my companions?"
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  30. - Top - End - #240
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteKnight777's Avatar

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    Default Re: Flight From Ironheart IC

    Umber

    At Kartul's declaration, Umber merely smirked, as if he found the skeletal vampire's rant no more worthwhile than the jabbering of an ill-bred ape, and twice as amusing - an impression that was quite close to the truth. Kartul always had missed the entire point of existence in his relentless pursuit of power. The more the old creature spoke, the more sure Umber became that he could not allow him to complete his plan. But that consideration would have to wait.

    He looked at Helion with ill-concealed disdain, though his voice was impeccably polite as he spoke. "Indeed we do, Helion. First, I would like to know everything you might know about Fianna's current condition and whereabouts. And second... I do find myself growing curious... tell me what Kartul's plans are.

    And if you're asking yourself why you should tell me all that...
    " and Umber grinned, his ivory whites gleaming slightly, and his blood-red eyes seeming to drive directly into Helion's "Consider it a payment for your ill-use of myself and of Fianna. I am not one to be taken lightly, Helion, and I do not take kindly to being manipulated. No matter what new power you may have gained from Kartul or from stolen blood, do not think yourself beyond my reach."

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