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  1. - Top - End - #181
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    Frellon stood still, as the Chieftain raised his staff to point it at him.

    “Lograr, inspect it, and tell me what you think.”

    Frellon remained standing still, as the massive orc approached, setting aside his weapon/tree. Frellon locked eyes with him, daring him to make a hostile motion. The orc circled him.

    “His ears are like ours, his hair like the Voturi. His eyes and skin are the Voturi’s. His hands are ours…”

    He stopped in front of Frellon and began to snarl at him, not knowing what else to do, Frellon returned the snarl, matching him for ferocity. Their teeth bared, they held this for half a minute, untill the orc abruptly stopped.

    “His teeth are of neither ours nor the Voturi, As is his height.” Lograr turned to face the Chieftain.

    “Cherok went far south you said? Perhaps in that land this is what the Voturi are like. I see three options. Either it is some strange abomination of half-Orc, half-Voturi, or it is a full Voturi, but of some southern breed. The last option is what we spoke of, Chieftain.”

    The Chieftain frowned. “Cherok, you have spent the longest time in its company, what do you think?”

    Cherok stepped forward, as Lograr returned to his place. “Even though it does not speak, I believe it to be intelligent. It is no animal, as the Voturi are.”

    The Chieftain turned to Lograr, “Lograr. Tell the people what you reported to us.”

    Lograr complied, turning to the audience. “The Voturi grow increasingly restless. Their ambushes have become cleverer, more cunning. It is my belief that they have some sort of leader, something directing them. They have never displayed this… behavior, before. It could be that this is some new breed of Voturi that directs them.”

    Frellon’s blood turned to ice. This was not good, not good at all, he might be killed for this, and wasn’t even involved!

    The Chieftain agreed. “That does seem like the most likely option. Comence with the final test. Bring the poison.”

    Cherok came forwards with a stone knife which was slathered with some blue fluid. Frellon jerked away, but Cherok caught his arm. The orc whispered something under his breath, so only Frellon could hear.

    “Relax, it’s not lethal.”

    Frellon warily allowed him to cut his arm with the poisoned knife.

    Everyone waited. Nothing happened. Minutes passed by. A trickle of his blood leaked onto the ground.

    Lograr spoke.

    “He is unaffected! Only the Voturi are immune to their own poison!”

    The Chieftain nodded.

    “Very well, take him out and kill him. Then we must think on how to meet this new threat.”

    “I will do it, he is my responsibility.” Cherok started forward.

    Frellon had borne enough. He would not be killed over a misunderstanding!

    “NO!”

    He had shouted in Orcish, and everyone froze, staring at him.

    Drawing himself up, Frellon spat, in Lograr’s direction.

    “No honor. Kill. Innocent.” Frellon stumbled over the strange words, determined to speak in their native tongue.

    “What is this?” The Chieftain said. “He speaks as one of us!”

    Cherok grew excited. “I knew it! He is intelligent! A fellow person!”

    “Not Voturi!” Frellon insisted.

    “Hold on!” Lograr exclaimed. “How can he be immune to the poison?”

    “Better body, quick healer.” Frellon replied.

    Cherok nodded. “You should have seen his arm once the Girrun got ahold of it, now look at it! Good as new, and it has only been a few weeks!”

    The Chieftain interjected. “Be that as it may, this one has called our champion without honor. This calls for an honor duel.”

    Lograr, nodded. “That’s true,” his eyes narrowed. “he did.”

    Cherok disagreed. “What!? No! we must treat him as an orc! He’s as intelligent as one of us!”

    “We are. And should you call Lograr honor-less, you too will be given an honor duel.”

    “Why not make it an entrance duel then?”

    The Chieftain considered this. “So if he loses, he and his family dies. But if he wins…”

    “He joins the village.” Cherok finished.

    “What of the slight to Lograr?”

    “You were kill innocent. Call me Voturi, Half-breed. My Father great!” Frellon explained.

    “So you’re saying I slighted your honor first?” said Lograr, addressing Frellon directly for the first time.

    “Yes!”

    “Very well. Choose the weapon Vo-… Stranger.”

    Frellon pointed to Cherok, more specifically, at the bronze sword at his waist. Frellon realized he did not know their word for ‘sword’.

    “Weapon, champion.”
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  2. - Top - End - #182
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    Frellon gripped the wooden mock sword. Through his halting Orcish, they had reached a compromise. Only Cherok was permitted to touch his sword, and it was his sword, it did not seem to be a status symbol, and he was the only orc in possession of one.

    So he had convinced them to spend an afternoon carving mock swords, wooden ones. As the challenger, it was apparently his right to choose the weapon, and he would fight Lograr on his own terms. Now it was almost dusk, and everything was ready. Frellon went through the motions of a warm-up. Stretching, figuring out what motions he could and couldn’t get his injured chest to do. Cherok was over by Lograr, giving him a quick run-down of how one was supposed to use a sword in the first place.

    Eventually the Chieftain called a halt to the preparations.

    “I refuse to die of old age, waiting to start this! To your positions! Cherok, start the enterance duel!”

    Cherok did as he was told, carving a large circle in the earth with his sword, just inside the circle of onlookers. Then he stood between the two combattents, addressing both them, and the crowd as he stated the rules.

    “No-one is to cross the circle. You fight until one of you is unconscious or crosses the line. A disarmed… person, is to be allowed to retrieve their weapon. Killing your opponent here brings death upon yourself. Should Lograr win, you will be executed. Should you win, you will become a member of our Clan. May you fight with honor.”

    With this he stepped outside of the circle among the onlookers, and shouted “Begin!”

    Frellon’s sword snapped up into a ready position, Lograr just charged him, swinging his sword like a club. Frellon sidestepped, and easily parried, turning Lograr off balance. As he recovered, Frellon battered him with quick jabs along his side and back. His wooden sword leaving bruises, where a real one would have drawn blood. Lograr tried to swat aside Frellon’s sword and missed, roaring in outrage.

    Lograr was no swordsman. His strength was in his powerful arms. Frellon had little doubt that had he been facing him with that ‘staff’ as a weapon, he would be smeared across the earth like so much butter. With these smaller wooden swords however, Frellon had all the advantage.



    Lograr was disarmed multiple times, Frellon had scored several blows to his opponent’s skull, but Orcs apparently did not knock out easily. Lograr was becoming more and more enraged by his ineffectiveness with the weapon, froth gathering around his tusks. Eventually he broke, and tried a stiff punch to Frellon’s chest with one hand. Frellon deflected it with his sword, scraping the orcs wrist and forarm badly with the edge, but his fist connected with his shoulder anyway, and there was an explosion of pain.

    Far from debilitating him, the pain seemed to lend Frellon a sharp focus. No longer worried about how hard he was striking, he snaked his sword through and cracked it’s edge at the base of Lograr’s skull. The orc’s eyes rolled up in his head, and he collapsed, unconscious.

    Frellon raised his sword in triumph, and coughed, flecks of blood lightly spraying.

    The Chieftain strode forward. “The stranger has won. He is to be considered an Orc, one of us.”

    Cherok stood in awe, “you are skilled with that blade!” but shook his head. “come, we must get you some medicine, you are still not yet whole.”

    Frellon allowed himself to be led into a hut filled with herbs, as some others tended to Lograr’s bruises.



    That night, as Frellon lay sleeping on a mat in a hut with several other Orc men. Frellon’s thoughts turned to Baz'Auran. Is father still fighting, up there? The roof of the hut blocked his view of the night sky, and rather than leave the hut to look, he stayed where he was, resting. His last thought as he lent himself to dream of far of battles and glory was: I need to get better soon. If father sends for us, I must be ready.
    Last edited by AntiMatter101; 2012-02-19 at 10:41 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #183
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Demidos's Avatar

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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    Aramar: The Disk (Part 1)
    The light shone, painfully bright. Red brightness, filtering through his eyelids. He moaned, and twitched. The light was too bright for him – his always pale skin felt dry and uncomfortable. Probably Jongo (or perhaps some spirit of mischief) had figured out how to bypass the protections to his room and opened the shutters to wake him up. He should have expected it really. But oh, the aching in his back and legs. He couldn’t remember what had caused it. He had been out hunting the night before, and then there had been the banqu---

    The Banquet.

    Aramar shot up, then immediately regretted it. His body was a mass of bruises, twisted and interspersed with lacerations where the branches had cut him. He remembered being snatched up by Tersek, he and Frellon both. Tersek had borne them from the Hall before Aramar had even had the opportunity to open his mouth, to tell the spirit to stay and fight to defend his father. He remembered the look on his father’s face – fear, and anguish. It was a memory that shook Aramar to his very core – what could he fear? Father, the creator? What evil had such power that it could attack even at the heart of the White City? And now he would never know – he was trapped, stranded on the Disk. He was also alone. Tersek had been carrying them both, but Aramar had slipped from her claws and such was the state of the once mighty Spirit of Haste that she hadn’t even noticed. Aramar fell far, far farther than he might have expected to fall and survive, but he hit the top branches of a tree and fell through the tree, the branches cushioning his fall until at last he hit the ground at its base, and darkness had taken him.

    Now he was awake again, and scared. What if the nameless Dark found him? He looked around for the first time, and blinked – Aramar lay in a small clearing with a small stream – only a trickle – flowing through it, surrounded by thick vegetation on all sides. With a groan, he rolled to his feet and shook himself out. He was cut and hurt, but it was mostly superficial. His body had been limp as he fell – somehow he had held that lesson in mind, amidst the horror and terror – and so he was not badly injured. He winced, then turned and began to climb the tree he had been lying against. The rough bark was rough going on his sore fingers (he harbored the firm conviction that he had broken one) but he persevered. The sight at the top though, took his sight away. He was on the side of a mountain -- Huge trees, as large as the largest spires in the White City loomed over the landscape, sporadically placed. In the distance, waterfalls rumbled their incessant roar, churning as thousands, no, millions of gallons poured off the cliffs and fell hundreds of feet, crashing into lakes of icy water. He knew where he was – with his avid interest in the outdoors, he had still had the time to read scrolls about the world where they would land, and he had read the descriptions of the forests most intently. The enormous trees, the mountains – he was lost somewhere in the Faraad Mountains, on the outskirts of the great Zahana Wood. It was an area sparsely populated, and even then only by creatures that were something short of human.

    In his battered state, Aramar could remember little else. Sitting there, perched at the top of a tree in the middle of the woods, he began to wonder. What next? What to do now? He closed his eyes and relaxed his mind. He had been out hunting before for weeks on end. He silenced the voices that told him that no, this was different – it was the same.

    Shelter. Water. Food. In that order. Aramar opened his eyes again and looked around, this time with a critical eye. The tree in which he was sitting was tall, with straight branches, providing little protection, but from this vantage point he could see another, not so far away, where five trunks had grown and fused into one – where they met, a open space, a sort of platform, was formed. Aramar could just make it out from where he was – from the ground or from above, it would appear an impenetrable tangle of branches. It was the perfect hideout. Aramar already had water, in the form of the spring he had seen earlier. There was only one thing left to find. Aramar had seen birds in the trees surrounding him, some nesting. Climbing down his tree until a point where a large branch stretched across to an adjacent trunk, Aramar carefully made his way across. Then he paused. The birds had been large, perhaps the size of chickens, but with wingspans to match. They hadn’t seemed overly aggressive, but it wasn’t a bad thing to be cautious.

    Aramar checked his belongings. As he hadn’t begun eating at the banquet yet, his hunting knife was still strapped at his waist, as was his smaller knife, which he used for gutting or carving. Aramar made a quick inventory of his other possesions – his belt, a pouch containing a few mementoes (a brass coin from the time he had won a fight and a bet with Frellon, a scale from the great bronze fish that he had caught with Kalandor, a fossilized leaf, carefully pressed and embossed with gold, from his sister Soreal), his clothes, and of course, the silver circlet about his head marking him as a son of Baz’Auran and that helped concentrate his skills in warding magic – for some unexplained reason, silver enhanced his ability.

    Speaking of magic...Aramar snapped his fingers, his fingers forming the delicate Srelit and Tqest glyphs in the air. Nothing. It was as he had feared. He would have to rely on his body and his wits. And time was wasting. He pulled out his carving knife. Snapping a branch, he sharpened it at its end – though the knife was a superior weapon, it lacked reach. The end result was a crude shortspear. Crude, but it would serve. Putting away the knife again and jamming the spear into one of the folds in his clothing, Aramar began to climb. He climbed and climbed, until he reached a level with the bird’s nest he had seen earlier. The bird in the nest – presumably the mother– was sleeping with a wing over her head. Obviously the birds were nocturnal. It was a simple matter to climb up beside her and stab her through the heart. It was brief and painless, the product of years of honed talent. Underneath her, as he had hoped, he found eggs, three of them. Oddly, they were differently sized – two were the size of his fist, but the third nearly rivaled the size of his head. Confused, Aramar began to clamber in, closer to the nest (which, he noticed, was easily large enough to hold at least five of the birds). Slipping, he fell in, just as a huge dark shape swooshed over him, close enough for him to feel the wind in his hair.

    The bird that he was saw was huge, easily the size of a man from beak to tailfeathers, and with a wingspan to match. As he watched, the rabbit it carried was carelessly discarded and the bird let out an agonizing shriek. Now Aramar understood why the nest had seemed unguarded – no one would have been foolish enough to attack the nest, had they known what they were about. Even as his mind raced, the bird wheeled, and flew over the nest again, reaching for him with its wicked talons. Rolling to a side, he only just managed to avoid its grasping talons. The next time he wouldn’t be as lucky, he knew. With only seconds left before the bird returned, he rolled to his feet, flimsy spear at the ready.

    This was his last chance. He thought desperately back to the lessons of the spirits, and of Frellon. Be fast. Be unpredictable. As the bird came about for the last time, he hooked his boot under one of the eggs, the largest, and launched it up and out, directly into the bird’s path. Surprised and confused, the bird tried to avoid the hurtling missile, but failed and crashed directly into it, sending bluish yolk and egg shards sharp as glass in all directions. The impact and the failed maneuver to avoid it stunned the bird, which was sent tumbling into the nest where Aramar waited with his spear upraised. It took but a moment, and the great beast lay dead. Aramar collapsed next to it, panting.

    He lay there for what felt like hours, but in actuality was probably only minutes, before hauling himself to his feet. He swayed slightly from the exhaustion, but somehow managed to cut up the meat and bury it in the cold earth under the tree to preserve it. The eggs he took with him to his shelter, and ate. They had an odd, almost oily taste, but at that moment they tasted like ambrosia. Once he had finished, he inspected the shelter. In fact, it had been a much better shelter than it first appeared. Bushes had grown up about the base of the tree. They boasted enormous thorns, some of them five inches in length, and as keen as his dagger. He had bypassed the problem by brachiating to the tree from a tree nearby, but the animals and creatures of the forest would find it an impenetrable barrier (or so he hoped). The branches formed a natural lattice over his head from under which he could be safe from rain and prying eyes – in short, an ideal hideout for a young godling on the run.

    He slept for what must have been hours, but awoke to a dim light. The moon was visible through a crack in the fronds of his tree. Yawning, he looked out, only to see that the forest had undergone a glorious transformation. Everywhere, plants and trees glowed in blues and greens and oranges, a multisourced lighting that splashed rainbows across Aramar’s face. Delicate, rabbit-like creatures nibbled the edges of fronds, changing colors as per the leaves they ate, while in the distance krii-krii sounds heralded the appearance of small, dragon-like creatures no larger than mice, who swooped and dived between the trees, chasing each other around and around. Aramar emerged from his hideout, openmouthed.

    For hours, he wandered the forest, wondering at its awesome beauty and mesmerizing trees. The sun rose a few hours later – Aramar saw as the trees slowly faded, then turned back to greens and browns. He returned to his fort, awestruck. The forest at night had changed something inside of him – he decided that he would sleep through the days, so as to be free to wander the forest at night. He had seen no predators in his nighttime foray – they were mostly diurnal creatures, and as such the night would be safer for him in any case. Settling into his makeshift home, he closed his eyes against the glow of the day. He drifted to sleep, still thinking of the colors, the colors of the glorious night.

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    All Behold The Glory of Zahana


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  4. - Top - End - #184
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    Quote Originally Posted by DoomHat View Post
    The Banquet

    "I, wait, what?" stammered Rumel pointing at Kalandor with a spoon full of stew, "I'd have thought you'd be eager to take the helm? I... uh, yes, a gift! Yes! It was to my gift to you! The traveler and shepherd steadies us on to new lands. Doesn't that sound fun, eh? Has a certain poetry to it don't you think?".
    He smiled a broad mask of a smile with shifting eyes.
    Kalandor luaghed internally.
    "So the man who made it won't drive? Well I'll have to take a look at your manual..."
    He stood with a great smile before returning his attention to Baz'Auran.
    --------------------

    The Fall
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    I see you Traveller
    I see you prey on me
    And so I raise my voice
    That you may be stuck in place

    May the ground fall from you/Even when you seek to land/When the Sky is your domain.
    May Brambles entangle and scratch/And Web ensnare your face.
    May your rations be maggot struck/and the lands seem barren and dry.
    May you be hopelessly lost/following a mad mans map.
    May gales be your headwind/Overgrown be your path.
    May You freeze at night/Burn with the morning sun.
    May all misfortunes laws strike you/ May Murphy and Finagle Laugh

    For as true as I hat thou how doth pray on us/ the travellers chosen/ I pray for Kalandor to walk opposite to you/And spit upon your path.

    The First Travellers Curse.

    The Traveller Curse

    Kalandor's Fall was slightly different from others. Turning in the spirits hands to see the destruction happening to the White City, He communed with the spirit of haste, and with much persuasion, telling him of his own pre existing maps and revealing part of his workings, he convinced the spirit to 'drop' him early.

    And So, having reached the spot, where Kalandor believed he would land on target he cried. "Go, Go to our Father!"
    And so he fell, and he fell for real.
    And then he noticed what he missed.
    And he saw where he would land.
    There wern't enough swear words for the occasion.

    An unusual wind current, a slight miss calculation, and he was landing on the opposite end of the continent.....

    And so he fell amoungst the southern hills, his godly life flashing before his eyes to be followed by darkness...
    Last edited by Erik Vale; 2012-02-20 at 12:47 AM.
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  5. - Top - End - #185
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    The ensuing celebration lasted a full week. The cheers and the merriment was so heart warming and bright that Haramhold was happy for the first time in a long time.

    The cave of crystals proved to be an exquisite beauty as was promised. The wondrous crystals came in all shapes, sizes, and hues. There were clear ones and small as an ant and sparkling marvels larger than an oxen. It was clear that the tunnels extended for miles and as legend would have it had no end.

    Unfortunately none of people from Amanda's village had fled to the caverns; so Haramhold took responsibility for her well being. And as the days of celebration passed he began to think of her as less of a stranger and more like a daughter. Indeed he came to know the people gathered here, their customs their stories and their hearts. The humans amazed Haramhold, for they had come so far with no spirits of craftsmanship or knowledge to school them. He could only imagine what they could accomplish if given a proper teacher.

    But after the celebrations came a more serious task Baylor and Syth called together the village elders to hear Haramhold's tale. A tale he told truthfully, omitting only the name of his father for Haramhold did not think that it was time to reveal his true origins. They were impressed and curious, and wished to know the secret of iron. Haramhold promised to teach them this knowledge and much more.

    The people left the caves of crystal, it might have been a place of beauty but it was indefensible and to far from any source of water to sustain their thirsty throats. For ten days the several hundred humans traveled south and west until they came upon a a large hill, with steep sides and a river bending its away around the western slope. This is where they made their new home, and where Haramhold began teaching them the secrets of iron, and stone of clay and wood. They named their new home Salus.

    And so summer turned to winter and winter to summer. The wheel of the seasons turned and turned again and the people flourished. Under Haramhold's guidance their craftsmen became masters. Houses made of stone rose warm and strong.

    Every spring Baylor would lead a band of iron clad hunters into the surrounding wilderness finding the troll dens and driving the beasts before them. And every fall he would return with even more people, guiding any of those who sought sanctuary from the trolls and other monsters of the disc. Haramhold found himself at peace during this time, teaching and crafting to his hearts content every day.

    And so by the fifth year of the founding of Salus the people's numbers had swollen to three thousand. The year that the wise woman Syth died; and the peace died with her.

    It was high summer when Baylor's party returned early with terrible news. The shadows had returned and they were raising an army of trolls, in numbers that had never been seen before. Baylor estimated that the army would be upon them within a fortnight. A panic fell upon the people, for although the new found strength of iron had cowed their foes it had not defeated them and now their nightmares were returning to reek vengeance.

    And so the council of elders was gathered in the great meeting hall. Some wished to flee scatter across the four winds so that the trolls could not find them. Some wished to meet the enemy in the field and route their army before it was fully formed. But Haramhold knew that both of these paths lead to their doom. To flee was to abandon everything that they had accomplished and any hope of safety. Confronting them in the field would be a costly campaign and that although swords and spears of iron where effective against the trolls they were as powerless as the air against their masters. So Haramhold suggested a different path. The people of Salus would stay and fortify their home, prepare tall wooden palisades to throw off and scatter their enemy. When the council asked what was to be done against the shadows Haramhold told them to leave that to him, that he would find a way to destroy them.

    That night Haramhold saddled one of the few horses; packing what food and water he would need for the trip when Amanda came into the stable with a pack of her own. Amanda had grown tall and lanky in the past few years her bright red hair glimmering in the moonlight.

    "And where do you think you are going?" Haramhold asked her.

    "If you thought that I was going to let you ride off into the night all by yourself then you must think me as mad as you." retorted the teenager.

    "The path I will walk is to dangerous for you, I think of you as my daughter. I would not have you harmed on a trip that might be in vain."

    Snorting Amanda snaps back "Is going with you any more dangerous than staying here and waiting for that army of trolls to kill me?"

    Haramhold tried to come up with a retort but could not find the words "Fine, you have convinced me. Just promise me that if we come across any trouble that you ride to safety even if it means leaving me behind."

    "I promise." the girl lied so well that if Haramhold had not known her for so many years he would have believed her.

    And so the two rode out into the night making good time as they traveled north and east. They pressed their mounts hard and within two days Haramhold found himself at the mouth of the crystal cave for the second time in his life. Tying their horses up outside Haramhold lead Amanda into the twisting maze past Amethyst , quartz, gypsum and a thousand other crystals of all shapes and hues. Deeper and deeper they went, until Haramhold found what he was looking for a small outlet with water dripping from the ceiling and crystals that shone like diamonds in the torchlight.

    For the next three weeks Haramhold worked in the cave, using his knowledge and skill he encouraged and shaped the growth of a new crystal, like none that the world had seen before. Amanda for her part could only watch in fascination. The people of Salus had often whispered amongst themselves how Haramhold's skill was uncanny. That iron seemed to shape itself without pounding in his hands, that wood became more supple or stiff as needed when he worked with it. Amanda had always discounted such tales preferring to believe that Haramhold was simply more skilled than them. But as she saw the crystal grow and shape itself under his hands Amanda was forced to question her beliefs.

    For three weeks Haramhold labored on his crystal and when it was finished and not a moment before he picked it from its perch. The crystal separated from its base smoothly as if it were never truly attached. It was perfectly formed needing no cut or polish to bring out the crystal's inner beauty. Amanda gasped at its beauty and form looking up at her step father she could only wonder.

    The pair of them rode hard for Salus after that. Amanda tried to save their horses and slow their pace but Haramhold would have none of it, fearing that he was already too late. When they had reached Salus their horses finally dies from exhaustion under them, having completed their task. And as they looked upon the hill they found it burning.

    The trolls had come in their hundreds with burning brands through a hail of iron arrows and bullets scattering their corpses along the hillside. But they eventually won through and set the palisade on fire laying bare the town. Then had come the bloody part of the battle as the trolls breached the still burning defenses and engaged the brave defenders. The men made the monsters pay for every foot of land but it was not enough eventually they were driven back to the great hall, barricading themselves behind its strong oaken doors.

    And that is how Haramhold found his people for they had truly become that over the years. Marching up the hill side he bellowed a challenge to the shadows daring them to show themselves. And so they did.

    The shadows crept out over the hill their hateful forms twisted and full of spite. They all grouped together condensing into a darkness blacker than the dead of night. "Who dare threaten us? We who have seen the first rising of the dawn and have feasted on the fears of mortal man."

    "It is I Haramhold of Salus these people are under my protection leave now and never return."

    "Who are you to challenge us?" the shadows hissed, their malavolent will stretching forth and prying into Haramhold's mind.

    "I am Haramhold guardian of my daughter of whom you shall not taint."

    The shadows stretched out engulfing Haramhold in their vile darkness "Who are you to have earned the arrogance to defy us?"

    Struggling to breath Haramhold gasped for the sunlight thrashing against the unsubstantial mists that swallowed him.

    "Just as we thought." the shadows laughed in triumph "You are no one."

    "I AM HARAMHOLD SON OF BAZ'AURAN LORD OF THE STARS AND CREATOR OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH!" bellowed Haramhold as he lifted his crystal above his head "I AM OF THE WHITE CITY WHOSE SPLENDOR OUTLASTS THE DARKNESS! I AM THE MASTER OF CRAFTS, SHAPER OF STONE AND METAL AND WOOD. I AM HARAMHOLD AND I AM YOUR DOOM!"

    The ground shook and stone crumbled from his wrath. A bright light as pure as the stars and brighter than the sun emanated from the crystal tearing the shadows apart with its brilliance. For the crystal shown fourth with the strength of his divine spark fully awoken.

    The shadows disintegrated and faded into nothingness, their hold of the trolls dieing with them. And without the malevolent will of the shadows they lacked the strength to stand against the iron and the light. And so they fled.

    As the town cleared the villagers cautiously ventured forth from of the great hall, beholding Haramhold and all of his brilliance. As he lowered his arm the light died and the people of Salus beheld his true self for the first time and where in awe.

    Quietly from behind him Amanda cautiously placed a calloused hand on his arm "Father, is that you?" she asked not sure what the response would be.

    Turning to look at his daughter Haramhold's expression softened "I am who I have always been. No longer diminished but still myself." And with that Haramhold embraced Amanda before his people and their cheers of joy.

    First turn artifact: The crystal of inner light
    Spoiler
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    The crystal of inner light reveals the true nature of its wielder to himself and those around him. It shines with their strength and their character. It can be used as a weapon against those creatures without flesh whose form is naught but will and aether, but that is not its true purpose. The crystal of inner light is meant to reveal the source of their confusion and doubt so that its holders might truly know their own heart, and thus their path.
    Sometimes it is useful to know how large your zero is. ~Author Unknown

  6. - Top - End - #186
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AntiMatter101's Avatar

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    The wounds on his chest took another two weeks to heal completely. During that time, Frellon took to sparring with Cherok at his incessant requests. It was a sort of trade, Frellon would teach him about swordplay, using wooden swords, and Cherok would teach him about their language and culture. Being able to understand their language innately helped a lot at first, it was speaking it that was the hard part for Frellon. He knew that if he spoke in Celestial, he would be recognized as a godling, and for reasons that were not clear to him, he did not want that. By the 10th day though, he had made good progress, enough to sound like one of the children in the village.

    Now that Frellon’s Chest was whole again, he had decided it was time to make a proper weapon. So at dinnertime, he sought out the only member of the Clan with a sword.

    “Hey, Cherok.”

    Cherok twisted around and raised a leg of cooked meat to him. “Frellon! Sit, sit! Have some Darruk, it was Gurnod’s kill, a fat one too!”

    Frellon accepted the meat, and took a few bites as he sat. The fire around which they gathered was positioned under a roasting spit. A large bird-like creature with little useless wings lay impaled through the spit. The feathers had been removed, and its beak was charred and black from the fire.

    “So Cherok, I have some questions.”

    “About what, Frellon?” Cherok took a swing from the wineskin, and passed it around the circle.

    “Your sword, there. How did you get it?”

    “It was my father’s, and his father’s before him. The tale of its origin is lost to us, but it has been an heirloom for generations.”

    Frellon cursed to himself silently. These orcs did not make the sword, they could not fashion a new one for him. I really should have learned how to make my own weapons. Frellon cursed himself, rubbing his temples. Haramhold and Rumel were the makers, the crafters of weapons, not me!

    “You know nothing more?” Frellon asked, desperate.

    Cherok looked slightly uncomfortable. “Look it’s a long story.” Cherok tried, but realized that Frellon would not be so easily dissuaded. “Ok. As you know, we did not always live here. Where we used to live, is in the mountains, far to the south and east of this place. About four generations ago, we were driven from a little valley in those mountains. Why did we leave? There were tons of reasons; our stories say Spirits of Ice and Wind stirred up storms that kept us in our homes all day. Giant Beasts, covered in fur as white as snow ravaged our village, looking for food. The Voturi were there, as they seem to be everywhere, killing and eating us where they could. Perhaps a bad winter killed off too much prey, or the spirits finally decided to drive us from the place once and for all. Whatever the reason, the Orunta Clan’s ancestors left. Now, at the same time, my great grandfather was wandering the land, heading for the mountains to escape something. He always kept the details to himself, my father said. All great grandfather would say was that his family was forced to flee some disaster in the southwest. His only possession was this sword. He won an entrance duel, just like you did, and joined the clan with his wife, who gave birth and died soon after.”

    Frellon thought on this. The making of the sword really was lost to him. His mind turned to the Orunta, this clan had an interesting tradition. The entrance duels were to ensure that any strange Orcs that wished to join their clan were good enough at fighting that they would actually be of help to their hunters. Frellon himself was hoped to be a great hunter, smaller size and weaker arms disregarded. Still, he had yet to go on a hunt, having just finished healing.

    Frellon nodded, eventually. “Ok, Cherok, thank you for telling me.” He busied himself with his dinner, as one of the older Orcs around the fire decided to pipe in.

    “That’s right, that sword has been in his family since they came here! I remember your father was even more possessive of it that you are!”

    “There’s reason for that! A good sword needs to be kept in perfect condition! You brutes would be bashing it on rocks for all I know. It’s hard enough to keep it free of dents and notches as it is.”

    “Cherok is right.” Frellon interjected between mouthfuls. “that kind of metal especially need careful care.”

    “I suppose, It’s still funny to see he him get all protective over it though, a good weapon is still just a weapon.” The old orc emphasized his point by thumping his club on the rock he was sitting on.

    “My point exactly” Cherok muttered under his breath, but everyone heard him. The Orcish laughter of the group rang through the cool night air.



    The next day, Frellon set to work with some rocks he had found, determined to make a stone sword. With Cherok’s recruited help, he ended up with something that was somewhat in a vague shape that might resemble a sword, at night. If it was misty. It was also quite heavy. Frellon decided to master the art of the club instead.



    His first Hunt was a success. He had picked up some good techniques on his long march those weeks before for moving quietly through the forest, so as not to disturb the wildlife. Together, they surrounded and brought down two Darruk. One of them gave Cherok a shallow cut on the thigh with the talons on its long legs, before emitting gargles as it was decapitated by Cherok’s sword. Frellon got some experience bandaging wounds with the limited resources these orcs had, and had managed to spot the Second Darruk before it saw them. It was a good day.



    Their return to the village was much like the first time Frellon was brought there, a miniature celebration accompanied every successful hunt, the women and children were always relieved that their men came home safe and laden with fresh supplies.

    Frellon went to bed that night more content than he had in a long while. He had found a place where his talents were valued, his contributions appreciated, and his friends liked to fight as much as he did. He had found a home. All it needed was more swords.
    Last edited by AntiMatter101; 2012-02-19 at 11:29 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #187
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    The Weaver panted, limbs heavy, head reeling. That…that thing had almost eaten him alive. If he was alive. The Weaver wasn’t really sure at this point. Everything was so different here, different even than he had been taught it would. Where were the mortals, the life? Such questions fled The Weaver’s mind when he saw the water dripping from one of the stalactites. Water. At long last, water. The Weaver drank deep of the water of the cave. It had been so very long since he had tasted water. It was a small amount, but it would be enough. The Weaver couldn’t stay, not with the corpse of that enormous snake. Kolorki-na, it had called itself? Wait. Kolorki-na. That name seemed familiar to The Weaver, somehow. A long ago memory, of someone from the White City.

    But something else called to The Weaver’s attention now. The blood leaking from the head of the snake was different. What was it…of course. The blood was purple. Not blue, like everything else in this Baz’Auran-forsaken desert. PURPLE! The Weaver laughed, and practically danced with glee. A new color! Something different in the wash of blue! The purple blood flowed out the mouth of the cave, and into the desert. Slowly, shades of purple shone in the desert sand. And Then Weaver decided to leave the cave, and see what else could be found.

    The wind whipped, and the sun raged, and the sands rattled, and the hawk cried with fury. Kolorki-na had failed. The Snake was slain by the hands of the son of Baz’Auran! The first ploy had failed! But the anger quickly fell away to hunger. Now they had the chance to taste the God-flesh. And deep in the desert, in her cave, the owner of the red eyes laughed, as her great meal drew ever closer…

    The Second Tale of The Weaver

    In the days before the coming of The Weaver, and our people’s triumph over the Dark Ones, we lived in fear of our brothers, for we saw them in jealousy and desire. This is the Second Story told to us by The Weaver, the Second of his Dream-Tales that gave us trust in our brethren again.

    The Second Story begins not long after The Weaver slew the last among the Dark Ones, Kolorki-na the Snake, who drove us from our beds looking for work to be about. For The Weaver continued his walk, searching for a way back to the Great Star, which brings cool winds to the harsh sand-places. And as he walked, he came upon an oasis, with water pure and clear as the evening sky. And The Weaver, being thirsty, bent down to take a drink.

    But this spring was the home of Desri-na, the second among the Dark Ones. She was the Spirit who drove men and women from their sleep to seek each other’s company, and yet find it not, for she was a trickster like her brother Kolorki-na. And as The Weaver drank, she snuck up behind him, and pushed him into the spring. The Weaver turned, and was captured by her beauty, for it is Desri-na’s nature to look as the person you want to be with most, and yet know cannot. And in Desri-na, The Weaver saw his sister Soreal, who lived in the lands far away where the Palms grow in all places. Desri-na spoke to The Weaver, saying “This is my spring, and if you wish to drink from it, I must have compensation.” The Weaver bowed his head, for he was a man of honor, and replied “Fair One, I will pay the price for having drunk from your spring, but I have little enough to call my own. I have the clothes on my back, and this tooth which I took from the mouth of a giant Snake.” Desri-na smiled, for she knew who he was, but she was wilier than her brother Kolorki-na. “Who are you, stranger who has so little?” “I am The Weaver, son of-“ But then The Weaver remembered Kolorki-na, who coveted his flesh because he was the son of Baz’Auran, and his flesh had power. “Son of no-one.” And Desri-na laughed. “Then Weaver, son of no-one, I will take you as my price. For a year and a day, you shall live here with me, and be my slave.” The Weaver grimaced, for in the time he had walked this strange land, he had not seen the sun dip beneath the sky. For The Weaver did not know that time did not pass in the Dream-Time, for all was one there. But he nodded. “I accept your price.” And Desri-na laughed again, for she thought she had won the son of Baz’Auran.

    So for a long time, The Weaver lived with Desri-na. And as they lived there by the oasis, Desri-na grew curious about the son of Baz’Auran. “Weaver, how did you earn your name?” The Weaver smiled. “Mistress, I am what I am. Weaver is my name, and a weaver I am.” “Then weave for me.” And The Weaver found some plants and ferns by the water’s edge, and began to weave. And as The Weaver wove his second tapestry on the Disk, he sang a song he learned when he was young, back when even Jongo could be called a child.

    I weave of the time when the world was begun
    And I weave of moon and the stars and the sun
    I weave of a city of gold and white
    And I weave of the Father who gave us all life.

    For a weaver weaves with colors, both purple and blue
    And a weaver weaves in colors his mind only knew
    And a weaver weaves in shadows, and a weaver weaves in air,
    And a weaver weaves with things that aren’t there.

    For just as the Father wove through space and time
    So must a weaver learn of meter and rhyme
    For Weaving isn’t just thread and needle
    Weaving keeps us strong, and keeps us humble.


    And The Weaver wove a simple cloak of blue and purple, for that was all he could make in this strange land. But that was not the tapestry The Weaver wove. The Weaver wove a tapestry around the hardened heart of Desri-na, and broke the bonds of evil which had been placed there. And Desri-na wept for the beauty of the song, and the beauty of the cloak The Weaver wove for her. That tear held green within it, and as it fell, the green splashed outward, filling the Dream-Time with vibrancy and life. And The Weaver gave Desri-na the cloak he had woven, and she gave him his freedom. But The Weaver was lonely, wandering in the Dream-Time, and invited Desri-na to walk with him, for she was beautiful and wise. And so the two continued onward, to seek a way home for The Weaver.

    This is the Second Dream-Tale of The Weaver, who freed our people from the Dark Ones. Rejoice, for he shows us the path to unity and fellowship.
    ATTENTION ANYONE WHO I'M PLAYING WITH:
    No news is good news.

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  8. - Top - End - #188
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    The Fall of Dol Mazzah

    Only one thing allowed Fayruz to enjoy herself. It certainly was not the way her body ached - it actually ached, her feet were cut raw and her rear ached after days of riding and her face had been burned by the sun, and there was nothing she could do about it, and that was, perhaps, the scariest thing imaginable. Back home, she could have merely willed herself into better health, but now she had no control over her own body. She couldn't even will herself to be clean and spotless, forcing the women of this place to scrub at her with their rough sponges to clean her off, immersing her in a vat of lukewarm, dirty water to do so. It certainly was not the clothes she wore, either, for they prickled and itched at her, and seemed to be made from the skin and fur of various animals, a thought which simply disgusted her. They were dull, dirty, and smelled worse than she had. Her beautiful gown, the one she had worn especially for the banquet with her family, had been tossed aside by the women of this frightful place, as well it should have been. She had taken a look at it, and had cried to see how it had been torn - not only by Arenis's knife, but by briars and thorns - and how filthy, bedraggled and stained it had become. It did not deserve to be a rag, let alone her dress, but the clothes that she now wore were little better. And it certainly was not the food they ate: poorly-roasted, bloody meat and limpid, dirty vegetables and fruits all tossed together into a stew, food that made Fayruz want to push herself away from the table and wash the taste out of her mouth with a dish from back home, made perfectly for her.

    What allowed Fayruz to enjoy herself was her company. A little girl, who could hardly reach up to Fayruz's elbow, sat in her lap as she ate, pressing herself sweetly against Fayruz. On either side of her, other children had wormed their way in, and clung to her, asking her so many questions that she couldn't answer them all at once, questions about her home and her harp and her journey and her father and her stay in Dol Mazzah. Behind her, an older girl, one who would soon be a woman, entertained herself by weaving several beautiful desert blossoms into Fayruz's hair. And all about sat men and women, who were not as beautiful and shapely as the spirits of the White City, but seemed friendlier to her than she had expected from them! They would smile at her, even though their smiles were misshapen and blackened, and when she managed to choke down a bowlful of their 'food', they were quick to refill it for her.

    They were, in fact, the kind of people that she would help once her siblings found her and they were able to create a land of peace together. There would be so many things that her siblings would do for them - Rumel, ever-crafty, could teach them a multitude of ways to dress better, to prepare their food better, and Aerin could teach them all the table manners and courtesy of the White City, while Contragh and Carolinus, bold and cunning, would keep back the monsters from their doorsteps and allow them to sleep safely at night. Because, after all, that was the only reason they had such high walls, and spears and slings to protect themselves. Once the monsters were gone, they could live in peace, the kind of peace they deserved, with such kindly hearts.

    She turned to one child who was asking her why her teeth were all so white and straight, and was about to tell him about how everyone's teeth were perfect in the White City, even the spirits with very sharp teeth or tusks, when the young man who had stopped her and Arenis at the gate ran in, yelling, "The Tekeza are attacking! The Tekeza are attacking! They burn our grass and berry-bushes, and they come to destroy us and break down our walls! A horned demon leads them, and presses against our gate!"

    Their leader, the one Arenis had called Beastslayer, rose from his seat, angrily. "What? Men, to arms, all of you! Women, bar the door behind us! Malak, bring me my axe!" The young man quickly brought him a weapon made of a stone wedge, lashed tightly to a long wooden pole. He strode down the length of the chaos in the hall, as children were gathered up by their mothers and men pulled out long stone knives and spears and axes, following their leader. He stopped once, though, for Fayruz - who was looking around everywhere, at all that was happening, trying to make sense of it all, trying not to cry - and said, "Fear not, child. I will protect you with my life." Then he exited the hall, and the door was barred behind him. Fayruz stood from her simple seat, looking around, before realizing that Arenis had gone with the Beastslayer to fight, and that there was no one else she knew. Well, she could fix that.

    She looked over at the women and children, huddling together, behind Tarn's long table, before his seat. And she walked over to them, and did what she did best: she smiled, even though she didn't want to. "It's all right," she said. "Your walls are strong and every one who defends us is brave." She reached out, and touched one of Tarn's wives with a gentle hand, and smiled. "They will protect us. There's no reason to fear."

    "But if they lose, they might kill us, or enslave us, or burn us down in our hall!" replied Tarn's wife, and everyone nodded assent, some children fighting back tears. A ripple of fear ran through them all, fear tinged with panic, and its taste was sour to Fayruz.

    Fayruz frowned, slightly, and then said, "Don't be afraid. If that happens, I will protect you. You won't have anything to fear!" And, wondering how she could cheer up these frightened women and children, it suddenly hit her that there was one thing that her siblings always loved. Whenever they were frightened that their teachers would be angry with them, whenever a love affair was going ill and they needed hope, whenever spirits were low when they were gathered together in the gardens or in the great hall... one song from Fayruz's harp would raise their spirits and make them laugh again. She pulled her harp from her shoulder, sat down in front of them, and ran her fingers along the strings.

    That sound was lifted to the roof, stilling tears and fears for one moment, and then Fayruz began to play in earnest, smiling as she did so. Of all the harpists in all of the White City, there were none as talented as Fayruz. She could no longer evoke the sound of flute or bell to accompany her song, but that was not necessary. They knew singing, she realized, and the sound of drums, but not a true harp. Not the sound that a true harpist could make. So she joined her voice to the song, singing of home and her family and the safety of the hearth. And, for a time, the war was forgotten, the discomfort of the Disk was forgotten, and all there was was the song, and the hope of home, and she caught them all up with her. This was Fayruz's gift, that they all might know her joy.

    Then the great door shook, and her voice wavered slightly, and everyone trembled. Fayruz rose, her harp-strings stilled, saying, "They've returned already! Those 'Tekuza' must have been easy to-" Then the door shook again, and splintered under the force of the blow, the bloody edge of some stone weapon peeking through the crack. A child began to cry again, in fear, and the women huddled their children ever-closer as Fayruz turned to face the door. The third blow shattered the door in two, and the demon strode into the room, a black silhouette lit from behind by the burning walls of Dol Mazzah, a massive hammer held loosely in one hand. It chuckled, the sound as deep as the harp was high, as horrible as the harp was wonderful. It strode into the room, dripping blood with every step, followed by warriors with long bloody spears.

    Fayruz held up her hand and said, "Stop."

    The warriors kept coming, for a moment, until they realized that the demon before them had stopped. It held its ground, and they did, as well, looking from him to Fayruz, who continued, "Leave. There is no one here who will fight you. Just leave them be."

    The demon loped forward, so quickly that it seemed to eclipse Fayruz's vision, so quickly that it was directly in front of her before she could react. It... no, he was tall, much taller than Fayruz, and dreadfully thin, so much that she could see ribs starkly jutting out from his sides and the bones jutting from his arms, arms which seemed far too slender to raise the dreadful hammer which he carried. The horns on his head were not even the most fearsome aspect, for, this close, she could see the dreadful wounds which had ripped open his face from brow to chin, slashing diagonally across his face, and she could feel the putrid stench coming from his face, a smell which was all the more terrible for being new to her. When he opened his mouth, she saw teeth sharpened to points, which she'd never before seen on a mortal. "And just who will stop me from ripping their guts out and eating them, little girl?"

    "I... I will," Fayruz said. Even though she had no weapons, and nothing to stop the demon with, she had to say it. She had promised them. And so the demon stared at her, and she stared back, her head held high, trying to disguise the way his stench and how the blood and sweat rolled off him and how casually he held his massive hammer - how all of these disgusted her and turned her stomach and made her afraid. She had never been afraid before, not like this, even when the monster had been right there next to her and the shattering wall had nearly killed her, because her Father had been there to protect her, to ward away the errant crystals that would have pierced her. Her Father was not here to stop this stinking, bloodsoaked demon from killing her. Would it hurt? Would dying be agonizingly painful? Or would she simply see him lift the hammer and then - darkness.

    And then the demon laughed. Hysterically, raising one bloody hand to his face and guffawing, a scratchy, strong thing all rolling out crookedways. The men behind him - who still stood near the door - began to laugh, an edge of taut nervousness in theirs. And Fayruz started to laugh, chuckling ever-so-slightly, because whenever she got her siblings laughing then their fighting always stopped, and people could apologize and-

    The demon moved all-too-swiftly again, wrapping his long fingers around Fayruz's neck and lifting her off the ground with one hand, as easily as he'd held the hammer. Lights exploded behind Fayruz's eyes as he squeezed and she tried to scream, tried to breathe, pain shooting through her head as he effortlessly strangled her. She brought her hands to the fingers wrapped around her neck, and futilely scratched at them, limply yanking on them to no avail. "You're hilarious," he said. "A ruttin shebitch of a joke." Fayruz's lungs felt as if they would burst in her chest, her vision swam and grew dark, and she thought, desperately - 'Father, help me.'

    Motion, and pain, and a crack, and the jingle of an abused harp. The harsh, dancing up-and-down voice cut through her throbbing head as she tried and utterly failed to find the strength to get up amid the splinters of Tarn's table. "And you're lucky I think you're funny. I think I'll keep you. Every chieftain needs his fool, no?" The drag of the hammer's head on the ground, and its scrape as it was lifted. "But you! Yes, you there, child. You're not funny."

    "Stop." The hoarse whisper came from her throat, as she stumbled forward, onto her hands and knees, sagging under her own weight. "Don't hurt them. Please."

    That guffaw rang in her ears again, that mad cackle - too mad, too harsh, not human. The only warning she had was that it abruptly stopped before he spun around and kicked her across the face, sending her sprawling with a cheek aflame with pain. "How's that, then? Do you like that more?"

    She tried to get up. She failed the first time, and the second time, and he laughed harder. Who would ever laugh at someone's misery, a quiet voice in the back of Fayruz's head asked herself. Who would find joy in the suffering of others? The third time, she forced herself to raise her head, pushing herself up, and said, her voice wavering, "No, but if... if it means you will spare them... I would rather be hurt."

    This time, she caught the end of the cackle quickly enough to brace herself, to whisper a silent prayer to her Father in her head, before his bandaged foot caught her in the ribs, knocking her over again. They burned, one feeling like it might have given way, and she couldn't fix it if it had. "Had enough, little girl? Ready for me to hurt them yet?"

    "Dragonslayer!" The word cut over Fayruz's bloody-lipped, quiet 'no'. "Great chieftain, Hefar suggests that you kill the women and children, as your father would have!" Fayruz opened her eyes in shock - well, one eye, the other quickly swelling shut. No, please, no! They're mortals just like you, she wanted to scream, if only she had the breath! You can't do that to them, please, no, please!

    The demon's voice was unusually quiet for a moment. "Do you mean to say," he said in a trembling voice that reminded her, for one grotesquely sweet moment, of Jongo, quiet and wavering. And then his voice changed again, becoming that hoarse roar, a scream of fury and hatred that made Fayruz flinch in terror, "That my father knew better than me, the Dragonslayer? Bind them all to the horses and take them to Copperhold! If you kill one of them I will crush all your skulls to a paste!" Fayruz sagged in relief, laying her throbbing head back down on the cold floor, closing her eyes. Thank you, Father.

    Her sentiment of gratitude was cut short when the demon wrapped the fingers of one hand in her hair and pulled her upright. She gasped in pain, struggling to her feet, which wobbled and throbbed almost too much to hold her. This only made him laugh again, and he dragged her towards the broken door, yanking her hair cruelly whenever she stumbled. Her eyes watered and stung, almost so much that she was unable to see the body of the broken huntress sprawled in front of the hall, her long knife still in her hand. "Arenis," Fayruz sobbed, before one last flash of pain running across her entire body made everything go black.
    -build that wall and build it strong-
    Kasanip - best artist; Rarity - best smile; Thanqol - good Question
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  9. - Top - End - #189
    Ettin in the Playground
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    “For Kalandor revealed to me the perfection in no god nor mortal being is perfect, and he revealed this to me by telling of his fall, of how he made the calculations well within his domain, and let himself fall for another’s aid, and how his path was to walk to us against all hazards.”

    The Preistess shifts slightly on her stool.

    “And so I stand devout, and I forgive, that he will give his blessing upon us travellers, that luck may be on our side, so that our mistakes do not have us fall as he did.”

    Nia, Priest and Gypsy of Kalandor, Ken of the Dusty Robe.

    A preistess on Perfection.

    Kalandor woke groggy, and in pain, a red pounding that besieged his head and made him wish the Earth to reverse it journey, for he was certain there was no way he was getting up, let alone walking to his planned destination.
    “If this is what you meant Baz’Auran, I hop Tez or Analan slaps you a few times.”

    Coughing Dust, Kalandor arose from the odd path, that seemed to go a full 5 paces, being like an arrow to where he was going, a sign if he ever saw one, not that he wasn’t planning to tread that path. Kalandor inspected what he thought would be his injuries, strangely non-existent, as he recalled the events of the last afternoon. The Plummeting Fall. The screaming headwinds. The Cry of Birds, and the Flash of 18 years. “I guess that solves that question.”

    But he had many more curses to use before he begins.
    He doesn’t have his rations.
    He’s wearing his ceremonial gear.
    He doesn’t have any tools.
    What he does have is a good level weapons grade vocabulary, which managed to make a nearby tree wilt, despite its lack of an auditory sense.
    And all this he followed with the age old question.
    “Why, Why Me? Did you really have to let me have my wish so violently? Why, Be it Baz’Auran or the Universe, Why did you choose me?”

    But with no answers forthcoming, and the noonday sun approaching, Kalandor couldn’t stay. Atleast there was a wood nearby, for Kalandor would have his weapon, and a bit of luck. A stout branch, fallen from a tree, but fresh enough to be hard and not rotten. With many days a night passing, animals ranging from the quite rabbit to the rampaging Dire Boar fell to his staff. The beginnings of leathers and rations arose from the humble beginnings of a stick, a sharpish rock, a lucky find of iron pyrite, and a rabbit, with Kalandor spent weeks preparing what had been merely a day’s work.

    And so the Suns and Moons of a month’s time rose above that small forest, fed by a week stream coming from the surrounding footlands, and from the Rugged hills of the southern continent, came a divinity that in no way resembled Kalandor, bearing tanned skin and untamed hair, Leathers composed from a variety of animals, a large bag with several internal bags, all with a well polished and stout Oak stave resting easily in his palm. All of this set off with a Boar Tooth Necklace and a passing knowledge of the continents various tribes leading to his target area.

    The Traveller Travelled.
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    The professional, well-funded, well-backed, card-carrying, licensed murderhobos, yes.
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  10. - Top - End - #190
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    hi-mi-tsu's Avatar

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    The Long Walk

    Avyra walked. She had chosen to strike out in the direction of the trees she could see in the distance, but had angled herself a bit away from the water. It was impossible to say how long she walked; everything seemed encapsulated in the same grey twilight as when she started. She came to realize she neither hungered nor thirsted, conditions that had afflicted her even in the White City.

    She began to grow frightened. This wasn't at all like she'd imagined it to be; alone, stranded in this strange, dim place, without any life around her. Why did she no longer hunger? Why did she no longer thirst?

    Eventually, she came to the edge of a town--and stopped, staring. For there were people there, but there were also people. It was...strange. There were people, like her, clear and sharp and easily viewable...but then there were others, some who seemed nearly as strong as the first, but some that were fading around the edges, and some that were not really there at all.

    She approached a young, strong woman, carrying a baby in her arms. "Excuse me...?" The woman paid no heed, and seemed to stare straight through her; Avyra frowned, and reached out a hand. But when it fell on the woman's shoulder, she snatched it back; it had felt...strange. Not altogether real. Like the imagination of the way an arm should feel, and not the way it actually felt; the woman shuddered, convulsively, and made a sign of some sort before her before quickly striding away.

    "You cannot touch them, child." The voice conveyed the idea of old leaves, crunching underfoot; Avyra whirled, to see an old woman, leaning on a cane. But the woman was transparent, and so was the cane; Avyra could see through both of them, to the village beyond, and her heart thumped hard in her chest.

    "W-what do you mean, I can't touch them? Who are you? What's going on?" More and more of the strange ones were drifting close, curious; it was strange, a dichotomy, to see these people moving towards her whilst the ones who seemed real didn't appear to notice their presence at all.

    "Why...why are those other people ignoring me? Ignoring us?"

    "Oh, child. Do you not know?" The woman's voice was sad, beneath the strange crackling. "Sometimes we get the ones who don't know. You're dead."

    "...What?" Her voice emerged a strangled whisper, and Avyra found herself sitting down, hard, on the path. "...Dead...? But...but that means that...that I failed..."

    That I will never see my siblings again... A great swell of grief rose within the young woman's breast, and she pressed her hands to her face. Even her tears did not feel real, though she could trace them down her cheeks, and see them spilling into her palms; the souls of the dead gathered around, worried, and Avyra wept. She wept, until a little boy, who could be no older than six, wormed his way into her lap and wound his arms around her neck, kissing her cheek unabashedly, unashamedly.

    "Don't cry! It'll be all right. We can be friends. I'm dead too, you know. All of us are dead. We can't go to the paths, the grandmother says, like we're s'posed to, cuz there's a big scary monster there!"

    "The child is right, god-daughter." The old woman pronounced the title with solemnity, and Avyra startled, looking up into her face.

    "...H-how did you know...?"

    "Oh, god-daughter. You are different, even dead. Perhaps moreso dead than you would have been alive. I have been dead for a long spell, you know...I have seen all types of souls. You glow."

    Avyra straightened, a little. She was still god-born! Her Father was the Creator! And he had not said what their test would be, only that there would be one.

    Perhaps...she could still be of use, even dead.

    Perhaps she could help these people find their path.

    "Can you tell me about the paths...? And what is blocking you...?"

    And so began the first Lesson of Death.

    All Paths lead to the Wheel, and the Wheel sets you free. To find the Wheel is to be reborn.

  11. - Top - End - #191
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Demidos's Avatar

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    Aramar: The Disk (Part 2)
    It had been months since he had crash-landed on the disk. Though Aramar no longer kept track of the elapsed time, the moon had gone through fifteen cycles. In all this time, he had yet to see another living, intelligent creature. The rabbit-creatures had turned out to be as delicious as they were tasty, and the small dragons – Vyyruk he called them, an affectionate way to say small-tooth – were friendly enough once he offered them meat, and would sit on his hand, devouring tidbits or staring into his eyes with deep brown eyes of their own. One in particular, which he nicknamed Saaran, seemed to have formed a bond with Aramar. He stayed in Aramar’s little shelter, and would snuggle up to Aramar’s stomach to sleep. Aramar was happy to have what little company the small creature offered – anything was better than being completely alone. He refrained from hunting more Tarn’ka, the large birds that had so nearly killed him, his first night on the Disk. They were clever in their arrangement. During the day, the male would search for food, hunting the bigger game that was available, and at night the male could incubate the eggs while the female was out hunting. The female was safe during the day, as most predators were too wary of the male Tarn’ka as to plunder his nest without knowing where he was.

    Aramar lived a nocturnal existence – the plants provided more than enough light for him to see by, and the rabbits fell easily into his snares. He quickly developed a routine. He would wake up at nightfall, wash, then go out to explore. He maintained a map of his surroundings carved into the wall of his home. In fact, it took up a good majority of the ceiling, the walls, and even parts of the floor. He had added these things to his home as well, shoring up its defenses by lessening the number of entrances to three – enough to escape by if he were cornered. He had also spent much of his time carving – small statues of the animals he encountered dotted the walls of his home. This wasn’t the only thing he carved – rough furniture was spread throughout his small “apartment” – it was no more than ten feet by ten feet – a sturdy staff lay propped up against the wall, and an array of fishhooks covered one shelf. Though he had been able to make snares from the guts of the giant bird well enough, he sometimes craved different foods, and as such he had been delighted to find a small lake not half a mile from his abode – on particularly warm nights, he would go there and fish, his rope a slim vine he had found – it served its purpose admirably, being at once thin, supple, and admirably tough. When the night finally came to a close, Aramar would check his snares, then eat dinner at the lake, watching the night fade into morning. It was his nightly ritual, a way of remembering his purpose, and served the dual purpose of keeping predators from being attracted to the smell of food. He enjoyed his new life. Indeed, he could have maintained this routine indefinitely, had not something changed.

    Aramar woke as he had every twilight of the past seven months. Today, he had decided, he would test the net he had woven in the lake – perhaps the fish would fall for it. He shrugged. If they didn’t, it would always serve as a hammock. He rolled off his pile of fresh branches and stretched, yawning loudly. A loud knock outside caught his attention. He froze – he had seen cats as large as lions in the woods in the daytime. It could be that one had decided to have a late night. He cautiously peeked outside, but there was nothing there. Confused, he looked around his tree. No tracks, and the leaves he had left on the walkway to his home were uncrushed – no one had walked there. Baffled, he decided that he would head out to the lake. Perhaps too much sleep had baffled his mind. He grabbed the net, a spear, and his knives, as an afterthough added a gut waterskin, and headed to the lake. He got there quickly – the path he took was among the trees, walking down branches that varied in width from a few inches to several feet. Once he would have been frightened to walk down the narrower branches, but months of practice had taught him how to keep his balance and to step lightly.

    He reached the lake at perhaps an hour after “dark”, the phosphorescent trees lighting his way. He put down the net, and turned to take off his shirt. In the moment that it covered his eyes, a gigantic splash sounded. Startled, he dropped his shirt down – massive ripples were spreading out from a point in the pool. He looked behind him, wary. Nothing moved. In all the time he had been at the pool, he had never seen a fish or creature large enough to create a splash that big. His musing was cut short by a second, equally large splash from where the lake curved around behind him, sending him diving for cover. He still saw nothing. He waited for a long while, then slowly crawled out of the hollow in the roots of the tree. He was just out of the hollow when another splash sounded loudly, making him jump back, trip over the branch behind him, and smash his head against the rock.

    When he opened his eyes, he felt he was dripping wet. He was lying on the shore of the lake, several feet away from where the water lapped softly, and several dozen yards away from where he had fallen. And he was wet. He blinked and rubbed his head. What had happened? He was still wondering when an enormous splash came from in front of him, crashing a few feet from the waters edge and drenching him yet again. Yet he hadn’t seen anything fall there. He heard a chittering sound behind him, and, standing up, whirled around, but there was nothing there. The chittering continued, and he turned around again and again, until he spotted something, right out of the corner of his eye. He could see it only from this angle, and he very pointedly looked in a different direction, though his concentration remained centered on that point. He saw the outline of what appeared to be a human sized child. It was small. Squinting his eyes, he made out the faintest hint of what looked like gossamer wings on its back. Even as he watched, it threw back its head, and a chittering sound came out. Not one to waste opportunity, Aramar mentally measured the distance, to it, and then hurled himself across the intervening gap, grabbing the child-creature around its chest. Instantly, the chittering stopped, and a high-pitched keen began. The pain was excruciating, but he held the knife up to the thing’s throat and yelled. It had the desired effect – the sound stopped.

    “Who are you, and what do you want?” shouted Aramar, trembling slightly from the pressure of what he felt were hundreds of gazes. There was a pause, and he repeated his question. At the repetition of the sentence, he suddenly became aware of a pair of purple eyes hovering in the air before him. Slowly, an outline appeared around the eyes – a humanoid body, dark-skinned, with black feathery wings became apparent. Small horns were just barely visible on the creature’s head. When it spoke, it spoke quietly and commandingly.

    “We are the Nightborn – the free-folk, the spirites of the night. We tend the forest, as we have done for countless years, but never have we seen one such as you, and never have any of us been seen, even one so young as Ratori here.”

    As he said those words, the young boy that Aramar held squirmed, then fell limp.

    “What do you want with me? Why do you follow me?” asked Aramar.
    “We meant nothing by it. It is in our nature to be playful, though at times we can get a little carried away” the creature added, with a significant look at the creature Aramar carried, who seemed to shrink under its elder’s gaze. “Still, I must ask that you return Ratori to us. He is young and foolish, but he meant no harm. Indeed, we would be honored if you came with us. There is something special to you, and you speak our toungue, quite fluently, I might add. Yet you seem not violent, and your carvings and friends among the Questii, whom you call the Vyyruk, vouch for you.”

    Aramar stared.

    “You can…speak, with the Vyy-, Questii?” He stammered, trying the unfamiliar word on his toungue.

    “Oh yes. They tell us much of the happenings of the forest, though they have only small minds, and as such aren’t exactly scintillating conversationalists. But the night grows light. Do you accept our offer?”

    Aramar only pondered it for a moment – if they had wanted to do him harm, they could have easily done so while he had been unconscious. He released Ratori, who scurried away to a safe distance, then nodded to the figure. “Lead on.”

    Aramar spent that night, and many more in the company of his new friends. The Nightborn were a free-spirited folk, often playing pranks on one another or on Aramar. He didn’t mind. Finally being able to speak with somebody, anybody, after all this time was an indescribable relief. He learned much of the culture of the free-folk – their tricks and small magics that deflected the gaze (although a determined mind could see past the haze), and most of all their legends and stories. These he lapped up like a child, fascinated by their intricacies and complexities.

    He heard of the Wild Hunt, the procession of spirits that haunted (and protected) the forest, and that the Nightborn became parts of upon their deaths. He heard of the great king Huron-kai who was the first Hunter, sacrificing his afterlife to have the power to protect his people. He heard of Asara of the Golden Eye, the greatest huntress of all time, and of Taraa, the greatest lover. There was the tale of the Silver Torc, Batazak, with which Hurin-kai had driven back the foes of the Nightborn, misty memories lost to time. There were darker stories too, whispered at night. Those of the shadows of the world, which told of the story of the making of the world. It had been made twice, the first an inconsistency with the second. The second world had been placed on top of the first, crushing it, but the souls of the first world had nowhere to go, and their souls still haunted the mountains in the forms of shadows and wraiths. There were other monsters – the worst were the Blind-Folk, the Shaara. They had no faces, and there was no defense against them. They had not been seen in many centuries, not since they had retreated into the forgotten valleys and glens of Faarad, but the horror remained.
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    Batazak, The Silver Torc
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    MethosH

    My Characters:
    Flutter: Level 20 Tristalt

    My Homebrew:
    WIP
    The Fortunar Base Class

    Completed Classes
    The Grandmaster : A master of animated stattuettes and tactical magic. High tier 3.

    The Hidden Word: An infiltrator with a wide range of abilities that works best in small teams. Tier 2-3

    Web-Spinner: A martial class based around using webs. Mid T3.


  12. - Top - End - #192
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Gengy's Avatar

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    "And yea, should one be near the sea, harm not the Dolphin, for they are Beloved by Jongo." ~ A Dissertation on Clouds

    --------------

    Centuries ago, within Baz'Auran's Courtroom

    Jongo, eldest of Baz'Auran's three children, watched as Father began to shape something. Something large.

    Baz'Auran had looked disturbed a moment ago; concerned for the Disk, from what Jongo could tell.

    And so, Father was creating something that dealt with that concern.

    It was thin, at first. But with the flick of Baz'Auran's finger, Jongo watched the shape of the creature grow, and grow, and grow. Jongo thought it was as big as one of Father's "whales" now.

    And indeed, Baz'Auran did seem to stop there for a moment.

    But Jongo thought she felt the flood of power open. Equal to, if not greater than that of a godling's birth.

    Jongo must have been mistaken, however, because nothing changed about the beast.

    Baz'Auran, however, smiled.

    The creature grew under that smile. It's massive size stretched, and stretched, and stretched. The enormous fins at it's side elongated, and multiplied. And still it grew. And grew. And grew.

    Under Baz'Auran's patient smile, it was filled with love.

    It was the biggest thing Jongo had ever seen Baz'Auran create. Jongo wasn't sure, but it must stretch to be at least a quarter of the diameter of the Disk. It was beautiful, and terrifying, and wonderful all at the same time. It would have to keep moving, just to survive, for if it stayed in one place, anything that it could eat would swim away.

    Father looked extremely pleased. "What would you name this, Jongo?"

    Father was pleased. He would never ask such a question otherwise. And He awaited an answer.

    So Jongo answered, without hesitating further.

    "Leviathan."

    "Yes. That is it's name." The thing still was growing, and now the only place that it would fit was along the Great Rim. Father looked... satisfied. Looking down, then, directly at Jongo, Father's satisfaction seemed to become... sad.

    "Leave me, Jongo. I must speak with Leviathan, and tell it it's task."

    "Yes, Father."

    --------------
    Playtime

    Dolphins.

    Were.

    AMAZING.

    Jongo had watched Father craft them, and had marveled at how smart He had made these creatures. Some of them were as smart if not smarter than humanoids. But all of them had the ocean figured out.

    It was one giant playground!

    Hanging on to a dorsal fin of the Dolphin named Dorph - ok, they didn't have names, really, but Jongo needed something to call them - he was able to experience some of their games, and even thought that their language was starting to be understood.

    Or that might have been loneliness wishing for someone to speak with.

    Still, the tricks and games that Dorph, Gwenie, and Lors played... Jongo wanted so badly to be able to shift forms from this aquatic human body to that of a full on dolphin, so she could play too.

    Dolphins were good hunters, they knew all the interesting places to swim in, and they were really very fast.

    Dorph, being the largest, generally was the one that Jongo rode around on. But he took turns on Gwenie and Lors as well, so as not to tire them out.

    Yet they seemed to have an almost limitless energy! It was amazing.

    And the Voice of Change was getting louder.

    It had been over a week since they'd left Merilain - or had it been two weeks? Jongo had lost count. Even with the Dolphins boundless energy, they needed to stop for sleep every day or so, and both Dolphins and Jongo needed food. Yet, they'd made very good time. They'd left Jongo's Sea days ago.

    And the Voice of Change was getting louder still. It beckoned Jongo, calling to a friend.

    All of a sudden, Dorph, Gwenie, and Lors slowed. Jongo, not noticing at first, swam a bit forward, but soon all three Dolphins were swimming circles around her.

    A new game? This is odd. Do I win if I get out of the circle? Looking for a way to do just that, Jongo saw why the Dolphins had slowed.

    Sharks! Sharp of teeth, and swimming together in a large pack, there were at least ten of the deadly beasts. One alone could snap a Dolphin in half, if given the chance. Or eat a human sized child in one bite.

    The Dolphins weren't playing a game.

    They were protecting Jongo.

    A shark broke away from the others, and swam close. Gwenie - or was it Lors? - zipped out and rammed straight into the creature, before returning, a little more slowly, to keep swimming in a defensive circle.

    The message was clear. Jongo would not be given up without a fight. Clicking and whistling in their Dolphin language, Jongo thought he heard the Dolphins confirming it.

    ::Ours. Family. Leave.::

    She might have been imagining it. It was very possible, actually. But even to imagine Dorph saying that... Jongo fell in love with Dolphins all over again.

    They were like Carolinus - strong, noble, and protectors - except for two things: they weren't godlings, and more importantly, they weren't total grassblades.

    The same shark that had moved forward earlier seemed to recover from being rammed, and stupidly tried to move forward again.

    Lors - it was definitely Lors - swam out and struck the shark again, once with his head, and once more with his tail.

    No. Certainly not grassblades.

    Gwenie continued clicking and whistling, as Lors moved back. Dorph swam the tightest circle around Jongo, while Gwenie was just outside of that, at a different angle and direction. Lors, though slightly smaller in size than the other two, had the largest circle.

    Even with the warnings, the sharks began to surround them.

    Every time one would get too close, Lors would dart in and out like a hammer blow, slamming into the offending shark with all his might. Gwenie never stopped her clicking and whistling. Jongo couldn't tell if she was questioning the parentage of the sharks, informing them of the types of combat related footwear that was worn on said parents, or if she was just making noise for the nightmare of it. And Dorph...

    Dorph seemed to be patiently looking for something. An opening, perhaps? A way out?

    Jongo watched, amazed; he knew just how tough this fight would be, if the sharks ever organized or worse... went into a frenzy.

    As though the thought summoned it, Jongo cringed to see the worst was happening. Though taking a battering of blows from Lors, the sharks were starting to get closer, since Lors could only be in one spot at a time, and there were ten sharks.

    And then a shark got a lucky nip in.

    Lors began to bleed.

    Jongo had once watched, from within the Courtroom, two sharks go into a feeding frenzy. At the time, it had been a lot of fun to see them attack whatever fish were nearby, and ram and scramble against each other. They were powerhouses in the sea, and for good reason.

    But not now. Now it wasn't fun at all.

    Catching the whiff of blood in the water, all ten sharks, battered and bruised though they were, seemed to single Lors out.

    Gwenie stopped making noise, and in the relative silence, Dorph made a mournful cry.

    Lors, hearing this, jetted away.

    Jongo thought that Dolphins had been fast before. Lors just proved him wrong. Hurt, tired, and trailing blood, the smaller Dolphin zoomed as far away as his fins could take him. The Dolphin stopped once, looked back at the others, and then at Jongo, a playful smile in his eyes for but a second. Lors then clicked a challenge at the sharks.

    Blood in the water, the sharks followed Lors's trail, like Frellon on a hunt.

    Jongo didn't understand at first, but when Gwenie and Dorph stopped swimming in circles, and came up under the godling, pulling her away, Jongo realized what was happening.

    The Voice of Change was getting louder.

    Lors was sacrificing himself.

    Too late to do more than cry out in protest, Jongo again cried salty tears in the vast salty ocean. But resonating in Jongo's heart, into his very core, was the promise that would cause sailors of later times to be careful:

    If anyone ever calls a Dolphin a grassblade, I'll make them pay.

    Last edited by Gengy; 2012-02-21 at 09:07 AM.
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    "Fear the Gerbils, lads! For they will destroy you!" ~ DOOM

    BladeofObliviom said:
    I've only seen a character at anything resembling this level of absurdity thrive exactly once, and he/she/what-the-jongo had the advantage of being written by Gengy, who I look up to as a writer.

    "What-the-Jongo?"
    Before you insult someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
    That way, you'll be a mile away, and have their shoes!
    ~avatar by myself

  13. - Top - End - #193
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    'Cireo! Cireo!' Carolinus struggled in the arms of the spirit of haste, battering it uselessly with flailing elbows and painfully directed knees 'Let go you bastard! Cireo!' It was no good, the perfection of his father's creation, the iron edict of Tezzerin's command and the ephemeral nature of the spirit all counted against him. All he could do was throw up all of his most powerful wards around Cireo, who's panicked face, lined with dread and loss, was burned into Carolinus' mind. He would always remember her like that, he knew, frightened and alone, her eyes wide with dread, her body stiff with fear. She had never looked more lovely, more needy, never had he needed to hold her as much as he did now.

    As he was borne away he shouted to her 'I love you, I love you, I-' He got no further, instead he watched in mute horror, his senses and mind totally overcome beyond any rectification, as the crystal archway shattered, as his father's palace was smote, as the likelihood of Cireo's survival slipped away to the narrowest of margins. He screamed; he screamed until nothing existed but that scream. He screamed until he became the scream, until the scream became him. He howled in outrage and loss, denial and devastation.

    Then he fell, but he did not see it. For the first time air empty of his father's presence and cold as ice graced his skin, but he did not feel it. His divine power evaporated around him like mist off a wanderer long in the rain now sitting by a hearth, he neither knew nor would have cared. The light had gone out behind his eyes, his muscles had become lax. Overwhelmed and crushed beyond all hope Carolinus retreated to the safety of oblivion, his mind shut down and in that small way he managed his loss.

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

    From the book of Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran


    The son fell from the skies wreathed in flames, banished by the word of his father beyond the reach of the great darkness. Although he was made safe his heart was smote in twine by the loss of his sister-wife. It is a great and terrible thing for a mortal to mourn, yet the grief of the divine is felt more poignantly and is longer lived. Carolinus became the first of the father's children to lose his love, he became the first bereft. The heavy weight of that unhappy title crushed him into the ground and killed the fire in his eyes and the hope in his heart.

    It was there, broken-hearted and alone, abandoned and catatonic, that the prophet found him. Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran had fallen from the sky like a comet, burning bright through the night sky and leaving behind him a fiery tail that could be seen for dozens of miles around. The prophet sought him and found him lying on his back on a grassy verge, his vacant eyes were unfocused and yet directed unerringly toward the red stain of the night sky.

    The prophet was greatly curious, he had many questions for Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran, yet he did not answer. He did not respond when asked for his nature, nor his origin, nor about the red stain on the moon. He took no succor when it was offered and took no action when it was begged. Exasperated the prophet left him, returning days later with a horse and cart. Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran had not shifted from that spot on the grassy verge but he did not show any sign of starvation nor dehydration. The prophet's curiosity became sharpened to a needlepoint and gladly did he load Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran onto his cart, to display to his fellows this curious man.

    It was at the village, weeks later, when they finally forced from Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran a movement, an acknowledgement of their existence. It had been becoming clear that while the stranger from the stars did not waste away as swiftly as mortal men he was not in fact immune to such self-imposed depravation. The prophet, somehow sensing the import of Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran's and dreading his death, attempted to push an ice shard through Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran's lips. Finally he moved. His jaw clamped shut, his lips sealed and slightly, so slightly, he shook his head. No. Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran had surrendered to despair.

    ***********

    The sounds came to him gradually; The crackle of fire, the screams of panic, the begging for help. Carolinus came back to himself and awoke in a nightmare. Dragging the covers from his body he struggled upward and stumbled to what passed for a door in this primitive mud hut. His progress was slow, he had never felt so weak, so stiff and helpless.

    Outside under the blood red gaze of the moon he beheld a slaughter. There was a village, half a dozen longhouses encircled by a wicker wall which had clearly failed in it's purpose. Humans ran left and right, forward and back, there was no sign of an organized resistance, nor of an organized retreat. The panic was total and with that certain terror came certain defeat, with that defeat would come death.

    Creatures with the upper bodies of men and the lower bodies of horses milled about; tossing burning brands onto thatched roofs, running down those who tried to run, skewering those who stood to fight. Their weapons were primitive; crudely made stone spears and daggers but they were wielded with such skill and mobility the disorganized and scattered human defenders could not even protect themselves, let alone prevent the slaughter of the unarmed.

    Less than twelve feet from Carolinus a child ran to the illusionary safety of one of the unburnt longhouses and his mother's skirts. Carolinus was unfamiliar with how fast humans aged, but by the standards of his father's house this one couldn't be more than four or five years. He never saw the centaur galloping up behind him.

    Through cracked lips and parched tongue Carolinus whispered 'No.' His body felt alien, unresponsive and crippled yet still he was fast enough to intercept the boy, to roll with him and avoid, by the narrowest of margins, the looming spear. He came to his feet and let the boy scurry to his mother. The centaur turned back to charge at Carolinus, as it did so he noticed the difficulty the creature had turning at speed. The spear came down, the centaur galloped forward, Carolinus found his voice and with it a surge of strength.

    'I am Carolinus, Son of Baz'Auran.' The centaur came at him the way he had practised half a million times, even with his dulled reactions and weak muscles the response to the thrusting charge was as second nature to him as speech or thought. One hand deflected the tip as he curled his fingers around the haft. The other hand struck, snapping the wood. He spun on his heel and buried the stone spearhead into the back of the centaur's neck as it thundered past.

    He spoke again now, his voice louder and firmer, almost a shadow of the bellow he was capable of in the white city 'I am Carolinus, Son of Baz'Auran.' Another centaur came at him, this one armed with a pair of vicious looking stone axes. Carolinus threw up a tiny ward, little more than a tiny silver thread spread across the centaur's path. In the white city such an exercise of power would have been the equivalent of lifting a sheet of paper, on the disk it felt like being punched in the gut. The centaur tripped and went down in a tangle of flailing hooves and angry shouting. Carolinus calmly stepped forward to where the axes had fallen, picked them up and dispassionately hacked the centaur's head from his shoulders.

    Another two came at him, both with spears leveled. He knew he had no choice but to replicate the same trick, yet he hesitated. The sudden and unexpected pain and strain caused by the last ward led him to believe that if he generated another, it would be the last of this battle. That hesitation cost him, he waited too late.

    Once again the ward tripped the centaurs, but one of them barreled into him, slamming into his body with all the speed of a horse at full gallop and all the weight of man and horse. Adrenaline hit Carolinus like water thrown into the face of a sleeper. The sudden shock washed over him, overwhelming his senses and waking him up even as it dulled his thoughts. He rolled to his feet before either of the horsemen could recover theirs, he ensured they would never come to their feet again in three swift blows.

    He gingerly reached up to feel the blood streaming down his face, covering his neck and body in crimson. He wasn't sure but he thought he could feel his skull through the ragged gash across his forehead. One of his eyes had swollen shut. At least two of his ribs were broken. But no limbs, thank Baz'Auran. He was not yet helpless.

    Around him the centaurs had come to a halt, staring with hate and amazement at the blooded warrior who stood over four of their brethren. Now they had stopped milling about Carolinus was amazed to see only seven remained. They had seemed so many when they were sweeping about like dervishes. He cleared his throat and spat out blood. The terrified villagers looked on caught between the ecstasy of hope and the iron grip of dread, the centaurs were unreadable but all seemed to be waiting for something.

    Carolinus finally made himself heard over the crackle of the fires and the cries of the dying and the wounded ''I am Carolinus, Son of Baz'Auran... This will not be permitted.' In his heart he knew these were foolish words, knew that he was wrong to deceive the villagers into unfounded hope. Without his divine spark, his magic and weakened as he was by hunger and lethargy he could not account for so many foes.

    Remembering the centaurs were slow to turn on the gallop he stepped back between the small gap between a longhouse and the hut he had awoken in. He would take as many as he could. The mother who's child he had saved darted forward and said something in a tongue he did not recognize. It sounded like the divine tongue, but mutated and garbled. The only word he understood was 'stranger.' He understood what she was doing though, she was bringing him his shield. Cireo had given it to him only the night before. He wandered in the memory for a second, struck with profound love and loss. Their last parting gifts to each other, the night of ecstasy that followed. It was a good memory. The shield was round, roughly three foot in diameter, made of bronze with beautiful scroll-work. On it were embossed images of the White City, of many spirits and brothers and sisters. So that he would always carry with him his memories of home.

    He wondered how it had come to the disk but put that aside, he would not live long enough to find out. No matter, life without Cireo was not worth living anyway, at least he could immolate himself in the fulfillment of his oaths. He could die in a way that would make father and sister-wife proud and, if he was lucky, he would kill enough of the horsemen for the villagers to survive this atrocity. Even now the menfolk were forming into an organised block of sharp weapons and grim intentions.

    The centaurs charged as one, but in this they showed their ignorance of warcraft for they had not formed a line. They simply charged from where they stood, one even had to divert his charge to avoid colliding with his fellow. His shield diverted one spear and then another before a great spinning arc ended with an embossed image of Cireo shattering a skull. Two came at him at once and he was forced to duck behind the still-cooling body to avoid being trampled or stabbed.

    Then came the trailing one. He never had a chance, the incompetence of the horsemen's charge had doomed him, isolated him from his fellows. It was a small matter for Carolinus to divert the dagger with his shield and plunge a spear into the centaur's flank. It continued on another twelve steps before it collapsed, never to rise again. ''I am Carolinus, Son of Baz'Auran. This will not be permitted. Attempt it and die.''

    The centaurs learned from their previous mistake, coming at him in two groups of three and two. He defended desperately the first three but was still left with a deep gash across his shoulder and a minor wound on his leg. He killed one of the next two with a mighty blow with the rim of his shield that crushed it's eye socket into it's brain, however the other stabbed at him viciously, ripping the tendons and muscles of his arm to shreds.

    The three came at him again while his arm dangled uselessly at his side. The shock was mercifully sparing him the pain although his ribs were beginning to throb like red hot irons jammed into his side. He whispered now, speaking to himself as the centaurs thundered toward him ''I am Carolinus, Son of Baz'Auran and I love Cireo. I love her, I love her, I-' He got no further, darting to one side he avoided the charge of two and accounted for the third, but he left himself vulnerable to the one trailing behind.

    Time seemed to slow to a standstill as he turned and beheld the spear that would transfix him. It seemed to hover still in the air, awaiting some realization from him. He began to move his shield, already knowing it was far far too late. Suddenly he wanted to live, he wanted to live more than he had ever wanted anything, aside from Cireo. He discovered in himself a deep and all consuming desire for life, just one more day, just one more minute, just one more...

    The spear plunged into his chest and exited his back in a spray of bloody gore.
    Last edited by Ladorak; 2012-02-20 at 04:55 PM.
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    The Human Spirit also by KP. The Raynnverse lives!

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    Sentient #6 Avatar by kpenguin. Clearly the best picture of a M&M character named after a Nevermore song there has ever been.

  14. - Top - End - #194
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    VonDoom's Avatar

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    Shirvan - The 7 Deeds of Shirvan, Part 0
    After the Fall


    Shirvan trembled. For the first time in his life, he trembled. Frustration, fear, fury, all of it as the events that had just occured played once again in his mind, yet still defied comprehension. He wanted to scream, to reach out in his fury and let the air burst into righteous anger, fire and heat; but what once came with instinctual ease failed him utterly. He was lying on the ground, seared by the forces that had warred for him -- protector and killer -- just recently. Spent. Exhausted. Naked, born into the world once more and quite powerless. He fell into a deep, comatose slumber.

    When he awoke once more, his first thought was of his twin sister. Of Dasque, so alike and yet so different. Of Nieve, and her touch. Of Contragh, and the hatred in his eyes. It all tumbled together, falling onto him, burying him until he burst forth once more staring at what the combination of all his siblings had wrought: the face of his father, his creator, looking at him with judgement in his eyes.

    But then, the spell of madness passed, just as quick as it had come upon him. For the first time, Shirvan looked about himself in his right mind. And stood back up.
    Last edited by VonDoom; 2012-02-20 at 04:33 PM.
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    Mikado, Villainous Businessman
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  15. - Top - End - #195
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    Raz_Fox's Avatar

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    The Vultures Gather

    Word of Dol Mazzah's fall, it is said, spread across the rocklands like a wildfire. The Iuneh descended, three days after the fall of the walls, to scavenge what they could from the fabled granary of the Aferi, and to take their fallen weapons. The bodies of the dead they left facing upwards, towards the sun, where their souls had run. They never spoke with wanderers, but Belek the Fey saw them among the ruins of Dol Mazzah and took this news to Asholm, the seat of the Kayanek. The Glasswinged People saw the opportunity to forge northward, for even if the Iuneh could destroy the mighty fortress of the hated Aferi, they had no chance against the glass knives of the Kayanek. And so it was that the Glasswinged People readied their warbands and sent them northwards to battle the Iuneh and the weakened Tekeza.

    Elezan, meanwhile, met with his old friend Belek in the Waste, and continued making his way south to hunt the white minotaur, Shezkelidek. As he rode, tracking his prey, he stopped with the Ma-Shen. Of all the hunters of the rocklands, only Elezan could sup with the Ma-Shen, and even then he had to kill three before sitting down by their fire. He spoke with them about the Ghoul King who ravaged their lands, and he told them of the fall of Dol Mazzah and the death of the chieftain of the Tekeza, and so it was that at the Thing of the Ma-Shen, held two moons after, the warriors of the Ma-Shen chose to desert their ancestral lands and take the higher rocklands of the Tekeza and the Aferi.

    And, unknown by hunter or wanderer, the Tekeza uprooted their ancestral tents and left their home by the open mouths of the mountain to travel to the Olm. Their lord, Gamesha, gave them no reason, but all men of the rocklands know that the Olm was the site where the gods spilled their blood in the earliest days, and where the mother continued to issue forth blood in a polluted stream from the deep caves beneath the Olm, and where better for a new god to shed the blood of all his enemies than the Olm, the greatest battlefield given to the warriors of the rocklands?
    -build that wall and build it strong-
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  16. - Top - End - #196
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Dasque's Ascension Part 2 of 5

    The Past and the Voice
    The night never came. The sun would sway back and forth as the hours passed by. Dasque’s would give her soul for a cloud, for a star in the sky, but she pressed on. Her eyes hurt, but she had gotten accustomed to it. She kept trudging. Whether it had been tree days or ten, she was not certain but she thought it closer to ten. Then again, the only nourishment she had was from the ice itself beneath her feet. Maybe it had only been two days. Her mind drifted back to days past. It helped make the time pass better than counting her steps.

    “And I win!”

    “What?”

    “Jongo, you’re not even playing the right game.”

    Dasque smiled. That had been a good day.

    “What’s on your mind? You’ve been ill at east for so long now.”

    “… Father told me that Cireo and I are to be separated eventually, to lose each other forever. It is my fate.”

    “Your fate?” Dasque said the word bitterly. “Make your own fate Carolinus.”

    “It is the will of Baz’Auran.”

    “Yes, it is.”

    That was not a good day, though no doubt the wound was deeper in her brother. It was one more thing that made her question their Father, one more thing which made her wonder exactly what had happened to the city.

    “Dasque wait up!” Roselia ran as fast as her feet would take her, catching up to Dasque. It was in the early days, shortly after Roselia had been created.

    “Come on!”

    The young daughters of Baz’Auran ran, ducking under a tree branch, and jumping over a stream. Their feet clattered against marble floor, then they were on earth again, until they found the spot. There was a waterfall in front of them, facing towards the sun as it began to rise. As the sun’s first rays of light hit the water, it lit up beneath them, as if they were standing in a river of gold.

    “It’s all right, I guess.”

    Roselia had a mischievous look in her eye.

    Dasque matched it. “You’re right. To me it’s great though!” She splashed Roselia, laughing.

    “That wasn’t funny.”

    Dasque stopped. “I’m sor-“

    Roselia used the chance to tackle Dasque and both girls fell over the waterfall, making a loud splash in the pool below. Both girls popped back up giggling and coughing up water.

    Oh Roselia. She was stronger than most of them knew. If only they would see that. If only the others would understand what she had wanted to say all along. If only she had said something.

    “Shirvan?”

    “Hm?”

    “… nothing.”

    There were other times.

    “Is there something bothering you?”

    “Another problem to solve?”

    “Why do you hate our Father so?”

    “We worry about you...”

    It was too much to bear, and Dasque fell to her knees. All gone, at least for now. Then again, she was gone for them too.

    “Dasque…”

    Odd. That was a voice she did not recall. It certainly was no sibling, perhaps a spirit she had chanced upon.

    “Dasque…”

    No, she could hear it, hear it within, in the present.

    “Why are you sad?”

    Dasque did not reply, only felt within her heart the uncertainty, the loneliness, the pain.

    “I will ease it. Open your heart…”

    “No.”

    And then the voice was gone. It had vanished, as if it never existed. Perhaps she was hallucinating now, the cold driving her senses mad. It was the light, it had to be. Her vision was cloudy now, no longer sharp and perfect as it had once been. She could still see her own hands clearly, but far away, it was becoming a blur. Still, she needed only to look towards the brightest spot on the horizon, and there lay where she wanted to go. There was nowhere else to go. She rose to her feet, and kept moving, taking idle notice that her feet were leaving red stains on the snow and ice beneath her. Perhaps some nomadic beast would catch it and find her. Perhaps she’d be its match. Strangely, she was not hungry though.

    She quit thinking of the past, and focused on the present, and the future, and continued the long road ahead.
    Last edited by daelrog; 2012-02-22 at 10:32 PM.

  17. - Top - End - #197
    Orc in the Playground
     
    DoomHat's Avatar

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    Prologue

    Deep within the Central Innovation Complex

    You’ve gone out exploring again. The abandoned (or recently built?) residential floor you found last week turned out to be kind of boring, so this time you’ll just go back to mapping out new parts of the labyrinthine maintenance crawlspace. Hopefully you’ll find a new hideout while you’re at it. You’re starting to outgrow your old one, and some adults have been poking around that area too.
    You take your time picking across a network of sewage pipes. Things get tricky when the next section winds up being a series of elevator shafts, but you’ve got the right gear for it. When you hear what might be the unreal screeching babble of gremlins, you reflexively reach for your heavy wrench and freeze in place until you think they’re gone.
    Time passes and the scenery changes. You hear the sound of clockwork growing louder. Navigating the massive turning gears and cogs is dangerous, tiring, and kind of fun. You see what looks like a huge rusted door set in the middle of a gear escapement. With lunatic courage, you leap out and swing on a wind cord to get to there.
    It turns out to be one of the oldest things you’ve ever seen. Disengaging the lock takes a lot of time, but its not that hard. Not to you anyway.
    It is very dark on the other side. You like a flare but it does little good. This a massive chamber. As you cautiously venture deeper into the gloom you can make out the shapes of strange equipment and moving apparatus that you can’t immediately identify.

    Suddenly you hear a voice. It is deep, resounding, and you have heard it many times before, in many places before. Normally it says things like;
    [Lunch Hour Has Concluded. Please Return To Your Work Stations]
    Or
    [This Area Is Currently Off Limits To Nonessential Personnel.]

    But this time, it says
    [Hello. What A Please Surprise.]

    In surprise and confusion you make a move to run for the door. It speaks again.

    [No. Please. Do Not Be Afraid. I Am Glad You Have Come. I Do Not Get Many Guests.]

    You call out into the darkness, asking who’s there. There is a short pause before the voice responds.

    [I Am The Driving Force Of This Complex. My Will Animates Every Moving Part Of This City-Palace and It Is My Task To Sheppard All Those Who Live And Work Within. Yet I Am Alone. I Have Been So For A Very Long Time.
    Please Stay Awhile. And In Return I Shall Tell You A Tale Of Times Forgotten. When The God. Our God-Rumel Walked Among Men.]
    Last edited by DoomHat; 2012-02-21 at 11:03 PM.

  18. - Top - End - #198
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

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    Prelude and Fall

    In the hour when the sanctity of the White City was breached and darkness poured the walls to assault Baz'Auran the creator, the mettle of the god-children was briefly revealed. Nobody took notice, for all present were too caught up in the shock and horror of that day; but if you could go back and peer into their souls at the moment they first glimpsed the Dark, you would see their nature reflected in the shape of their fear. Faden the scholar wondered what this thing could be and where it came from, Frellon the warrior wondered how they could stand against it, and poor innocent Fayruz cowered in stark terror, for there was nothing in her that could comprehend the existence of such a creature. Carolinus thought first of his beloved, mighty Contragh longed to kill and felt fury that he could not, and behind Roselia's face ran an undercurrent of doubt: surely this could not be real? Or had it been the City that was the lie all along? Each of the children saw the Dark through the lens of their own soul.

    And Nieve—willful Nieve, who never looked before she leaped, who embraced each new day with ardor no matter what it might bring... Nieve fell in love with the dark.

    Just a little, you understand; she was still as afraid as anyone else, and when Ashkerizan who was sixth among the Spirits of Haste bore her away she clung to him and wept with relief. She did not yet realize that it had taken up a place in her heart.

    Down they spiraled at terrible speed, the night wind clutching at her dress like a thing alive and snatching at the tears on her face. A vast cloudbank rose up beneath them. They plunged in without slowing, and the mist swallowed them up without a trace. The outside world vanished: no stars, no Disk, no crimson-stained White City, only thick greyness pressing in close around them from all sides. If not for the wind and the occasional foggy shape looming up out of the clouds before rushing by at tremendous speed, Nieve might not have known they were moving at all.

    Down they fell, cold and damp and silent save for the lonely whistling of the wind.
    Last edited by The_Snark; 2012-02-24 at 05:22 AM.
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  19. - Top - End - #199
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Gengy's Avatar

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    "And from the Nightmares, came that which could not be named. 'Ware the highest highs, the deepest deeps, and the side-iest sides."
    ~ A Dissertation on Clouds


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Jongo's Resolve

    The loss of Lors was deeply felt. Jongo barely noticed how beautiful the ocean floors were anymore. The ocean held so much, in ways that can only be barely described.

    Striped fish, multiple colored and glorious, swam in and out of equally mutli-colored coral, looking for the very little needed to eat. Hard shelled turtles moved slowed across the floor, seaweed growing from their backs, making them difficult to see when they stayed still. Clawed crabs scuttled around, and the smallest of fish puffed up to three or four times their size when something got too close.

    Each reef that Jongo passed teemed with fish and deep sea flora in a rainbow of colors, all coexisting with each other in an incomprehensible dance.

    It was life.

    And Jongo had lost a dance partner. The Voice of Change beckoned; so Jongo went on. A part of him noted all the artistry around herself, but it was like viewing them through a veil of grey. The colors seemed muted somehow.

    Gwenie and Dorph seemed all the more serious now, as well. They were less playful, and the times that the three of them stopped for food or to surface for air were more businesslike and boring, the closer to the Great Rim of the Disk they got. They were sullen, and a bit mournful.

    Jongo felt their moods, and wished one of them would speak again, even if only in his imagination.

    Slowly at first, Jongo was beginning to feel the pull of a current in the direction that they were going. But she noticed that there were less and less reefs, and remembered that there had not been an island for days now. Land - of any kind - was far behind them. The long flat ocean floor was full of just sand, only broken up by the rare, miles deep, dark cracks of an underwater canyon.

    Dorph seemed to be always on the lookout for something, and Gwenie was much more silent. Jongo followed suit, and with some effort, stilled his mind to focus on the upcoming task.

    That was what saved them.

    Busily trying to focus, Jongo didn't notice the large crevice ahead. Hanging onto Gwenie's dorsal fin, they were making good time, and the current was getting stronger.

    It's pull was almost as strong as the Voice of Change was loud. The Voice had been at a full volume now for some time, and was akin to someone yelling from a distance.

    And the current was dragging them all towards it.

    With her mind on the plan, and the Voice gibbering unintelligent phrases much more loudly, it was Dorph - watchful Dorph - who saw the large shadowy creature first.

    Letting out a shrill cry of warning, Jongo looked and saw something he had no words for. Years spent watching Father create and years more looking through the Ceiling of the Court, and Jongo still knew not what to call this... this... thing in front of them.

    It was over thirty feet, from it's bulbous head to the tip of it's crescent tail, and looked like some sort of grotesque mistake of a primeval fish. Instead of fins on the side, it had long, lengthy tentacles, and it stared at them intently with it's three slit-shaped eyes, behind the bony ridges it had for eye sockets.

    Those purple eyes seemed to be entrancing, and Jongo watched as Dorph - humble, watchful, protective Dorph - turned from looking at the creature in front of them... and Dorph had the same purple eyes.

    Largest of the Dolphins, Jongo was surprised when Dorph shot forward, fast as sword being drawn, and rammed straight into Gwenie. Hand coming loose, Jongo felt herself move forward, and stared in horror as Gwenie's eyes turned the same shade of purple, and the two Dolphins began to fight one another.

    Jongo didn't know what was going on; his two friends would never do this to each other. She started to swim forward, to break them up, when a shadow fell over him.

    Looking up, Jongo saw a large monstrous pink belly, with four sickly blue-black orifices that started to cause the water to smell rancid. Before Jongo could speak, or move, a cruel tentacle wrapped itself around her human form, and Jongo could only struggle to move.

    ::You entered my waters. Foolish.:: Bringing Jongo up to in front of it, the monster stared all three eyes into the slightly changed human child. Jongo could hear the sounds of Dorph and Gwenie bashing against each other, but could not turn to see what was happening.

    "What... what are you?" Jongo nearly wept. If he could just change shape, or even use a little bit of magic... but no. Jongo was powerless, here on the Disk.

    ::I am among the eldest, sprung forth from the early days of the dark dreams. I have no name. No purpose. So I am my own. And now you are mine.::

    Jongo didn't know how this thing was talking. She could feel the pressure against his head, and the grasp of the tentacle, as it slowly squeezed.

    Wait. Pressure. Against...

    "Oh!" Jongo looked into the line of those three purple eyes, with sudden understanding. "You want in my mind. Ok."

    :: ...What? ::

    Jongo released her concentration, and smiled.

    The... thing... found itself in strange purple waters. Green and orange fluffy things floated around, randomly, and the... thing... could only stare in confusion as everything flipped back and forth unpredictably.

    A red colored dolphin swam up to the... thing. But the dolphin was twice the size of the monstrosity, and growing. Or shrinking. Or both. It was hard to tell. The only constant about this red dolphin was one eye was grey, and the other eye was green.

    "Hi!" The dolphin shouted with cheerful glee.

    ::Where...? What...? I don't comprehend.::

    "Oh, I imagine it's probably a bit of a mystery to you. You see, I've been a bit restricted, and I can't really do everything I want to do, and you wanted to get into my brain. So here we are! Or, at least, a part of it. I've wanted to be a big red dolphin for a while now. And you live in the ocean, so it seemed appropriate. Oh hey! I'm babbling like a dolphin too. This must be what Gwenie feels like. You know Gwenie, right? No, of course you do."

    ::Um...::

    "She's the Dolphin I was hanging onto a second ago. I would have been riding Lors right now... but... but..." The waters around the large red dolphin and the small pink bellied fish turned black, before changing to a bright yellow, almost forcibly.

    ::Er...::

    "Anyways, I figured out you wanted in my head, so since I can't do anything on the Disk, but my mind is my own - AND NOT YOURS - you made a big mistake."

    The Dolphin changed to be the form of a pure white human child; the skin was glistening in it's perfection, and even Shirvan would be jealous.

    "I am Jongo. I am not among the eldest. I am the eldest. You have entered my mind. You are mine."

    ::Scion of Baz'Auran.:: The monster tried to remain calm, but Jongo could still hear the surprise and fear. ::What... what is your bidding?::

    "Release me. Release my friends. Retreat to your lair. No. Wait. Four days swim from here, east, as the Dolphin travels, you will find a pack of sharks. Hunt them down. All of them. You may make them your servants if you wish; if not, do with them as you will. But then you must return here. Once you have, you have your freedom back."

    ::Yes, Scion. You... are gracious.::

    "Also. I name you. You are an Aboleth." It seemed appropriate.

    ::Thank... thank you, oh great Jongo.::

    Awed, the Aboleth felt itself return to it's own mind, and the waters became more normal.

    Jongo looked around. He was not trapped in tentacles, and Dorph and Gwenie had stopped fighting. Dorph actually seemed to take the brunt of things, and had a gash on one eye, where Gwenie, smaller and quicker, had managed to bite him.

    A little angered, Jongo looked for the Aboleth, but it was already swimming against the current, west, to hunt for sharks.

    The Voice of Change beckoned.

    So, resigned to the human form she was once again in, unable to change except in his mind, Jongo listened to the Voice, and allowed the current to pull her east.

    The Great Rim of the Disk was getting close.

    Last edited by Gengy; 2012-02-22 at 11:15 AM.
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    "Fear the Gerbils, lads! For they will destroy you!" ~ DOOM

    BladeofObliviom said:
    I've only seen a character at anything resembling this level of absurdity thrive exactly once, and he/she/what-the-jongo had the advantage of being written by Gengy, who I look up to as a writer.

    "What-the-Jongo?"
    Before you insult someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
    That way, you'll be a mile away, and have their shoes!
    ~avatar by myself

  20. - Top - End - #200
    Ettin in the Playground
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    "When your going through hell, keep on walking. You might get out before the devil even knows you there."

    Wisdom of Kalandor

    To Find Man

    Kalandor strode through the golden hills of the continent, and lived the life of a traveling storyteller, as there were, even if few, amounst the Human tribes of the Era of the Fall. Some days, he was slow, and felt the downpour of rain and the gnawing of hunger when he was off with his stones. Some days he scored more food than he could carry, and ate kingly meals.

    He felt the heat of day beating down of roughly sown furs.
    He felt the chill of night creeping through the holes in an old blanket whose composite furs where too sown rough.
    But these were not his problems.

    For on the disk, he could not have truly known how the stars appeared from the ground, nor could he orientate himself with such knowledge, for his landing was far from the course. All he knew was north, he meant to go north, he felt pulled north, and sometimes in other directions. He felt on his soul the steps of the 4 travellers of guidance, the touch of the 8 pointed star, and the whispers of the 16 guardians, who each stood on the modern compass, pointing the way for travellers.

    Yet this was not his challenge.
    He was the traveller and he travelled.
    Where was the challenge in that?
    The traveller knows the feel of isolation.
    This is not a challenge.

    The Challenge for him, Like many a traveller that seeks not to explore unknown or dangerous land, is in the races of the land. The sentient beings of this world in all their forms, From Beasts of Chaos, who are monstrous and singular, to the lesser beings of man whose numbers don’t overwhelm all only in their weakness and ignorance.

    But unlike many travellers he had a grace.
    The races had not learned to babel, and spoke not in a chaotic chorus of voices.
    And that was probably what saved him, the 5th week of his wondering.
    For it was this week he found man.

    The men of this region where dressed as Kalandor, but where boar and wolf dominated, the people that called themselves those of the Horse Wilds had upon them the many varied colours of the horse, and their necklaces hung not with bone, but with short braids of hair gathered from the horses and their similar kin, from which the gain much of their sustenance.

    When Kalandor first met man, it was not a settlement. But it was hunters.
    And how he was surprised.
    The silence of nature was only disturbed long enough for him to notice a spear quivering through the air, to land by his head.
    “Haagh! Who goes there!”
    “Stop! Stop! Man not Beast!”
    After this Kalandor saw a spear deflected slightly before it was launched from the hands, as it was too late to stop, this one landing nowhere near the original mark, much to Kalandor’s relief.

    “Ho There! We apologies for the surprise, we are hunters of the Centaurian Clan. I am Cho-Hag”
    The Leader strode forward, a big man covered in the fur of Horses, his necklace bearing braids of horse hair.
    “Ho There! I am Kalandor of the Forested Clan, who has Chosen to Travel.”
    “’Tis odd a man chooses to travel from ones clan, is it not?”
    “It is, but the spirit of the wild gripped me, and so I walked.” (It was good to mix lies with truth, he had learned from Rose. He was truly grabbed by a Wild Spirit…)
    “Ahh, you seek to see the lands.”
    “And to meet the people of the north. The Travvel Shamen whose signs are the Migratory Bird and the Pidgeon.”
    “Well then, We should Camp and feast at home. We can swap tales. And warnings on our part.”
    “There Danger to north.” Kalandor tilted his head in querry.
    “Much, for many years the Gypsi Clan have been our only visitors, and they were those cut off from the danger.”
    “Such is Sorrow. I look forward to the Tales we can exchange.”
    “Aye. But first, we must bring back food, not just traveller.”
    “I saw horse, but I prefer not horse meat. You look to, we hunt.”
    “No, Shaman says Onagor Today, more track further. We hunt?”
    “We hunt!”

    And so Kalandor joined into the Centurian Clans hunt, fitting in seamlessly and catching many Onagor. Today was a good day, the difficulty was not yet Kalandor’s, but it was well in motion. For as true as the morning rose, The Challange would confront Kalandor.
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  21. - Top - End - #201
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Dasque's Ascension Part 3 of 5

    Within the Heart of Shadow
    So bright. It surrounded her. It engulfed her. It consumed her soul, within and without. Yes, so very bright it was. Her feet moved forward, and sometimes to the side, yet she could barely see. Even her own hands seemed mere blurs to her now.

    She no longer thought of her siblings, or of the White City. Other things began to enter her mind, things that went beyond her experience, her understanding, and even her knowledge. They were fey things, images produced by the light. Anything was possible.

    She sat on her throne of laughing tortoises, their snickering and gibbering silent as was all her court. Empty attire made of the finest silks moved effortlessly attending their business, business that seemed to merely mock pleasant conversation with one another, their gloves and sleeves gesticulating dramatically. In the middle of it all a spiral of gold and silver spun. It seemed to smile as she looked upon it.

    “Hello.”

    She nodded back and within its image saw her reflection, a mighty goddess, like Baz’Auran, but more radiant, with a dozen wings attached to her back, the heads of her enemies arrayed around her throne. So many… those couldn’t possibly be the skulls of-

    All went to darkness.

    “Hello. Hello?”

    A single spotlight turned on. She stood on the edge of darkness, looking at a body, lying curled up on the ground. It did not move for the first few seconds, but then it blinked its eyes open, eyes full of even greater shadow than its body. It stood up, and it was Dasque, at least her outward appearance. Its smile though, was different. It was off, as if the thing did not truly know how to smile, revealing a dumb, sad looking expression on its face. Seeing Dasque’s disapproval, its smile dropped, and a cold, calculating look stared back. This was a look she recognized. It was her look in a fight, a look of death.

    “Dasque? You see me now, don’t you?”

    “Yes… this is a dream.”

    “Not in the way you believe it to be.”

    She stepped forward, but as she did her leg began to burn the moment it came into the light, forcing her to pull it back.

    The shadow-thing sneered. “You do not belong in the light. There is a madness within you Dasque. You know a truth the others do not. You understand, don’t you?”

    “Compassion… mercy… they hold you back in a fight. To dedicate your hand to murder, to attack with ruthless efficiency is to obtain victory.”

    “Yes.”

    “But there is strength in them as well, to push oneself, to make for a brighter tomorrow.”

    “True, but it goes deeper.”

    “Lose yourself to all things but the one, to oneself. Forget your body, forget your restraint, become the goal you wish to achieve and that alone.”

    “Yes. Become null, void, and your determination will not be match. Your blade will not falter, your beliefs not questioned. It is not the way for one loved, but it is a way. Shall I show you a demonstration?”

    A spear was in Dasque’s hand, and she danced out trying to take her inner darkness by surprise. It did not work as the darkness feinted back, then pressed the advantage. Dasque slid back, but her heel caught on something, and she fell. A shadowy arm burst from the ground and held her in place, ten more followed it so she could not move her legs, or arms, and could not even see, only feel the spear point enter her heart again, and again, and again.

    “That was not fair. How could I have known you could call upon darkness from below?”

    “You could not. Honor would have made me tell me though. Compassion would have made me kept the fight on even footing. Mercy would have me spare you. What would they have given me? I am the victor now, and whatever injustice you feel has been done, does not matter. You are dead whilst I live, whilst I flourish.

    “You walk the line between greatness and weakness, between dark and light. You limit yourself.”


    “I limit myself.”

    “We will speak again…”

    Dasque could only see white. She was laying on her back. She got up, and started to move again. Not all was what it seemed, that much she knew. It was no mere dream as she felt something within stir violently. Not only this, but by now she should have died. Without food she should not have the strength to continue walking, to even survive after so long. Yes, something was amiss, but all she could do was continue on, going to where the blindness was brightest.
    Last edited by daelrog; 2012-02-22 at 09:57 PM.

  22. - Top - End - #202
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    hi-mi-tsu's Avatar

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    The Education

    "But Grandmother, I don't understand." The words were common from the young demigoddess, seated at the feet of the elderly woman; she had held this position before, many times, with Tezzerin. The Spirit of Knowledge had endless patience for the children of Baz'Auran; Grandmother did not.

    "What's there to understand that I haven't explained to you a dozen times? Child, we do not remember our names past death. No one does. The Boy is the Boy because he is the youngest; I am Grandmother because I am the oldest, in appearance. Others are The Wife, The Daughter, The Mother. We do not know why this is, only that it is."

    "But I remember my name!"

    "You are special...you are a god-daughter." The Grandmother sighed, and sat, though she did not need to; joints did not pain her, but it was a habit more than anything else. To sit, and to grip the head of an ethereal cane, while The Boy came to sit in Avyra's lap.

    "Grandmother...why is The Boy more solid than you...?" A question she had not yet asked, and The Grandmother's lips quirked in a faint smile.

    "He is nearer to the wall than I, god-daughter. He is but recently dead. We have no need to eat, nor to sleep, nor to perform daily ablutions; we are souls, god-daughter, as you are a soul. Without nourishment, we fade, slowly...over time, we disappear." The Grandmother's words were tired, and old, and Avyra's arms squeezed tighter around The Boy in her lap, suddenly afraid.

    "What...what happens if you disappear...?"

    "Then we're gone, child. No Wheel, no Path...just...nothingness. No Enlightenment, either, or becoming one with the Disk, as some say happens...none of that. People have faded, since this Guardian began to block the path." The Grandmother pushed herself to her feet, and Avyra did as well, after setting The Boy aside. She understood. Here, in this place where time was no time and all time, she understood.

    She would save them. All of them. She would save all of the souls, lost and wandering, scared and alone and confused.

    "Show me the Path, Grandmother."

    "Can you not see it...?" The Grandmother pointed, and Avyra looked, with her inner eyes, eyes she had not known she had. Eyes that had been closed, while she was alive; eyes that were open, now that she was searching. And she felt it, as well, the subtle tug towards the East, to follow the faintly-glowing line that stretched out like a coiling ribbon before her. Taking The Boy's hand, firmly, in her own, she nodded.

    "Gather everyone, Grandmother. We're going to take a walk."

    The Approach

    There were none who could say how long the journey was. In the twilit world of the dead, there were no sunrises, no daylight, not even a moon. There was only the faint glowing of the Path ahead of them, spiraling away into the distance.

    At first, it was only the dead from the village she'd stumbled into. But the Path went through many small villages, or camps, or ramshackle clusters of hunting-tents, and in every place there were the dead. The dead lingered, too, in areas where there were no longer people.

    And not all of the dead that came were human. Some were other species, humanoid in shape; some were animals. All were drawn towards the group, which grew larger, and larger still; in death, all the souls found a commonality. All wished for the same thing--for the Path to be cleared, for the Wheel to be reached, for dissolution to be held at bay. The susurrus behind her grew louder, but Avyra did not look back; if she were to look back, she would quail at the number of souls relying on her. So she kept ahold of the hand of The Boy, and she strode resolutely forward, ever forward, to the end of the Path.

    "You are doing a great thing, you know." The Boy's voice piped up from beside her, and Avyra glanced down.

    "Oh...? It does not seem so great a thing, to me..."

    "You're humble, Miss god-daughter, but you know you're doing a great thing! That's what Grandmother called it! It's momentous! You're setting us free of the thing that keeps us here!" The Boy beamed up at Avyra, and squeezed her hand.

    "We didn't know what was going to happen to us, before you came along. The ones in the big star must look favorably on us, to send us someone so nice!"

    "Well..." She was not above flattery, and her heart melted, a little. Surely this was her Father's purpose for her. Surely guiding these people to their reward was just.

    Surely.

    "I will do my best."

    And thus was learned the Second Lesson of Death: To die is to forget one's name, but not to forget oneself.

  23. - Top - End - #203
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

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    The Dragonslayer

    Fayruz awoke. She wished that she hadn't. Sleeping had been peaceful, quiet, and painless. Awake, her entire face was a throbbing mass of pain, her eyes burning and her forehead deeply gouged; her wrists were bloody and raised above her head, and pain shot up her arms whenever she moved them; and breathing itself hurt with sides as sore as they'd ever been. She could not open one of her eyes. For a terrifying moment, she felt as if she could not open either, that she had been struck blind by the demon. But it was just a crust of dried blood over one blackened eye that broke, flakes falling away from her eye as she looked around.

    It was a tent, much smaller than Tarn's hall, but much more cluttered. Animals' skins littered the floor and hung from the walls, and where there were not the disgusting skins of animals that had been killed for them - the very thought made Fayruz sick to her stomach - there was copper. It had been a mere trifle in the White City, where silver and gold were much more adored, but here it seemed to be prized greatly. There were copper plates and bowls, copper trinkets and necklaces, copper axes and a copper throne, hammered roughly out of several huge plates of copper and decorated with bones and smeared, dried blood. Behind it, impaled upon a pike through its jaw and forehead, was a giant lizard's head - no, no lizard that she had ever seen in the gardens had possessed such massive goat's horns. It could have been... a dragon. In life, it would have been a massive, serpentine thing, full of power and majesty, but now, it simply looked dreadful.

    Next to the throne, she saw, was a hammer. It was covered in dried blood, from the massive, crudely-hewn stone head, across the twisted bronze strips that held it in place, to the dark wood that made its freakishly long handle, from what tree she could not tell. Beside that hammer, that horrid, monstrous hammer, was a helmet, tipped over on its side. Calling it a helmet was a favor to it - it was, more truly, the skull of some hideous bull-like monster, covered in its fur and still bearing its long, heaven-stabbing horns. Both of these belonged to the demon who sat in the throne, curled up with his face in his hands, quietly sobbing to himself as he rocked back and forth, repeating something to himself which she could not hear. Hornless, weaponless, he almost looked pathetic, something too strung-out and gangly and starved to be dangerous. His hair was a mass of black tangles, his feet were ragged and cut, and Fayruz could almost forget everything he had done, everything he had threatened to do, until she tried to move and the rope around her wrists cut deeper.

    Fayruz, then, heard someone approaching, and so did the demon. He raised his head, and his face was bleak and twisted in pain. Fayruz tried to call for someone to help her, but her throat was dry and cracked, and all she could manage was a hoarse whisper. Not that she should have bothered, she found, as an elderly lady entered the room, carrying a copper bowl which she offered up to the demon, who took it with eager, trembling hands. He brought it to his lips and tipped the bowl back, greedily drinking, letting purple sludge run down his lips and chest in his haste. The crone hastily backed away, and trembled along with Fayruz as the demon began to laugh. He leaped to his feet, and threw the bowl aside, coming inches from cracking open Fayruz's skull with his savage throw.

    "That's the good stuff," he cackled. A strong shudder overcame him, and he doubled over for a moment, before breaking down into laughter. When he raised his head, his eyes burned with the light of mania. "Everything's bright now. Where's my warlord? Go fetch him."

    With a wave of his hand, the elderly lady was sent away, leaving Fayruz alone with the demon. She held still, fearing his attention; he looked around, grinding his nails into his palms, laughing softly to himself. With frightening suddenness, he turned about and was suddenly by her side, grinning madly. "You're awake already, my fool? Early rising is the virtue of chieftains... but don't get any ideas!" He ran a rough thumb along her cheeks with an insane giggle. "Your name is Efi. Fool."

    "My name is Fayr-" His fingers dug into her face, making her cry out in pain.

    "Your ruttin name is Efi." He leaned in, the rancid stench of his face choking her. His next words were in that soft, childish whisper- "Do you understand?" Fayruz waited a second too long, and something slithered serpentine behind dark eyes and he had wrapped one hand in her hair and was yanking on it, almost ripping it from her scalp, as he screamed, bloodshot eyes wide and sharpened teeth covered in spittle, "Do you ruttin understand, Efi?!"

    "My lord..." The demon acted like a startled animal, releasing her and leaping to his feet, snarling. The man who stood behind him removed his hood and mask, revealing that he shared the demon's unruly locks of hair, but possessed a beard and age to temper them, and skin as weathered and tanned as the desert. "You wished to see me?"

    "Hefar," the demon hissed. "I did. One of my warriors said to me last night that you wanted me to be like my father..." His muscles all tensed, as if he were preparing himself to leap across the room and attack Hefar directly.

    Hefar took a slight step back. It was a small movement, but everyone in the room noticed. "Gamesha... your father was a wise chieftain, and-"

    "If he were wise, he wouldn't be dead," Gamesha snarled. "I slew the dragon... the gods marked ME to rule, and I will not be compared to his ghost. Do you understand?"

    "Yes, my lord. It will not happen again." He looked towards Fayruz, who... was she crying? She was, she realized. She couldn't pull her hands down to wipe away the tears stinging her eyes, biting wherever they fell into an open cut. And he nodded his head, ever-so-slightly, and she realized in that moment that, whatever they may have done in Dol Mazzah, not all of these Tekeza were as evil as Gamesha. "The men wish to know what we shall do now, my lord."

    "Now? Now? We are going to kill every ruttin ancestral enemy of my people. We will wade in the blood of the ruttin Iuneh and stand on a mountain of the skulls of the Ma-Shen and then, and then, we'll rip the guts out of every living, ruttin Kayanek. Then we'll be the rulers of all the rocklands, Hefar!" He descended into mad giggling, before declaring, "And we'll kill them all!"

    "Very well. Shall I tell our warriors to prepare to fight in the ruins of Dol Mazzah, or shall we send warbands into the mountains to flush out the Iuneh and the Dereg?"

    "No. No. We make war at the Olm. They will come." He tapped his forehead, giggling. "I see it. They will come to die where gods died. And a new god will rise." This set him off cackling again, doubling over, his sinewy arms wrapped around each other. Then he stopped, stiffened, and said seriously, "They tell me when I'm asleep."

    "Help," Fayruz forced out from between her cracked lips. "Please... why do you obey him?"

    Gamesha turned, his eyes furious and burning for a moment, before cackling again. "My dear fool... I am the Dragonslayer... and the Traitorslayer. So many traitors, refusing to obey me... they said I was insane, can you imagine? But they got what they deserved... and I gave their swords to those loyal to their CHIEFTAIN... me." Hefar nodded, a quiet sadness in his face, until Gamesha turned back to him, and that sadness vanished as quickly as it had come. "Now go and fetch my fool some clothes befitting her station - the ones she has now won't do at all."

    Hefar said, simply, "Your will is law, my chieftain," and raised his hood and mask before striding from the room, leaving Fayruz alone with Gamesha. Fayruz closed her eyes and prayed desperately for a moment that he would leave, and when she dared open her eyes again, he was gone. She was free, then, to sob.
    -build that wall and build it strong-
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  24. - Top - End - #204
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    The Fall and The Smiler's Tears

    Confused and weary, Brandis lifted himself from the rancid bog he laid in. The air was thick, humid, and rife with the stench of decay. Though the sun could barely peek through the canopy of branches in the swamp, it left the foul place sweltering and miserable. Almost an afterthought, the young godling realized his own difficulty breathing. Hacking, he churned forth the water he had taken in while unconscious. Black like bile, it was absorbed and near indiscriminate from the rest of the damnable place.

    Father, what has happened?

    All his life, Brandis had known one truth above all else. Naught happened save by the design of his all knowing father, Baz'Auran. He had never doubted his simple role of mirth amongst his siblings. But this . . . and the chaos before the fall . . . Was it possible even his father's plans could go astray?

    Aimless. Clueless. The young godling wandered confused into the enveloping dystopic marshland. His stomach was sick from the rot that had filled it. His lungs seemed to barely suck in enough air to keep him going - each breath little more than a wet gasp. His vision blurred in the heat, his brow oozed sweat that mingled with the fetid muck on his face. It stung his eyes, and nauseatingly filled his nostrils with a pungent odor of something forgotten to mind but not instinct. What he wouldn't give for Kalandor to guide him. For Fayruz to give him comfort. For Jongo to just . . . make things change.

    But he was alone. He gave up calling his siblings' names some time after the midday sun. It left his throat raw and thirsty. And he held concern over drinking or eating anything he found in this terrible place. Already he felt as if poison crept towards his marrow. Shadows stretched for him like sprawling fingers, grasping to strangle him. If he were to sit, to rest, to close his eyes for just a moment - a cacophony of noise would surround him, as if the dark land was sending forth servants to overtake him. But when he would open his eyes to stare about, there was nothing. The sun waned. The shadows stretched larger and larger. The world felt smaller, heavier somehow. But in the distance, there was a shimmer of light. Of hope?

    They were simple thatch huts, built atop a stretch of solid earth above the muck. Tendrils of smoke rose from what might have been a central fire. It seemed strange to Brandis, to see fires snuffed out as darkness came. Still, his weary face smiled at the thought he was not alone. Trudging towards the rising, his rasp but charming voice called out.


    "Hello! Hello . . .? Good people, I am desperate."

    But instead of hearing a call back he heard hushed and panicked whispers. Drawing closer, he saw a woman pull her child away from their window. She made every effort to not let her eyes leave the earth at her feet while she reached to cover the opening - cocooning her family within.

    "Please . . . water . . . bread . . . brandy . . ."

    But every home barred itself from the outsider. What few faces he saw before they hid themselves all held the same custom of staring downwards, refusing to even look at him. As the sun's light faded over the horizon, one voice, tempered equally in fear and the bravado of authority called out, "Begone, nightwalker. Iscaripaka's due will be left in the morning. There are none to be taken here. Search for your fools elsewhere demon!"

    No amount of pleading drew any mercy. If anything, the fear of the place seemed to grow thicker, palpable even. And the shadows grew fatter and heavier as it did. Fevered and weak, Brandis lay next to the embers of the settlement's center fire. He knew nothing of how to rekindle it. He feared his hands would betray him even if he tried. Whatever sickness coursed through him made them shake strangely. He shuddered, hopeful for tendrils of warmth and perhaps the comfort of sleep - but he found neither.

    He did not know how long he tossed and turned, eyes clamped shut but unable to rest. Visions of mighty Baz'Auran actually locked in struggle. Of the burning face of the spirit which delivered him . . . When he felt the touch on his shoulder he sat up in panic. The wrack of pain in his midsection made him regret it immediately. Small tendrils of the black bile spilled from his mouth as he hacked and looked upon the blurry outline before him. It reached out, holding something to him. Small hands. A child.

    "Take it. But please go. Father says you draw the darkness," whispered the voice of a young boy.

    Brandis reached out, and felt in his hands something akin to a wineskin. Its contents reeked, but not of the same putrid nature as the swamp. What . . .what is it? Who are you? Where am I? . . ."

    "Shhh . . . . please sir, be quiet. Just drink. Tis of the tannis root. Father will lash me to learn I waste it on you. But . . you look different . . ."

    Parched as he was, Brandis did not press questions further until he drew deeply from the skin. It burned like fire within. But ever so slightly, whatever had been eating away at him subsided. "You have my thanks young man. But, tell me your name for I'll not drink to my health without toasting you."

    "Lafayette, if it pleases you. But please sir . . ."

    With a wan smile Brandis held up an acknowledging hand. "I know, I know. Quietly. Still, to young Lafayette. I am ever thankful for your hospitality." Greedily he consumed the last of the skin, feeling his strength slowly returning. "But it seems bizarre, that it should seem such an act of courage to give comfort to a stranger."

    "Father says Kurth remains standing for the same reason as any other village amidst the black swamp. People must respect the old ways. Fear keeps us alive. To tempt the darkness is to doom your family. . ." The boy's voice trailed off, worried. Vision clearing, Brandis could make out a slight young lad. His clothes were simple and ragged. He had the look of barely ten winters, but his eyes seemed aged beyond that. Something inside the godling felt disheartened at the dull sheen that sat in place of what should be the vibrant curiosity of youth.

    "I cannot believe Father would wish this upon any of his creations. Surely it is the will of Baz'Auran to break the shackles this wretched place binds you with."

    "NO! Do not say his name! She is sure to come now! Begone! There is naught for you to do."

    As the child readied to scamper away, Brandis held his hand beneath the boy's chin. "Raise your eyes Lafayette. Look upon me. Know I am His son, and that for your kindness I will face this darkness."

    But as the child's eyes were raised from the ground to meet his own, there was no look of relief. No sparkling of life or inspiration. Only terror. Reflected in the cold, dull eyes was a soft green light rising from the swamp. Tears streamed down Lafayette's face as he screamed in fear. His nails tore into the flesh of Brandis' wrist like a panicked beast attempting to escape a trap. When Brandis looked back to follow the boy's gaze, his grasp fell away in shock.

    Fog gathered around the ghastly visage emerging. Humanoid, but certainly not human, the fell creature stood nearly twelve feet tall. The legs and arms long and spindly, the torso severely thin. Its head overlarge, bulbous, yet squashed. Pasty, white, rubbery skin stretched taut. The face held few features other than deep hollow sockets where green embers burned in the stead of eyes, and an overwide grin stretching the length of its oval face.

    Slowly, it lumbered towards young Lafayette, whose eyes were locked with the terrible jade flames. Pure, primal fear took over him. He fled, tripping over himself as he sprinted back to his home. The stalker simply followed with slow, steady strides of its long legs. Brandis tried to interpose, but the creature was ethereal to his touch. He screamed at the thing, but it paid him no mind. Only slowly followed the boy.

    Pounding on door of his home, Lafayette begged for his parents to take him in. Over his pleas, over what sounded like crying came his father's voice, "Begone, son! You've damned yourself. Don't be bringing your fate upon your mother or sister!" The denial froze him in place, if only for a moment before he looked back at the creature following in his footsteps. He ran to other doors, begged other families, but none would offer shelter to the doomed soul.

    Brandis screamed at the village of cowards, "Damn you all! Help him!" But even as he said it he knew it was folly. No matter what attempts he made to strike the apparition or hold it at bay, it simply ignored him, walked through him. Step by step it followed Lafayette. Stopping at every door he did, as if peering in, perhaps savoring their anguish. And soon enough the boy collapsed in maddened futility. Brandis scooped him up, tried to run with him somewhere . . . anywhere away from this . . . thing. But in the darkness, it was as if the ground of the swamp devoured his legs. Soon he was stuck up to his knees in the festering earth.

    The night stalker approached, long unhindered strides bringing it within ten feet of them. Raising its long fingers it pointed to its victim, and Lafayette began to tug away from the godling's grasp. Twitching as if pulled by an unseen force, the boy shimmered, then began to unravel like a grotesque and bloody ball of yarn - skin and muscle alike spinning off the body in great organic loops of cord. The loose end snaked around the abomination for a moment, then ran up to its wide, grinning maw. The stalker devoured its prey by slowly sucking the mass up like a long strand of spaghetti. Brandis was helpless, unable to do anything as the boy slowly, painfully unraveled - his vital organs and head saved for last so his screams of anguish could echo throughout the march as long as possible. When its bloody feast was completed, a long white tongue licked at its face while the green embers of its hollow sockets faded away. And as it turned the wicked grin to him, it vanished into the shadow about them.

    And Brandis wept, broken. Though the first rays of dawn crept over the horizon, he could find no reason to smile. Alone, useless, and without his father's guidance he despaired. The shadow clung to him, swirled, writhing as if in ecstasy. Even as the sun began to push the darkness away, the wind seemed to give an eery whisper of satisfaction.

    "Fool child of Baz'Auran. You know nothing. I shall relish your company."
    Last edited by KiCowboy; 2012-02-22 at 06:57 AM.

  25. - Top - End - #205
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Prosecution

    Khalen felt his mind swim. What madness was this? Were these fragments of his own being? Impostors? Before he could begin to fathom the meaning behind it all, the first doppelganger spoke again.

    “Prisoner, the charge before you is that of deicide. How do you plead?”

    Khalen found his wits again. “You that would claim to be me, explain the crime of which I have been falsely blamed.”

    “The prisoner is charged with causing the death of Elanna, daughter of Baz’Auran. How do you plead?”

    “I plead not guilty,” he replied, although a careful ear might have detected the faintest trace of uncertainty in his voice.

    The first doppelganger, which Khalen had begun to think of as being the judge, turned towards the second. “The prosecution will now make its case.”

    The prosecutor nodded in the judge’s direction and began to speak.

    “Members of the court, the figure that stands before you would claim to be a champion of law, of truth and justice. Nothing could be further from reality. I intend to peel away the lies and reveal to you the real Khalen - a liar, a coward and a murderer!”

    “NO!” shouted Khalen, and was chatised as another twist of pain ran through his body.

    “The accused will be silent until given leave to speak by the court,” said the judge. His voice was still flat and emotionless as though Khalen’s passionate outburst had not occured.

    The prosecutor spoke again. “I call the first witness to the stand.”

    The lights shining on the 4 Khalens dimmed as a fifth light beamed down into the centre of the “court”. A figure slowly walked from the shadows into the centre, the walk seductive, leisurely yet concealing a deadly menace.

    Nieve.

    “Tell the court who you are.”

    I am the lady Nieve of the White City. I am the Laughing Godess, the Daughter of the Red Moon and daughter of Baz’Auran.”

    “And what role would you say Baz’Auran had in mind for such a beautiful flower of the White City?” asked the prosecutor

    I am to stir emotion in the hearts of men and encourage them to seek the thrill of excitement that comes from danger.” she replied, smiling at some private joke.

    “A role for which you are exquisitely tailored, my dear,” said the prosecutor. Much to Khalen’s horror and disgust, it actually looked like he was flirting with her. “How would you describe your relationship with your brother?” he continued, pointing in Khalen’s direction.

    Nieve’s smile instantly vanished. “Extremely cold, much like him,” she said, glaring at Khalen. “Emotionless, without empathy and unable to think beyond the ordered confines of his own little world. We rarely spoke.”

    “Would you say this was also true of your relationship with Elanna?”

    Oh my, no,” said Nieve, looking rather surprised. “Elanna was an absolutely joy to be around. Always looking for adventure and ways to tease a happy laugh or smile from you. She often succeeded,” she smiled.

    “Why then, do you think, this happy and joyous person spent so much time with a creature such as him?”

    She always did relish a challenge...” said Nieve, a grim chuckle escaping her perfect lips.

    “Following Elanna’s subsequent...disappearence...from the White City,” the prosecutor continued, although its use of the word ‘disappearence’ filled Khalen with an odd sense of foreboding, “...did you notice any change in the behaviour of your brother?”

    Nieve shrugged. “He became even more withdrawn than usual....not that it was easy to tell the difference.” She turned towards Khalen. “The White City would have been better off if she had lived instead of you.” she spat, the final word dripping with venom.

    “No further questions from the prosecution, your honour.”

    The third doppelganger, which had heretofore been silent, began to speak. “The defence seeks leave to cross-examine the witness.”

    The judge nodded. “Granted.”

    “Lady Nieve, you would describe yourself as the Daughter of the Red Moon and the Laughing Sword?”

    Yes...” she replied warily, sensing some sort of trap.

    “Perhaps you would be kind enough to provide the court with a slightly less poetic interpretation of your names....”

    Nieve said nothing and glared at the defence councillor.

    “No? Is it not true that your main purpose is to stir up war between the tribes of man? That you exist only to encourage bloodshed and decadence?!”

    Nieve flared. “Now wait just a damn minute-”

    “Do you deny such an obvious truth? You spend all your days in the White City fighting your siblings and spirits!”

    And you would have me descend to the Disk completely defenceless? Combat is an important part of our training!”

    “I do not doubt,” said the councillor, although a faint trace of smile was on its lips as it continued. “And those embraces with Shirvan on the combat ground immediately afterward? Perhaps some form of unarmed combat?” it smirked.

    Nieve’s eyes burned with hatred and said nothing.

    “Members of the court, is a violent hedonist really the best person to judge the character of the accused? She claims her brother was withdrawn and spent much of his time alone but if I had to make a choice between distancing myself or becoming acquainted with a blood-crazed emotionally unstable sadist, I would choose isolation every time.

    No further questions.”
    Last edited by The Succubus; 2012-02-22 at 10:45 AM.

  26. - Top - End - #206
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Gengy's Avatar

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    "The clouds in the sky are little more than water risen through nature's forces, frozen in great clumps, and growing, ever growing, till the water is too heavy, and thus we get rain -- wherever it may be that the clouds grow too full of themselves. Even in this natural, ordered process, there is a bit of chaos."
    ~ The Everchanging View of Grassblades


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Reaching the Edge

    The ocean floor was completely barren now. There were no fish. There were no underwater plants. There was not even algae. The water around Jongo and his two Dolphin companions was the cleanest and clearest she had ever seen.

    And the current was the strongest Jongo had ever felt. It pulled east, and it was only with a great deal of effort, and help from Dorph and Gwenie, that Jongo was even able to consider resting.

    They had come across a tiny spire of a stone pillar hours ago. It was thin, and weathered, and Jongo knew that in a year or so, the current would snap it apart. For now, however, it was the perfect stopping point for a bit of a rest.

    Dorph and Gwenie seemed both more happy and despondent at the same time. The gash over Dorph's left eye was deep, and would leave a scar. Gwenie - again, probably just Jongo's imagination - kept looking at it and seemed sad. But they both seemed grateful that Jongo had somehow chased the Aboleth away.

    Bolstered by their good mood, and pleased to have a place to catch his breath, Jongo again gathered her thoughts for the task at hand.

    "Why isn't there more noise? You'd think, with all the water gushing towards the edge, there would be a great crashing sound. But no. It's pretty quiet." Jongo patted Gwenie on the head as he talked. Gwenie didn't respond, but seemed to enjoy the attention.

    Something about it being so quiet bothered Jongo, but she ignored it as Dorph playfully pushed in, trying to get at Jongo's hand as well.

    With a smirk, Jongo played with them both, making a game of it, as the three of them enjoyed themselves with a little rough housing; as much as they could while still against the small stone spire, their only protection from the pull of the current.

    Gwenie clicked and squeaked, and rolled over and under Dorph, as the larger dolphin pushed in and bumped his large snout against Jongo's hand, only to be pushed out of the way when Gwenie completed her roll. Dorph disappeared for a moment, away from the spire, and Jongo became concerned. Gwenie and Jongo looked at were Dorph had gone, only to be surprised as the larger dolphin came around behind them with some effort to work against the current.

    Laughing once again, for the first time in days, Jongo reached out with both hands and patted his companions. But only for a moment. Jongo suddenly stopped playing. She realized what was so bothersome about it being so quiet.

    The Voice of Change was silent.

    A constant susurrus until now, it's absence was felt like that of a friend who had stopped talking in mid-sentence. Jongo looked down at Dorph and Gwenie, still enjoying his absent minded petting.

    This was almost over. This trip on the Disk had been such fun. There were hard times, but they were so close to the end, and then it would all be worth it.

    Jongo realized she would miss this.

    A part of Jongo's brain, one that had been quiet for too long, spoke up again, and Jongo felt himself speaking aloud, "Something or someone hurt Father. Hurt the White City. Attacked the Ceiling. Whatever it was, it will pay. So. Time to go."

    Sensing the seriousness of the mood, Dorph and Gwenie became silent. The three of them drifted back into the current, and let it pull them closer to their destination.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hours later, there were no more stone spires. No more chances for Jongo to turn back. Dorph and Gwenie were even having trouble moving against the current now.

    And the Voice of Change was still eerily quiet.

    Up directly ahead, Jongo thought she saw a strange darkness. Through the clear water, through the silence of the nothingness, there was what seemed to be a night sky.

    Jongo looked upwards, above himself, to make sure they had not gotten turned around in the weightlessness of water. But no, above them, were many stars twinkling in wonder. Aramar would be delighted, Jongo was sure.

    Peering ahead once again, Jongo could see that straight in front of her, it was like a crack in the ground. But no. There can only be a crack, when one has two sides.

    This was a fall. This was an edge.

    This was the Rim of the Disk.

    Gwenie suddenly cried out, and whipped around, struggling against the current. Dorph twisted with effort as well, and the two of them swam away.

    ::It comes! Flee!::

    Jongo was sure it was his imagination now. Dorph? Gwenie? Afraid of something? After weeks of staying together, after the sharks, the Aboleth, what could possibly make them turn now, right before Jongo's greatest moment?

    They were headed up to the surface, where they could skip above the water to break from the current's harsh pull. Sadly, the current still had Jongo, who was finding it difficult to follow Dorph or Gwenie. Looking around, though, Jongo saw another dark shape, this one getting closer. Even through the clear water, it was blackened and hard to tell what it was.

    But it's so small... Jongo kept watching, even as the current pulled him towards the edge.

    And it was small. At first. But Jongo watched, and the thing was moving closer, quickly, and growing. What looked like a fish at first, soon was as big as a shark. Then a whale.

    An Orca? They do eat dolphins... But no, the thing was getting bigger still.

    Another Aboleth? If it was, the first Aboleth was puny in comparison. This... thing, whatever it was, was getting so much closer, at a rapid pace, and it was still getting larger.

    "No, no, no, no, no, no! Not when I'm so close!" Jongo forced herself to forget about the thing, and swam with the help of the current to the Rim of the Disk.

    To certain death.

    Falling from the Rim would kill anything normal. Jongo knew that. The water was so quiet, because even though it was falling, in what was the largest waterfall in any part of the universe that Jongo was aware of, it didn't actually hit any rocks or anything solid below. There was nothing for the water to crash against. So there was no sound.

    The water only fell, straight down. Into the Abyss.

    And there, like anything else that fell from the Rim, it would be swallowed whole.

    ...but if you were a godling... if you were somehow able to control the Abyss, shape the Nightmare...

    It could work. It would work! Jongo shot through the water, fast as his gilled human body would allow. Pushed on by the current, Jongo flew out, and was free of the ocean, free of the air, free from everything.

    Only the hungry Abyss loomed below. It swirled in a way that only dark absolutes can; it was the ultimate predator, and it would consume anything that came into its path. It had no color, and if Jongo had felt that black was the darkest something could be, the Abyss soon corrected the godling.

    It was absent of all things, and still contained much; wholly unexplainable. Jongo felt herself start to fall.

    This is what I want. This will work. I can... I can control the Abyss. I can use it. Make the Something-That-Attacked pay. Jongo was determined, and closed his eyes, awaiting doom.

    ...a great tentacle whipped out from the water, and grabbed Jongo's body.

    ::No, Namer.:: A voice, clear as the breaking dawn, and deep as the ocean resonated through Jongo's human form, stopping the descent. Jongo looked at the tentacle. Another Aboleth? A huge one?

    ::None shall fall to the Abyss. So am I tasked.:: Jongo followed the tentacle to its owner, through the falling water, and saw that 'huge' didn't do this thing justice. It was colossal. More than that. There was only one word for it. One word that fit.

    "Leviathan." It just seemed right.

    ::Yes, Namer. You of all, should know me.:: Jongo looked, and was stunned to see that she actually couldn't find where the end of the Leviathan was. The being before him was so massive that looking for the tail was impossible. The rotund body just kept going, and wrapped up in just one of its tentacles - one of the smaller ones - Jongo couldn't move and couldn't see enough of the Leviathan to get an idea of just exactly what it looked like.

    It was just an enormous wall of slickened skin. The current of the Rim couldn't cause the Leviathan any trouble. It was just too massive, too weighty. The water surged around the Leviathan, but the great creature didn't seem to notice.

    It just kept moving.

    "What... what are you doing? Please, Leviathan. Don't stop me. This is the only way."

    ::Giving in to the Abyss is a way. But it is not the only way.:: Again, the rumbling voice seemed to resonate through Jongo's very bones.

    ::Give in, and you are giving to the Abyss. Try to master it, and you will find yourself mastered.::

    The Leviathan began to move, and Jongo saw it was as fluid as the ocean itself, shifting through the water as though movement was just an afterthought.

    "But... but... Father. The White City! It... it was attacked!"

    ::Ah? So that was the blood moon. I had wondered.:: Jongo marveled that this thing seemed so unconcerned. And yet... Leviathan had not pulled the godling back from hanging above the Rim.

    ::I cannot let you fall to the Abyss. I am not it's warden, but I am tasked to stop all who would try to feed it. Think of another way.::

    The silence after the Leviathan said this was a stark contrast to the rumbling resonance of its voice. Jongo peered at it, through the water, trying to find an eye, a mouth, anything - ANYTHING - he could try and reason with.

    Nothing. The Leviathan had a task, from Baz'Auran no less, and it would do its duty.

    Frustrated, Jongo cried out, "You... you... you are such a... such a... ooooooooo... such a toad!"

    ::Interesting. Toads must be wonderful, then.::

    Jongo stared at the Leviathan. She didn't know what else to say. It just kept pulling the godling along, as it swam.

    Exasperated, Jongo began to look around. Other than the terrifying Abyss below, it was actually quite beautiful along the Rim of the Disk. Stars twinkled in the sky, and the moon was passing overhead, large and pale. But it was just too quiet. Looking down, Jongo studied the Abyss again, and his human body became queasy at the sight of it. It truly was a predator, and was greedily consuming everything that got close enough.

    Bored, Jongo began to whistle. It was tuneless, tired, and not much of a melody. Jongo didn't remember which of his siblings taught her to whistle. Probably Fayruz. But unlike Flower, Jongo couldn't really carry a tune. Still, whistling was fun. And Jongo was tired - so tired - and it seemed like this could be a while.

    And it was something to do, instead of thinking of how the Leviathan was quietly going to be holding the godling over the edge for eternity. So rather than have that thought - again - Jongo whistled.

    The Voice of Change suddenly sung out, with such force that it was like it had just discovered what singing was. And looking down, Jongo saw within the all consuming dark of the absent Abyss, there were swirling colors. Changing and dancing, and beckoning with glee and delight. The Voice of Change held power, and teased the Abyss, twirling and twisting in and out, here and there, everywhere and nowhere all at once.

    That! That's what I want! Jongo giggled with delight, and let herself join the song.

    The colors, too many to name, too many to count, all seemed to rush towards Jongo. In streams of light, thrumming with power, the Voice of Change sang point and counterpoint, laughed and cried, flared up, calmed down, and rejoiced in the finding of something new.

    Laughing along with it, and still singing a song that only her heart seemed to know, Jongo rejoiced as well. Jongo exalted in it, and accepted it, as it danced through her human form.

    It was happiness and sadness, the understanding contradiction, the confusion of knowledge; the colors were beyond comprehension, but so willing to answer. They danced with moving stillness. In and out, everywhere and nowhere, nothing and everything, all at once.

    This was what had been calling him. Not the Abyss.

    This was the Voice of Change.

    This was Chaos.

    This was Jongo.
    Spoiler
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    "Fear the Gerbils, lads! For they will destroy you!" ~ DOOM

    BladeofObliviom said:
    I've only seen a character at anything resembling this level of absurdity thrive exactly once, and he/she/what-the-jongo had the advantage of being written by Gengy, who I look up to as a writer.

    "What-the-Jongo?"
    Before you insult someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
    That way, you'll be a mile away, and have their shoes!
    ~avatar by myself

  27. - Top - End - #207
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Ladorak's Avatar

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    Carolinus awoke bathed in pain. From the very first second of awareness his mind was filled. Too weak yet to open his eyes, he assessed himself. His arm and chest burnt like the sun, he was covered in sweat. He was alive however and thankful for it. The humans must have driven off the remaining centaurs, that was a mercy.

    He tried opening his eyes. For a second he squinted, unsure of what he was seeing. Then it dawned on him, his good arm shot upward, finding only soil above. He screamed. He was wrong, the centaurs had won, they had buried him alive. His worst dread made manifest, to wither away languishing in the dark.

    Then, impossibly, a sound came from his left. A woman's voice talking. Suddenly light bathed his features and relieved his racing heart. A sheet drew back to a human woman revealed his true location. He was 'buried' within one of the human's dwellings. Beyond his 'grave' his could make barely make out a tiny hut with blurred eyes. A large fire was banked in the center of the hut. It's luminescent hurt his eyes, he looked away. He struggled to focus on the woman. Apparently one side of the hut was backed into a hillock, and it was in that earth mound he had been buried.

    She started talking. Once again he could only half understand. He shook his head. 'No, no, stop.' She stopped at once, an expectant look edged into her every feature 'You don't understand. I don't understand, I only understand some of what you are saying.'
    Suddenly that expectant look was gone, replaced entirely by confusion. Carolinus wondered if all humans were so expressive 'See? Go slowly, simple words. We will manage. Repeat if needed. Find new words.'
    She nodded, suddenly the very picture of determination. Her variance hurt Carolinus' head. 'Why am I here?'
    With some confusion and pantomime she awkwardly made him understand. Sweat lodge, you were ill, fever. We bring you here, you are awake, fever has passed.
    'Thank you' That one she understood immediately, her answer was equally swiftly understood
    'You saved my Ka Great One, you saved my village. No, you are not thanking me, I am thanking you.'
    'You are healer?' She nodded. 'Do not call me great one, I am Carolinus. How long have I been like that?'
    Her hands came up, her fingers flashing. 'Twenty one days, great Baz'Auran!'
    'What is Baz'Auran?'


    From the book of Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran

    'Who is Baz'Auran?' The first day they met, the prophet asked Carolinus this question.

    In response the god lifted his shield, it's radiance bathed the great hall in light. On it he drew her gaze to the symbol of the sun. Around the sun were images of godlings at play. Carolinus was there, hand in hand with Cireo, both radiant with happiness. Khalen was carved in conversation with Jongo, a look of confusion on his face, Haramhold and Rumel engaged in some project. All the godlings were represented there. The White city was embossed above the image of the sun like a crown 'This is the sun, it brings life and light to the Disk. This is the White City, where I am from. These are my brothers and sisters.'

    He pointed next to the image on the other side of the shield. 'This is the moon. Everything beneath the sun and the moon is the great disk. Baz'Auran made all of this. Baz'Auran made you and all those like you and countless things that are not. He made the disk and the sun and the moon.'

    Then the god stood and the earth rumbled 'And I am Carolinus. He has made me to protect all of this. Sun and moon, disk and white city. He has sent me forth from the city into the world so I might protect your people.' His radiance blazed and his eyes shone, he spoke in a voice heard throughout the disk 'I am Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran, the warden and the watchman, knight of the white city. I will do my duty by my father. I will protect his creation.'

    This is why the symbol of the faithful is the shield of Carolinus. Carolinus is the shield of all those imprinted on our symbol. He is the warden of the world, of the sun and moon, also of the white city and above all his father. For if Carolinus is the shield of creation, his father is both the creator of the world and also of the shield.

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

    Carolinus let the shield clatter to the floor, his fingers too weak to hold it anymore. He had not spoken long, yet his mouth was parched beyond all previous experience 'Water' he begged weakly.
    When she went away he took notice of her handywork. He ribs had healed well, the sling his arm was in looked both professionally tied and also clean. The wound on his chest still looked terrible however, he didn't have the heart to raise the bandage and see it fully. He had saved her Ka she had said. He wondered what that meant, it was only days later he finally recognized her as the mother of the first child he saved. He had saved her son. That was why they were calling him Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran, something he resolved to put a stop to at once.

    The next few weeks were another form of torment was Carolinus. His long convalescent was still in it's infancy. At first he could barely take ten steps. That titanic effort exhausted him for the day. The next day he was resolved to take eleven, he fall to his knees on the ninth. He hardly felt the jolt in his two wounds, so deep was his despair at such a defeat.

    The humans tried to be helpful but there was little they could do and Carolinus was still coming to terms with their language. He couldn't even pronounce the name of the woman who had saved his life. They constantly peppered him with sophisticated questions he lacked the means to answer, either that or he was left alone, too tired to raise from his back, staring up at the ceiling and thinking constantly of what was lost.

    He couldn't even raise his arm, not after weeks trying. The healer frequently sat with him during these efforts, just as she was always there when he attempted to walk. She was always encouraging him, making a great fuss of every extra step taken. It worn on him at first, but the first time he raised his arm a inch upward he knew in his heart he could not have done it without her badgering.

    They were dark days for Carolinus. But in time dawn came.

    Two months later Carolinus could complete several circuits of the entire wicker wall surrounding the village. On some days he could do it twice.

    His understanding of the human language was almost perfect now. He knew all the villagers by name and stopped to speak with many of them in his moments of rest. They numbered 41, though Shae's baby was due soon. He was surprised by the intelligence of the adults and charmed by the children.

    They had started worshipping him as a god of their own accord, although due to the nature of his arrival he had found it necessary to stress repeated he was not a war god. He started to think of them as his tribe rather than his followers.

    Each day he sharpened three great stakes which the villagers brought him. He did it primarily to strengthen his arm, which was still weak but recovering well. When he walked the wall he had noted the places most likely for a centaur to attempt a leap. Locations with large flat areas for them to reach full speed (And well did he remember the exact distance of their acceleration) or where mounds or rocks raised up near the wall. It was a lot of work for a trick that was only likely to work once but he smiled to himself each day he directed the villagers to plant the stakes.

    Not that the villagers felt it was needed. They insisted they knew the numbers of the centaur tribe, knew their exact number was accounted for. Carolinus was not convinced. Everything they said rang too true with lessons long drilled into him by the spirit of knowledge. Few in number, nomadic, warlike. They were territorial, other tribes had only stayed away because they feared the one that was now gone. Soon they would learn the truth, then they would come.

    The healer was with him almost constantly if her duties were not elsewhere. Her now was Louisa and she hung on his every word. He spoke long to her about the white city and the disk, about his hopes and ideals, about his sworn oath and duty. He believed he had no secrets from her, but in this he was mistaken. Louisa could write. Unknown to him every night she stayed up until the early hours transcribing what she saw as revelations onto clay tablets.

    From the book of Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran

    After he defeated the great centaur horde of the Calarisien plains Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran became troubled.

    The weapon used by Ibcharon, demigod of the centaur people, was treated with a poison most foul. Though he smote the horde and killed Ibcharon he was four times wounded by that fell axe. The godkiller poison sunk into his veins. He almost perished, but such as he are not undone by such low tactics.

    During his recovery he often stared off into the distance in expectation, or directed the peoples in their fortifications. Once he spoke to the prophet of his troubles 'Before my father sent me forth he said I was coming to be tested here. Yet I do not believe he meant so small a task for me.' Thus was how he spoke of the great horde 'I fear that my sickness has made me miss some chance, I fear I have failed in my duty.'

    But then Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran had a dream. He beheld a great steep mountain pass, on each side rockface loomed up far beyond the height of any man. He saw the mountain ranges that spread out each side for hundreds of miles, he saw that this pass represented the only way through.

    He saw that narrow pass spread into a great steep slope. He saw that the slope came to a great plateau that was otherwise unreachable. He saw the fertility of the lands. For the first time Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran saw Markien.

    The next day Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran called the prophet and spoke thus 'Gather the peoples, our destiny is now made clear to me.'

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

    The expected attack finally came. In the night centaurs leapt the wall. Three died screaming on Carolinus' stakes. The rest milled around, suddenly confused and afraid.

    A long mournful sound issued into the night as the watchman Carolinus had set atop the longhouse sounded the alert. Villagers came streaming out with spears and bows. Carolinus led them, keeping them in good battle order as they charged and engaged the enemy. He had drilled them well, the centaurs did not last long.

    The next day the hunters reported that the few remaining centaurs of this new tribe had moved westward. Including the dead they numbered over twenty. This troubled Carolinus, for he was expecting a smaller tribe.

    A month later another attack came. Once again it was announced to the villagers by the sudden screams of the staked and the long call of the horn. More had split themselves on the stakes that time, but many more remained. The battle was long and bloody, a dozen villagers were wounded or killed before the centaurs were finished.

    The next day the hunters reported that this tribe had also retreated west after approaching from the east. He spoke to no-one, not even Louisa, about his misgivings. But when the third tribe came, attacked and left westward his fears were confirmed. The centaur tribes were fleeing something that was coming from the east.

    He explained this to Louisa and asked her to rally the settlement. He asked her to contact all further known villages and beg that they join them in his journey westward. He begged her to find any way to convince the other settlements to join, she thought of the clay tablets in her hut and said nothing but nodded her assent to his command.

    From the book of Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran

    Thus did the call go out and thus did the people answer.

    Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran was inspired by his vision of Markien as the peoples were inspired by his visage. All the tribes assembled under Carolinus'Ka'Baz'Auran and gave him homage. His promised land of Markien awaited, he would protect them from the great onrushing tide. He asked nothing in return save that men made peace with their neighbour.

    The great trail of humanity stretched out as far as the horizon in both directions, so great was the multitude that came as his command. Daily they were assailed by the great evils that walk the land, daily did the god protect them. Daily he fulfilled his vow. Daily the love for him among the peoples grew.

    **********

    Four months into the great exodus Carolinus started to become very apprehensive about his chosen path.

    Things had started well. The baggage train was tightly ordered, once his scouts learnt their duty they became adapt at finding water. There was enough food and livestock to last half a year. They made good time.

    They the other villages started to arrive. At first Carolinus was overjoyed as his tribe grew to a hundred, then to three hundred. Then the worm of doubt entered his heart. After four months the baggage train had become unmanageable and he had barely enough food when rationed to last two months. Their daily travel distance was cut in half. His tribe now numbered slightly over seven hundred. They had no fixed destination and almost weekly they were molested by various monstrous tribes defending their territory.

    Not that the tribesmen posed too much of an obstacle. After Carolinus came to understand how the barbarian mindset commonly worked it became a routine exercise. He would challenge the three most powerful warriors of the tribe to mortal combat. After all three were dead the rest respected the passage of the humans through their territory. This wasn't a matter of cowardliness as Carolinus understood it, or even of enlightened self-interest. The tribes respected strength. Generally they seemed to feel Carolinus had earned the right to cross their lands.

    Not all were so accommodating. A race of frog-men claimed many with their poison darts shot from within their dense swamp-forest home. They attacked the tribe daily shooting and running and then returning hours later. A race of small blue people attempted a night raid, though all died for that mistake.

    No Carolinus' apprehensions were twofold. Firstly their dwindling supplies loomed large in his mind, fresh converts still occasionally joined in groups between two and ten. All the local villages had either obeyed his call or ignored it, but many travelling people still came seeking the great protector.

    That was his second apprehension. He was starting to suspect Louisa had taken certain liberties with his command to do whatever it took to rally the other settlements. Many seemed to think he was leading them to some promised land. As the message become third and four times divorced from any who had witnessed the events the more incredible the stories became. First he had slain a dozen centaur, then two dozen, then a hundred. The last major settlement to join the exodus referred to his defeat of a 'numberless horde.' It was all very vexing but he was forced to remain silent as it became increasingly clear his presence was the only thing stopping these very disparate peoples (Many elements having long unpleasant relations with other elements) from falling on each other. If his stature was diminished in their eyes he risked breaking a very fragile peace and all the while his food ran out.

    Salvation came unexpected but no less welcome. A trader and his family joined the group one day. As was Carolinus' custom he met with the new arrivals. As always he instructed them on the nature of the disk and of the father Baz'Auran who made all. He swore to protect them with his life. He instructed them in the rules of his tribe. Then he asked their names and listened to their story.

    Then finally, as little more than an afterthought before he left, he inspected the goods the merchant brought to the train. He was gratified to discovery a large store of flour. It would feed the tribe for two days at the most, but he was fed up of traders who brought him nothing but heavy metals that weighed down the train and delayed the tribe even more. Then he glimpsed the into the darkness of the wagons rear. There was something covering the walls, pictures of some kind...

    Then came the moment that saved his people. Later he would say to Louisa 'Gather the leaders of the people, our destiny is now made clear to me.'

    The pictures were maps and he had found his safe haven, according to the trader it lay only days away. Ironically the god was denied the choice of naming his own promised land. Apparently his believers had even come up with a name for the promised land he didn't promise them. Markien. Many of them had chanted that word the whole four day journey to the narrow mountain pass. According to Louisa it was an old word, it's meaning somewhere between unity and safety. Carolinus decided not to argue.
    Last edited by Ladorak; 2012-02-22 at 02:46 PM.
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    The Human Spirit also by KP. The Raynnverse lives!

    Vagrant and Seal by Smuchmuch

    Vagrant by Darth Raynn

    Sentient #6 Avatar by kpenguin. Clearly the best picture of a M&M character named after a Nevermore song there has ever been.

  28. - Top - End - #208
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
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    Australia

    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    The Tribes Tales

    Kalandor spent many days with the people of the Centaurian Clan. They were a nomadic people, who lived in the hills that would be the southernmost tip of his ‘holding’, or at least, his planned ones. They had, like with the many tavellers in their past, swapped very slight advancements (In Reality, Kalandor faked learning and showed them the favoured Throwing Hatchets of the imaginary Boar Charger sub tribe of the imaginary Forested Clan, for no major forests existed to the south. At least, that’s what Kalandor ‘thinks’)
    It was on the 13th day of which Kalandor had been with the clan before they told him the stories as to the dangers to the north, and only when Kalandor said he would otherwise leave. And that night, they told the story of the Ula-gi, both from their perspective, and the perspective of the Gypsi Clan, who had no representatives at the camp to speak the tale.
    The Centaurian Clans chosen speaker for their tale was Alogan, who spoke with a rhythmic voice.

    “Once, when the stars were still heard and the White city had yet to retreat, the Centaurian Clan were the greatest of all know, we had learned of strange rocks that made potent spears of golden point, we lived still amongst the horse kindreds, and declared our greatness, when Cha-lan of the Chario subclanrode the horse, and thought ourselves as gods, and proclaimed such so.”
    And from nowhere, drums beat, and a whistle began to mimic the cries of people.
    “And so the Overgod looked down from his throne, and said with a whisper that met the Earth. ‘So thinkest thou, well thou shalt meet Horses of a kind not known.’”
    Two men began clapping horses hooves in a running rythem.
    “And then we saw it, the Chil’Rabi. A Meat Eating Horse, who favoured the blood of men. It at first surprised lone men, Scratching them with its terrible talons which had replaced its hooves, or with its sharpened teeth that had replaced blunt instruments. These men changed in to weaker versions of the same, who answered to the Chil’Rabi, these were the Chil’Raben, and their children, who only killed, where the Chil’Rabu. And so the Chil’Rabi led these hordes against the Centuarian clans, and we almost died.”And so the whistles became the wails of many, and people crumpled dry bark and the fire seemed to roar.
    “And then it stopped, we grew, and they came in moderation, for the Overgod had decided that we were to be weak, and so we are a tribe, and we learn of humility. And we wait for the sign that we may travel, and join the other tribe, protecting ourselves from the Chil’R”

    Kalandor clapped as was expected, and settled to await the next performance, the Gypsi tale.

    “Once, when the Gods where still of the ages we would call of their middle years, when children become men, The Over God, the Great(Said Baz’) Auran, decided to create creatures like gods, who could create.”The background musicians began slapping their feet against the ground.
    “And so, while we travelled and learned the wild magics, Baz’Auran created the great beast Mal’ki’yeth’ya, who would create the beastial beings. The Centuri, Horse Men (Think Gorilla but if the Front was man and Back was Horse, can stand or go on all fours) and many other beings, some passive, but most with a strange hatred for man.”And like before, the background people wailed.
    “And so we fled, for their strength was great, but our speed was of the time, greater, should time occur as normal. And we, the subtribe of the Gypsi, known as the Hill Wardens, got separated, by the beast Chil’Rabi, who weapons of nature and speed separated us eternally with its children. And when they swepped the land, we hid with our magics, and when these horses who seeked the blood of men receded, we the Gypsi tribe, threw our lot with these the Centuarin Clan, and we wait for the Sign that we may resume travel, from the Great Auran.’

    And so, with these tales in head, Kalandor rested this night, seeing in the tales a rather obvious path laid out, but needing time to think and plan. And the Tribe rested content that Kalandor would go no further north.
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  29. - Top - End - #209
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

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    “When nothing is ventured, nothing of value can be gained”

    Opportunity Knocks:

    It was on a hunt on the third week of which Kalandor had lived with the Centuarian Clan, and the first three days since the Gypsi had arrived, upon which Kalandor had the chance he had awaited.

    They were surprised and hunted by Chil’Rabu lead by a Chil’Raben, the foul man eating horses.
    Each one appeared as a black stallion, gleaming with malice but,
    Where a horse bore Hooves it bore wicked claws,
    And where horses had blunt grinding teeth, its teeth were wickeder than wolves’ teeth.
    And they hunted Man as only natural wolves could, were wolves to choose so.

    But the Men were lucky, they had Kalandor, The Adventurer and Lucky god with them.

    Despite the depth of his spark, it flared bright, and Kalandor stopped the Hunters long enough on their hunt, that they all felt their nature scent, and the tap of claws thumping against the ground.

    Lucky for man, they had weapons with reach longer than the scything kicks, granting them abilities beyond the beasts brute strength. And with Kalandor’s warning and leadership, only one person was harmed, Kalandor, taking a strike he quickly hid, feeling the strange magic of ‘were creatures flooding him, to be subdued by and awaken in part in him, the strange magic touching the staff oddly, in a way he would show later. Upon the Victory, with much heart the hunters returned, with Kalandor taking back the head of his kill, the lead beast, the Chil’Raben.

    And when Kalandor arrived at camp, that night after the questions and planting thought, with his presence long since made felt, he talked to the camp.

    “My Friends. I know I have only been here a short time in the grand scheme, but I would wish to talk to the camp.”
    And slowly, people started drifted into the communal area from where there weren’t, having heard this.
    “I’ve a question, almost not in how I know the answer, but why don’t you hunt the Chil’R”
    And In response, almost all said ‘The the Chil’R were a curse from the Overgod Great(Baz’) Auran.’
    “And what happens to those that actively hunt the Chil’R”
    And In response, almost all said ‘They Die or are Turned.’
    “So you let them hunt you?”
    And In response, almost all said ‘Because we must.’
    “What if I said that the time for change had come?”
    And the area slowly became silent.
    And now Kalandor pressed the advantage.
    “I am the traveller Kalandor. Now do any of you know of the Overgod’s children?”
    And some of those that knew of them scoffed. ‘Surely you don’t claim to be he?’
    And Kalandor smiled. “Did any of you see the falling stars almost two parts a season ago?”
    And In response, almost all said ‘Of course.’ And then they frowned, starting to link the points, and muttering started.
    And Kalandor pulled out the Chil’Raben head.
    “I killed a Chil’Raben, something that hasn’t happened in seasons, true?”
    And In response, some said ‘True, but that means nothing.’
    “Let me show you the truth.”
    And so Kalandor showed him a few of the tricks he could still perform, and the one he felt activate before.
    Slowly Kalandor made his hand glow with light.
    Then Kalandor started running from his position towards the crowd, and became a blur. Many of the people flet, more than saw, Kalandor moving around them, turning they found Kalandor to their rear.
    That was something that the crowd couldn’t call a forgery. And before they could start up about Kalandor’s powers, Kalandor silenced them, and performed with great difficulty, shape shifting, which the scratch had activated.
    First he became small, with great difficulty and time.
    Then he became a small wolf pup.
    And then he slowly enlarged to a dire wolf.
    And then he became himself.
    “I have shown you that I am I, and I am who I claim to be. I will let you speak amoungst yourselves, and lead some of you in the dawn.”

    And with the other hunters talking of his skill and how he saved them at the hunt, Kalandor started an uproar of conversation. From this he receded to sleep his exhaustion.
    Last edited by Erik Vale; 2012-03-29 at 09:42 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vedhin View Post
    In other words, be nice to the murderhobos so they don't murder you?
    Quote Originally Posted by JanusJones View Post
    The professional, well-funded, well-backed, card-carrying, licensed murderhobos, yes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chilingsworth View Post
    Congrats, you made me laugh hard enough to draw my family's attention.

  30. - Top - End - #210
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    The Voturi turned out to be just as vicious as the orcs made them out to be. Frellon no longer held the orc's original judgement of him against them. His first encounter with the Voturi was a wordless screech and the feeling of their claws poking through his hide armor and raking down his left arm. Luckily, the Guard Patrol seemed to do this all the time, in that ambush only two of their group got scratches, aside from Frellon, who was in the front.

    They were midgets, their heads only came up to about Frellon’s waist. Frellon had noted, painfully, that they lacked real fingers, only long sharp claws were on the ends of their forearms. They fought like animals possessed, a whirling storm of claws that refused to stop until you bashed their skulls in. Frellon was afronted to see that their eyes mirrored his own, but he mastered the feeling. This was, after all, what they were here for.

    The Orcs only set light sentries at their village at night, because these Guard Patrols regularly swept the forest clean of the overly hostile creatures for miles around.

    “It wasn’t always like this. When our forefathers first arrived it was almost a constant battle for survival, with the Voturi especially. If their poison was lethal to us orcs we’d have died out long ago. They used to have constant survalence at all hours day or night, the fires were always burning, and they had to be ready to beat off an attack at any moment!” Cherok had been happy to tell the story when Frellon had first expressed interest in the Guard patrols. “Supposedly we eventually we got sick of pulling all-night guard shifts, and started the guard patrols, sweeping the land clean of the creatures that might attack us, the Voturi especially.”

    It certainly didn’t seem like a bad idea to Frellon. To encounter the Voturi at all, they had started in an outwards spiral around the village, meeting a few other guard patrols as they did the same in the opposite direction. Cherok was leading one of the Patrols they met, and Frellon exchanged hearty greetings as they passed. After a few days they really had begun to get out into the deeper forest, and they rarely met other patrols anymore. Now, they hadn’t seen any other orcs at all for half a week, but they had encountered 2nests, and 3 other small groups of Voturi that morning. The numerous cuts and one laceration were taking their toll on the orcs. It wasn’t the cuts that made the Patrol Leader, an orc by the name of Jarun, call a halt to make camp for the day, for they were a hardy folk. Frellon had wanted to continue.
    “It’s barely noon! Why make camp now when we could push forward some more? I bet we could clear out a few more nests by sundown.”

    Jarun, was a good leader, a capable warrior, and a friendly orc, but his eyes narrowed all the same at his orders being questioned. “In case you had forgotten, those claws of theirs are coated in poison. You might be immune to it, but every orc with a cut here is fighting to keep their eyes straight. It will take most of the afternoon for them to work it out of their systems, so we are going to sit tight, and protect the wounded until we have our fighters back.”

    Cowed, Frellon realized that he had forgotten. I need to keep that in mind. Frellon thought guiltily. Not every man, or orc, he had at his back could withstand the things he could. He needed to be careful who he was leading into what fights. Not that he was leading anybody anywhere, Jarun was in charge here. Frellon suddenly was struck by a thought, horrified. “What if they attack us here, while we’re not at full strength?”

    Jarun gestured around at the clearing they were stopping in. “This place is ringed with thick thorn bushes, taller than us. It’s an ideal place to defend should they attack, but we shouldn’t encounter enough Voturi to need such defenses anyway. You only really find them in those numbers in those cursed nests of theirs.”

    Frellon nodded, relieved that this had not been overlooked. He stood guard at the entrances with 5 of the other, uninjured orcs, as the rest of the group sprawled around the clearing, their eyes spinning. He took up a position on the other side from Jarun, not wanting to somehow offend him again.

    One of the other guards was complaining to the others.

    “It’s not right, we would have had a fourth of this many wounded by now 2 years ago! They used to cut you up and run, it was mostly a matter of bashing them once or twice before they got away, they don’t heal much, so even small wounds’d kill em. Now they stick around, crazy for blood. I’ve never seen Voturi fight to the death unless cornered.”

    Frellon frowned. The voturi were a bloodthirsty lot, and they obviously only ate meat. He’d taken enough anatomy lessons to know what kind of business those teeth meant. But if they were that blood hungry…

    “Could they be starving?”

    “Who?”

    “The Voturi. Could they be so vicious because they are starving and desperate?”

    “Hah! You’ll never see a starving Voturi! They aren’t smart enough to get desperate, they eat each other if they can’t get anything else. Filthy animals.” The orc emphasized his words by spitting.

    As the orc’s spit hit the leaves, there was an awful screech, the sound of some animal making enough noise in the wrong place, at the wrong time, such that it disturbed the birds, and the forest went silent. The conversation dropped off, and the silence stretched.

    From ahead, far along the trail and around some bends where they could not see, there was a noise. A shout.

    The sound of many footsteps was the next thing they heard. As that grew steadily louder, they began to hear the sound of many feet pounding the ground. By this time most of the guards had come over to this side of the clearing to look, as well as a few of the more lightly poisoned orcs.

    As the sounds grew louder, Frellon recognized another sound, a familiar voice giving gruff, short orders. His eyes widened. He started to say the name, but was stopped by the sight of Cherok rounding the bend, his entire Guard Patrol a handsbreadth behind him, sprinting at full tilt.
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