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  1. - Top - End - #241
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    From little things, Big things grow.
    Kalandor:


    It was a while until Kalandor got past his musings. He had seen many races and knew that Frellon would like to create his own kingdom, and he knew Frellon had succeed by the sudden flare of his spark nearby. The land would soon be peaceful in his region, and such would soon spread under Frellon's rule, which should be peaceful but expansive with him at the fore. It would be good to start to spread his presence.

    And so, Kalandor began to gather acolytes from the races he knew, and began the teachings that would become the foundation of his religion, and he bid them to spread, starting to make their mark. Orcish, Bestial and Human travelers began to spread his religon.

    Act Expenditure.
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    1 Minor: Create the Religon of Kalandor.
    2 Minor: Create 2* Number of lesser Servants.


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    The professional, well-funded, well-backed, card-carrying, licensed murderhobos, yes.
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  2. - Top - End - #242
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    hi-mi-tsu's Avatar

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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    The Confrontation

    The first indication of the Guardian was a shadow that stretched across the Path, blurring and obscuring the borders; it became difficult to track, even for Avyra, who had the blood of the Creator humming through her veins. But she was not deterred by the shadow, for to be deterred would be to stop moving forward. And to do that would be to betray the trust of all of those who followed her, man and woman and beast alike, who trusted her to lead them to the Wheel.

    Stopping would mean failing The Boy, who held her hand and smiled upwards so guilelessly, who believed in her with all of the innocent faith a child could have. And so she kept going, though her heart quailed. She was no warrior; she had never been skilled, and even if she had been, she held no weapons in her hands. As the shadow loomed larger, she grew more and more nervous...but she refused to show it.

    "Who dares approach?"

    The voice echoed, though nothing could yet be seen; Avyra's step faltered, for a moment. Detaching her hand from The Boy's, she crouched down before him, hands resting on his shoulders.

    "Stay here, all right...? Stay with everyone, and keep them together. I will return once I have...solved the problem."

    "But...!"

    "Just...stay." She pressed a kiss to his hair, ruffling it lightly; he was...a dear child, and she would not have him hurt.

    "Be safe."

    Pulling away, she gave a reassuring wave, then pressed on alone; soon, the beast that caused the shadow was revealed to her, and she swallowed. A giant, leonine creature, the shadow had been caused by the outstretching of wings that were easily twice as long as she was. It was a massive being, and Avyra could not help but wonder why her Father would create such a thing...

    "Stay away! None shall pass!"

    "Why?" Avyra moved forward, and the creature's wings furled in close to its body; it stared down at her, and an expression of abject confusion crossed its face.

    "Because! I am the Guardian, set here by the Creator to...to guard!"

    "What are you guarding, great beast? What is it my Father set you here to do?" Avyra had continued edging closer, carefully; the Guardian did not seem particularly hostile, but she did not want to take her chances. When its eyes focused on her once more, and it raised a threatening paw--the claws were as big as her head, or perhaps even bigger--she stopped and held up her hands.

    "I am no threat to you, Guardian. I simply come on behalf of those that follow behind me, the dead of this world, who seek to move past you on their path to re-creation--"

    "None shall pass! I am the Guardian!"

    "But why?" Avyra sat down on the Path, crossing her legs in front of her; it was a position she had taken many times, when anticipating a long session with Tezzerin. She anticipated a long session with this creature, though time held little meaning in this place...in her head, she had begun to call it the Quiet Lands, for it was nearly always eerily silent. The outside world was at once close and impossibly far, the sounds from it muffled and blurred--if they reached through the barrier at all. "Quiet Lands" seemed a fitting title for this place of the dead.

    "Tell me why my Father would set you here. What is it you are meant to be guarding?"

    "...A door..." The creature looked down upon her again, as though seeing her for the first time. "You! You are a child of the Creator! He set me to guard a door. But..." A pause.

    "I am confused, god-child. For there is not a door to be seen. But there is...a reason I am here! There must be! I am the Guardian!"

    "You are dead." The words were gentle; still, the creature recoiled in shock, and the roar that poured from his mouth rolled through her like the unexpected thunder of a summer storm.

    "You lie!" The paws struck out, and Avyra clenched her teeth; there was no blood, for the dead. But there was still pain, and the beast's claws pulled away with bits of her soul-stuff in them, and other pieces fell to the ground; the marks were there in her flesh, and involuntary tears slid down her cheeks.

    "I...do not lie." She gathered up the tattered pieces of herself, shivering as she pressed them to her arm--first one, then the other. They re-attached, but it was...strange; she felt drained, and her eyes flickered. Perhaps this was why they had not passed, the others. They could not die in a conventional way, but it was as The Grandmother had said. Souls could fade, and be tattered and worn away...if this Guardian was intent upon guarding, then...

    Souls could be destroyed.

    "You are dead, Guardian. As am I. As are those who follow behind me."

    "It is impossible! Death...death means that I have failed the Creator. Death means that I have...no purpose." The Guardian sat back on his haunches, and though he was a creature, the expression of misery in his eyes and his face was a tangible thing.

    And so Avyra did something reckless; pushing herself to her feet, she moved towards the Guardian...and wrapped her arms around a foreleg, the closest thing she could reach.

    "I did not understand, before." Her voice was quiet, as she held the Guardian. "Death...not truly. But this is not a place to claim a lack of purpose, Guardian. All have purpose, here. I understand, now...the Wheel is the chance to recover purpose."

    "What is the Wheel?" The Guardian shifted, until he was lying on his belly; even on his belly, he was still larger than she was, but she shifted with him, leaning against his flank.

    "It is what this Path leads to, Guardian. The Grandmother explained it to me. After death, one follows the Path to the Wheel...and the Wheel brings new life. It brings a chance for redemption. A chance to amend past wrongs, or continue past rights. The Wheel is your opportunity for a second chance, Guardian...as it is the opportunity for a second chance for those that have followed me."

    "And I have been keeping them from this destiny..." The Guardian's head bowed, eyes dimming. "I am a failure and worse than a failure, in the eyes of the Creator. I deserve no redemption."

    "Everyone deserves redemption."

    There was no response, and Avyra sighed, letting her eyes close as she gently ran her fingers over the Guardian's shoulder. How long they sat like this, she did not know; the ebb and flow of time was impossible to track. How long they would have continued to sit like this, she did not know, but a quiet voice broke their silent solitude, and her head snapped upward.

    "...Miss Avyra...?" The Boy stepped forward; behind him was the mass of souls, human and non-human, sentient, beast, and Avyra felt the Guardian's hackles begin to raise.

    "No!" She did not know who the shout was for; The Boy, who froze in his tracks, or the Guardian, who paused, halfway to his feet.

    "This is all I have! None shall pass!"

    "They shall pass." Avyra stood, then, and gripped the Guardian's face--he had not stood fully, and it was close enough for her to grab, close enough for her to pull down, to stare into his eyes.

    "They shall pass. They shall pass, and all who follow them shall pass, and you, too, shall pass."

    "God-daughter! You do not understand! I have failed--"

    "So too have I. So too have all who walk this Path...no one is free of failure, Guardian. No one is free of failure. It is what you choose to do when you end up here, knowing that, which sets you apart. Come with me. Together. We shall pass through this Wheel together, you, and I, and The Boy, and The Grandmother, and all the others that follow behind us, and we shall re-capture our destiny in our hands. We shall find your door, Guardian, and you shall guard it...or we shall find you a new goal, and you shall fulfill it."

    "But--"

    "All shall pass." Avyra rubbed the Guardian's nose, lightly, and she smiled.

    "Even I shall pass through the Wheel. Come with me, Guardian...come with us."

    There was a long pause; for a moment, Avyra feared that the Guardian would not accept. If he did not...she did not know what to do. She had nothing else, but this. This conviction that what she proposed was right. That all must go through the Wheel and be reborn, that the cycle must continue, that Death was as sacred a ritual as the life that preceded it.

    The Guardian bowed his head, and Avyra started; she had not expected the gesture.

    "It shall be as you say, God-daughter. I shall follow."

    "No...you shall stand beside me." One hand pressed to the beast's shoulder; the other extended, and The Boy scampered forward, clinging to it. The Path seemed to grow brighter, as Avyra strode forward once more, and behind her teemed a mass of souls.

    Some say the Wheel is a circular path, spiraling ever inward to completion. Some say it is a set of stairs, ascending into the heavens. Some say that it is simply the Path, extending into forever, and that you pass through a veil at the right time. For Avyra, it was a curtain of purifying flame, to steal the breath and cleanse the heart; she knew not what those she held to saw, nor felt. But she was not afraid; buoyed on a sense of almost giddy relief, she watched the others flicker out around her, their own Paths complete, their journeys on their Wheels beginning.

    She stepped into the flame.

    And thus was the third lesson of Death: To be reborn is to be released. To walk the Wheel is to find peace.

  3. - Top - End - #243
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    Brandis' Ascension
    Part Two: The Huntress and The Blight


    Brandis ached as he rose in the dawning light. He turned to look upon the people of Kurth gathering behind him. Their faces were grim and unhappy things. Skin tanned from hard labor yet somehow still lined with a gray and unhealthy pallor. More prominent still were the dull, cold eyes. He could hardly tell tell if it was fear, disdain or something else shining in them as they stared at him. Brandis felt he was being scrutinized in the same fashion as a festering wound, or a sick animal needing to be put down.

    "You were told once already to leave. Yet you linger. You draw her wrath."

    He recognized the voice of the man who stepped forward. Tall, strong, and with perhaps a touch of pride he stood nearly half a head taller than the godling. His otherwise dark auburn hair was painted with a shock of white over the scar of an old and grievous wound. There was no guessing at what shone in his eyes. Fury. And loss. "Stand aside!" He shoved Brandis away, and lifted what little remained of Lafayette.

    Wordlessly, a father buried his son. There was no ceremony. No prayers or remembrances. Only the deed. And a snarl of contempt to the one known to be responsible. When the man regathered with his village, Brandis knelt at the resting place. He searched for something to mark the place, but the swamp offered nothing. Reaching into his pocket, Brandis felt one of the gray slate chips from Lossethir's game. Such a simple and plain thing. Still, it held the mark of the White City upon it and that would have to be enough . . . The dark, soft earth hissed in outrage as he set it in place.

    Somberly, slowly he moved towards the huddled folk. They were angry and afraid, arguing amongst each other. Central amongst them was the man - the father - from earlier, and an elderly haggish woman. The townsfolk grew quiet and spread apart as Brandis approached. The man seemed to look back to the old woman one last time. She nodded and stepped back. He growled and moved forward to meet the godling. "So long as you remain, so too will the eyes of the Serpent. I would kill you. Should kill you. But I am counseled against the further ill omens that might bring." The man's knuckles cracked as he clenched and unclenched his fist. "The Foster clan has held the old ways for ages. Kept our people safe from the anger of the darkness. Because it was my blood that made the mistake of harboring you, of drawing Iscaripaka's ire, it is my blood that will correct this."

    Pained, the man waved his hand, motioning someone forward. In the face of the young woman who stepped forward Brandis saw the features of Lafayette. Several winters older. Tall and fair, but hardened in nature much like her father. She wore simple dark leathers. Bow, spear, and curved blade were worn with practiced ease. He made his best effort to bow courteously, as this seemed to be some sort of significant event for these people. "I am humbled then, by the duties of the Foster clan. I am Brandis of the White City, son of Baz'Auran. I . . . I offer no excuse for the wrong I have done you. You need only speak whatever deed necessary to help your people, and I am yours."

    The girl showed no reaction to his introduction, just stared mirthlessly into his eyes. "And I am Norlean of Kurth, first daughter of the Foster clan. I am to guide you to the Stump, where it is said ancient things go to die and the veil of spirits is thin. You are to find your way back home there."

    Brandis could only nod agreement, devoid of any personal intuition of how to resolve things. Unsure if there was even a home to return to . . ."And if I am unable to do this?"

    Her knuckles cracked as she grasped the hilt of her blade firmly. "Then that is where I will sacrifice you to the Serpent and beg her leniency."

    And that was all the conversation the town had left to offer him as Norlean gathered what modest supplies they would spare for the journey. Before midday she simply waved to beckon Brandis into the dark woods of the marshlands. Her pace was aggressive, sure footed and certain. Tired, hungry, and clumsy upon terrain that seemed mercurial, Brandis fell behind.
    She growled in frustration, using the time wasted waiting on him to gather game or vegetation that might pass as edible.

    "You know, I have a brother I think would quite like you." He tried to keep his tone jovial, attempting levity as he saw the sun setting.

    "Even if he was only half as worthless as you, I'd not want another of your lot to curse this land." She muttered while gutting a large rodent like creature and setting it over a fire.

    And so went the first days of their travel. The huntress was ever weary of the noises of the marshlands, ready for danger. Yet other than the strange whisperings on the wind, the watchful eyes shining from shadow they were unmolested by the ill will of the swamp. At least it seemed that way until Brandis found himself choking upon his meal one evening. Norlean scoffed at what have been his delicate sensibilities. But he spat out the food, and they both watched as it writhed and turned black on the ground even as it had begun to rot while within his mouth. Panicked, his guardian - or perhaps his executioner - rifled through their supplies. The smell of decay wafted amongst them. Wherever shadow set down, what food they had withered at unnatural speed. It mattered not if she gathered more, everything touched by darkness spoiled.

    "So I suppose this means we must hunt and eat by the light then?"

    "We?" She snorted. "Yes I suppose we could do that. But here is the real problem." She poured from their waterskins, and the same smell of pestilence arose. "Our stomaches might be filled with game in the day, but all the water is black and shadowed. It is a gruesome thing to die for lack of water." Her face like cold granite, she drew her blade. ""I'll offer you what mercy I can."

    Brandis felt his mouth go dry. His wits failed him. Surely this was hardly the fate meant for him. Surely his father had not spawned a child so utterly worthless that they would simply waste away of thirst in the middle of nowhere. He held his hand up, beckoning her to pause. "Wait . . .just . . .wait a minute . . . there has to be something . . ." He scanned about, hopeful to find a solution preferable to dehydration or a slit throat.

    His eyes settled on the wilting berries of a nearby bush. The godling's brow furrowed in thought. He gathered the simple black pot they had between them and filled it with the black and wretched water, then placed it upon the fire.

    "If we weren't dealing with the Serpent's curse, I'd say boiling the water would almost pass as clever."

    Brandis waved away her derisive comments as he gathered the aging fruit and placed it within the boiling murk and stirred. What little grain that wasn't blackened was added shortly after. Frustratedly he focused his will on the crude wort. To think wine had once simply flowed at the snap of his fingers. And now, here he stood, watching the swirling liquid atop campfire, hoping to spark just enough of his old talent to let this slop ferment.

    Whispering a prayer for his father's blessing, Brandis set his hand over the remains of his effort. The ebb of power was faint. For a single moment the fire was pure and white, and the darkness evaporated. Norlean simply stared, confused by the ritual. With a small amount of pride, he poured a cup and handed it to her. "'Tis small thanks for your protection, Norlean, but I'd gladly share this blessing and spare you the grim fate you spoke of."

    Her nose curled as she held the brew to her lips. It was evident she was forcing herself to swallow the concoction. "So you'd spare me by poison then, eh?"

    Incredulous, Brandis held her sharp gaze. "Well this is certainly not my finest work, but its hardly poison." To prove his point, he poured his own cup and downed it swiftly. And then very nearly gagged. "Or at the very least we won't die drinking it . . "

    With some effort, the two slaked their thirst. And while Brandis felt somewhat rejuvenated, he could see Norlean holding her palm against her forehead, as if confused. "This stuff makes my head spin."

    "Heh, well it is stout at the very least. Don't worry, I've an idea already to improve the next batch." She groaned at his attempt at levity. "But we've forgotten the most important part of the affair." He stood, and held his cup out to her. "To you, Norlean. May your skills ever be sharp as we embark on this quest. May you bring honor to your family. And may our journey find peace for your people."

    The huntress stood as well, her face still bewildered. "This is foolishness. You want me to spout nonsense, the same as you? Well I don't know the words for it. Some of us aren't granted soft lives in the White City, with every need handed over on a silver platter. So here's to survival. Or death. That's all that awaits any soul at the end of the day."

    Norlean's words made his heart heavy. Drink had always had a way of bringing out the truth from Brandis' companions. "Surely there is something else you can drink to. Something you hope for. There is more to life than just survival. There has to be . . . Otherwise . . . what's the point?"

    "Keeping my village alive will be enough for me. So what do I hope for? I hope you do make it home. I hope you stand in judgement before your father, and he dies of shame. To you Brandis, may your bury your own kin."

    "Take that back! Jest with me all you like, but don't you dare mock Him! Don't you dare speak ill of Him!" Brandis felt his temperature rise. It was a strange and alien thing to him, this feeling of anger.

    The young woman stood her ground, and tossed aside her cup. "I'll take it back as soon as you bring my brother back to me."

    As quickly as his temper had started, it was gone - replaced with they heavy weight of guilt. "I'm sorry . . ."

    "Well I'm not . . ." Yet despite herself, her face softened slightly at the godling's sincerity. "But I wish no ill to your father . . ."

    The two eked out a harsh existence as they continued to travel. His meager blessing and her skills barely keeping them alive. For a week, the only words they would share were a simple nightly toast.

    "To Lafayette."
    Last edited by KiCowboy; 2012-02-26 at 05:30 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #244
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    The Succubus's Avatar

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    Turn 1

    Khalen and the First of Many

    Upwards Khalen’s spirit soared as the searing whiteness slowly began to fade to burning red. His soul had sunk far beneath the surface of the Disk, almost becoming one with the Great Heart at the centre. Yet his time had not yet come and Khalen’s spirit began to rise through the very foundations of the world itself.

    The molten iron surrounding the heart burned bright and fierce and Khalen could feel its great strength, almost a living thing in its own right. Upwards and the iron began to cool, becoming solid, stronger and more rigid than anything that could be smithed by mortal or deity. Above it, Khalen passed through the ancient stone that formed the bones of mountains, carrying the weight of the world on its mighty shoulders. Onwards and onwards he soared as the stone became less dense, still holding great strength, yet subserviant and dependant on the greater stone beneath it. Khalen found the logic behind its ordered layers appealing.

    Finally, stone gave way to sand and with a triumphant flash of light Khalen’s spirit and body became one once again. The new god stared down at his body, as if seeing it for the first time. While frail, it seemed to hold a resolute toughness like that of a withered tree that refuses to surrender to storm and time. His robes were tattered and he remade them with a thought. The hood of the robe remained unmade as he thought back to his trial that had taken place in the dark bowels of the earth. Justice should never have to hide its face or dwell within the dark. His long silver hair streamed in the wind as he surveyed his surroundings. Once more the great desert stretched before him but something felt different. He was more aware of the sand and stone around him. A strange feeling took hold of him and he raised his right arm.

    From the floor before him a small twist of sand began to rise, as if carried by a wind. However, the air was still around him and as he lowered his arm slightly, the twist sank lower as if in harmony with him. He flicked his arm to the right and as if carried by a gust the sand flew off to right. Khalen smiled as he moved his arm around, the sand of the desert dancing before him.

    “The Brothers are returning, Khalen....” Khalen grew solemn as he remembered Elanna’s whispered warning. If he were to protect the Disk against his nemeses, then he would need a citadel or fortress to command from. The spark within him whispered promises of power, that he could raise a city with but a thought. Khalen shook his head. Something like that would have the whiff of sorcery about it and while magic had its uses and its place, a city raised by magic could just as easily be undone by it as well. He would need to construct it brick by brick but a task such as that would take centuries. Once more the winds of memory blew through Khalen’s mind as he recalled the strange vision he’d had by the Well of Eternity so long ago. A stone hand reaching out of the desert and blocking the dark blade......

    Khalen turned his attention to a nearby rocky outcrop some 20 feet in height. An idea came into his head. He turned his gaze upon a small stone at the base of the outcrop and raised it into the air. With a gesture, a gust of sand scraped along the edge of the rock, its ferocity smoothing the side. Another gesture, another surge of sand and the other side became smooth to the touch. Nodding, Khalen mustered all his concentration as the sand began to come to life beneath the stone. A swirling cyclone began to eat away at the edges of the stone, shaping it into a circle. The sands dived and swooped around the edges and Khalen’s concentration grew ever more focused as the gusts of sand became smaller, working at the tiniest details of the circle, carving four small stone faces at 90 degree angles. A small tornado of sand descended into the centre of the circle, hollowing it out and leaving the finished circlet on the now still surface of the desert. Khalen picked up the circlet and placed it on his brow, its weight heavy yet comfortingly solid at the same time.

    Khalen now turned his attention to the outcrop itself, marshalling every last bit of his might for the task before him. With an almighty roar, the sands around him surged into the air and sped towards the rock. A tornado of sand worked the edges of the rock, creating sparks in the air and a howling wind to speed across the desert. Thunder and lightning filled the air, its sound almost lost beneath the hellish roar of the sculpting sand. Just as Khalen felt the power within him threatening to spiral beyond his control, the air began to clear and he gazed upon his creation. A huge stone figure knelt before him, its head bowed in supplication. Although the figure was not excessively detailed, its form was clearly defined as that of a person. Khalen walked towards it and called upon the spark of Law that dwelt within him. He traced a rune on the forehead of the great stone figure and briefly it glowed brightly, before fading and disappearing altogether.

    CRACK!

    The figure before him slowly lifted its head.

    CRACK!

    A huge stone hand pushed onto the rocky base beneath it.

    CRACK!

    The figure rose upwards, standing tall against the setting desert sun and casting a long shadow over Khalen. He closed his eyes and felt the stone crown call out to the stone figure before it. “First One, I am the Creator. You are to be the first and greatest of your kind though many of your yet unformed bretheren will follow. Law gives you your strength and in Law you will have purpose. Come, for we have much work ahead.”

    In ages to come, people would marvel at that figure and the wonders it created and its name would become a by-word for loyalty and obedience.

    Golem.

    Spoiler
    Show
    Act Expenditure:
    1 Major - Earth Mastery (Stone and Sand)
    1 Major - Create Exarch (The First One)
    1 Major - Create Artifact (Crown of Khalen-Het)

    The First One - A huge stone golem created by Khalen-Het shortly after his ascension. Standing 20 feet high, it has the strength of a hundred mortal men and possesses a grace and dexterity that is lacking in its smaller brethren. Like the others, it is voiceless and while aware of its surroundings and the actions of others, it is capable of only limited thought and lacks true sentience.
    Exarch Ability - Item Creation.

    The Crown of Khalen-Het - A heavy stone circlet with a small stone mask at its N,S,W,E. The crown resonates with the golems, as stone speaks to stone. The crown is necessary for Khalen to issue commands to his golems and allows him to see through one golem's eyes at a time. Whether the destruction of a golem has any negative feedback through the crown has yet to be established.
    Last edited by The Succubus; 2012-02-26 at 08:05 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #245
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Ladorak's Avatar

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    The formation of the Wardens.


    Carolinus stood upon the mount, around him stood a multitude. He had summoned all the peoples of the original ten tribes, many of Markien's new arrivals had also drawn to the crowd in curiosity. He stood above them in shining white plate mail, a bright counterpart to the darkness of his shield. Their numbers were so great, so spread out, it took no small effort of divinity to make himself heard by one and all.

    'Every man who fought for me at Black Buttress, assemble before me. The next direct male relative of those who died for me at Black Buttress, assemble before me. The order is to be sons followed by brothers and then fathers.'

    The crowd drew back, making space for those who had sacrificed for Markien. They took some time to assemble. Mostly they were survivors of the battle but Carolinus saw many young boys, this saddened him greatly 'People of Markien, these are those who have sacrificed for your protection. Each has sacrificed in their own way, in blood and fear, in losing fathers and sons. I am Carolinus and I reward those who sacrifice for the greater good. I have assembled you here before me to witness the honour earned in sacrifice. We honour our promises to the dead by protecting the living. I hereby found the order of the Wardens.'

    A gentle glow suffused the gathered menfolk. It burnt brightest upon their foreheads. When the light came to an end each stood transformed, their weakness burnt away. All wounds healed, even in decades old scars. The magic was evident in their bulging muscles and new found lightning reflexes. All found their eyesight greatly improved. But most incredible were the golden disks now affixed to their foreheads. On them were the tiny embossed image of black buttress. In later years the symbol of Carolinus' church was taken from his golden image, rather than the dark symbol carried by Carolinus himself. That was the level of respect amid the people for the Wardens.

    'The Wardens will be the hand of Carolinus. They will ward the people forever more. They will be a hardy people, and lusty. Each male child born will bear my mark upon their head. In return for this power they must swear oaths now, one and all, to serve only in defence of Markien, to do no ill against the people, to protect all who need protection.
    'My father once offered me a gift worth any price, but he demanded my sworn word of service. I now do the same for the Wardens. All power must come with a price, lest it be misused.'


    Spoiler
    Show
    1 Major Act: Gain lifegiver ability
    1 Major Act: Alter existing race. The Wardens have increased strength, speed fitness and intelligence. The disks upon their heads give a lie discerning ability and grant limited protective wards. If a Warden breaks the oath his disk turns black and he loses his powers. Wardens mate with humans, male children are born Wardens, girls are human. The oath follows onto the next generation and so forth.


    The naming of the Prophet

    'Louisa, please sit down. It is time we discuss a matter that I have long put off.'
    She frowned 'What have you feared to speak with me Carolinus?'
    He smiled 'You are mistaken my dearest friend, so little you know me.' The smile and his gentle mocking took my sting from the remark.
    She was bemused 'As is so often the case of late, I fear I do not understand.'
    'I have only ever feared one thing, that thing has already come to pass.
    She sighed, it was a sigh Carolinus had become increasingly accustomed to. The divine spark had fundamentally changed his mindset. It was frustrating and saddening every time he struggled to speak with Louisa, once it had been easier. 'What is the matter you wish to discuss?'
    Now he sighed, a sigh she also knew well. It spoke to her of the burdens her god carried. 'This has hung between us for some time. Now the great threat is gone and we must speak. It is time we discussed this role you have taken onto yourself. I am displeased.'
    Louisa's expression turned icy, as did her tone. 'Please speak on. Charge me so I might defend myself.'
    He shook his head, rebuking her 'I know what you will say. I said do whatever it takes.'
    'Yes, you did.'
    He leaned forward, scowling 'I did not mean to lie to the people, twist my words and make yourself a prophet. I spoke of no safe harbour.'
    She laughed bitterly 'You are mistaken my dearest friend, so little you know me' she said in ironic impression of his voice. It only then occurred to Carolinus that Louisa was very annoyed at him. 'I did not lie. I did not even speak your words. All I did was write your words and pass them on.'
    'You can write?'
    An instant later he learnt that was an unsound tactical choice in how to proceed. 'Of course I can write!'' she exploded 'All those hours of scratching in the night time you never thought to ask what it might be?'
    Carolinus took the time to think through his response, he was obviously on very unsound footing. 'So you wrote down Markien, meaning safety. They read Markien, meaning unity?'
    She regarded him coolly 'Finally worked it out? Good, here's my defence. You asked me to gather many people, some of whom have been at war for generations. All the wise women read, I passed my tablets to fast runners. When the tribes assembled the only thing holding back war in the camp was the promise neither of us made.'
    'But you have still made yourself a prophet.' His tone was damning, another tactical blunder.
    'I have done no such thing! Are all gods so dense?' Think. Forging one tribe from many, preventing violence in the camp. You left that to me. Daily questions, minor matters, too small for you to deal with, of course they came to me! Those too awestruck to approach you, they came to me! All I said was that I repeated your words. They made me a prophet.'
    Carolinus nodded thoughtfully 'You did not ask for this?'
    But she wasn't done 'All those times you had to go away and bask in a memory, I ran the camp while you were away dreaming of her.'
    Carolinus might have learnt then the real reason Louisa was annoyed with him, but his mind had wandered. 'Kneel before me Louisa daughter of Mera.'
    She got to her feet 'I will not, I'm going-'
    Carolinus suddenly blazed with his full divine light, his strength of will forced her to her knees 'You did not ask for this. You have only served to do good, with no thought for yourself save the salvation of your people. You who know me better than any among the people. I name you Louisa, my prophet. You shall be the voice of Carolinus. Because you didn't ask for this.' he touched her with his divine spark, suffusing her with energy That is why it must be yours. You will lead the people, because you see it as a honour and a duty. You did not want power, and will therefore not abuse it.'

    Spoiler
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    Major Act: Create an Exarch. Louisa gains Divine Charm as she is named the prophet of Carolinus, keeper of the holy city of Sanctum.
    Minor Act: Create a city
    The Palace of Dawn. Seat of the prophet

    Minor Act: Teach populus mining and metalworking.
    Minor Act: Bless crops.


    Over the great city of Sanctum a shimmering creature glided high seeking Carolinus. The creature of Faden was all but invisible despite it's luminescent beauty, a mere dot in the sky.

    The sprite hovered over the Palace of Dawn, all around below people swarmed to and from the palace in great lines, tiny like ants amid a huge gold and white nest. Most carried food from the fields or minerals from the mines to the great palace storehouse, swarming into the place on a dozen roads on wheels, hooves and feet. Some went into the city proper on duty or leisure, some lucky few carried forth the proclamations of the prophet.

    The sprite continued to hover over the palace, confused and uncertain. Faden had provided his messenger with an image of his brother's divine spark, within the palace a spark very like that image pulsed with divine energies, but it was to Carolinus as a candle is to the sun. Louisa's newly bestowed power confused the sprite, delaying it's passage.

    But, like all things on the Great Disk, it's indecision was transitory. Finally it moved again, floating south. Originally it followed the Dawn Way, the main road between Sanctum and the many separate farming communities that fed Markien. After that it passed onto the copper road, one of dozens of splinter roads along the Dawn Way.

    Carolinus was hard at work in a shallow copper mine when the sprite found him. Having taught his people the nature of mining and it's dangers it was unthinkable to him he would not share that danger. Already his magic had saved lives during a cave in.

    'Hello creature of Faden.' Carolinus said, setting his pick aside and turning to face the sprite 'I've been aware of you since you entered the air above Markien. Your presence gladdens me, for I know my brother has also passed his great trial. Go back to Faden and tell him I am here. Take these words with you: Brother if you require safe haven on the Disk you have but to make your need known. I hope your trial was... less costly then my own. I hope to speak with you soon Faden and would also welcome news of our kin.'
    Last edited by Ladorak; 2012-02-26 at 01:49 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.

  6. - Top - End - #246
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    Brandis' Ascension
    Part Three: The Eyes of the Serpent and the Salutations of Friends


    The swamp had grown angry with them since the fallen godling's ritual. Norlean no longer had to seek out game. All nature of creatures stalked them now, and it took all her strength to keep the fool alive. The breeze hissed whispered threats of Iscaripaka, the Serpent. Brush, brambles, and thorns tore at their flesh. The marsh deceived the travelers at every turn, trying to suck them in into the abyss of soft black earth. Her only comfort was that at least Brandis had kept silent save for their nightly ritual.

    It was a source of great frustration that when he finally broke the silence it was a compliment to her. Yes, the lizards of the swamp were old and powerful predators, but they were still simply beasts. The buffoon had applauded like a child, and sung her praises as if he had witnessed a miracle. She tried to explain it was not so special to face a gator with rope and blade. Certainly there was no safe way to go about it, but one had to remember their strength lay only in the attack. A single bite held the power to tear a limb off. Their hide was thick, their skull thicker. But if one were to snare the jaws whilst closed, they would find the creature as weak as a babe when it tried to reopen them. It might thrash about, but one need only hold tight and dig their blade into the softer flesh of its exposed throat. Hearing this only seemed to spur him on further. She growled as he hummed and went about fashioning words to retell the event in a strange and rhyming manner.

    At least his drink began to be more palatable after that.

    The days flowed into each other, and though difficult they persevered. When finally she saw the ancient city of Hastings, she sighed in relief they neared the end of their travels. It had stood since the forgotten times, stretching for miles all the way to the great waters of the east. The Stump had been of the same age, and would be close. Norlean wished they could move straight on to it. But it was obvious Brandis was in need of rest, and she could not deny her stomach growled at the thought of fresh food.

    The huntress humored his questions about why the people of Hastings lived in the outskirts of the ancient buildings, and not within. That none remembered the ways to rebuild these old places. Of the Serpent's wrath upon those who would try. It was said to speak of such dreams and folly would lead to being found in the morning with an opened throat. The fool seemed to think the lights of the city would keep the darkness at bay. He did not understand the eyes of Iscaripaka were ever watchful.

    She found them an inn, and was grateful he pressed his conversation upon some other victim while she gathered supplies. Some discretion would have been nice. It annoyed her that somehow word could spread so quickly. An entire district away she could hear the tale of Baz'Auran's son seeking the Stump. She returned to his side immediately, knowing trouble was imminent. And sure enough, when she searched for him, she found the naive godling setting off towards the center of Hastings' ruins even as the sun set.

    She had never been skilled with words, but likely he would not have listened to anything she would have said regardless. Norlean watched his face light up like a child returning home. Holding only the light of a lantern, so small amongst the shadows, he seemed to stand taller wandering the streets. Oblivious to her and all else save whatever nostalgia the architecture brought him, she was not surprised he was unaware of the men that followed.

    As they attacked, they cursed in a voice not their own - but that of the black marsh. With eyes like obsidian pools, the assailants fell upon the huntress and the godling. She was not well practiced at fighting men. But much like Brandis, she found these city folk slow and weak regardless of the tenacious spirit that possessed them. No chance to disengage for her bow, she skewered the first with her spear. Cut the throat of the next with her blade. In the open wound writhed a squirming, slug-like creature of oily shadow.

    And then the fool made things more difficult. Screaming at her not to draw further blood, that these men were innocent. Possessed. It was hard to explain why, but she relented and with some difficulty subdued the rest with fist and foot and rope. Bloodied and angry, she demanded to know just what he thought he was going to be able to do.

    "These men are merely host to offspring of your Serpent. Iscaripaka poisons their minds. Have you ever heard the phrase 'Fight fire with fire' Norlean?" She could only shake her head, wondering what nonsense would leave his mouth next. He held up a waterskin, now filled with the spirits of his strange concoction. "You called this poison not so long ago. Mayhaps we should fight poison with poison."

    She held one the attacker's mouth open for Brandis as he poured it down their throat. Almost instantly, there was a shrill squeal of pain. Another of the strange sluggish things tried to crawl its way free of the host's throat. Instinctively, she crushed it beneath her heel before it could scamper away. Though glazed with confusion, the man's eyes returned to normal. He whispered thanks a voice that was his own. Grudgingly, she replied "Thank him . . . I would have been the death of you."

    Come the morning, she tried to hold back complaint when the fool insisted to waste the day talking with the masters of the merchant district. Norlean watched the godling seem to come more and more alive as he shared the secrets of his brew with them. Moreover, she was surprised at how easily he got them to listen intently. Surely they must know that to follow his plan would only further incite the Iscaripaka's wrath. That toasting one another at their meals might drive away the Serpent's eyes, and grant some temporary respite, but certainly the consequences would be dire. No, it seemed they would forget all that, lost amidst the pleasantry and laughter of Brandis' company. Their eyes began to light up with the same sparkle as his, and she knew they were lost to his false hope.

    The fool beckoned her to join their celebration at the end of the day, but she declined. Sitting aside, Norlean wondered at when she had last heard laughter in Kurth. She looked away as he raised a glass to her. Began that stupid rhyme about her battle in the swamp. Rallied the others to join in on the verse. She hated the godling for the effort it took not to smile.
    Last edited by KiCowboy; 2012-02-26 at 01:52 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #247
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Gengy's Avatar

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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    Jongo, the Everchanging - Turn 1

    So much was happening. So much was changing. The room that was once dark in Jongo's mind was now almost completely filled with flickering lights and flames.

    And Jongo could feel them all.

    It required a great deal of concentration, and the Band of Chaos was singing out loudly all the while, but every major change, everything that was shaping the world, Jongo could feel them happening.

    It was like watching the Ceiling again.

    Glorious.

    The only difference was that the Ceiling was a perfect creation of Baz'Auran, and Jongo's new senses were distracting, and difficult to manage. He found it easier to focus on one or two things at a time.

    She felt another flare of light, as something went through the ultimate bit of chaos; death. But this time it was something big. Jongo had always found the idea of death very scary, and while he had loved her sister Avyra, he was a little concerned about Father's task for her eldest sister. And the feeling of death as a change was unlike any other. It was a rough flare up, and then a complete silence of light in one spot... and then a harsh wave of light surrounding that spot, like a pebble in a pond. Death affected not just the dying, but those who remained. But this flare of light seemed different now. It was not so rough. Not so harsh. And Jongo watched. More deaths, more changes, more chaos. Things seemed... easier now, as people died.

    Another large flare, this one different. The Band of Chaos played a tune of confusion, and Jongo was not able to understand exactly what about this large light was so special. It was close to the light that Jongo thought might be Kalandor, but was not the same. It spoke of the possibility that things could be different, not because everything was, but because making those changes was the right thing to do. The honorable thing. Jongo did not know any siblings meant for such great Honor, but he hoped it was one of her brothers or sisters, with how nice the light felt.

    There were too many other lights, begging for Jongo to watch. The Band of Chaos could only make the music for the lights, the colors spinning in a headache of pleasant feelings.

    And that is of course, when the sea water splashed in Jongo's face.

    Jongo laughed, and let go of the mindscape, let go of the concentration. He looked down at the ocean. It had borne her through so much.

    Here, he sat atop the spire, and let a new budding plan form a bit. The Band of Chaos on her finger seemed to sing ideas; fun, interesting, a little bit crazy ideas, but ideas all the same. If Jongo was going to do them, then this stone spire was the best place to start.

    So Jongo reached with one mental hand, and drew a circle onto the stone, and then drew a much smaller circle within that one. From the small circle, two almost questioning hooks were drawn, facing opposite each other, and flipped away in a tight neat pattern. Then one very straight, perfect line. Four almost flower like symbols went outside the large circle.

    Jongo didn't know why he was drawing this; it just felt right. She was asking the magic to do what it wanted, and the magic responded. It was with a certain amount of luck that things seemed to be going right.

    Jongo stuck out his pointer finger, and watched the Band of Chaos seem to jump to it, without thought, as one more line was drawn; this one a stark contrast to the other, a complete wave with no rigid semblance of form. This line seemed to laugh at the otherwise symmetrical balance of the whole thing, as though giggling that everything else was normal, and giddy that it was not.

    Jongo pulled her finger back, and grinned, looking at the whole thing. This was not just a sigil of magic being made... it was a sign that Jongo had been here. It was a Symbol of Chaos.

    As Jongo tasted the sea water in the air, and felt the waves crash against this lonely spire, there was a certain kinship that was felt in the ocean that Jongo had lived in. Letting her mental hand finish drawing, Jongo opened his eyes.

    The Symbol of Chaos glowed on the spire, with an ever-changing color.

    From the Symbol, Jongo allowed the power flow into her. Listened to all the change that water goes through, daily, hourly, every second of it's existence... It flowed where it could, but it was always moving, always trying to find a place to fall. And it could be furious when it needed to.

    "Water." Naming it, the water flowed up and dancing around Jongo. It was playful, it was supple, and it answered to Jongo's call in the only way it knew. Calmly, with a subtle hint of power.

    Above all... there was change. Jongo knew this. Shedding the form of the small human that she had worn for so long - so very long - Jongo kept the wings and finally changed to something else.

    A god on the Disk.

    Spoiler
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    Turn 1 Expenditure
    New Domain - Names
    Elemental Mastery - Water
    Chaos Domain - Upped a level
    (2 major used, total)

    Symbol of Chaos created near the western edge of the Disk. (1 Minor used)
    If you want to know what it looks like, check out Jongo's Symbol in my character information.

    Right now, the Symbol is just that; a change on the landscape. But there will be more later.
    Last edited by Gengy; 2012-02-26 at 10:56 PM.
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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

  8. - Top - End - #248
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AntiMatter101's Avatar

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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    Frellon, Lord of Arms-Turn 1
    The village awoke. The last thing they remembered was the Voturi arriving as a flood, and the first few minutes were spent driving the startled, confused creatures from their home. Now that the Monster was dead, The Voturi no-longer sought blood and death like maniacs, but Frellon could still see the hatred in their eyes as they fled before the Orcs.

    Next they beheld Frellon sitting atop the corpse of a massive monster, looking the same as he always did, yet undeniably different. He radiated power, and a purity of intent that was almost tangible.

    The orcs milled about, unsure of what to do. The stress of events, and of being the Voice piece of the monster had finally killed the old chieftain. Lograr had been one of the first to die in the Voturi flood, defending the people to the last. With the added losses of Cherok and the other ten from Guard Patrol, they found themselves a village of 163, with no Chieftain, and no Champion to lead them.

    Eventually one of the orcs who knew frellon well approached him.

    “What happened Frellon? Why are so many dead? What happened to you?”

    Frellon stood. “This Monster had the power to invade and control minds. It was what has been stirring up the Voturi these past years, and today it came to enslave us as well.”

    He climbed down from the monster, and walked over to where Cherok’s corpse lay. “Cherok injured it, but was killed. I took up his sword, and slew the monster.”

    An orc with whom Frellon was not familiar strode forward. “Who are you? What are you?”

    Frellon looked at him, no longer using the Orcish language, he empowered his words so that their meaning in the Spirit tongue resonated in their ears. “I am Frellon, son of Baz'Auran. I am the god of honor.”

    The orcs stood in confusion and a bit of fear. “Who are you?”

    The orc who had addressed him was well dressed, and well-muscled, but something told Frellon that, despite his young age, he carried wisdom in him. “I am Trekel, son of the late chieftain.”

    Now Frellon understood. The role of Chieftain was awarded to whoever the old Chieftain deemed the most worthy on his deathbed. In the event none was named, the practice of the Champion taking control, temporarily or not, was a long tradition. However, while the Chieftain had never named an heir, it was known that he spent long hours instructing his son in their ways.

    Frellon returned to using orcish. “Well, Trekel, this conversation can wait. We have dead who must be honored.”

    Frellon assisted the construction of the funeral pyre.

    There was a silence as they lay their dead to rest. Frellon stood before the pyre as it began to burn low.

    “These orcs defended their home against the Voturi horde with their lives. We will always honor their sacrifice. Without Cherok, I would never have been able to kill the great monster. We will always honor his sacrifice.”

    Frellon’s eyes glowed with a golden energy, as he looked into the flames for a long while. This was no trivial promise. This was an Oath.

    Frellon raised his head, his eyes normal again. “You, the Orunta Clan, took me in when I was on the verge of death. You lent me aid when I was stumbling for my way, and taught me the way of the forest. Now it is my turn to aid you. I look at this forest, and I can see the life you would live here. It is a good life, yes, but it is a dangerous one. I would take you from this forest, and find you a new home, where the land does not try to kill you, where the land instead makes you strong.”

    Trekel stepped forward. “Does a land like that exist? When our clan journeyed from the harsh mountains, this was the only hospitable place they could find!”

    Frellon nodded, “It should. If it does not, I will make such a land for you. By the edge of my sword if need be.”

    An orc from the croud spoke up. “Why can we not just stay here?”

    Frellon pointed to the dead monster, still rotting near the edge of the village. “Because much worse things than that exist in the forest, and the mountains, I assure you. Your ancestors knew it. Before I came to this forest, I saw a land of plains, and grass stretch to the horizon.”

    The orcs were confused, and another asked what a ‘plains’ was.

    Most of the day was spent in this manner. Frellon was convinced that staying in the forest would kill these orcs, for as he had waited for them to awake, he had spread his senses wide, and had shuddered at the horrors he felt on the edges of his senses. Frellon had the sneaking suspicion that the monster he had slain claimed this area as his territory, and that with it gone, more creatures would seek to lay claim to it.

    It took the better part of the day to convince them a better place might exist, and three more to convince them that traveling there would be safe, he would protect them.

    During that time they had moved the corpse of the Monster, which they had dubbed a Gribnik, and burned it.

    For the next two weeks they prepared for the journey, hunting excessively, for they would need the provisions.

    During that time, Frellon discovered something odd. The orcs knew what a ‘god’ was supposed to be, but knew none of the lore of the white city, and Baz'Auran. Frellon found he was spending much of his time instructing the people, rather than hunting as he might have preferred. Still, these were his people, and by extension his father’s. They needed to know what that meant.

    When the preparations were complete, they departed, with little ceremony. The first few weeks were uneventful, as they traversed land they had Patroled and Hunted in. However, as they progressed into the fifth week, the forest seemed emptier, less vibrant. Less animals seemed to live here. Soon Frellon recognized the places he had stumbled through upon his first arrival, and he knew they were close.

    As the orcs strode out of the forest for the first time in their lives, they stared agape at the waving fields of grass. Frellon laughed at their expressions. “Come! Let us put the forest and the mountains behind us!”

    So they did. They traversed south along the plains for days, seeing new animals and plants. Frellon helped them figure out what they could eat and what they could not. They only had one incident with a purple flower and a case of hives.

    At some point, Trekel seemed to have been appointed as the new Chieftain. Frellon approved, for while he was young, Frellon believed him well suited to lead.

    The forest was long out of view, but Frellon called a halt when the mountains themselves were but specks upon the horizon. Here, he looked at the land before him. A mighty river was not far off, and the plains were rich and vibrant with life.

    “Here we settle.” He proclaimed, and bent the land to his will.

    Huts like the ones they had dismantled rose out of the ground, modified for life on the plains. They were well-built, strong, and there were many of them. There were more than enough homes for everyone. There was even a massive chieftain’s hut, but it was made out of stone, solid and unyielding, and Trekel took up residence there with hesitation; they had never seen a stone structure before.

    Frellon, however, did not take a hut in the village as his own. Nobody asked him to. It was clear that he was no-longer their equal, a fact which he mourned, nor was he their leader. He was their protector now, and stood apart from them, even as he joined in their excitement over their new home.

    Frellon constructed his own hut a few miles away, atop a small hill overlooking the village. He set up a small arena to practice in, and for days the sound of his sword slicing through practice dummies could be heard.

    The Orunta thrived, abundant meat was available, and from Frellon’s hazy memory, the foundations of a farming community were laid. This was how the first of the other Orc tribes found them.

    Spoiler
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    1 Major Act: Up the Honor Domain
    1 Major Act: Aquire ability: True Master (swords)

    1 minor act: Create the Orc City, (will be named later)
    1 minor act: Teach the Orunta Clan about Baz'Auran, the White City, and the other gods. Also the basics of farming. ("plant seed in ground, water, wait.")
    Avatar by Vrythas

  9. - Top - End - #249
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Tectonic Robot's Avatar

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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    From the Book of Lllassar, Chapter 2:

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

    And so at the end of the old times, the elders met with each other and they spake and offered wisdom, and said 'Woe be unto us, for our food stocks run low, and the blandishments of the winter are coming upon us; we fear that our tribe, old and great, will be extinguished like a candle-flame in a summer gale'

    And then Llassar, the Summer Sovereign, who was then just a visitor to the fields, and whose bones had not yet received the vital spark of glory, came up to them and spake to them, saying "Oh ye silly mortals, why do you not simply grow yourselves food, and thus save yourselves from this wretched predicament ye have put yourself in?"

    And the elders of the council did indeed look at Llassar, and mutter amongst themselves, saying 'Grow more food? This is utter nonsense and foolishness! What words do you speak, sky-fallen one?'

    And the slothful prince said, "What, do ye not know the secrets of corn?" And he removed the first seeds from his magic hat, and pretended to be surprised by them. And so all the children of the plains were amused in a dark time.

    And then Llassar said: "Although the work will be hard, and the sun brutal, I will take upon my back the yoke of the the teacher; through me, we will have salvation" And all the elders nodded amongst each other, and agreed with him, and they drank and were merry; and so the final winter of ignorance drew to a close, with all the tribe looking forward with hopefullness and thanksgiving.
    Last edited by Tectonic Robot; 2012-02-26 at 07:54 PM.
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  10. - Top - End - #250
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Nefarion Xid's Avatar

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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    The next morning...

    "Is he dead?" asked the first brother.

    "No, just sleeping upright," snorted the second.

    Indeed, Lossethir had managed to wiggle himself into a kneeling position about the time drawn broke over the western mountains. It wasn't any warmer (if anything he was more exposed) but it was a measure more dignified and he'd convinced himself to meet his would-be executioners with an upturned chin. Fresh fallen snow had already piled up to the tops of his thighs. His cracked lips would have bled freely if only they weren't frozen. Without his blue tunic, he'd have been missed in the snow, so white was his skin.

    Bleary eyed and still completely sloshed, he stirred and sighed, "Breakfast?"

    "He's not dead," echoed the first brother, dumbly, "Perhaps we'd better let him go."

    "No. I'd rather chance angering the All Father than our dad."

    "There are worse things in this world to anger," croaked Lossethir wearily. "A woman came to me last night. Beautiful... haunting..."

    The brothers set their eyes on the ground to search for the tracks, fearing their lovesick sister had trod out in the night to tend to their prisoner. The snow was undisturbed. Though it had been falling steadily for hours now, it was scarcely enough to obscure the path of someone traipsing up the mountainside. Finding nothing, the two exchanged a furrowed brow glances before turning their sternness towards Lossethir.

    Lossethir's wan smile caused one of the bloody crystals to fall from his lips. It was quickly replaced as more bubbled up and froze. Dreamily, he cooed, "She said she'd give me the power to survive this hell. And that I'm cute."

    "He's gone mad, or else he's powerfully drunk. Bit of both, maybe."

    The second brother, leaning down to the level of Lossethir's eyes, snorted, "If a witch did visit you in the night... why didn't she cut your bindings, hm?"

    Toppling backwards into the snowbank, Lossethir only laughed deliriously, "I told her I hadn't made up my mind yet! Big decision you know, selling your soul for power. Why is it that women always want something tangible out of these sorts of relationships? Your sister was hardly so mercenary before I bedded her..."

    He was cackling long after the second brother had broken a rib, far too numb to feel the pain. As the two walked away, only a fair amount of screaming about his parentage convinced the younger brother to again leave him with a wineskin.

    Lossethir attempted to blink away the tears before they froze in his eyes. Again he rolled toward the wineskin and tore away the stopper with his teeth. It was difficult to drink though, between the chuckling.

    The next morning...

    "Your refusal to die quietly does our clan great disrespect."

    "I'm trying, perhaps if you leave me a little more vodka, I'll slip off peacefully into oblivion."

    "Drink it all at once. Don't sip on it all night if you want to get it over with."

    "Heh, you mean your woman didn't come save you?"

    "She came again," Lossethir hummed. His eyes refused to cooperate and fall on the same place at the same time. It wouldn't have been in focus anyway. "I still haven't made up my mind. I think... I think it would be a terribly thing to wield a power like this. I'm... not one for responsibility, really."

    Scoffing, the brothers again left Lossethir with a skin of vodka and frostwyrm blood.

    The next morning...

    The first brother had to help Lossethir pry his jaw open to speak. His spittle had frozen his teeth together during the night. When asked if the woman had come again during the night, he said nothing. Though his hands and feet had turned black, neither brother had the heart to tell young man. Once they'd left the drink, they retreated and talked of freeing him. Prudently, they decided that he was too damaged now to return to a full life and letting him die would be a mercy.

    The next morning...

    They'd have been at peace to know he was dead if not for the angry moan escaping through his nostrils. Out of kindness, they wet his lips with the vodka to defrost them and placed the wineskin in his mouth.

    The next morning...

    Lossethir again kneeled. A very nearly healthy gleam had been restored to his skin and tough the snow had piled nearly to his waist, he smiled. His eyes shone, the same color as the wasteland sky. It wasn't the unnatural glimmer to his eyes that frightened the brothers, it was the smile.

    "Breakfast?" he asked again, his sense of humor mysteriously restored.

    "The... the woman. Did she...?"

    "Nonsense," snorted Lossethir, "If there was a woman, she'd have cut my bindings, no? I've been delirious with drink for days. I'm far too handsome and good with my hands for a sane woman to leave me in this position. Honestly, you'd have dreams of busty women too if I left you out here with that much liquor."

    Both brothers nodded in agreement.

    Without waiting for them to probe further, Lossethir snarled lowly, "Since you've failed to bring me my breakfast, I will allow you the honor of freeing me."

    The brothers spared a glance between themselves, nearly incredulous, but still worried.

    "Please," he whispered, though it was not a plea, "Don't delude yourself that I am incapable of freeing myself now. I offer you this chance because if you do not ask my forgiveness and set me free, I will slay you both an instant after I've sundered these ropes."

    An unfortunate pause passed. As Lossethir cracked his neck, he continued to ruminate aloud, "This wyrm blood you've been feeding me... it does wonders for someone with my particular constitution. They're beasts of chaos, no? Blind fury with teeth and liquid entropy for blood. They are, as I recall, immensely strong even for a creature of their impressive size. Mindless... destruction incarnate. Curious... I wouldn't have thought drinking their blood would have such a profound effect."

    He smiled again. It was a terrible and sad thing -- distinctly predatory. Some small measure of civility, of humanity apparently restrained him.

    Wordlessly, the brothers slashed open Lossethir's bindings and made all possible haste back to their village.
    Last edited by Nefarion Xid; 2012-02-26 at 10:49 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #251
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    From the Book of Llassar, chapter 3

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


    Llassar groaned. As he stood up, his back aching in protest, he looked behind him. "That... is a lot of ground hoed." Llassar felt a brief feeling of joy at all he'd accomplished, which was quickly drowned out by a terrible burst of anguish from his muscles. He'd been working all day. Again. "You know what, who cares if I take a break? Just a little one... No one will care, no one will get hurt..." Llassar started walking. He found a tree, old and gnarled and shady, growing out of an ancient bed of grass. Sighing in contentment, he lay down under it, pulling his hat over his eyes...

    And saw Lyra, the little girl who'd saved him. Lyra, the little girl who single handedly saved a child of Baz'Auran from death. He saw her dead, pitifully atrophied from hunger, her little eyes staring at him...

    And Llassar jumped into the air with a scream, reached down and grabbed his tool, and ran back to the fields. A change had come over the godling- he almost feared the rest he had once sought so exclusively.


    And so Llassar grew to despise resting, and as the spring turned to summer, the people of the plains found him working like a man possessed by a spirit of madness and strength; indeed, it was said that he did the work of ten of the strongest men of the tribe. And Llassar disdained sleep, and worked through the night, for the tribe was large and the food required to feed the whole of the population was immense.

    And so in the middle of summer, as Llassar was rerouting a stream by his hands, he collapsed in the fields; and he was taken back to the village, where they dabbed him with sponges and gave him drinks, and Llassar spake, saying: "I cannot spend all of my time working. If I work all day and night, I will die, and then you will teach the people to harvest the food?" And Llassar spent time resting each day, and told the others to do as well, and although their rest was frequently interrupted by a multiplicity of chores and deeds to do, they stood strong and fast, full of happiness.
    Proud member of the Gnomish Wanderer fanclub!

    Spoiler: Look at this cool thing!
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  12. - Top - End - #252
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    shorewood's Avatar

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    Silently looking over the destruction and death Haramhold joins the people of Salus is burring their dead. To Haramhold's dismay the mighty Baylor was among them, having slain the first three trolls to breech the palisades. They layed them to rest a miles outside of the town, under the branches of an old oak tree. The people sang dirges and wept bitter tears, and one by one left the graveyard. Once the dead have been returned to the earth, Haramhold gathers his people in the town square.

    "We have won a great victory today! Let us always remember the sacrifice our departed brethren and let us together build a brighter future in their honor." raising his arms Haramhold reaches for his spark and bends his will toward the earth. The hill they are standing on slowly grows and expands as it becomes more of a plateau then a hill, where there was once room for a decent sized town, there is now more than enough room for a large metropolis.

    The people rejoiced and so Haramhold's reign began. People flocked to Salus as it stood as a beacon of civilization and safety. Haramhold walks among them every day working with them side by side, teaching and guiding them in a number of different trades and professions. Over the next three decades they raised a mighty wall of interlocking granite around the plateau; Fifty feet tall and twice as thick. So that those who would seek to harm Haramhold and his people would gaze upon the wall and fear their strength.

    Over the years the people of Salus organized themselves into six distinct guilds each choosing to specialize in a particular craft. Every child starting at the age of ten spends one year apprenticed to each guild and when they come of age they enter the guild of their choosing. A council consisting of one member of each guild governed them and all was well.

    The main problem with Salus was that it was now elevated high enough that carrying water was a substantial task. Seeing that his people spent much energy in this simple task Haramhold decided to ease their burden during his second year of godhood. Going down to the river, Haramhold picked up a smooth rock from the river bed. Taking a small chisel he carved runes of power onto its surface and infused it with a brief part of his divine spark. When he was finished water began to pour out of the rocks surface, completely filling the jug Haramhold dropped it in. When he returned to the city proper Haramhold took several of the stone masons away from the wall and together they constructed a beautiful pool of white marble in the center of town. When it was completed the god took the rock from the jug and placed in the pool's center and watched it swiftly fill up to the brim.

    The people rejoiced for this solved many of their problems. During that's night's celebrations one of the wood workers deep in his cups dubbed Haramhold's creation the crying stone. And before Haramhold could stop it the name spread amongst the population, and was accepted. Haramhold scolded himself, for forgetting a simple lesson Jongo had taught him years ago. If you want to name your creation do so before showing it to anyone.

    Spoiler
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    Minor act: change landscape-raise hill
    change landscape (from world alteration ability)- created foundation for the wall.
    Minor act: bless population
    Minor act: teach population stone working and the secrets of steel.
    Major act: create artifact- The Crying stone: This artifact will fill what ever container it is placed in with clear refreshing water.


    Ten years after the defeat of the shadows Haramhold stood before the statue the masons had wrought in his honor when Amanda approached him. No longer was she was she a gangly teenager but a woman full grown in beauty and in mind. She unlike her peers had not chosen a guild for none of the crafts they practiced called to her.

    "Father would you grant me a favor?" she asked, and seeing Haramhold nod in consent continued "I do not love any of the disciplines our people practice. I do not wake up each morning looking forward to the days tasks, I do not hate it but there is no love in my creations."

    "I had hoped that in time you would find your calling." Haramhold responded carefully knowing the truth in her words.

    Placing a hand on his shoulder Amanda continued "But over the years I find myself thinking back to when you created the crystal of inner light, of the beauty of the cave and its thousand crystals, of the wonder I feel every time I picture them in my mind. Would you teach me the secrets of the crystal?"

    Haramhold paused and looked into Amanda's pale green eyes. He had purposefully kept this knowledge from his people, unsure who among them would be able to appreciate let alone master this challenging art. Gently touching the golden cage hung around his neck which the crystal of inner light nestled Haramhold remembered the day which Tezzerin gave Haramhold the first lesson in crystal lore.

    Before the fall
    A young Haramhold rushed into the entrance to the catacombs beneath the white city. Skidding to a stop in front of Tezzerin Haramhold wiped the sweat off his brow with a large hand he had not grown into yet.

    "You are late Haramhold, how do you ever expect to become the master of crafts if you cannot even bother yourself with learning them first." Said the great spirit, her annoyance quite clear.

    "Forgive me." Said Haramhold as he stood up straight "I lost track of time in the forges.
    "

    "Disipline does not come solely from hard work. It also comes from being able to see past your anvil and managing to maintain all of your obligations. " the great spirit chastised. Seeing the godling properly subdued Tezzerin began the lesson. "Crystal lore is not like the other crafts you have been taught. One does not pound a crystal into its desired shape as you can do to metal. And yet you cannot let the components of the crystal grow wild and unguided. There must be a balance between your will and the crystal's. If done properly its shape and form will have a beauty and power beyond what you originally intended. Do you understand what I am saying?"

    Nodding Haramhold looked into the spirits eyes eager to learn, his hands itched to master this new and strange craft.

    Present day
    Looking into his daughter's eyes Haramhold could see the same eagerness in them that he had possessed so long ago and he knew he had found the first to be taught these secrets.

    "Of course, pack your things for you have a long journey ahead of you." Haramhold made the necessary arrangements for their departure that night.

    The two of them left the very next day for the crystal caves on foot this time for there was much for Amanda to learn before she grew her first crystal and the trip was an excellent opportunity to do so.

    When they arrived at the cave, Haramhold lead Amanda into its depth's where to begin her education. For the next year, Haramhold taught her all he knew of crystal lore and in doing so discovered new secrets which he had yet to master. For every waking hour Amanda toiled in the cave bending her entire being to this task. And for the first time she found herself having pride in her work. A year passed this way, although so caught up in their work neither of them paid the passage of time much thought.

    Finally Amanda descended into the cave all by herself and began her final test. When she emerged weeks later she held within her hands a small crystal that shined forth with a sweet red light which danced upon the air itself. Haramhold smiled and embraced her, proud that she had accomplished so much in so little time.

    "It is beautiful" Haramhold whispered not wanting to spoil the moment "It is truly wondrous."

    Gently taking the crystal when it was offered to him to examine more closely Haramhold cradled it lovingly. Suddenly the god knew what he should do, grasping the crystal firmly in both hands Haramhold reached deep down into his divine spark and drew forth a strand of power. Infusing Amanda's crystal with it he placed the crystal on the base of her neck, where it sunk halfway into her flesh, becoming one with her being.

    Amanda confused at first when her crystal blazed in Haramhold's hands and when he placed it on her chest. But as it merged with her flesh Amanda felt a rush of power and knew that she had been changed. When the light died down, she raised a head and felt the hard crystal now apart of her caressing where it had fused with her skin.

    "Thank you." Amanda said still adjusting to the energy that coursed through her veins. Leaning over she placed a light kiss on Haramhold's brow.

    Blushing Haramhold took her hand in his and kissed it.

    When the two of them returned to the people marveled at Amanda's new radiance and they named her The Red Lady, for the color of her hair and for her crystal.

    Spoiler
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    Major act: gain ability-Sorcery(crystal)
    Major act: create Exarch- ability: Sorcery(crystal)


    *edited in
    Sending message to siblings
    Spoiler
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    At this point Haramhold is constantly sending out a low level message to his siblings, inviting them to his home, curious about how they are faring on the disc and offering them shelter and safety if needed.

    It should be noted that Haramhold is not "screaming" this message, it is subtle enough that a god can ignore it if they want or miss it if they are oblivious. One of his siblings would hear his words in pounding of hammers, or see a message woven into a basket that sort of thing.


    notes on the guilds of Salus
    Spoiler
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    There are six guilds divided into two major groups, the guilds of craftsmanship and the guilds of preservation.

    Guilds of craftsmanship (self explanatory)
    The guild of Wood
    The guild of Stone
    The guild of Metal
    The guild of Clay

    Guilds of preservation
    The guild of Scholars-These are the lore keepers, historians and architects.
    The guild of Baylor-These are the warriors, who defend their people with the sword and bow.

    The guilds are not independent entities as they often collaborate when the project demands it.
    Last edited by shorewood; 2012-02-27 at 09:57 AM.
    Sometimes it is useful to know how large your zero is. ~Author Unknown

  13. - Top - End - #253
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Travelling the Light Fantastic

    Night, glorious, splendid night. Dasque illuminated the entire icy plateau is a silvery glow. She drunk in the red moonlight. Though the light was now her, and she it, it was good once again for her to experience the respite that came when the sun was down.

    She had abandoned the spear of ice, and held onto the stand of true light in her palm. It had revealed its nature to her upon contact. It was a strang that had slipped away from the fires of creation. Without purpose, without true thought, it merely drifted down towards the disk, finding this remote place. A simple artifact, but few mortals or beasts of chaos could stare directly upon it. She clutched the strand, and looked at the world around her.

    Spoiler
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    Ascension quest artifact: Strand of True Light. A simply ribbon that is made of conctrated light, blinding and distracting to any who look upon it. Swords pass through it harmlessly, and even most magics have no effect on it unless the magic can effect light itself, not just material objects.


    It was a mostly barren place, with only scant life. Try as she might, Dasque could only look so far, her power over the light only so potent. There was little to do in this place.

    She waited for the sun to rise, her thoughts crisp and sharp once more. She considered the night the White City fell, the fate of her siblings, and much, much more such as the nature of the shadow-thing she felled. So many questions still lingered, but now she had the strength to find those answers.

    When the sun rose, she closed her eyes and willed herself to lose her form. Specs of light drifted off her, as if her body was shedding. By the time the sun was full up, nothing remained of Dasque.


    Travelling by light was no small task. If the light she had been compelled to follow was been all-consuming, then travelling by light defied all logic. Still, Dasque stayed focus on keeping herself whole as she drifted through streams of line, ascending towards the sun, before catching the light headed back. It all happened fast, and she could not control where she landed.

    Dasque looked all around her new environment, an endless desert. Another desolate place with little life. "Naturally."

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    Major: Increase Light Domain up one level.

  14. - Top - End - #254
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    Brandis' Ascension
    Part Four: The Hermit and the Skrayling Tree


    Otrygg completed preparing his pipe as he saw the godling and the huntress come over the hillside. The hermit laughed, deep from his belly as he watched the strong young woman have to be convinced not to draw her bow. For truly, covered head to toe in the furs of great beasts he must have appeared a strange and lumbering thing from a distance. And to pull back the bear's maw he wore as a hood did little to improve his appearance. His one good eye was the only redeeming feature. The other eye was covered by a strangely carved and coiling piece of ivory. His skin was craggy, wrinkled, and leathery as the hides he wore. And his gray beard was as wild and wide as the countryside about them.

    Norlean thought it suspicious the old man had three cups prepared as they approached. Brandis thought it auspicious. Behind the hermit, beside the edge of the black swamp, sprawled an ancient and enormous stump. It would almost have been more proper to call it a small mesa for the size of the petrified thing. The off-white color held something more akin with a fossilized skeleton than any tree either of them had seen.

    "Hail, and well met friend! I am . ."

    "Brandis, son of Baz'Auran. Accompanied by Norlean, first daughter of the Foster clan. I am Otrygg, once keeper of the Skraylng Tree, and I've been expecting you."

    Brandis simply took it in stride, and sat himself down by their unexpected host as if this were the most natural thing in the world. Norlean remained standing, accepting the drink out of courtesy. The old man began speaking in a strange tongue, which the godling was entirely too excited to hear. Their speech was rapid and excited. After whatever pleasantries they had shared, the two embraced as if long lost family.

    "And? Is this old man to ferry you back home?"

    "Yes! Well, no actually. To another place, though. A long story I'll have to share later. I . . . I can't take you with me. I suppose if you don't see me return by nightfall, all is as you hoped." As he stepped towards her with arms outstretched her body went rigid. In mock seriousness he extended his hand instead and shook hers so formally it was ludicrous. She did not like the way this made the men chuckle, or that she felt inclined to join in. She just nodded as the fool said his farewells and walked with the hermit towards the Stump.

    The world seemed to go thin, the sky seemed to part, for in one moment Otrygg and Brandis approached the bone-white mass, and in the next they simply walked through (into?) it.

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

    Within the Stump, the hermit began to light his pipe. The two sat in a dark and empty place. But when Brandis drew in the smoke, pin pricks of light appeared - one after the other all about them. Soon they floated in a vast and infinite space, basking in the glow of every color imaginable.

    "Where are we?"

    "Nowhere. Everywhere. This is where the Skrayling Tree once held root."

    "But what is all this?" He waved his hand to motion across the swirling luminescence.

    "Those are other worlds where it takes root."

    "Other worlds?" Brandis tried very hard not to scoff. "And if so, would that not mean other trees?"

    "Are you of this world? Or did you come from another? And what of the force that assaulted the White City? Where did it come from?" Otrygg smiled, and placed his hand on Brandis' shoulder. "Some say there are as many worlds as there are stories. Others might claim a single world could be seen as many through the way its inhabitants perceive their own existence." The hermit could see his companion's brow furrowing as he tried to stay focused. "So perhaps there are many trees, or mayhaps it is the tree."

    "Oh, yes. I see," said Brandis.

    He did not.

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

    Norlean waited by the Stump. The sun was beginning to set. She began to think of the best path to take home.

    From the dark waters came a whisper. "Are you prepared for his failure?"

    It surprised her she had not been considering this. "What?"

    "Poor child, you weren't beginning to believe in that fool were you? You weren't willing to continue the blight of Kurth for your insolence were you?"

    She wanted to turn and face this threat, this accusation, but instinct drove her eyes downward. "What insolence? I have labored to help him find exit from your domain. Why must my people suffer?"

    "That your time with him makes you bold enough to question me is reason enough. He was never meant to leave. I waited to savor his slow and wasting demise. Yet you helped keep him alive. And now huntress, can you guess how many more graves await your return?"

    Norlean's jaw clenched as she stared at the earth. She fought back tears, fought to remain cold as stone. "You know my family, great spirit. We respect the old ways. We know . . . our duties."

    She could almost hear the smile in the Serpent's voice. "Of course you do, darling. Do not think generations of service are without some measure of . . . mercy. This child of the White City will fail you. Will emerge weak, and at your mercy. You are tasked simply with keeping the same oath you gave so many weeks ago. Show your fealty, and all will return to normal for your people."

    Norlean readied the spear in her hands. She positioned herself just outside where Brandis had entered the Stump. She had told him, hadn't she? Told him if he did not return home, she was to kill him. Her knuckles were white from the tightening grip on her weapon.

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

    As Otrygg stroked his beard - trying to think of another stratagem of instruction for Brandis - the godling could not help but feel out of his element. "You must wish you had my brother The Weaver here instead of me, eh? This is precisely the sort of thing he'd jump into."

    "No dear boy, the world trees, or tree are a connection of spirit not dream." Almost unable to stop himself, the hermit began to trail off. "Though some might claim the dream of one to be the reality of another . . . or that a dream is an extension of the soul . . ."

    With his thumb and forefinger, Brandis pinched the arch of his nose, trying to stave off a headache. "Old man . . . I am trying so very hard to get something useful from this." He held his hands up, placating and in apology. "All this philosophical business is well and good. But how do I return to the White City?"

    "You will not."

    "Aha! But a moment ago you had said something about me returning to my home."

    "You will."

    "Damn. It. All!" He sighed, and regathered himself. "Fine. New subject. So the tree, or trees, are a connection of spirit. What spirit?"

    Otrygg smiled. Patience was ever an important tool in these matters. "The Spirit of Man."

    Brandis chewed his lip. "Ok, why not? The Spirit of Man. And what, pray tell is it connected to?"

    "Everything!"

    With a wave of his hand, Otrygg seemed to draw forth new images. Principal amongst them some form of scale. On one side rested cold, crystalline order. On the other, writhing flames of chaos. "Wait . . the crux between them. That's the tree between them isn't it?"

    "Indeed. For what is the fate of Man but to strive to maintain a balance between the forces of the Gods that create them? Between Order and Chaos. Between Light and Darkness." Before them the scale tipped too far to the left, and the tree grew rigid and brittle from stifling order. Soon it shattered. Then it reformed and demonstrated how too much to the right caused it to be consumed in the unending hunger of chaos.

    "Okay. . . So some scale tipped somewhere, and now your Skrayling Tree is dead. . . You can't help me go home . . . Will this at least help me fight that damned Serpent?"

    "It did. . . It isn't . . . I can't . . . And it won't . . ."

    "Bless it! Can we just do the image thing again?"

    "Out time grows short, son of Baz'Auran. Watch closely." Once more Otrygg summoned a vision from the multiverse about them. Brandis stared upon a great and resplendent kingdom nestled by the ocean. Though much less grand in scale and craftsmanship, it was obvious it had once been created in the image of his father's city. Then, much like his father's city, a darkness fell over it. Again - smaller in scale, different. But the parallel was unmistakable. A proud people cowed under shadow. A great tree withered. Its roots turned to rot. One, intangible yet writhing like a venomous snake, coiled beneath the blackening waters.

    And then the two were sitting in darkness again, just as they had been to begin with. Just the same, save for a single leaf reaching up between them. Gently, Otrygg plucked it and held it out to Brandis. "It did. It isn't. You will. They can."

    Head spinning, the godling took the leaf and tucked it away. "Look, thank you Otrygg. But I . . . I just don't get it."

    " A teacher can only share knowledge. Understanding is a gift given to oneself. Be well, Brandis."

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

    Norlean watched him emerge. In the faint moonlight she saw he was week and bewildered. Brandis fell to his very knees, prostrate before her. His neck bared for the slaughter, for the salvation of her family. She raised the spear high. She had not expected him to fight, but he seemed completely unaware of the world around him. The whispers of the Serpent chattered in her ear. "Now!" But her once cold heart had grown weak. Opened itself to doubt of this expected sacrifice. He was so helpless. . . like a child.

    Like Lafayette.

    "Damn you Brandis." Defiantly she tossed the spear aside. An emerald light began to emanate from behind her. From the water. She knew the herald of Iscaripaka's executioner. Resolute, she turned, eyes held high to meet the gaze of the pale abomination rising from the murky depths.

    Brandis did his best to shake the cloud from his mind. Through a fog he heard his companion screaming, but could not make out if it was out of fear, wrath, or both. As he rose to his feet, he witnessed the horrid grinning visage of the night stalker once more. Slowly it lumbered towards the huntress. Like her brother before her, she seemed to grow paralyzed in its deathly glare. Already it pointed those long, bony fingers at her, and unseen forces lifted her from the ground. But as her skin shimmered, and the first tendrils of skin began to peel away, she found the will for one last act of rebellion. It was a clumsy throw, as she drew her curved blade from her waist. It barely made purchase into the rubbery white flesh of the monster's thigh, where black ichor began to weep.

    There was surprise all around as Norlean fell to the ground. The night stalker hissed in outrage. Brandis steeled himself and sprinted forward. "Run!"

    She needed very little prodding to do just that. Primal fear took over, and she sprinted as fast as her legs would take her towards the nearby hillside. As she did, Brandis lowered his shoulder to tackle the creature. But again he merely passed through it, and was rewarded with naught but a mouth full of despoiled marsh. And then the creature followed. Norlean's legs were powerful and fast indeed, but the creature stood twice the height of a man, and its long steady strides quickly closed the gap. The godling tried his best to keep up, but could match neither.

    The hill was tall and steep. Like a woman possessed, she pushed herself, nearly at its peak as the pale harbinger of death came to the foot of the hill. And then the ground betrayed her. The patch of earth she clamored for to pull herself over came loose in her hand. She tumbled backwards, to the very feet of her hunter. With a wide and awful grin it stared down at her, lapped out at her with a pale tongue while green flame stared out from vacant sockets. Frozen in fear, she prepared for death.

    And the the creature began to take long strides up the hillside. Following in the footsteps of its victim. Just as it had followed Lafayette door to door in the village of Kurth. A desperate plan formed in Brandis' mind.

    "Norlean! To me! NOW!"

    Hearing her name helped snap her to action. And at the very least the fool was in the opposite direction from the abomination. She was barely halfway to him before it had returned to the bottom of the hill. When she did reach Brandis, Norlean flinched as he reached out and grabbed her about the waist with one hand. He placed one of her hands on his shoulder, then took the other in his own. Her eyes went wide in disbelief as the nightstalker approached, now all but within arm's length.

    "Have you gone mad?!?"

    "Just follow my lead. Trust me."

    The Serpent's executioner was a thing of terror. Brandis understood now. The creature stalked its pray slowly and in plain sight. Following in the footsteps of the victim, letting some brief amount of hope be turned into even more fear to be devoured. For what person could truly expect to outpace the thing until the dawn's light.

    How could it possibly keep up with Brandis. Dancing the night away had been second nature to him for time immemorial. Its legs were long and steady, but fumbled in keeping up with his footwork. The challenge lay in his partner. She was agile in her own way, but it was obvious a grim life focused only on survival had hardly spared her the time for lessons. She did her best not to step on his feet, but as they spun round and round he could hear her breath growing heavy. All the while they circled, her pale death remained only feet away.

    "How much longer have you got in you? 'Til first light would be the ideal answer."

    He saw her lips start to form some cruel retort, but gasp for air instead.

    "Too tired to call me a buffoon then? Very well, let's change things up."

    Much to her surprise his steps now brought them ever closer to the thing. Faster and faster they spun around it, and it took all her concentration not to grow dizzy. Then suddenly he stopped, and dipped her just beneath the stalker's slavering maw. "Curse you . . ." she began. But his face just nodded down, directing her to look at the creature's thigh and the blade jutting from it.

    Norlean smiled at the monster's howl of pain when she yanked it free.

    "Have enough left in you to take the lead a moment?"

    Wordlessly she replied with her own dance. Brandis' kept them ever a foot ahead, and she used his momentum to lash out wickedly with the curved dagger. Cut after cut opened in the pale rubbery hide. As the viscous black ooze wept out the thing grew slower and slower, until finally it fell to its knees. Piece by piece it began to fall apart, unraveling before them.

    Breathless, they held each other. Perhaps it was nervous laughter at first that left her lips. But soon enough it was the real thing. The act of it made her feel lighter. Weightless. When she looked up, Norlean saw Brandis smiling. Truly, and fully for the first time since his arrival in her village.

    She didn't bother to hold back her own. "Yes? What's on your mind now?"

    He stared back at her, eyes alight with excitement. "I understand it! Part of it at least! Enough for now!"

    "Understand what?"

    "We're to do what happens in so many stories! Return to the beginning. I have a promise to keep."

  15. - Top - End - #255
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Grief and the People

    In the morning Nieve decided never to be sorry again. What was done was done, and there was no sense hurting herself over something she could not change, not when she was already sore in body and soul. Her resolve lasted for all of five minutes, til she rose and saw the broken bodies of the cat and its child lying together in the mouth of the cave.

    Morning had lifted the fog, though the sky was still grey and the sun nowhere to be seen, and with it had gone the cliff-gaunts whose calls had so disturbed Nieve last night—they did not care to be seen. The daylight that struggled through the clouds was weak, but it was enough for Nieve to at last get a proper look at the land she had fallen to. It was much as she had found it last night: hilly and green, windblasted and wet. Dew glistened on everything. To the east the land rose until it reached hills far off in the distance; to the west it simply vanished, dropping a hundred feet or more and ending in a narrow strip of sand. Beyond that stretched grey water, all the way to the horizon.

    It was dreary and beautiful at the same time, which suited Nieve's mood like a glove. She didn't know what to do with the dead cats; the spirits of the Steel Cathedral had taught her how to kill, but never what came after the kill. But this did not seem like such a bad place to leave them.

    For leave she must. The cave had sheltered her for a night, but she wasn't sure how long she could endure there, and it didn't feel right to stay. Besides, she was hungry. (Even the thought of trying to eat the cats made her feel guilty all over again, and faintly ill besides.) She set forth, feeling better for having a task to attend to.

    The day passed slowly and uneventfully. There were birds, but they were too nimble and too wary to kill even if she'd tried. There were plants, but none of them looked remotely edible. There were presumably fish in the ocean below, but even if she could descend the cliffs somehow she had no way of catching them. There were little burrows here and there in the ground, but whether they were dug by beast or serpent or fowl Nieve could not say, for she never saw the diggers. The light was beginning to fade by the time she found what she was searching for.

    There was a place where a stream flowed into the sea, and its waters had smoothed the cliffs, so that in this one place the island and the ocean met gently. Reeds and trees grew in the gully beside the riverbank, and amid the reeds she saw about a dozen men and women wading. One saw her and pointed, and they all picked up stones and spears; but Nieve forgot caution in her relief at finding someone in this strange land, and went down to them instead of finding a weapon of her own. This soothed them.

    They were not like her siblings; they were shorter and less fair and less strong, and they spoke with coarse tongues. But the resemblance was close enough to gladden her heart. She spoke, and they understood that she was lost and had been cast out, and invited her to share in their foraging. She would not be fed and protected for nothing, said the tallest man, but they would not turn aside another hand. A sharpened stick was found for her, and she spent the rest of the day wading in the stream looking for fish and frogs.

    When night fell it brought the fog again, drifting inland on the west wind. A woman told Nieve that they would sleep further inland, so that the cliff-gaunts would not come on them as they slept, and she and all the others waded upstream and out of the gully and made their camp by a bounder atop a hill, which sheltered them from the wind. The tall man made a fire, and when they had all sat down around it he introduced himself as Nan. He had been of Molog's people, but he had fallen in love where she was not wanted, and Molog had driven him away to keep harmony within his village. Next spoke the woman sitting next to him, who named herself Denne, once of Derham's people. She had birthed three stillborn children, and her husband had cast her out, claiming she was unlucky. Then spoke Oun, who had killed a man in a feud and fled before his family could seek revenge, and Larim, who had lain with a woman who later claimed he had forced her, and Devon, who had fled a father he despised. All were of Anli's people. Usa, another woman, was from Esh-Ka-Nin's people who lived far to the east; she would not say why she left them, but Sola her mate had come with her. Bal of Scora's people had killed another man in a drunken quarrel; his brother (also known for drunkenness) had later followed him. Essen of Maltek's people was a thief, as was Shesa of Ingverr's people. Aruin of Dri's people had killed; he did not say who or why.

    Then it was Nieve's turn to speak. She gave her name, and said she was of Baz'Auran's people. At this there was a stir; some looked at her with awe, while others listened with stony faces or sneers. Aruin laughed and said, we now have a liar to round out our merry band of thieves and murderers! But Nan silenced him before Nieve could retort, and said: girl, we do not care who you are. We are nobody's people. If you have no other place to go, we will take you in. And even Aruin nodded at that.

    So Nieve went to sleep among them, still wet and cold, but not half so unhappy as she had been yesterday. Still, her sleep was troubled. She dreamed of the White City's streets running red with blood and fire while a vast unseen thing swallowed the stars above, and the eerie wails of the cliff-gaunts rising from darkened windows and empty halls.
    Last edited by The_Snark; 2012-02-28 at 04:56 AM.
    Avatar by Ifni. Thanks!

  16. - Top - End - #256
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    The Song of Fayruz

    Song rose towards the blood-red moon from the firelit camps of the Fayheran, scattered all about the Olm and the river. From the high court in the center of the Olm, a great bonfire blazed, and around it were musicians of all kinds – dancers carrying the copper-and-hide tambourines of the Iuneh, drummers beating upon the great drums of the Ma-Shen, the high shrill of the mountain-flutes of the Dereg and the strum of the crude mandolins of the Kayanek, and their symphony was led by the harpstrings of Fayruz, who sat beside Saven and Gamesha and let her skillful fingers lead the musicians of the new people, who had traded among themselves clothing and instruments, weapons and wives and husbands.

    The first few days had been difficult, but Fayruz had found it much easier when she realized that the people of the tribes respected her, and began to love her when they met her. All she needed to resolve a dispute was to arrive at it, speak for a moment with the wronged parties, and they would forgive each other within moments. She hoped that, one day, she would not need to speak to them for them to forgive each other, for she could not solve all disputes; she could hardly be everywhere at once, or solve hidden wrongs. But she did what she could, to create the Fayheran out of the tribes of the rocklands. The name had not been her idea; it had come from a charismatic woman of the Iuneh, and had spread like wildfire. We are the Fayheran, people said to one another, we are the people of the goddess-who-wears-fool's-clothing.

    People spoke, now, of heading back to the north to reclaim the copper mines for the Fayheran, and of going south to reclaim the glass-mines found nowhere else in the world, formerly the property of the Kayanek, where great glass structures formed naturally in the sands. But Fayruz's suggestions had led many to advocate staying at the Olm, of building a camp – no, a city – that would be seven times greater than Dol Mazzah. To those who wanted to stay, she said, 'stay', and to those who wanted to go, she said, 'go – but go not as a tribe but as a new company of the Fayheran'.

    Even now, there were still problems. There were whispers of hunger in the tents, and of animals and berries that were becoming more and more scarce, and whispers of the Ghoulking and his dread army marching from the Valley of Teeth, but tonight there was only jubilation. The war was over, and the new tribe was one from many, strong where they all were weak! And, to Fayruz, that music that her people – the people that had chosen to make her a part of them – played beneath the blood-red moon was more beautiful than anything that she had ever played in the Plaza of Song. It was wild, it was free, and it was born of joy and love intertwined. The war is over! Our goddess has made the land whole! Come sing for Fayruz, who ate a dragon whole, who loves us and so we love her!

    Still, there was one thing that worried her still. Her brothers, her sisters, everyone who had fled the White City. If she had survived, surely they all had survived as well. And maybe, just maybe, they had discovered the power that had always been lurking within them, power that was a part of them – perhaps not as Father had intended, in her case, but power that they had been born to, all the same. So she stood up, cradling her harp gently, and as she gently strummed the harp she began to sing a new song, one like the songs that the women of the Aferi had taught her during her captivity.

    And this was her song.

    Spoiler
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    My name is Fayruz-
    A princess was I
    In days so sweet
    Now long-forgotten
    When we all played
    In our father's home
    In the white towers
    And in warm gardens
    My name is Fayruz-
    From heaven I fell
    And mercy I found
    In the land of heat
    And sand amid rocks
    I healed a great king!
    I healed the blood
    That issued forth
    From the earth itself
    Now queen am I
    Dressed in fool's robes
    In the land of fire
    In the land now pure
    My name is Fayruz-
    And I remember my
    Siblings who I have
    Lost in the great Fall
    Who fell from our
    White home now red
    Can you hear my song?
    Where have you gone?
    I am here enthroned
    Among a people now
    Whole and healed
    From strife and sorrow
    My name is Fayruz-
    And I love all who
    Are bound to me by
    Blood and childhood
    Jongo, ever-laughing
    Faden, ever-wisest
    Soreal, spirit-talker
    Nieve, ruddy-cheeked
    Khalen-Het, ever-just
    Aerin, ever-flattering
    Dasque, fair-headed
    Lossethir, ever-joking
    Avyra, ever-gentle
    Aramar, dusk-lover
    Weaver, thread-skilled
    Roselia, ever-cunning
    Contragh, most-strong
    Frellon, ever-brave
    Llassar, never-worried
    Rumel, ever-crafty
    Sonata, most-beautiful
    Haramhold, keen-eyed
    Carolinus, strong-armed
    Kalandor, ever-yearning
    Brandis, ever-jovial
    Shirvan, ever-perfect
    Can't you hear my song?
    I miss you, my siblings!
    Fayruz calls your names!
    Your princess calls now!
    Why do you not answer?
    Have you gone missing?
    Have you fallen ill?
    Have you died in battle?
    Have you returned home?
    Have you left your sister?
    Please, my siblings, come!
    I wait for you in this land.
    The rocks whisper among
    Themselves, and the wind
    Whips up the sand into
    Great clouds of dust over
    The sweet streams and
    The high mountains that
    Are barren and cold yet
    Have given birth to these
    Brave people who follow!
    Come and meet them!
    Your sister waits at the Olm-
    Hoping that she is not alone...


    The sound of the harp strings slowly died, leaving silence around the crackling bonfire. All eyes were upon her, as she lowered her hand from the harp strings. She said to the musicians gathered there, her voice soft and wet, "I hope that they will hear. I have told you all the names of my family, and I love each and every one of them, and my deepest wish is that they could come and meet you, my wonderful people. Brandis would join in your revelry, and Carolinus would help your warriors protect us from the monsters that lurk beyond, in the dark, and Frellon would challenge your mightiest to duel him..." She reached up and mopped at her eyes, and said, "I do not know if I have lost them all. All my wonderful brothers and sisters. When our city fell, we were all scattered, and this world is harsh, and dangerous. I might have died, were it not for the bravery of Arenis, best of all hunters, and Tarn, last chieftain of the Aferi, and Saven who faced the darkest peril to protect me."

    Strong arms embraced her, shaking, as if scared that they would be too tight and break her. And Gamesha said to her, in his wavering, shaking voice – that voice that made her wonder if the dragon had ripped his voice raw in its leaving – "When all your god-family gets here, we will throw them the biggest ruttin festival that has ever been given. I'll see to it." He held her close, and she could feel his heart beating ever-so-quickly against her back, and feel the nervous sweat of his young palms.

    There was the strum of one of the mandolins, and Saven said, his voice firm and confident, "Let us sing for the family of our lady, Fayruz Dragonslayer!" And so the tambourines were shaken again, and the drums were played, and the flutes sang out, and so did the men and women of the Fayheran did join their voices together in celebration, beneath the bloody moon.

    But their song could not compare to the Song of Fayruz, bolstered by her divine will and her pure love for her siblings. In Haramhold's workshop, the song rang out, the sweet voice of the daughter of Baz'Auran intertwined with the sound of a harp that had come from the White City itself, purest of all instruments. In a desert oasis it rang out, among the people of Faden, and likewise in the city of Sanctum it rang out for all to hear, Warden and prophet and god alike. Jongo could hear it, and so could Avyra, and even Llassar in his fields. To all her siblings it came, even the lost ones.

    And, in answer, the next day she stared into the ashes of the fire, and then started up with a violent cry, and reached into the ashes, heedless of the pain it caused her. She eagerly showed her people a log which had etched into it the words – 'Come. Haramhold.' Her brother was alive, she said with eager cries! And on that very same day, a light fell from heaven, a spirit of the air and light that burned with the sea's light that told her it had come from her brother, Faden. It had crossed the sea to the northeast, a short passage compared to the travels its brothers made, in response to her song. Faden was not only alive, it said, but was a mighty god of the desert-people. It invited her to come to Faden's people, but she declined – at that moment, she said. She had work to do, to make sure that her people would be ready to face any storm without her. But her home at the Olm was always open, to Faden or Haramhold or any of her siblings, she told him to tell Faden. And so it went off, to carry news of Fayruz and her Fayheran to Faden.

    Spoiler
    Show
    Turn 0 Artifact: The Amulet of the River.

    Once the poisoning spear of a foul Nuckelavee, the artifact known to the Fayheran simply as the Amulet of the River was taken up and reshaped by Fayruz, made into a magical artifact of purity and cleansing. It passed from the hands of the goddess to her consort, Saven, and from his hands to help heal the Scarred King, Gamesha Tekeza. When asked about its whereabouts several days after the Baptism at the Olm, where Fayruz made the tribes whole and mended their wounds, Gamesha told the goddess that he had 'given it to some folk who needed it more than me'. This, it is said, pleased Fayruz greatly.

    It now is an elusive artifact, traveling from tribe to tribe. It has a knack for arriving just when it is needed, found in a hunter's pack or in a traded bundle of goods; some say the Amulet of the River itself seeks out filth and madness, so that it may be useful once more. It rarely stays in one place long, however – if it is not used within the day, it always is lost or misplaced, and woe betide the ones it came to help!

    As Fayruz wielded it to make the river pure once more, so too does the Amulet of the River purify and make sweet any water which it is submerged fully in, and it has saved many a life by making even sea water wholesome for men to drink. As it healed Saven who had fought the Nuckelavee and been cursed by it with leprosy, so too does it purge leprosy from a leper's body, nevermore to return. And just as it was worn by the Scarred King, it will alleviate madness and bring solace to the troubled.
    Last edited by Raz_Fox; 2012-03-27 at 09:32 AM.
    -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.

  17. - Top - End - #257
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Jongo, the Everchanging - Turn 1

    In the shape of so many birds, Jongo made a discovery.

    Flying was boring.

    Oh, it had been fun at first. Moving through the air without restrictions. But there was only so many times you could look down and see the ocean.

    Jongo wanted to go higher. Fly high enough, and maybe, just maybe, Jongo could get back to the city, and help Father.

    The Band of Chaos sang about all sorts of thoughts on that.

    Mostly, they were ridiculous. How in all of the Disk would one find that much pie?

    And Jongo had no clue what the heck Al’s Kaseltzer was, or how it would help. Or even who Al was.

    No. Finding the others was a better plan. And if Jongo couldn’t find them… well, there was always the backup plan.

    An updraft in the air pushed against Jongo’s wings. It was sudden, and Jongo found he had to pay attention to her surroundings again. Flying was still boring, but there were these rare moments… Up here was interesting, sometimes.

    And it was certainly faster than swimming!

    Looking down, Jongo thought he saw a tiny burnt orange light, dodging back and forth above the water, as though it was looking for something. It was extremely tiny, but an orange light on dark blue waters, with no real land in the distance, and having the green and grey eyes of a large bird, Jongo locked onto it quickly.

    Besides being on the mote side of a speck, it was moving extremely fast. Very erratic, and leaving a trail of what seemed like pure orange color. Jongo began to circle around, though the updraft was fighting her. Dipping a wing, and settling into a dive, Jongo dropped and shot straight for the burnt orange light.

    It was awkward hearing such a large bird giggle, Jongo was sure, but she couldn’t help it; once close enough to the light, he could see that it was a tiny winged thing, made almost completely of magic. It had eight gossamer wings, and there was a tinkle of something like a bell when it looked up and saw bird-Jongo.

    Expecting it to fly away in fright, Jongo was surprised when the thing tittered and flew up and around in circles, landing on Jongo’s back. Still in a fast dive, and having the height, there was no simple way of doing that, without staring in the eyes of physics, doing a little dance on gravity’s grave, and laughing at the both of them.

    Magic. Had to be.

    Annoying little creature… Jongo couldn’t smile. Her beak didn’t tilt like that. I think I like you.

    “So, you want a ride, do you, little sprite?”
    Jongo cawed.

    The thing tinkled it’s bell-like noise, which Jongo took for an affirmative, and pulled out of his dive. Flapping in circles and flying around with a little bit of glee, Jongo was happily laughing again, as the sprite rode and hung on. Jongo shifted, ever so slightly, from the easy, large winged bird she had been, to a much quicker flier; something much like one of Baz’Auran’s hawks, except with larger wingtips to help above the waves, and dead air that could happen above the sea.

    Diving into the updraft again, Jongo let out a shrill peal of giggling laughter, and was pleased to hear the tinkling bells join in, as both big bird and small sprite sprang high into the air once more.

    The Band of Chaos was whispering music again. Jongo grew an extra pair of eyes on the back of his head, just for a moment, to confirm what the Band was saying.

    Looking closely at the sprite, with a different view – literally seeing it with new eyes – the thing was infused with Magic; not only that, it seemed to live on it, sucking it in like air. And Jongo had watched Baz’Auran make quite a lot of things, but didn’t remember seeing this creature. It was no Nightmare, so…

    ...Faden?

    It had to be. And thinking it, the sprite seemed to stare at Jongo with new interest.

    “Duck duck duck. Quack! Is that you? Did you make this thing? It’s beautiful. And it’s fun. Oh! I’m fine, by the way. Are you ok? Do you want to meet somewhere? It’s nice down here, on the Disk. Though I’ve only seen part of the ocean. Quack!”

    The thing on Jongo’s back tittered and tinkled, one clear solid note. It then repeated everything that Jongo said, as though confirming it, and flew in a streak of orange light off of Jongo’s back.

    Looking after it, Jongo saw it speed to the southwest, and tilting towards where it was going, Jongo could begin to see islands and land again.

    Maybe flying wasn’t so boring, after all.

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

    Later, an albatross wept.

    Fayruz was alive. Flower had bloomed. And she sang to them. Called to them.

    Jongo wept in joy at the song. It was beautiful.

    Jongo wanted to go to her, rush up and hug his sister. But she was too far away. Faden was closer.

    And flying was turning out to be kinda fun.

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

    Later still, a bat found out that flying over the ocean was not what bats did for long periods of time.

    Also, blindness sucked.

    But hearing? The hearing of a bat was fantastic!

    So it was probably the ears of the bat that helped Jongo hear the low low pounding of hammers, and Haramhold.

    It was just a basic message. One offering shelter, and asking if everyone was all right.

    But Haramhold was so much closer than anyone. It was the busy feeling that Jongo had felt.

    Haramhold was just a day or two's flight away. Faster, if Jongo stopped being so batty.

    So Jongo felt the bat form melt away, and she dropped from the air and dived - hundreds of feet up - into the water. The ocean answered Jongo's call, and soon a large red dolphin was being pushed by an equally large wave towards the shores of the islands that were ahead, at a rapid pace.

    Letting the water do the work, Jongo began to think of how to respond. So many messages being sent out, there must be a way to send something back.

    The Band of Chaos - now an earing pierced into Jongo's dorsal fin - sang out a good idea. And then one that would actually work, because not everyone would appreciate a banana being thrown into their ears.

    So Jongo closed his eyes and let the mindscape of change take hold. Faden's creature would deliver a message to him, so Jongo worried about the --

    A chill ran down Jongo's spine. Another major flare of light from the cold continent to the north. The flare of greyish light was frozen almost solid, and the chaos within seemed slow to act, but powerful, like a glacier. Lossethir? It felt... different. Predatory. Jongo was worried.

    But now, about the others.

    Haramhold was very close now. Reaching with his mind, Jongo found a carver in Haramhold's village, one not really paying attention to their work. On the wood they were working, she had them carve a message.

    Spoiler
    Show
    "To Haramhold,

    Sorry for ruining this wood. Very close to your shore. On my way to say hi. Look for the red dolphin riding a wave.

    - Jongo

    p.s. Really, really sorry about the wood."


    Fayruz was much farther away. But all water was connected. And there was a nice clean river near by. In fact, people seemed to be very happy with their clean river. Two humans - a male and a female - seemed to be doing what humans do when paired in such a way and very happy.

    So Jongo blessed their union. The child they reared would be strange, the Band of Chaos said, with one eye grey and one eye green, but it would run to Fayruz and hug her legs, and it's first words would be for her.

    Spoiler
    Show
    "Flower, I have so much to laugh about. I'm going to visit Haramhold first, but I swear I'll come to you soon. Treat this child well, please? They were the best way to talk to you, and hug you."


    That done, Jongo opened her eyes, and looked at the islands ahead. Haramhold was close.

    Spoiler
    Show

    - Create a servant with greater power -
    (1 Minor Act)

    Raz, the boy's name is Lors. He'll have one eye grey, and one eye green, but it's on the wrong side as Jongo's pattern. Everything else about him - who his parents are, what he looks like - I leave to you.
    Last edited by Gengy; 2012-02-27 at 02:58 PM.
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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

  18. - Top - End - #258
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    shorewood's Avatar

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    Haramhold and Amanda came upon the river which coursed passed Salus as they returned from the crystal cave. They were deep in conversation on some of the finer intricacies of crystal lore, when Haramhold raised a hand for silence. Amanda strained her ears and found that far off in the distance, farther than she'd would have ever been able to hear before; a low rumpling sound. Like the cresting of a wave upon the ocean, but that made no sense. They were many leagues away from the sea what could possibly be making such a noise.

    After a moment a smile spread across Haramhold's face and he let out a deep hearty laugh of joy. "Come Amanda, if I am not mistaken Jongo my eldest sibling has decided to pay us a visit."
    Taking her hand Haramhold pulled her to a dead sprint toward the oncoming sound.

    O how Haramhold had missed his siblings, he missed their conversations, their varied opinions, he just missed their company. Sure Jongo's whimsical and care free nature sometimes grated against Haramhold, and his ability to get into anything was annoying. But after so many years Haramhold couldn't find it in his heart to hold any of that against Jongo. One doesn't know how dear something is until you loose it.

    As they ran around a bend in the river Haramhold and Amanda found themselves not ten feet away from a massive wave with the shinning red dolphin gracefully racing across it surface.

    Shocked at this sight Amanda stopped dead in her tracks managing to ask one incredulous question before the wave overtook them. "You're related to a dolphin?"
    Sometimes it is useful to know how large your zero is. ~Author Unknown

  19. - Top - End - #259
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Hungry Sands

    As Dasque landed in the deep desert after exulting in the purifying alacrity of light, she was immediately aware of an oddity. With the sun at its zenith, there should have been no escape from blinding radiance, yet to the south a line of shadow seemed to spread across the horizon. Peering closer, the Goddess of Light was surprised to see the shadow move, creeping forward slowly across the sands. Stranger still, as soon as she gained a clear view of the undulating sands, the shadow stopped abruptly. For a moment, it wavered as a mirage, and Dasque was about to dismiss it as a trick of her own light when the shadow leapt forward.

    Oozing across the sands with lightning speed, Dasque had but a moment to register the surge before she was surrounded, her patch of clear white sand encircled by a sea of shadow. Close as she was though, it became clear that the shadow was in fact a stain upon the sand itself, a black, oily film that saturated the land. The edge of the stain surrounding her rippled, as though trying to advance only to be stymied by the radiance of the strand of True Light at Dasque's belt. The stalemate lasted but seconds, before the black sand withdrew slightly with a wet hiss. Then the wind came. Dasque heard it before she felt it, a mournful wail from the south, but as it passed over the black sand it gathered it as a mother gathering her cubs. In an instant the southern horizon was obscured by an oncoming wall of black sand borne on a bitter wind, screaming towards the newborn god.
    Last edited by TheDarkDM; 2012-02-27 at 07:31 PM.

    I was old when the pharaohs first mounted
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    ...one could possibly refer to you guys' elaborate dance of allies-to-enemies-to-suicide-of-the-universe as some sort of weird art form.

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  20. - Top - End - #260
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    Turn 1 - A Change on the Wind

    Time passed slowly for Faden, after he had sent out his sprites. Logically, he knew that their odds of finding anything and returning within such a short time were slim, that they would need days, weeks, or perhaps months to find his siblings, but he couldn't shake the feeling that each day reduced the odds of discovery.

    Until the song came. It echoed across the oasis that the Hajika clan was currently stopped, filling in the quiet emptiness where Paideiazel had once held power with Fayruz's voice - a tremendous improvement. Faden only caught it after Tezzy, the blue sprite he had kept near him, brought it to his attention.

    And somehow, though it was impossible, a tear fell to his feet.

    Fayruz is alive.

    ***

    Time passed even more slowly than before, but Faden was patient. He needed more information, and now... now he knew he would get it. There was no way the sprites could have missed that song. It was only a matter of time before the bright sea-green sprite he'd sent to find Fayruz returned. And one morning, it did - but not alone.

    From the southwest came the sea-green sprite. Fayruz was closer than Faden had thought, and true to her song had apparently won the hearts and minds of the barbaric tribes to the south. From the distant north came the royal blue sprite tasked with finding Carolinus, stating that his brother was well, and had founded an order of Wardens and Prophets and had built many new things. From the northeast came the orange sprite, the one with the hardest task of all - finding Jongo's ever-shifting spark. But it had succeeded despite the odds, and now his powerful shapeshifting brother headed southwest, toward Haramhold, and indirectly toward Faden as well. And the silvery sprite he'd sent to find Haramhold came back as well - but not with an exact location. And all four brought another message as well - an invitation, and the glad news that his siblings, too, had discovered their true potential.

    Faden suppressed irritation. This was not bad news, even if he didn't know exactly where Jongo and Haramhold were. The children of Baz'Auran needed to coordinate - at the very least, he wanted to see some of his siblings again. But there was a problem.

    Faden could no longer effectively swim.

    He'd been taught the basics, but all natural buoyancy had been lost with is body fat, lungs, and other assorted natural bits. He now sank - if not like a rock, then at least like a pile of rags and ribbons. Plus, he was now massed considerably less than he had before his rise to power - any strong current was likely to hurl him far off course.

    There were other options, of course - Faden was rarely without options these days. He could use his magic to try to walk on the water, but he had no idea how long he would need to do that, and such a prospect sounded wearying and also outright dangerous, should he suddenly tire in the middle of an ocean. He could try to build a boat, but what few trees existed in the Kophic Expanse were generally needed by the thirteen clans.

    Besides, he was looking for something with a bit more style.

    So when rumors reached the Hajika clan of a giant bird guarding the brightest, shiniest gem imaginable - a rock that seemed to glow with the brilliance of the sun - Faden hatched a plan. He made his arrangements with the clans, stating that he would return as soon as he could but that he didn't know when that would be, whether it was weeks, months, or years from now. Goodbyes were said, and Faden headed up into the mountains after dispatching the silver and orange sprites to the northeast, to find Jongo and Haramhold once again and give them his travel plans.

    ***

    It didn't take long for Faden to find the stone, because the rumors hadn't been exaggerating. It was bright. There was, however, no trace of the giant bird said to be its guardian. As he approached the stone, though, he saw something curious. A black slick of color - the sand and dust itself was turning black - spread slowly but visibly across the range. It wasn't very big - a few dozen square feet across - but it was growing at an alarming rate.

    The child of Baz'Auran chose to experiment. The black stain did not respond to hails, nor to illusions. Throwing a rock at it did nothing - although the rock did sink completely under the sand, as though it were quicksand or mud. Then Faden attempted to check its progress with a ward, a powerful shield of magic that he'd been working on.

    It did stop growing, but apparently only did so in order to get a fix on Faden's location. Then it swept around the shield with alarming speed, rose up like a great wave, and engulfed the godling.

    Inside the mound of hostile... whatever it was, Faden could feel it press around where he had once had a mouth. Had he still been capable of grinning, he would have - this creature, or hive, or fungus, would have a difficult time of smothering him. He felt it try to burrow into his being, to control him, but there was nothing inside his bandages to control. Frustrated - if such a thing could be said to be frustrated - it attempted to squeeze Faden to death, and at this the godling finally had a problem. Fortunately, he also had a solution. He thought of his shield again, wrapping it around himself and pushing outward. Using the magics that Tezzerin had taught him, he then flung himself from the sand, landing on a rock outcropping. There he stopped to catch his metaphorical breath and consider.

    An impasse. The sand couldn't hold him long enough to crush him, and he couldn't think of a way to damage what appeared to be extremely malevolent sand. He brushed his outermost robe off and hesitated, looking at the gloves. From Ego and Id he felt only a surge of resentment, but that was fine for now - he channeled power through the gloves, and they responded, showing him what he wished to see.

    The brilliant rock still shone brightly - as Faden suspected, it was powerfully magical, although it wasn't quite a rock. More importantly, though, the sand had a connection - hundreds of them, actually - which spiraled and looped in all directions, creating a veritable forest of jet-black threads of magic. Exerting his Will, Faden gathered these together and tried to separate them from the sand. As they began to tear, a screech rung out from the rocks, and the threads quickly evaporated, withdrawing to the south.

    The godling stopped pushing power through the gloves, and Ego and Id's afterimages faded. There was no trace of the black sand.

    Disturbing. What *was* that? Faden somehow doubted that he'd seen the last of it. He dispatched his royal-blue sprite to warn the clans to stay away from black sand if they saw it.

    For now, though, there was the stone, no larger than his fist. As he approached it, several things became apparent - first, it wasn't a stone, but rather something of the White City, a piece of literal perfection and a font of vitality and life. Second, it bore the mark of the First Spirit of Magic - clearly, this was where Paideiazel and Qarezel's immortality had landed.

    And as he placed the "stone" in one of his many inner pockets, he also realized that, despite the fact that he was standing atop a mountain, he was also standing in the shade.

    The godling looked up, and up, and up. A massive bird hovered over the peak, impossibly large. Faden did his best to identify it, but the best he could remember was...

    THEN

    "It should be bigger!" Jongo's shout came from the other room, as Faden tried to shut out the distraction. "And we could call it a Roc! Get it? It's funny because..."

    NOW

    Faden was startled out of his reverie by the sudden dive of the massive bird, talons outstretched. ...because its prey is between a Roc and a Hard Place. But from where the godling stood, it wasn't funny at all.
    Last edited by Jade_Tarem; 2012-02-27 at 09:19 PM.
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  21. - Top - End - #261
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    Hungry Sands

    More darkness. Is this all the Disk had? Dasque had no time. The black sands lifted into the sky swirling around to consume her. She muttered words of strength to herself as the Susserus came closer and closer. It passed her on either side, blocking her retreat. The screaming forced Dasque onto her knees.

    Then she spoke. "Rise." From beneath the earth a tower burst from the ground, ascending into the sky. Her inner light broke free of the black grains above her until she was high above.

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    Minor Act: Create City of Town: Dasque has risen a single tower from the ground to get herself above the Sussurus. It is only a temporary measure as the winds can reach her, though it will be much more difficult.


    Her hands clasped ont the side, and with but another thought,, a few forms began t pull free from the tower, creatures made of stone, hoisted aloft by wings of light, each carrying a spear in its hands. The three guardians ascended up to Dasque's level to guard her against the sands.

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    Minor Act: Create lesser servants: Dasque has created three guardians to help fend off the attacks. They are of stone, not flesh, which may help make them immune to some of the taint of the sands... maybe.


    From her own hand materialized a a golden spear, shimmering brilliantly. It had an inner glow all its own, though a mere shadow of the strand of True Light.

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    Minor Act: Create a golden spear. This spear is not inherantly magical, and is not an artifact. It is an well-crafted spear that has a glow to it.


    She tied the strand to the end of the spear. She gasped for air. She could feel the brightness within her fade as she used so much power at once. With one last act, she lifted her spear to the sky, and sent off a light to illuminate the sky, to call out to anyone who was nearby for help, a light that could be seen a long ways away.

    And then she waited. Dasque could only pray that she could last long enough for someone to help, or to find some way to defeat the monster, against all odds.

  22. - Top - End - #262
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Kalandor Sat with five of his disciples, discussing various events. They didn't manage to get very far, as one of the Orcish disciples brought a new type of brew, and none of them had much of a resistance to the idea of a good drink, especially a new one. However over the course of the night, Kalandor's small camp recieved the reverberations of all the three god's sendings/callings.

    He wandered during his dreams, and saw an Human Canoe with the word Harmhold's Calling carved expertly into the sides, feeling the resonance of a godly message made it an easy translation, as he watched the man sail into a village, that seemed oh so safe and ideliac, glowing with the promises of family and peace.
    Entering the towns tavern, as any adventurer would, Kalandor walked in to a bard with skin fairer than the finest silks singing Fayruz's Song, as it was called, and somehow felt all his exhaustion lift. She called to him and all of his bretheran, and he wanted desperately to rise from his table and move to her, and as he rose from his seat, he rose from sleep, to the curses of his acolytes, and the voice of an sprite, calling for them to stop trying to grab him.

    Kalandor strode from his tent, to see the orcs and humans from this group of acolytes trying and failing in spectacular slapstick fashion trying to catch the sprite Faden sent, for he was sure of it, it pulsed with the same type energy Faden had on the white city, and the single Beastial being laughing at thier antics. It was a Kal'ox, apearing as a Ox formed into a human shape, a sub-specie that was particularly hardy and strong, yet suffering from a slightly lower intelligence compared to some of the other sentient species, but not by much. It's hands had 3 fingers of which one was a thumb, allowing it to truely compete with the other race. Almost as soon as Kalandor was out of his tent the Sprite was hiding behind his ears, cowering. It apeared as if Kalandor already had two days schedul's for this days one. Well, one could only truely be solved by himself anyhow, and with further thought, cursed that mortals were just that, and time had a true meaning for them.

    "My Friends, I request you all to get dressed and take that anti-hangover treatment the Narul (The Kal'Ox) brought with him, I need to comune and asign. It's unfortuneate but it appears we will have to break up early."

    And so communing with the Spite Erack made his decisions.

    "Mine friends. It is with sorrow that I must bid you leave early, but I think we all know that the problem with spreading religon amoungst the Orcs won't be solved anytime soon." Looking at the three Orcs. "I wish you to Seek Frellon and the tribe of Orc's he surely resides with. Open a prayer link this night and I shall continue your instructions." 'If only all the gods could use the magic of message' Kalandor Thought.
    Turning to the Human. "I ask you to bid your companions to comtinue, Belief spreads well, and I shall be able to use it soon, your times will come."
    Turning to Narul Kalandor spoke. "And as i't is amoungst the Humans it also is amoungst those that believe amoungst your knidreds. However it needs to start being directed at some of the more agresive ellements, we will need to get it curbed for peace to spread."
    And looking at them all Kalandor said. "You all have your tasks, and I have my own to see to. I bid you farewell."

    Turning he strode from veiw, which dispite the forest, quickly became miles as both his form and space between him and his destination seemed to warp to acomadate the quickest traveling pace. Rising to a high tree, he issued a low howl that travelled the disk, reaching the ears of his siblings and other beings.

    "I am, I Live and I Travel. I am glad to hear these invitations that you have spread, and do belive that to talk as a family would be apropriate. I make way to you Fayruz."

    This message though, wouldn't appear as a howl, it would come as a blowing of wind, or in the tap of feet as one may travel from one destination from another, those in villages hearing it as an overheard rumer as the villagers go about their business, yet with no visible source.
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  23. - Top - End - #263
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    Quote Originally Posted by shorewood View Post
    Haramhold and Amanda came upon the river which coursed passed Salus as they returned from the crystal cave. They were deep in conversation on some of the finer intricacies of crystal lore, when Haramhold raised a hand for silence. Amanda strained her ears and found that far off in the distance, farther than she'd would have ever been able to hear before; a low rumpling sound. Like the cresting of a wave upon the ocean, but that made no sense. They were many leagues away from the sea what could possibly be making such a noise.

    After a moment a smile spread across Haramhold's face and he let out a deep hearty laugh of joy. "Come Amanda, if I am not mistaken Jongo my eldest sibling has decided to pay us a visit."
    Taking her hand Haramhold pulled her to a dead sprint toward the oncoming sound.

    O how Haramhold had missed his siblings, he missed their conversations, their varied opinions, he just missed their company. Sure Jongo's whimsical and care free nature sometimes grated against Haramhold, and his ability to get into anything was annoying. But after so many years Haramhold couldn't find it in his heart to hold any of that against Jongo. One doesn't know how dear something is until you loose it.

    As they ran around a bend in the river Haramhold and Amanda found themselves not ten feet away from a massive wave with the shinning red dolphin gracefully racing across it surface.

    Shocked at this sight Amanda stopped dead in her tracks managing to ask one incredulous question before the wave overtook them. "You're related to a dolphin?"


    Setting her mind to controlling the water, Jongo pushed up the river, closer and closer to Haramhold.

    Finally, Jongo saw him, along with a mortal girl, with a cute red thing in her chest.

    He hadn't heard what Haramhold said, but Jongo clearly heard the girl speak, "You're related to a dolphin?"

    The wave collapsed.

    Jongo couldn't hold his concentration. The Dolphin couldn't stop laughing.

    "Hee-hee-ho-ho-haaaaa-ha. Dear girl, yes! And no." Giggling mercilessly, Dolphin Jongo could see she was confusing the poor girl. So, to make things easier, Jongo changed.

    The river rose up, like a great arm and hand, and gently set Jongo down on the shore near Haramhold. By the time Jongo was on the ground, he had taken a human form and stood just as tall as Amanda, but was clothed in a simple white smock, and Jongo had chosen the curious affection of having pointed ears.

    Both green and grey eyes looked over Amanda, a curious grin on Jongo's face. "You see, I'm not a Dolphin. Not right now. Though I do like dolphins. They are very nice, and helpful, and they are fast and powerful, and protect you from sharks. Sharks. Ick. Now them, I don't like. Haramhold, keep away from sharks. As your older sibling, trust me, you don't want to be near them. Or the Aboleth. But you should really visit the Leviathan, if given the chance."

    Excited to finally see one of her siblings, Jongo could not seem to stop babbling. Jongo turned to Haramhold fully, and grinned a familiar grin.

    "I have so many questions! Like, who is this lovely girl? And why do you smell more like sawdust then before? Have you heard from anyone else? How are they? Did you hear Fayruz sing? It was beautiful!"

    The Band of Chaos - now a bracelet on Jongo's right arm - played a low note, and Jongo's white smock changed to all sorts of colors very briefly before settling to white again.

    "But where are my manners? Haramhold, this is the Band of Chaos, Band of Chaos, this is my brother Haramhold. He's nice. So behave." Jongo held up his arm, to allow her brother to get a better look.

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    Current Form looks similar to this smirking elf:
    Last edited by Gengy; 2012-02-27 at 09:46 PM.
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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

  24. - Top - End - #264
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    "But where are my manners? Haramhold, this is the Band of Chaos, Band of Chaos, this is my brother Haramhold. He's nice. So behave." Jongo held up his arm, to allow her brother to get a better look.
    Haramhold took Jongo's hand leaning down to examine the Band of Chaos more closely. "What a fine piece of craftsmanship..." looking up Haramhold suddenly realized that he had lost track of his surroundings for a moment. "I seem to have forgotten myself. Jongo may I introduce you to my adopted daughter Amanda, Amanda this is Jongo the eldest of Baz'Auran's children."

    "It is a pleasure to meet you Lord Jongo." said Amanda as she gave a bow.

    "As to your other questions; I hadn't noticed the smell of sawdust, and I haven't heard from anyone else beside Feyruz." Said Haramhold as he recalled how beautiful the tinkling of the underground waterfall was when it merged with his sister's song. "I'm afraid I've been a little preoccupied to give it much thought. I am glad that she is doing well, I admit I was worried for her."

    Haramhold motioned for the trio toward Salus and they began to talk as they walked. Haramhold filling telling Jongo of his times on the disc from his landing to the war with the trolls and even his encounter with the demon Ko. He was just about finished when Salus came into sight. And although its grand walls were not even halfway finished they still spoke of strength.

    Pointing his arm at the city on the hill Haramhold spoke with a hint of pride. "This my dear brother is Salus my home." looking toward Amanda as he spoke he took her hand "Our home."

    This was the first time Haramhold had realized that this city was just as much a home to him now as the white city had been perhaps even more so since it was not only built on his will but by his sweat and his love.
    Sometimes it is useful to know how large your zero is. ~Author Unknown

  25. - Top - End - #265
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    Jongo walked with Haramhold, and was - surprisingly - mostly silent during his brother's story.

    Haramhold, and probably his daughter, may have noticed, though, that Jongo kept looking at Amanda.

    And then Salus came into view. The wall, the town, the bustling workers...

    "Oh, Butterfly. This is beautiful in it's own way too. You made this? This Salus? It's grand! I like it! But... whatever did you do to my niece?" Jongo said the word, testing it out, and found that she liked it.

    Sidling up to Amanda, Jongo said conspiratorially, "You have such nice skin, girl. The crystal in your chest sets it off nicely. But really, you shouldn't let strange men put gems in your body. Jewely is nice, but one shouldn't get too... attached to it."

    Jongo winked, to soften the words, and let Amanda know he was joking. She then stared very hard at the gem, and listened to the tuneless song from his Bracelet.

    "Butterfly! You... you changed her, didn't you?"
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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

  26. - Top - End - #266
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    "Butterfly! You... you changed her, didn't you?"
    "Yes... although I do not completely understand how. " said Haramhold as he turned to face Amanda "When I saw you walk out of the cave, the light dancing upon your skin; you were... are so beautiful. I somehow knew that the crystal you had wrought was an extension of your soul. So I strengthened the bond with a part of mine."

    Squeezing his hand Amanda spoke "I do not fully understand either but I feel more alive now than I ever had before. Colors are brighter, sounds clearer, I see the world with new eyes. And it is beautiful. She had said that last sentence as her gaze fell upon Haramhold.

    Suddenly the two of them realized that they hadn't let go of each others hands in some time and that they had somehow managed to stand intimately close.

    Coughing Haramhold releases his grasp and they both took a step back. "So Jongo, tell me of your adventures. I am quite sure they would put mine to shame, you always had a knack for finding excitment where none thought it possible."
    Sometimes it is useful to know how large your zero is. ~Author Unknown

  27. - Top - End - #267
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    Kalandor in the Rocklands

    The land Kalandor the Traveler would find himself in was a far cry from the land where he had ascended. It was harsh and bright, a land where the ground was often either hard rock or loose sand, and where fields capable of growing even the slightest food were rare. Tall spires, shaped by wind and rain, towered in unearthly geometries in the tall hill country, before it fell down towards the southern deserts, or rose up into the forbidding mountains of the north.

    Tribal camps were scattered across this land, moving outwards from a central point, a tall hill that could be seen from miles off. The ruins upon it must once have been great, but were now nothing more than broken shards stabbing at the sky; as he came closer, he could see that it had been turned into one great encampment, complete with small wooden palisades on the paths ascending the hill that could be used to turn it into a rough fortress, one easily broken by a more concerted military assault. Larger camps were set up in the land all around it, and these camps were a veritable mixture of disparate cultures all blending together, creating a unique and diverse culture all their own.

    The people of these camps were, likewise, a mixture. Some were tall, some were short, but most had either bronzed skin or dusk-dark skin, and black hair that either hung in curls or fell straight, caught up into ponytails among both men and women. The men typically wore, out-of-doors, hoods and veils designed to protect them from the hot sun, while women still wore neither of these, but crude jewelry instead, made from leather thongs and sand-smoothed pebbles. However, they were slowly moving into something new and strange for them - a world where a man could cook, and a woman could hunt with the men.

    They were, it must be said, suspicious of strangers, and unless he went directly to his sister – who he would find curing an outbreak of fever in one corner of the encampment – or introduced himself as the brother of Fayruz, Kalandor ever-yearning, he would find little friendship among them.
    -build that wall and build it strong-
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    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
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    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
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  28. - Top - End - #268
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    Hungry Sands

    The oncoming sandstorm hit the pillar of rock with the force of a thunderclap, causing the edifice to shudder violently. Yet by some providence it held, and Dasque was treated to the view of the whirling foulness beneath. Her rapid ascent seemed to have confused the storm, and she watched it whip in every direction around the pillar, seeking its prey. But Dasque's respite could not last, as whatever malefic will that drove the storm realized the oddity of the stone pillar. Scraping against the stone like a million nails raked across a chalk board, the storm funneled upwards, cresting the lip of the pillar and encircling Dasque once again. This close to the edge of the storm, she realized with dawning horror that the black sand was not simply swirling with the wind - no, within the storm writhed a multitude of skeletal hands, each composed of naught but sand, reaching their claws towards her light. The first to try was burned away by the radiance about her, but as the storm pressed closer the sky above Dasque grew black, until the strand of True Light was all that illuminated her in the dome of swirling sand.

    Another clawed limb thrust towards Dasque, shedding layers of sand like ash from burning flesh, and was easily dispatched by a swipe of her spear. Another followed, and another, testing Dasque's skill with her weapon. Then came three, then five, until Dasque was at the center of a whirling multitude of grasping hands. Had it not been for her peerless skill with the spear, she might have been overwhelmed, but for what seemed like hours not a single taloned finger found its mark. But then, the slightest slip, and the black sand passed over exposed flesh. Immediately, Dasque felt the presence behind the storm, something dark and alien and impossibly old. It pressed against her mind, but then her spear severed the grasping limb and the presence was gone. The assault withdrew then, circling her in a shifting wall of absolute black.

    I was old when the pharaohs first mounted
    The jewel-decked throne by the Nile;
    I was old in those epochs uncounted
    When I, and I only, was vile;

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    ...one could possibly refer to you guys' elaborate dance of allies-to-enemies-to-suicide-of-the-universe as some sort of weird art form.

    If one were on drugs.
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    Behold, the mighty slayer of strangely coloured mutant equines! The thwarter of forum woes! The! Dark! DM!

  29. - Top - End - #269
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    Quote Originally Posted by shorewood View Post
    Coughing Haramhold releases his grasp and they both took a step back. "So Jongo, tell me of your adventures. I am quite sure they would put mine to shame, you always had a knack for finding excitment where none thought it possible."


    And so Jongo told her story to Haramhold as they walked into Salus. Animated as ever, mortals could hear Jongo as he occasionally shouted out words like "Mermaid!" or "Dolphins!". All the while, parts of Jongo's body changed shape to show bits of what he was talking about.

    "And oh, oh, oh! Butterfly, Amanda, Jewely... it was terrifying. Don't go near the Abyss. It's like some great maw, sucking on the bottom of a glass of water, slowly draining the cup until it is empty. I can't believe I was ever thinking about just... jumping in." Jongo couldn't shape change to show how terrible the Abyss was, but the Band of Chaos started playing low sad notes (slightly off key) and it was enough.

    "If Leviathan hadn't shown up, I'd probably be a completely different Jongo right now. And not a happy one."

    And then the mortals of Salus saw something amazing. All through the air around Jongo, colors, pure colors, danced and spun and twisted and turned, easily and with music so odd that it was alluring.

    "That's when I found the Chaos. If you give me a little time, Haramhold, I can change EVERYTHING. I've got ideas now! Lots of ideas! Like you and Rumel. Rumel! Have you heard from him? Is he all right? No, no, you already said you'd only heard from Fayruz. Oh! Faden is fine, I think. I found a fairy-like thing that might have been from him. It was fully made of magic. And and and -- I can SEE so much. There are others, Butterfly! So many others. Everything changes, constantly. It was almost overwhelming. I got such a crick in my neck from sitting on a rock and doing nothing for YEARS but trying to learn how to watch it all."

    The lights and sounds faded away, as quickly as they appeared, and Jongo looked serious for a moment, all thoughts of adventures gone from her face. Haramhold, over years of living with the eldest scion of Baz'Auran, might recognize this as a sign of something important about to be said.

    "Butterhold... can you make a ship? Like the Floating Bubble that was in the White City? Or was it called the Winged Wonder? No, no. I never did get to name it. Ohhhhh... that's frustrating. Anyways, can you make another one? I could help this time!"
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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

  30. - Top - End - #270
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Heroes of the Fall

    The Darkness on the Sand

    Khalen and the golem travelled northwards for many leagues until he could just make out the looming mountains at the northern edge of the continent.

    “Here is where we will make our stand,” he said.

    The shifting sand beneath his feet would serve as a poor foundation for any building and would leave the outer walls vunerable to anything could burrow beneath the desert surface. Marshalling his power, he pressed his hands together and slowly drew them apart. As he did so, the sand before him divided as if carved by a great invisible blade, revealing the rock floor below. He turned to the golem.

    “First One, I give you a task. Retrieve stone from the slopes of yonder mountains and bring it to this location. Shape the stone into building material as best you can.”

    Spoiler
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    Minor Act: Create Landscape - Shifting away the sand so that Khalen's future stronghold can be built on rock.


    The golem nodded and strode away, leaving Khalen alone on the rocky plateau. His thoughts began to drift and slowly turned towards his siblings. Recalling some of the excerises Tezzerin had taught him, his breathing slowed and he closed his eyes. Khalen felt that strange weightlessness that had carried him down to his trial but it was different this time, he could control where his spirit moved and saw.

    Images, blurry at first, slowly filled his vision. He saw a campfire where a fair young maiden was singing a lament for her missing siblings....Fayruz! Her song called across the surface of the Disk, reaching out and touching her brothers and sisters.

    More images....this one of an island chain somewhere, where a muscular man walked hand in hand with a beautiful young woman. The man turned his head and Khalen saw the unmistakeable profile of Haramhold. He was laughing and pointing at something. The vision refocused slightly and Khalen saw the object of his laughter. A ridiculous red dolphin was swimming up the river, a silly grin on its face. There was only one being in the cosmos that would wear such a ludicrous shape. So Jongo had met up with Haramhold....perhaps in the fullness of time, he would seek him out as well.

    The image refocused again and Khalen felt a icy chill crawl up his spine. It was a desert, with what looked like a dancing flame, burning more brightly than anything Khalen had ever seen. Around it a dark shadow was closing in on it. The shadow sent a tendril out towards the flame and it flickered slightly. He willed the vision to zoom in on the brightness and saw the figure of Dasque, carrying a spear of some strange design and fighting back against the snaring tendrils of darkness, a grim and determined expression on her face.

    Khalen snapped out of his trance. He did not know whether this was a vision of something that had happened, was happening or was going to happen. All he did know was that whatever was menacing Dasque was a creature of darkness and chaos and had no right to exist on this world. Moments ago, where stood a frail figure in a dark robe, now in its place was a swirling vortex of sand, rising over the rocky plateau. With a sound like a crack of thunder, the sandstorm roared away to the south.

    Khalen flew onwards as a raging tempest of sand and wind, faster than any hurricane. The towering dunes marched past and the sand beneath him blurred as he willed himself ever faster. Focused as he was on the fading signal of Dasque’s light, he felt as though he were being followed. A small spark of light, almost lost under the sand and storm cloud approached him and spoke.

    “From Faden. Alive. Safe. Island to North of Great Desert.”

    Khalen thought for a moment. Time was of the essence. “Messenger, return with this: “Khalen alive, assisting Dasque, enclosing darkness, send word to siblings.”

    The sprite pulsed brightly for a moment and sped away as Khalen continued his flight. Day turned into night and night into day for what seemed like an eternity before he saw a great stone tower rising out of the sands.. The light seemed bright against the swirling darkness as Khalen approached.
    Last edited by The Succubus; 2012-02-29 at 09:52 AM.

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