Ongoing Games (In-Character)Play-by-post games are going on in this forum as we speak (well, read). All threads on this board are actual games, so please, only post on a thread if you are a player of that game.
“I don’t think you will have to stand entirely alone.” The Abbot says with a smile after Hondshioh’s display of fealty. “But it will be difficult to convince all of the other Orders. I doubt even the Keepers will want a civil war amongst the Orders, but it very well may come to that. And the Church will still have its unordained troops ready to protect the interests of the Council. Like us, I imagine many of them can be convinced to join your cause if they can be made to see the truth.
The Abbot frowns.
“But these angels are the most worrying aspects of all this. Just how many of them does the Council have at their beck and call? You said you knew one of them from before, yes? And that she served as a guardian of the Palace of the Sun, which means this isn’t even just a band of fallen angels masquerading as the Valkyrie’s servants.”
He shakes his head as he turns back to his desk, starting to draft up a document.
“I will have messengers dispatched by tonight to the other orders. Hopefully Karth’s men would not assume they’re runners being sent for help and try to intercept them. I will also send one of the angels’ bodies with the runner heading to the Guardians. Perhaps they will be able to make sense of it. With your permission, of course.”
The abbot pauses in his writing with a sigh.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think you are going to be able to convince Karth to step aside. Pride has always been a weakness of his. The best warrior, the greatest – and Last! – Lord General of the Crusade . . . no, Karth will not want to step aside and watch. Which will probably only mean more bloodshed.”
The monastery’s leader, already a man starting to feel the weight of age now appeared ancient as he rubbed at his eyes in frustration.
“Should I send away those acolytes who absolutely will not swear themselves to his banner? Likewise with the townsfolk, who will need convincing that welcoming Karth’s force is not akin to welcoming a public burning of all those he dubs “heretics”? Or will he simply chase after anyone attempting to flee, and simply cut them down in the middle of the road?”
The Abbot sighs.
“I don’t suppose there’s anyone on the council at present who isn’t guilty? Someone who we could maybe convince to speak out against the others, and serve as a rallying point for the others? That would presumably lead a certain legitimacy to what we are doing, instead of an outright revolt against the Church’s leadership.”
The Surrounding Forest
Istomilo winces at your anger, but you also notice as he sets his jaw. He was not happy with the outcome of this truth-telling, and he had not been cowed by your righteous anger.
“What point would that serve? You have already made up your mind, haven’t you?” He says wearily, nonetheless starting to lead you off down the hall. Suddenly, he stops, whirling back around to face you.
“And you come here to pass judgment on our actions, but wasn’t that the whole point of this? Having taught us everything, you would leave and allow us to govern ourselves?”
Technically, this last point was true, the idea had been to allow the humans autonomy. Of course, that freedom surely did not free them from the Valkyrie’s laws, either. And they had definitely broken a number of those laws in a rather short time span, even from a human’s perspective!
Gazing into your face with hope, Istomilo snorts and shakes his head as he apparently sees his argument is not going anywhere.
“Forget it. Let’s go, so you may say what you wish to the Queen.”
The trip of the Throne Room is a fairly short one. You enter to find Titania perched on the throne, Pyria sitting on her lap. Both of them were giggling over something, presumably some sort of joke that had been told just before you entered. Of Ysora, there was no sign. Upon seeing you and Istomilo, the laughter faded from both of them.
Titania greets you with a cold stare, and a slight defiant tilting of her jaw.
“So . . . the Protector of Humanity comes back at last. Funny . . . I don’t seem to recall inviting you to come. Nor requesting your aid – Phaedra has long since become strong enough to stand on its own.”
The City of Amaranth
The (Destroyed) City Slums
“Alright old friend. It’ll just be like those days at the Academy. You come thundering in to make a mess, and I stay behind to clean it up.” Seymour says with a tired smile, arms spread wide to encompass the destruction all around you. Then he turns away to deal with the vampire lord, who was apparently likewise making arrangements to leave in haste. Concerned only with reclaiming what was once yours, you pay them little heed as you absorb a last bit of necromantic energy, and then cast the teleportation spell.
For a split-second, you are all caught in between points in reality, a sensation that is doubtless far more disturbing to those still with physical forms. Then the moment is past, and you find yourself standing in the midst of a small cave with Omega and Roger’s new body.
So . . . this is the lair of the great Sohssal. Doesn’t look so great to me.
Roger comments, turning his (her?) head around to look at the rotten wood that once held the small amount of ritual supplies you kept for emergency teleports.
Oh that’s right, this is just some hideaway on your island. My mistake.
Would it be possible to rest before beginning our two-hour journey to your estate? I am feeling quite drained. Maintaining this telepathic link has required more focus than I realized before.
Before you can respond, the unexpected sound of human voices reaches your ear.
“So, tell me again why we’re up here poking our heads in dark, dank holes while the rest o’ the lads are partying down on the beach?”
“Because that’s what the Cap’n wants. ‘Sides, he’s probably looking for a place to bury our latest haul. And if we’re lucky, he’ll pick this spot and have us bury it. Then we’ll know where it is in case things go sour.”
“Or the Cap’n’ll put a rope ‘round our necks. Dead men tell no tales, savvy?”
“Bah, we’re too valuable to waste like that!”
“Yeah yeah, I’m sure that’s what the last ones that went scouting thought.”
At your words, however strained they may be, the boy gives an authentic smile. Sickening, really.
“That’s great mister! I’m sure he’ll be really glad to meet you! Right this way!”
The boy says, motioning for you to follow. Abruptly, the boy pauses, and then turns back to you.
“I’m sure he’ll be really glad to meet you! Right this way!” He repeats, his tone considerably flatter than the first time he said it. Perhaps repeating themselves was just another annoying thing children did, although it still seemed out of place to you. In any case, you had little time to ponder the implications of this as the child rapidly walked out of the alleyway. He then led you on a merry chase through the streets, although there seemed to be a purpose in his movements.
Finally, the boy came to a stop at a walled residence in a fairly well-to-do section of the city. This part of the city seemed fairly unscathed, unlike the slums you had traveled through. Still, all of the windows from the nearby buildings were dark, and you saw no one else on the streets. All windows except the ones at this residence, which were still blazing merrily.
Going up to the estate’s gate, the boy rattles it violently. You are just starting to wonder if you would need to bound your way over the wall to bring your little task to an end when a largish figure appears from the dark. He seems to be yet another fine example of the lower class of humanity - big, brawny, and dumb. Yet there was something slightly off about this fellow as well. But that might have just been the bullfrog he had lodged in his throat.
“Icarus. Your father was very worried about you!” The man rumbles, already starting to pull the gate open. Slowly, his gaze tracks over to you. “If you are looking for a handout, go down to the shelter the next block over.”
“No no! He saved me! He’s a real hero! I thought Dad would like to meet him!”
The brute gazes at you, processing this idea slowly. Finally, his head bobs. “Very well. This way.”
“This way!” The boy repeats, motioning you to continue following him inside. After you enter, the guard closes and locks the gate back up before falling into step behind you. The boy opens the set of front doors, granting you access into an expansive and richly furnished hall, with a set of curving stairs leading up to a balcony and the second floor. As it turned out, standing up on top of the balcony was a man wearing a thick robe. Presumably, the boy’s father given the little brat’s eager greeting and hasty introduction.
“Ah, well met Sir Galloway!” The man says, swinging himself up over the balcony’s railing. He hops smoothly down to the ground floor, landing in a crouch with a slight smile. Standing back up, he walks over to join your small group, hand extended.
“I am Wilford Daedelus the Third. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
Seymour nods at you once, glancing over at Bran.
“Of course. He will be well looked after until your return. The money isn’t even necessary, but it will be appreciated.”
The old mage looks around at the devastation surrounding you all with a sigh.
“We will certainly have need of it in rebuilding the city after this mess. Thank you again, for everything.”
The boy’s care seen to, and Kartul defeated (for now), you had no further business in the city. Your own concern now arriving at the capital before Fianna was able to finish her plans, you create a steed from the ruins of Kartul’s pyramid. As you clamber aboard the constructed horse and ascend into the sky, Mellita calls up to you.
“Lord Umber!! What about me!!?”
True be told, she was probably better off here, and would likely only slow you down. Fianna also clearly didn’t like her. But you had also saved her on several occasions, and it seemed unwise to abandon the asset completely after all that.
(You can proceed with your plan to storm off into the sky if you desire – Mellita will likely slow you down a bit. Basically, because you will need to stop traveling during the day or have her burn up into dust. You don’t really have that concern, both because of your status as a Lord of Blood and your new . . . ah, changes. Of course, a flaming horse shooting across the sky in the middle of the night is disturbing but expected. One going across the sky during the day is likely to attract attention of one sort or another. And you’re gonna have to sleep sometime. Also, even with flight, it will still take at least several days of travel to reach the Capital from Amaranth.)
The Gastly Truth
As you might expect, Akor chuckles in amusement while the Herald hurls curses and insults up at you. Ignoring them both, you query Fury for more information, on a number of different topics. You receive the following replies:
The Herald of Azguloth – An ancient and extremely powerful creature, believed to be the first vampire, formed from the fusion of a mortal man with numerous powerful demons. The Herald has long served as a warning to children, although he was believed destroyed long ago. The Baron has him currently imprisoned for the safety of the crew, but regularly schedules meals to be delivered, apparently in an effort to strengthen him. One such meal would be shortly delivered to him from the summoning chambers on board the Gastly Truth.
Status of Gastly Truth – Operating at 97% efficiency. Currently, preparations were underway to depart the Baron’s estate for the capital. Official reason: marriage between the Baron’s son Cheran and the Countess Amelia Ashargrin. Loading of supplies and personnel from the estate would be complete within the hour, and the Gastly Truth would set out immediately thereafter. Estimated time of arrival was four days.
Incom Morgan – First prisoner of Ironheart. Original host for the dragon spirit known commonly as “Akor”. Presumed dead at the Battle of Ironheart.
(Was there anything else you wanted to do before we time skip ahead a little bit? I figure nothing much is going to happen with the airship group until arrival at the capital. )
Slipping quietly over to the air carriages while bemoaning your fate, you manage to enter the most distant carriage without being noticed. To your relief, you find that the carriage is full of objects and not people. Fairly valuable objects, if the gold urns and beautiful paintings are any indication. Apparently the Baron was packing up and leaving his estate behind, possibly for good.
That was interesting new information. But what could be coming that would concern the Baron enough to leave and not come back? Or was this simply yet another wheel the Baron was turning within his maze of “clever” plots?
It seemed you would not have time to ponder this further right now, as you heard someone coming. Crouching down, you manage to position one of the larger paintings between you and the door. Wiggling further under the mound of stuff, you peer out to see a lackey open the door to deposit another addition to the pile. He fails to notice you, wiping at his brow with a sigh of relief after shoving the chest into one empty corner of the room. He then closes the door and raps loudly on the side of the carriage. A moment later, and with a slight jump the carriage takes off into the air.
The trip up to the Ghastly Truth is a fairly quick one, and after a moment’s pause to ensure someone wasn’t standing right there, you crack open the door. The hanger bay of the airship was a busy place, with uniformed crewmen running about. A team of them was working nearby, systematically emptying the carriages one at a time – apparently this carriage you were in wasn’t the only one packed with items instead of people.
Fortunately, this group still had several more carriages to go before they got to yours. You also didn’t see any GHASTs in the immediate area, but did not doubt that they would lingering somewhere nearby. You would need to leave this area soon then, but had enough time to carefully plot out your path. You had no idea where to go, and would be noticed if anyone actually saw you.
“A man speaks to the sparrows if he wishes to learn about hawks.” The half-breed son of the Baron replies in answer to your question. Immediately, he slaps his forehead with a load groan. He seems frustrated, although apparently not with you.
“I want . . . advice.” He grates out with a grimace. “Ysora the Teacher is an archangel, and you are human. But you’re both female. I hoped you could give me advice.”
Lowering his hand away from his face, Nephilium frowns and stares at his fingers, working them back and forth to no end save to give him something to focus his eyes on. He does not look up at you as he continues.
“Ysora is angry with me. I thought we were friends. I thought I was making her happy! But then I told her the truth, and she threw me out of her cell. Was I supposed to lie to her? I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Nephilium shrugs and waves his hand dismissively.
“All I told her was how she reminded me of my wife. My wife, who I killed. She grew angry then. Perhaps it is what I deserve – no, I know I deserve that. But . . . can’t she like me anyway? I like her, despite being an enemy. What am I doing wrong?”
Finally, he looks up into your eyes. His stare is intense, but fleeting – scarcely has his eyes connected with your own before he looks off to the side, and then up at the ceiling.
“Can you help me?”
The Screaming Dark Estate
Avoiding the worst of the conflicts sparked by old grudges up and down the length of the stairway, you make it up to Adamč. Supporting her by the shoulders, you hold her up as she slumps against your grip. She manages an earnest smile at your questions. Weakly, she tries to pull you back up onto your feet after you kneel.
“It’s alright! I’m so relieved it was all lies. I . . . I was so worried . . . that I would be here all alone.”
Up close, you note that Adamč appears somewhat paler than before.
“I’m alright. A little sick to my stomach . . . I think that horrid . . . thing was around me a little too long. Can we get out of here now?”
On the steps below you, there is a sudden commotion as a number of the women scatter. Turning, you find that the source of the commotion is Melcara. Tucked under her arms are Limier and Teareal, with Jim hanging nervously off of her back.
“We should depart quickly before the devils reform.”
Melcara looks back at the feuding women sadly.
“Unfortunately, we shall have to leave these and the other slaves to their fates. Most don’t seem to want to be saved.”
“Nor do I know where we can go, although our safety surely lies in speed. Can you carry her Tare? I do not think I can manage another passenger without becoming encumbered.”
“I – I can walk. At least, if you get rid of these tacky shackles.” Adamč insists, pointing down at the bronze chains locked around her ankles.
Suddenly, you sense a . . . disturbance. It is a very weird feeling, in a day full of strangeness, but oddly comforting, like . . . a cool breeze wafting across your face. It also lingers, allowing you to determine that the feeling is coming from the direction of the balcony.
The Perist Residence
Cerise blinks in shock at your words, only slowly coming around to your bluff. It’s clear that she still doesn’t like the idea as she eyes you and the living corpse warily.
“I suppose so.” She manages to say in an even tone while Berrick grunts.
“I still don’t like this.”
“I do.” The corpse hisses, its dead eyes somehow managing to look at you hungrily.
“We have a deal, sweatmeat! If you’ll release this shell, I can show you what needs to be done for the transference.”
(Because this isn’t going to hurt you and we want things to move along, let’s just assume you release the corpse.)
As the corpse reflexes its limbs and moves over to approach you, Cherise shoots you a questioning glance. She coughs and attempts to look bored.
“So, I’m sure you’ll have all sorts of questions Is, knowing as little as you do. And since you’ll be too busy to ask them, why don’t you tell us what you want to know now?”
“Why don’t we tie her up?” Carlain says suddenly, earning him a hard stare from everyone present. Sighing, he waves at you. “We’re concerned about possessed Isera tearing us apart, right?”
Berrick gives a gruff chuckle. “Good gods, you really are new at this, aren’t you boy? Do you really think a little hemp is going to stop something that can make a corpse move as we’ve seen?”
“I will be placing a ring of wards around Isera. Should anything go wrong, that should buy us some time.” Cerise adds. The corpse leers at all of you.
“If I wanted your breathing to cease, nothing would stop me. My word is bond enough.”
Reaching one cold hand up to your face, the corpse digs a finger from its other hand into the outstretched arm. Removing the gore-soaked finger, the corpse holds your face still while it begins to trace bloody runes on your cheeks.
“These will not last long.” The corpse clucks. “A more permanent anchor would be to use string or carve the magic into your flesh. But you don’t want that, do you? A pity . . . I could show you such marvelous things in return for your body. You would hardly miss it!”
“Get it over with.” Carlain hisses, while Cerise begins to quietly trace runes of her own in the dirt at your feet. Both Cerise and the corpse finish at nearly the same time, Cerise having drawn a double ring of wards around you while the corpse has painted your face, neck, and arms with its own congealed blood.
“Now the last step . . . breathe out, young one.”
As you exhale, the corpse grabs you violently, pulling you in close to press its decayed lips up against yours. You can hear it exhale as you reflexively tense up in shock. And, of course, take a deep breath in, pulling something out of the corpse. You can feel it crawling down your throat as the messily scrawled runes on your skin begin to grow warm. Slowly, the corpse lets go and falls back, crumbling to dust at your feet. A moment later, the runes burn with a searing intensity, and your entire body cramps up at once – you undoubtedly would have screamed if your body was still responding to your commands. But it was yours no longer, as a presence roars into your mind. It slams your mind, your essence, your soul, whatever it was that made you specifically you, into a dark corner of your own brain and held you there, effortlessly. You could still feel yourself breathing, the caress of the wind on your skin, but you could not even manage to twitch your own pinky.
I will allow you to experience this, for your own education.
You feel yourself give forth a great laugh as you run your hands gently over your entire body. One hand runs itself through your hair, tangling several short strands in its fingers. And then the hand pulls, sending a spike of pain down into your scalp. You feel yourself smile.
“Such . . . wonderful sensation! It has been so long . . .”
“You said you would answer our questions now?” Cerise comments from outside the circle. You feel yourself look at her with a sneer.
“Mayflies . . . how impatiently they buzz.”
You open your mouth to continue, but then stop, frowning in curiosity as you raise your replacement hand in front of your face, turning the gloved appendage back and forth.
“What is this?” You question aloud, reaching your other hand over to quickly snatch the glove off, and revealing the mechanical replacement underneath. There is a joint grasp of shock from the others. Perhaps not surprisingly, Carlain is the first to speak.
“What did you do!!?”
“I did nothing!” You hiss back in reply. “Or do you think it was chance that the sweatmeat is wearing gloves?”
“Is . . .” Cerise whispers, still staring at the replacement for your flesh and blood hand. After a moment, she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. “Are you going to answer our questions or not?”
“Of course. A deal is a deal. What was it you wanted to know again?”
(Feel free to either post up a list of questions that you want the answers to, or play it out as Cerise/Berrick/Carlain. If I think you missed anything important, I’ll be sure to have Cerise/Berrick/Carlain ask it themselves next DM. )
Picking yourself up off the ground, you manage to leave without having to limp. The beating probably looked far worse than it actually felt, and would do little to diminish your abilities. Which was good, as you weren’t planning on running away. Far from it, you were going to give Brock what he wanted and figure out where the Guard was keeping this mysterious shipment. And, of course, exactly what this bizarre shipment was.
This meant that you would have to somehow break into either the City Guard offices to find the seizure entry in their ledgers (along with hopefully an identification of what it was), or break into their impound yards and locate the shipment directly. Quite possibly, you would have to do both if the record at the offices was just a stub.
However, the office would tell you exactly where to look in the impound yard – the capital was pretty large, and the City Guard had an impound yard to match. Presumably, given the apparent unusual nature of this shipment, the guards would have it stored in their “exotic materials” warehouse. That was still a fairly large area to search, but it was also undoubtedly less well-guarded than the offices – there are only so many guards, and a lot of ground for them to cover at the impound yard.
A plan still churning around in your mind, you numbly wipe the blood off your face with your sleeve as you tromp back into the Silver Bell. Thankfully, you still had the presence of mind to enter through the back, otherwise you might have caused a scene. As it was, you still had a barmaid to deal with.
Scarcely had you passed through the backdoor before Mina, one of the Silver Bell’s daytime barmaids (and probably the one most smitten with you) pokes her head into the hallway. Her eyes widen with a gasp as she sees you.
“Argan! Who did this!?” She clucks, rushing over to help you despite you not really needing the help to walk. She leads you into the supply closet despite your protests, plopping you down on a crate.
“I’ll go get some bandages!”
She returns a minute later with an old towel, an equally worn rag, and a bottle of cheap liquor. She efficiently tears the towel into strips, and soaks one corner of the rag in the liquor. She is just starting to delicately rub your wounds with the rag when the door opens again. Mr. Grodo, the owner of the Silver Bell, enters with a grumble.
“Mina, what are you doing? We’ve got customers waiting out there and – good gods, Argan lad, what happened to you? You flirt with another effeminate nobleman?”
Despite the scowl Mina shoots his way, Grodo manages a chuckle as he comes over to join you.
“Well, don’t worry about playing for the rest of the day lad. Can’t have the customers thinking I beat you!”
He shoots a look back at Mina.
“I may have to take my hand to the backside of my distracted barmaids, however.”
Mina shoots him an exasperated look before offering him the alcohol and blood soaked rag.
“Would you like to do this, Mr. Grodo?”
Holding up his hands with a smirk, Mr. Grodo shakes his head in mock horror.
“No no, I hate the sight of blood and all that, perish the thought! Carry on dear, just hurry up with it. Argan’s not made of glass, he won’t break if you dig it in a little more. Might help him remember for the next time, too!”
The Northern Forest
It becomes apparent as you approach the trio that they have trained to work together. They begin to separate, splitting up to surround you. They meet your initial charge with a barrage of their daggers. Those damned daggers that sliced and stung you worse than you had ever known.
Fortunately, you were almost a blur as you wildly charged in, and so the six daggers that rushed out to meet you did not all land. If they had, you might have ceased. As it was, one sliced a bleeding wound in your side that took a few moments to close and another embedded itself halfway into your shoulder.
Still charging towards the nearest one, you follow as he tried to dance back, drawing another set of daggers. They avail him not as you finally reach him and send one rock-equipped fist smashing into his groin. As he doubles over, the other fist comes up, crushing his face.
Despite the effectiveness of this attack, you realize too late that your strategy had been flawed. You had been focused on only one opponent, leaving your backside exposed to the other two. You were not an experienced fighter, but these men clearly were . . . and it almost seemed as if they had been trained to fight you. Which was impossible, but there it was.
In any case, while you were busy crushing the first assailant’s face, the other two pounced, burying their four daggers into your body. Your vision began to grey again, and you realized one of the daggers had plunged all the way through your right arm and into your torso, pinning the limb uselessly against your side.
Fighting with the blind fury of a wounded and cornered animal, you rounded on the second of the three new attackers, flailing at him with your remaining good arm. Despite your speed, which had admittedly slowed greatly from your initial rush thanks to five daggers now embedded in you, the man is able to dance back out of reach. More annoying still, he was able to dance back in after each clumsy swing, slashing at you with his third pair of daggers. The wounds reseal after each cut, but slower each time as more of your energy bleeds out of your body into the ether. In addition to trapping your essence in this mortal body, the knives seem to interfere with your ability to convert matter into more energy, although not as effectively. Still, in the middle of a fight, it was difficult to convert sufficient matter to keep yourself going.
Finally, you pin the man back against a tree, and before he can dodge aside you swing your arm around into his side, crushing half of his torso in. And yet this still proved to be yet another trap, as with his dying breath the man fell forward, burying his daggers into your chest and holding you still while his remaining companion leapt in.
You felt a coldness sweep through your chest as the third man’s dagger finds your mock heart, and half of your vision blacks out completely. It takes you a moment to register what had happened there – the man had shoved the second of his daggers into the back of your skull, the point of its emerging and obliterating your right eye.
Now with nine of these assailant’s cursed blades sticking out of your body in various places, you feel the last of your strength leave you. The rock tumbling from your grip, you fall over onto your side with a thin whine. Your entire body was wrecked with agony, and you could now feel each of the hateful daggers sucking at your essence, drawing it into them and away from you, literally tearing you apart piece by piece.
You couldn’t move, you couldn’t convert matter into energy, you couldn’t hardly even think. All you could do was watch, helplessly, as the last surviving attacker strolled into your now constrained field of view. Quite confident now, the man steps in to deliver a series of kicks to your midsection. Your body not built in the exact same inefficient ways as a human’s, the blows don’t really hurt. They do, however, jostle the daggers, and that *does* hurt.
With one last kick, the man rolls you over onto your back, moving to straddle you as he reaches far into his robes. He pulls out a blade similar in construction to the daggers he and his companions had been using, although this was more like a sword than a knife. Pulling his mask down with one hand, he spits on your face, and then utters a series of words as he clasps the sword in both hands as he raises it high over his head. Although not in the human’s most common tongue, you still somehow recognize the words.
“Lord Athelion the Lifebringer, hear my plea. Give me the strength to be an instrument of Your justice, and lend my blade Your guidance. Let me server the heart of this demon with but a single stroke!”
And just then, at the moment when it seems all hope was gone, it reappears in the form of Richard, howling like a demon as he swings a tree branch into the back of the assassin’s head. The man crumples with the first surprise blow, although Richard delivers a few more wild blows to his fallen body, evidently just to be sure. You seem to blacken out after that.
You awake an indeterminate amount of time later, your body lying in a bed. The hateful knives are gone, although your sight and full mobility has not returned. It takes you a few moments to realize that this is not due to permanent injury to your shell, but rather due to the large amount of cloth wound tightly around your body in places where the knife wounds had been.
Looking around with your one non-covered eye, you can see Richard sitting in a chair a short distance away, in the middle of an uneasy sleep. A fire was crackling softly in a fireplace, and in one corner of the dimly lit room you could see a large number of animal skins piled up. You seemed to be in a wooden cabin of some sort, all one room with a single door and window leading to the outside.
I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.
Argan sighed, the wheels beginning to spin. On one level, he was just curious. But he had to admit, on another level, it was good to be thinking like this. Life hadn't been challenging lately. He'd just been slouching around. This, this would involve all of his skills. And if things broke out like he was planning, he might get everything he wanted.
Figure out what the hell it is that Brock wants, and have the Guard go into open Warfare with the Thieves Guild.
However, upon entering the Silver Bell, he came under assualt from an unforseen source. Mina rushed toward him like Iron drawn to a Lodestone.
"Mina, its fine."
Any other day, Argan would have been glad to see it. After all, that's what he did. But not today. However, she didn't seem deterred.
"It isn't as bad as it..."
Before he could finish, he found himself in a supply closet, seated and waiting for her to return. He sighed, realizing that escaping from Mina might end up being more difficult then getting away from Brock was. After all, all that Brock would have done was kill him.
I guess I'm just to handsome and charming for my own good.
Argan smiled, at least until Mina returned and started cleaning up his wounds. Along with her came Mr. Grodo, who asked him what happened. Argan decided the truth was the best thing to with. Or at least as close as possible.
"Nope, not this time. I was going out to buy some supplies, strings and such, when I got mugged. They took most of my coin, but I managed to hide some. After that, they vented some of their frustrations on me."
Argan sighed theactrically, and his smile just turned rueful.
"Apparently, they were very frustrated."
Argan turned to Mina, and smiled.
"Don't listen to him, Mina Dear. You are doing fine. No idea why he can't seem to extend a little bit of sympathy to this fortune's child abandoned by his parent."
Internally, Argan wondered how he was going to get away from this. He had time... if not that much. And if his plan was successful, he could get an extension. It would be touch and go, but that's what life was when you played this game. He could pull it off.
...if I can escape from Mina.
"Mina Dear, how much longer are you going to be at this? I think I'd like to eat something, and then maybe get some sleep."
Argan was still being manipulative, trying to push her into a course that would give him the freedom he needed.
(ooc: Jumped to Cerise to ask questions as I could)
Isera had offered up a few questions while playing distracted - it had been easy enough with the disconcerting presence in front of her painting her with blood. The questions that she had tossed out where pretty general ones, the kind that Cerise knew already, and were likely only to trigger more questions and answers depending upon them. Cerise had focused on the runes she was making while Isera had stood still as she could.
But the glowing runes and sneer had set Cerise's heart back a step. Isera was not Isera. Not right now, anyway. She had no idea if Isera could even hear her voice, and that was a frightening thing. But Cerise had to do the job Isera had trusted her with. Maybe Berrick would chime in with some questions - he was experienced and had a good head on his shoulders.
Cerise took a deep breath and looked at Isera - the monster - in the eyes. She listed the questions off on her fingers.
"We'll start with these then. What's your name? What are you? Are you solely responsible for the destruction here? If not you, then who else? Why?"
She hesitated. "Why do you desire a living body so much?" Perhaps the monster would have answered it in its response to the previous questions....but she had to know, if only for her own curiousity.
Ander twitches his mustache as he digests the Abbot's words.
Excellent. The sooner you can dispatch messengers, the better. We have no time to lose and it may take some time for them to reach the Wings, the Shields, and the Guardians. Hopefully the Guardians will have some insight into what process turned pure angels into those things. If you think it will help, you might want to send one of the bodies to the Keepers as well. It might help convince them that something is wrong with the Council.
He sighs, and for a moment seems to look his seventy-plus years.
I think we agree that for this to work, our side must have some legitimacy. I will contact Karth via communication crystal and tell him that Dawn's Hope has decided to join the fight against the corrupt Council and that you have dispatched riders to the other orders to try and get them to join in as well. I'll tell him that one of your conditions is that he must leave his army at the base of the mountain for the time being and that you would like to meet with him and his field commanders to discuss strategy. If we can get him to understand that this is no longer his crusade, that it is now a joint effort, and that he is no longer in sole command I think he could still be a useful asset. If not, we will have to detain him. If he tries to fight, we may have to kill him. Either way, without Karth his ragtag army will fall to pieces and it would be much better if it were not inside the town when that happens.
Once we deal with Karth, we can refocus our efforts on uniting the orders and getting more info on the Council. This might be a prime opportunity to get Hondshioh in the field. He's demonstrated a keen sense for unfaithfulness and corruption and is unknown to the Council. He should be able to poke around the Capital without much trouble to try and find out if any of the Exarchs are still on the side of Good. He turns to Hondshioh. And if you can find anything out about how Greyson is altering these angels, it would be invaluable to our strategy.
He turns back to the Abbot. As much as I would like to be investigating the Council myself, I think I would be better served here coordinating the fight. I have the most tactical and strategic experience of any living paladin and, while I may not always show it, a heap of diplomatic experience as well. We'll need that to get all the other Grandmasters to join their orders to our cause.
He leans back in his chair, crossing his arms. So does everyone agree with this plan?
Hondshioh stands while Ander is discussing strategy with the Abbott.
"While I welcome the chance to aid in this in any way I can, are you certain I'd fare well with an investigative mission? I tend to stand out in a crowd, and it was poking around that had me sent here in the first place. The monastery I last lived at sent me here when I found out one of the monks was sleeping with the wife of a local laborer, supposedly as payment of a debt the laborer owed to the monastery. They expelled him, but I think that was just to resolve the issue quickly so I didn't poke my nose in further."
Tare frowned. "You don't look too good... I don't think you should be on your feet too much," He said, lifting her slim (and recently under-fed) frame as easily as the first time they'd met. Easier, perhaps.
As he walked over to Melcara, he glanced around at the throngs of scantily clad women around him. Many of them quarreled with each other, some simply stared in awe (or perhaps jealousy) at Adame and Melcara, as though they would love to smash their heads in with something heavy in order to eliminate the competition. Even in the absence of his putrid aura, Vylethar's harem still seemed ready to kill each other in order to better their own chances with the detestable self-proclaimed "Grandmaster." But some... Some looked young enough to be one of his younger sisters. Some had scars all over their bodies, others could barely walk. Some had amputated arms or legs, but that didn't seem to change much. Tare noticed then that through the rows of doors on the sides of the hallway that many of the slave women cowered terrified at the very backs of their rooms, trying to stay as far away from everything as possible. Tare thought of the black-haired handmaiden... Amanda...? And even the one with Brown hair that had tried to attack Melcara. How many were there down here that did not belong? ...That had never belonged, had never deserved this... but were dealt this Fate for Eternity anyway?
As he walked past, stepping way from the outstretched hands that tried to touch his bare chest or clumsy fists that missed their intended targets and nearly hit him, he felt himself caught from behind, something grabbing onto his burlap shorts. Surprised, he had no difficulty pulling away, but when he turned around and then glanced down, his eyes met with those of a young girl, the same mask and scandalous under-dress that all of the maidens wore, but a completely different look about her than all of the others battling over their Lord's affection. She could not speak, or would not, as it seemed none of the harem could without using their fingers. But as she sat there, on the floor, her legs splayed out behind her... Tare realized that both of her legs were paralyzed. He was caught for a moment, staring into her eyes.
Please. Help me. Before He comes back... Don't leave me here. Before He comes back, please... Please...
Tare stumbled backward. "I'm... I'm sorry... I can't..." He said, unable to look away. She didn't try to follow him, didn't have the strength. Numbly, she started to cry. From fear. "I'm... so sorry... I... I can't..." His voice dropped to a whisper, turning around slowly. Looking away from that girl felt like his heart was being torn out of his very chest. Then he started to notice them everywhere. Here and there, beneath the scrabbling, the pushing and flailing with clubs... behind them, inbetween them. There were not overmany of them, but they were there. There was another. And there, at the back. The ones that knew, now that Vylethar's stink was gone (temporarily, at least) that they did not belong here. They remembered. And yet were stricken, terrified, knowing that it didn't matter that they remembered. Because he was coming back. He always came back eventually. They had no hope. There was no chance, even distant, that anything could change, that the wrong that had been done to them, and would be done to them again was inescapable. And that one day, how many thousands of years from now, that they would eventually forget.
Tare, to his credit, did not freeze up. But the numbness in his chest was overcome instead with ache. There was nothing he could do. Was there nothing anyone could do?
Tare remembered that he was still carrying Adame'. There was something he could do, and now more than ever he absolutely had to do it. That's when he felt it.
Tare paused just as he walked right in front of Melcara. "...Did you feel that?" He asked vaguely, almost hopefully, looking around. "There... It' still there," He said, starting to settle on a direction. "Do you feel it?" He asked, wondering what it could be. But whatever it was, it had to be something very good. "I think... I think it's coming from the balcony...!" He said, moving past Melcara and beginning to work his way toward the sense...
Deo Soli Sit Semper Gloria
Originally Posted by Innis Cabal
Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.
Last edited by OverWilliam : 11-17-2009 at 05:29 PM.
Korram peeks out of the carriage, looking quickly around before withdrawing in order to get as good a look at his surroundings as he can without being noticed. He decides on a course of action, and takes a quick look out, confirming that no one is looking. In an easy, curving motion, he flows from the passenger compartment into the shadows beneath the carriage, crouching uncomfortably but out of most sight.
Using the carriage's undersides, Korram makes his way across the room, finding and aiming for a little used side door that he detects after some searching. He is fast, silent, and very careful not to get caught. He also frequently looks around for the metallic skin of any nearby GHASTs, detectable even from his awkward position.
He reaches the final carriage before the door. This section has already been emptied, so few guards are in the area. Korram does a quick scan around to make sure that no one is nearby, then smiles. Almost there. He makes one final dash, aiming for the door...
Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.
Sohssal gives a short mental growl in Roger's general direction - at least he's harmless...mostly. Sohssal thought about resting for a moment, and didn't find the idea unwelcoming. Teleportation was fairly exhausting, after all.
But the sound of other people's voices provided a distraction. One that would doubtless have some valuable information regarding recent events. I'll handle this one, Sohssal mentally informed his comrades. Then he stepped out towards the source of the noise, already thinking of the many ways he could persuade them to bring Sohssal up to date. He started weaving the magical energy for his favorite wind-based flying spell, which had served quite well as a way to bind people, as well.
Order of the Pstick Avatar by Sneak
Regaining consciousness, its first thoughts are of questions, and gaining the answers. But questions could wait. For now, survival.
A safe place, a place to rest, recover... the man had proved somewhat useful in defending her until now, for inexplicable reasons, and she should hope he would prove to continue so. The next several hours would be... vulnerable... as she sought a new form. Something she could stay in, travel in, all purpose, one that could continue to be useful without her abilities... and one that could slaughter droves of knife wielding assailants.
And so, assimilating the bandages, and then the clothes, and then the bed... and then the floor, and the ground beneath it, she began to work on a new body- one to be familiar with, a physical identity- or at least persona.
At least seven feet tall, humanoid, with long, almost disproportionate, ethereal limbs. The skin is a rough, sandy color, thick and tough enough to survive glancing blows from an accursed knife without undue harm, but only enough to slow a direct stab. The whole thing gives an air of leanness- taut and hard with corded muscles, absolutely no hint of body fat (why bother on such a being) but slender, to an uncanny degree.
Inside is a simple, direct being, without the constraints of a digestive tract or any other system but movement- in the limbs, hypercondensed muscles around a thin, rigid structure. Small glands of concentrated haemoglobins- essentially adrenaline, but better- lining the limbs would prove a backup if leaked of energy. It would be short lived, and not as effective as her main source of energy, but facing that or passing out again (probably to prove victims of the accursed knives) it should prove a decent last resort.
The chest cavity houses a strong, sturdy frame, and inflexible but stolid muscles, in order to hold up the left arm without slowing and fatifuing the other parts of her body too much (built for speed).
The left arm is the only inhuman device. While the right is long, and though strong, wispy and thin, the left is short, thick, gnarled and twisted, curling into her chest when not in use. The skin is made of a craggy, petrous material, hard and very heavy, the phalanges curved, rigid and jagged claws. The entire thing is wide, and the skin stretches out to either side to be used as a sort of shield, likely impenetrable by any sort of mundane blade. Monstrously strong, the fist could probably punch through granite, and would carry enough momentum to snap a man in two.
The face carries the most remnant of human- while long, to remain proportional, it is quite ordinary, containing a vestige of the original girl, but harder. The hair is tied into a practical brown ponytail.
Transformation completed, she gets up, and regards Richard. "...Why did you help me?"
Once this is answered:"What do you know about the words 'Lord Athelion the Lifebringer'?"
Marceline Abadeer by Gnomish Wanderer
Classic Cthulhu by RTGoodman
Critical Failures by Strawberries & Captain Happy, respectively.
Umber paused for a moment, his steed pawing at the empty air. After that moment of hesitation, he returned to earth, sweeping the vampiress up behind him onto the hellsteed with a single smooth motion, placing her arms around his midriff. "As you wish, Mellita. I hesitated to take you, because it's obvious my love is not over-fond of you - but if you want to come with me, I'll not deny you. But we ride fast, and we ride hard. We've little time, and so very much to do."
Titania's greeting might as well have been a slap to the face. Her conversation with Istomilo had hardly been pleasant, but there hadn't been this sort of hostility in his voice. Marisiel felt off-balance, as though she'd been attacked from a wholly unexpected direction—except that she would have known how to adjust to that, and would have been on her feet again in seconds.
This was new and unfamiliar. She felt helpless before the Queen's words. Angry retorts rose up in her mind, polite greetings that would surely be taken for mockery, stern rebukes—but she couldn't find the words that would turn aside the Queen's flat stare. There was something wrong about all of this, and she had no idea how to even try and fix it.
"Your Highness," she said finally, inclining her head in a gesture of carefully measured courtesy. Angels did not bow to mortals, but they had established certain proprieties when they were here before, and this seemed a poor time to abandon them. "We came to speak with you. I was told Ysora was here?"
Avatar by Kasanip; see her sketchbook here!
The Abbot chuckles at Hondshioh’s self-evaluation.
“Some would say that makes you the perfect investigator. You have a knack for looking into things others want to keep hidden. Compared to Ander and myself, you are unknown to the Council and no one will recognize you. And, of course, you are trustworthy!” The abbot concludes with a chuckle, although his expression quickly turns grim again.
“Unfortunately, you are also noticeable, and aren’t much for . . . shall we say, discretion? The Council would also be aware that you were sent here for training, and since they will shortly known we have thrown our lot in behind Ander . . .”
The Abbot briefly pauses in thought, and then looks up.
“Perhaps we could make it look that you left the Monastery in disgust at the thought of treason. You have a reputation for refusing to compromise, which they might believe. With any luck, they’ll be merely suspicious rather than convinced you are a spy. Regardless, it would be terribly dangerous for you to go.”
The Abbot shifted his attention back to Ander.
“Regardless, we need to focus on the more immediate issue: Karth. I can’t imagine he’s going to take this news well. But the sooner this issue is brought to a head, the further away his army will be from the town and the better off everyone will be. Would it help if I was present to add credibility?”
The Surrounding Forest
“Mommy, that’s the pretty lady!” Pyria interjected, provoking a forced smile, and then an icy stare from Titania. But the glare wasn’t focused on you this time, but Istomilo.
“Milo . . . what did you tell her?” She asked with false sweetness, her voice dangerously low. For a moment Istomilo flinched, but then after shooting a glance towards you, set his jaw.
“Just the truth.” He said tightly in reply. This got an eyebrow from Titania, and then a genuine chuckle. Like everything else in this conversation so far, it was sideways from what you expected. Before Titania had laughed freely, and the sound could light up the room. Now, it was hollow and mirthless, a cold gesture given more of out reflex than intent.
“Well, I suppose even serpent scales can shine in the sun.” Titania mused, while gently picking Pyria up and setting her down in front of the throne. As she did so, you caught the briefest flickers of pain flashing across her face. Then the Queen of Phaedra straightened up in her seat, gently waving the Princess towards the door.
“Pyria, why don’t you run off and play in the garden. Milo’s pretty lady and I have important matters to discuss, which aren’t for the ears of princesses.”
“Awwww . . . I’m going to rule all of Phaedra one day! When am I going to get to hear!?”
Titania’s only reply is a more firm wave, earning a typical “awright!” from the most atypical girl. Scampering out of the room, Pyria pauses momentarily to give you a sheepish smile, and then she is gone once again.
“So, to business. In answer to your question, Ysora is gone. Returned to Your Lady, I presume. At least she had the courtesy to come directly here, rather than crawling in and sniffing around – find out anything interesting?”
While she is speaking, she shoots another look at Istomilo, who at first meets her gaze and then eventually looks away. He coughs loudly, interrupting you before you could begin.
“I told her everything, Ti.”
Titania’s reaction is immediate and violent, her face contorting in helpless rage as she slams a fist down on the arm of her throne.
“Why, damn you!?” And then just as quickly as it had come, the rage passes into cold mirth as she chuckles again.
“Of course. It all makes sense now. Even after all these years . . . I’m always going to be your second, aren’t I? Gods . . .”
Titania sighs, and for a moment her mask of cold indignation slips. You have always been the most skilled of your sisters at reading humans. Perhaps it is because you are humanity’s protector, and have spent the greatest amount of time with them.
And now, you could tell that there was a weariness in Titania’s eyes. What Istomilo told you, that she was dying, could quite possibly be true. But along with the weariness there is a resigned determination, the sense of one who knows what they’re doing is wrong, but they do it anyway.
“So, come mouth of the Valkyrie. Lecture me, tell me what I’m doing is wrong. And then when you’re finished, show yourself out.”
The City of Amaranth
The (Destroyed) City Slums
Your two companions nod, both clearly tired and disoriented by the teleportation. You were feeling the drain yourself, but your incorporeal body was resistant to normal exhaustion. What magical power you had left should be enough to handle these two anyway.
Floating out into the adjoining cavern, you see two deeply tanned men attempting to wrestle a large wooden chest behind a thick curtain of stalagmites. Their efforts seem to be making little progress beyond the halfway point, but that doesn’t discourage them from continuing to angrily push against the chest. One of them finally grunts in disgust, giving the chest an angry kick as he backs away.
“Forget that, don’t think it’s going to fit there!”
“Uhhh . . . I think it’s stuck.” The other replies, trying to dislodge the chest and once again failing utterly.
At this point, they both have other problems to address, as you release the spell to waft them both up into the air. At this point their cursing becomes loud and sincere, and their words are about the only thing they can fling at you. One manages to pull a small crossbow out of his belt, although past experience has taught you most projectiles are thrown completely off-course. And anyway, the bolt didn’t appear magical, or even silver which meant it had virtually no chance of harming you.
“Oi! Whaddya do!!?” One of the pirates grunts, while the other twists helplessly, somehow managing to get himself upside down.
“I got no bleeding clue, but it wasn’t me!” The upside down pirate replies, twisting around in mid-air some more until he manages to turn completely around. Then he finally sees you, and immediately turns pale.
“Oh Valkyrie, it’s a g-g-ghost!” He screeches, causing the other pirate to turn his head around enough to catch sight of you.
“I know . . . but I have nowhere else to go. My master has abandoned me, and you are the only other person I know that would accept me. I suppose I should discover my own path, but I’ve never given it much thought before. I need . . . more time to think.”
Ascending into the air on your artificial steed, you quickly leave the city behind you. Even so, you have a very long way to go before you arrive at the capital. And although you had never held the fear as much as lesser vampires, you had developed the skill to tell how far away sunrise was. At this point, you had about two, perhaps three more hours before dawn would be here and you would be in increasing danger of the sun peeking over the horizon at any moment.
And, of course, while your only concern then would be being seen traveling across the sky, Mellita’s reaction would be much different. Hanging her out to burn would be a convenient way to get rid of her permanently, but it still seemed like a good waste of a potential ally. Which meant you would need to figure out a stopping point along the way.
A small town inn would be the stereotypical stopping place for travelers, and it would give Mellita a chance to feed. You imagine she would be getting hungry sooner or later. Speaking of which, would you be getting hungry again as well? What a wonderful experience to balance out all the other old things you had abandoned, like an unwanted, dusty haversack full of children’s books. So perhaps an inn would be a good stopping place after all. Otherwise, there was the equally stereotypical cave, which would prevent you from having to deal with any human opposition, or any opposition at all save for perhaps a bear. Which might also solve the hunger issue for you both, if neither you nor Mellita was picky.
The Gastly Truth
With great care and agility, you run from carriage underside to carriage underside, unnoticed by anyone. Apparently for once, the universe, or the gods you were starting to believe in (to blame) was cutting you some slack. You manage to silently curse that thought the instant you prepare to spring from cover for the final dash. Someone was inexplicably coming.
Reversing your course at this last moment was difficult, but somehow you manage to grab the carriage and drag yourself back under it before your legs can spring you too far out. A moment later, two figures stride into view.
The lead figure is one you don’t recognize: a tall woman with long blonde hair. She is dressed in loose fitting black clothing, with a long black scarf wrapped around her neck and the lower half of her face. She moves with the natural grace of a trained killer, and her eyes are focused straight ahead, towards the hallway you had been approaching. Beneath the scarf, you could tell her jaw was set in determination – presumably in an attempt to endure the vocal berating from her companion.
You recognize the figure a step behind the first immediately. It is Angelo, his tan wings unmistakable. Although from the tone of his voice, you could almost have been fooled into thinking it was Cheran.
“I’m warning you right now, you had better not be wasting my time. This is the secondary storage, they’re not even moving supplies in here! What could be so bloody important that it requires my personal attention, hmmm?”
Striding past you, the two figures continue into the hallway – one dead silent, the other loudly protesting. For a few moments you pause in consternation. You had no idea where you were going aboard this vessel, and for all you knew this “secondary storage” place was a dead-end, nothing but a big empty room now containing a pissed-off Angelo and an unknown. But it did sound as if the place was relatively deserted if no one was unloading supplies there, and there might be somewhere you could crawl into.
Resolving yourself to roll the dice one more time, you quickly and quietly move to follow. You peer around the corner just in time to see Angelo and the woman disappear into a doorway set into the left side of the hall about halfway down. The hallway stretches into the distance, although you can just make out the end from here. A number of doors are set into both sides of the hallway at periodic intervals, some of them quite wide but most little larger than a normal interior door.
The sense of being watched returns as you step into the hallway. Your heart leaps up into your throat as a series of lights set into the floor suddenly flash on. The hallway was somewhat dim . . . it wasn’t a stretch to assume they flicked on at your approach, nothing more sinister. But then they shut off, and another set flicked on further down the hallway. And then another, and another, leading directly up to a door set opposite of the one Angelo went into.
Leaving the cargo bay and its current inhabitants behind, you begin to wander the halls. Currently you had no assignments, and apparently were to keep out of the Baroness's sight for the moment. Deciding to continue gathering information, you send a number of inqueries to Fury about those you remember fighting alongside. Before you get a reply back, however, you get a new set of orders from Fury. However, it doesn't seem the set of orders are directed specifically at you.
WARNING. Hazardous material spill in Cargo Bay 2. All personnel are to evacuate the section immediately. All GHASTs, report to Cargo Bay 3. Cleanup crews have been dispatched and are en-route.
Cargo Bay 2 was directly ahead, in between you and the rest of the ship. In fact, it would be difficult to reach Cargo Bay 3 without traveling through Cargo Bay 2. It would be possible to avoid the area by traveling through narrow corridors, but it would take about double the time. Of course, Fury would not request all GHASTs to leave the area if the spilled materials weren't also dangerous to even a GHAST. Or your very presence would somehow hamper the cleanup.
The Screaming Dark Estate
Melcara quirks a concerned eyebrow at you.
‘I don’t feel anything.”
“Me neither.” Jim uselessly contributes, still hanging off Melcara’s back as she presses her way through the crowd. There was a lot more of them than you had ever thought possible. Somehow, you managed to make your way through them and back down the stairway, approaching the doors leading back out onto the Balcony.
As you reach the bottom, you look over to the right to see Madeline kneeling, hunched over and rocking back and forth. She seemed to be desperately praying, quietly sobbing as it was clear her prayers would never be answered.
“I was able to convince her I meant no further harm. I offered to let her come with us, but . . . she wanted to stay. To help protect the . . . others.”
You knew immediately what “others” exactly Melcara was referring to. As you are walking past the last open doorway before the balcony, Teareal stirs with a loud groan. He immediately begins to struggle in Melcara’s grip, harshly enough that she is forced to put him down. The elf prince sways on his feet, and then gradually steadies himself, his eyes focused only on one thing.
“Tare, look out!” Melcara cries, as a red-headed blur emerges from the shadow of the doorway. Vivian, now wielding a long handled knife, likely a piece of appropriated cutlery. She lunges for Adamč, and you instinctively twist away, interposing yourself between the two. You get a knife in the back for your trouble.
Melcara is there in the next moment as you collapse bleeding to the ground, still sheltering Adamč beneath you. With a single punch, the former angel sends the former black widow flying through the air. The force of the blow is sufficient to snap the straps holding Vivian’s mask in place, causing it to tumble through the air along a different trajectory.
A moment after hitting the ground, Vivian sits back up, revealing her exposed face. You catch a glimpse of a deformed, actively rotting human face weeping blood with its mouth stitched shut. Then Vivian realizes what has happened, and gives a muted scream as she throws her hands up over her face, turning and crawling quickly away out of sight. Beauty in this place is apparently not only skin-deep, but from just the neck down.
In any event, you have problems of your own just now, namely a rather severe back wound. Everyone is immediately clustered around you, chuckling at each other as they attempt to puzzle out what to do. You didn’t catch most of what was said, flickering on the edge of consciousness. Beyond out on the Balcony, the warm breeze still beckons, and it takes a minor act of willpower not to go blindly crawling towards it. Then you hear Limier’s voice.
“Move.” The assassin grunts as she crouches down next to you.
“I’m afraid I don’t have any more healing potions to spare, but I do have a few other things that will be useful in this situation. You can’t die and leave me alone with this freak show just yet. This is going to sting. A lot.”
You feel Limier pour some sort of powder onto the ground, and then smear it into the wound directly. You bite back a scream as your wound becomes a white-hot hole leading into your innards. And yet, you can tell the blood flow has slowed tremendously, and you start to feel new strength racing into your limbs.
Amazingly, Jim decides to do something useful at this point, dragging you up onto your feet and throwing one arm over his broad scarred shoulders. Teareal meanwhile as taken on the duty of carrying his betrothed, while Melcara and Limier stands guard.
“Let’s get out of here.” Limier grunts, and together the lot of you stagger out onto the balcony. There is nothing there waiting for you. Absolutely nothing at all.
“You said you sensed something, Tare?” Melcara asks, shooting your pale countenance a concerned look.
You still felt very weak, despite the powder’s effects, but your sense of something good being out here was stronger than ever. There, just above the pool! Your eyes caught a shimmer of some sort, the briefest flicker of . . . somewhere else. Could this be a portal leading back to home? But it was clearly closed right now – the last one you had run through to get here had been blatantly open, a hole hanging in mid-air. And yet . . . the portal calls out to you, beckoning you to come up to it.
The Perist Residence
You bring a hand up to your chest, gesturing to yourself. Then you become distracted with running your hands over your body again, feeling yourself up.
“I’m Scila, a handmaiden of the Queen. I come from Phaedra.”
A chill runs through everyone present, as they know exactly what that means. The being currently possessing Isera was a fey, a mysterious spirit-creature. No one knew much about them, and anyone who went investigating was either never seen again or found in humiliating and compromising positions deep in the forest.
“We were sent here to deal with a problem. Your envoy requested our assistance, and so we aided her. She provided the bodies, and we did the rest. It was pathetically easy.”
Berrick bristles at that, but unlike the hot-headed Carlain, he holds his tongue as you continue to speak, apparently having anticipated the next question.
“I don’t know her name.” You say coyly, perhaps refusing to answer or honestly not knowing – it was hard to tell.
“But it was amusing to us. Your envoy came from this very household! Betrayal of those closest to you is such a lovely trait. She’ll go far if she keeps this up.”
You grin viciously, flashing your teeth at the others.
“That is, unless she in turn is betrayed by our Queen or your Baron.”
Berrick catches the reference immediately.
You scowl in response.
“Yes, your Baron. Gast, I believe his name is!”
Cocking your head suddenly, you look off into the forest.
“It is time for me to go. Good-bye mortals. Tell the little sweet meat it was a pleasure, although she really should have this hand looked at. I think it’s broken.”
Reaching your human hand up to your face, you brush away the bloody runes, and then as quickly as it had come, the presence is gone. You are back in control of your body, having heard everything that was said. As such, it is little surprise to you while you notice everyone is starring at you, in particular your exposed metallic appendage.
Mr. Grodo chuckles while Mina scowls at him during your explanation.
“You shouldn’t always dress so fancy. People think you don’t belong down here, and they resent it. Those clothes of yours just make you a target!”
Mr. Grodo nods at you and Mina, and then turns for the door.
“Well, I can see you have the situation well in hand, Mina. Try not to smother him too much. And, when you’re done, get out there and serve our customers!”
Still chuckling good-naturedly, Mr. Grodo lets himself out. Mina continues treating your injuries despite your protestations for another few minutes. Then, she gives a light kiss on your forehead after handing you the rag and bottle.
“Alright, I need to go. You go get some rest.. I’ll be back to check on you later.”
And with one last concerned look, Mina is gone, leaving you free once more. And with a decent bottle of booze already opened, although this was no time for drinking. You had work to do. But where would you start?
The Northern Forest
Richard stares at you in outright shock as you consume a large portion of the room and transform into an unearthly creature.
“Gods protect me . . .” He mutters, still staring at your new form. It takes a minute for him to snap out of it, his eyes affixed to the floor now as he addressed you.
“Ummm . . . it seemed the right thing to do? Little girl being kicked around by a bunch of men. And the one guy, he started it by hitting me! That doesn’t sit right with Richard, no sir!”
The man looks distinctly uncomfortable as he glances back up at you, and then immediately back down at the floor.
“But I guess you aren’t no girl, not matter how strange, eh? What *are* you anyway, some kind of monster?”
Richard shakes his head.
“Anyway, I haven’t heard of no “Athelion the Lifebringer”. There’s “Athelion the Lightbringer”, he’s the man of the divine house I guess, makes the sun shine and all that. You sure you didn’t just get the name wrong, on account of them being so similar?”
I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.
It's a trap. Probably. Maybe not. Maybe it's unimportant. Maybe it's very important.
He growls quietly to himself.
I almost miss Ironheart. At least there I didn't have to think so much.
Sighing hopelessly to himself, Korram dashes down the hallway, careful to avoid making any noise. He keeps a close watch on the door Angelo went through, wincing cautiously at even the slightest sound. He finally reaches the door indicated by the lights. He carefully puts an ear to the door, and if it sounds safe passes through.
Truly awesome Ark Tamaeus avatar by Bryn. Full size version here.
It ignores him, for the most part, as it breaks off a piece of wood from the floor, assimilating it and then using the regained mass to create a long cloak, with which it covers her left arm and relevant parts. She then turns back to him, a smile on her face, and lets out a chuckle and turning to face him with an amused smile. "I'm me."
She then poses her questions, and hears out his answers, looking over her new body. "Well. That is what I heard, I'm quite sure. However, where can I find this Athelion of yours?"
Marceline Abadeer by Gnomish Wanderer
Classic Cthulhu by RTGoodman
Critical Failures by Strawberries & Captain Happy, respectively.
Scizor by Mr. Saturn.
Last edited by Gorgondantess : 11-26-2009 at 02:12 PM.
Argan chatted lightly with Mina as she treated his wounds, responding to her kiss on the forehead with a smile and a nod. When she returned to the main room, he swiftly went upstairs. Suprisingly enough, Grodo was right. At least in part, his dress was at fault. He locked the door behind him, and then reached into his belongings, pulling out the clothing he had worn as a hand. He didn't like the memories it raised, but he didn't have much choice.
"I'm playing a dangerous game now."
He sighed, removing the merry garb he wore as Argan, before pulling on the old clothes. It appeared he hadn't let himself go to much, as the clothes still fit him. He reached into the belongings again, pulling out a brace of Knives, and hiding them in the hidden pockets of the clothing. Several of them he was especially careful with. After all, even a nick from those would mean he wouldn't have to worry about this nonsense any more. The dead probably had their own worries, but he doubted the Thieves Guild was among them.
"That wasn't so hard. Let's see if the clothes really do make the man."
Argan smiled fiercely. Checking twice to make sure the door was locked, he easily climbed out of the Window, dropping easily on to the roof of the building next to the Bell. He'd chosen the room because of that simple fact.
"Let's see if I can kill two birds with one stone."
With that, Argan set out, over the rooftops, heading for the Guard's impound yard. His goal was to find this... ink. However, he did have another plan brewing in his head, if he could pull it off.
Processing the data like one of weak, squishy flesh would digest a fine meal Incom starts walk through the corridors. To the casual observer he would be one of many GHASTs patrolling the Ghastly Truth. In this state he then sent more queries to the furies, specifically the status of the allies he fought with. Not all he knew the names of but perhaps there was some record as to them. Now was not yet the time for action, but instead the time to gather information.
Originally Posted by Fury
WARNING. Hazardous material spill in Cargo Bay 2. All personnel are to evacuate the section immediately. All GHASTs, report to Cargo Bay 3. Cleanup crews have been dispatched and are en-route.
Processing the orders they seemed odd to Incom. By "personnel" did it mean the simple meat-sacks which populated the ship or all units including GHAST. After all there were very few substances which would be dangerous to a GHAST that a cleanup crew would be able to clean up.
Since the orders to report to Cargo Bay 3 would need to be completed in a timely manner, and the fact that GHASTs were not technically "personnel" on this ship but armed units of war, Incom makes the mental decision and enters Cargo Bay 2. All his senses at the ready he examines the area as he walks towards the hatch that will eventually lead him to Cargo Bay 3.
__________________ My DM Reputation
Originally Posted by Inspectre
I'm good at making you fear the unknown. Pwenet is good at making you fear the known, which had been the unknown five minutes before he pushed you off screaming into the abyss.
Originally Posted by Kalirren
I'm feeling this real hard now.
Curse you, Pwenet. Curse you.... You had my hopes up there...
Tare almost choked in pain, but the muscles in his chest were trembling so hard it was a challenge just to breathe. He couldn't afford to waste it. Even after Limier's first aid, and the unbelievable pain that immediately came with it, Tare found that he had to concentrate on drawing air into his lungs and then consciously pushing it back out, as though his body had forgotten how to breathe on its own. He tried to stand up, and was immediately grateful for Jim's presence to keep him from toppling over.
The thing that surprised Tare the most was how weak he felt. His legs wanted to buckle on him once or twice (thankful once again for Jim), but he forced himself on, following Melcara out onto the balcony. His face went pale somewhere along the way, and his vision got weird... In fact, when the blurred spot of... Something appeared above the pool, Tare wondered for a moment if he had imagined it. But something... told him that it was more than that. "That's... really weird..." Tare murmured, and hobbled over to the edge of the pool. Something in the back of his mind warned about the pool... something he had seen... before... Something wondered if there may be danger... But Tare stumbled up to the pool, peering over the lip of the pool and at his reflection in the waters...
"You short-lived fools...I'm much worse than a ghost," he chuckled. Then he made sure both of them were facing him - upside down and much closer to his unearthly visage than before."Fortunately for you, I'm not just here to kill everyone. I need to know what the hell's happened on my land since I've been gone, as well as who you lot are. And if you two aren't historians, then for your own sakes you'd better know someone who is!" he demanded furiously, shaking them for a few moments before relaxing enough to let them answer coherently.
Order of the Pstick Avatar by Sneak
Isera staggered a little as she regained control of her body. She blinked a few times and flexed her right (flesh) hand, looking at the blood smeared now in her palm from where she had just smudged away some of the writing on her face. Of course, some of the bloody runes still covered her arms and neck, but there was no searing fire like there had been when they had first activated. No, the presence was gone though checking was never a bad idea. Thoroughly washing the rest of the mess off would be a nice thing she looked forward to doing, though at present of course, were more pressing affairs.
Like the others starring at her.
Isera forced as best a charming smile as she could after her own bizarre experience.
"Well," She said with a pause, "I suppose that was a first. Can't say I ever want to do it again though." No laughs, though she wasn't expecting any. More it was the kind of loosening of stress that she needed to give herself, and hopefully prove to the others that said monster- or rather, fey- was not still in control of her body and just playing along. Well, despite the awkwardness, Isera plowed on.
She looked at the circle of runes about her feet and gave Cerise a sheepish smile.
"You can release the barrier if you want. It's just me now, Cerise."
She realized of course, that she'd have to explain her hand to them, though she'd rather do that when the whole affair was a little less tense. It was the kind of story she could share around a fireplace after a nice warm bath (three days on the road rarely allowed for such luxuries) and a warm meal. She was feeling a little drained, though no one ever said binding a possessed body and then experiencing possession oneself was a fatigue-free affair.
Isera could see the look on Cerise's face though, when she made eye contact, and knew she'd have to say something.
"I know I owe you an explanation for this, Cerise." She said quietly, all while fishing out the leather glove and starting to slip it over her fake-left hand.
"It's a long tale though, and now is not the time to hear it. Maybe this evening." She said, getting the glove in place and closing her left hand into a fist experimentally. The runes embedded in the glove allowed her to utilize it - something the fey (Scila, as she'd called herself) had missed perhaps.
Satisfied that there was no adverse effect on her hand, Isera adjusted her vest and shirt where it had been ruffled, and stooped to pick up her jacket which had been removed so the bloody letters could be drawn upon her arms.
"...But now for business." She continued, dusting the jacket off idly while trying to slip back into her professional mask.
"Fortunately we were able to get a good deal of information with relatively little price - namely the price of letting Carlain here watch 'possessed-me' feel myself up a few times," she said, giving the boy a smug look. Her expression hardened again though as she looked back at the other two, throwing her jacket back over her shoulders, but not putting her blood covered arms through the sleeves.
"In all seriousness however, we know that for one thing, these are not demons nor undead, but Fey acting behind the scenes. I'm no expert on the Fey, but from my understanding, they generally only stay within their own realm. That of course, makes these actions more disturbing."
Isera turned to Berrick now, knowing the man likely was already dealing with the same thoughts.
"It seems it is more complicated than that, if this Scila's words are to be trusted entirely. The correlation between using runes of blood, string, or otherwise, also gives plausibility to their involvement. A member of the Perist family has made some really bad choices. Berrick, you said the family has two daughters...Ruya and Alya, I believe it was? Though I am reluctant to draw conclusions hastily...we need to find them, and soon." She hesitated for the slightest of seconds out of sympathy for Berrick, but continued. "I would like to know as much as possible about them...And yes, I have heard that you tutored one of pair. That makes your insight invaluable. If you have any idea where they are, that would be a great help." She said.
The air seemed chillier, and the place a bit more dead, now that the excitement was starting to drift away.
"There was one other thing the Fey mentioned I think." Isera said, pausing to give a faint smile. "And yes, I was listening the whole time, though I could not do anything.
This Scila mentioned the 'Queen' of the Fey, whom one of these Perist girls is working for....but also the Baron of Gast. That's quite disturbing, as there are some unpleasant rumors about that man in the nooks and crannies. I don't know exactly how much truth is to them, and to be fair Fey probably aren't the most honest of beings, but you know the saying about rumors piling up..."
Ander nods in agreement with the Abbot. Yes, I'm sure we could make it look like Hondshioh has left Dawn's Hope in disgust, given his history. With luck, the Council may even have one of their agents approach him if they think they could use him to get closer to us.
He reaches into a belt pouch for his communication crystal. As soon as we conclude this meeting, I can contact Karth and Drakeson to call off the assault. I'll tell him that Dawn's Hope wants to meet with him and his generals, but that you demand he keep his army at the base of the mountain as reassurance that he is committed to alliance, not conquest.
"I don't believe I need to lecture you." Marisiel lifted her chin, returning Titania's hauteur with a cool stare of her own. The throne stood higher than the rest of the room, as a mark of the ruler's gods-given authority; none could look down on the Queen. Even an angel's height was not sufficient to overcome this physically. But she had the moral high ground, and she could see in Titania's eyes that both of them knew it.
That feeling of helplessness was giving way to anger, now. This was no unhappy accident, no misunderstanding. The queen knew she was on a course at odds with the Valkyrie, and continued willfully. She was making herself into an enemy. Marisiel couldn't stop her from doing that, but she did know how to deal with enemies.
"I think you know perfectly well what you've done. Istomilo does, and I think you must too, since you apparently planned on keeping this from us." Something made her add, "At least he has the wisdom to confide in me."
No. Calm. Anger was something to be confined until it could be released usefully. She moderated her voice. "You cannot plead ignorance. You could plead necessity, and Istomilo has tried, but that would not excuse hiding your deeds even if it excused everything else—and I do not think the Valkyrie will agree that it does. You should have come to us for aid instead of breaking your oaths."
"So why do you persist? Why do you do something if you know it's wrong!?" The last question rose until it was a shout, and she didn't really care. This was at the heart of all the confusion, uncertainty, and wrongness that she'd seen in Phaedra, and she was angry about that. She would not tolerate it.
Avatar by Kasanip; see her sketchbook here!
Nephilium reminded Pyrene immediately of the priest she had quoted so often in the last few days. Slightly mad, but mostly harmless and interesting to listen to. The resemblance was strong enough that she didn't even blink when he admitted to killing his own wife.
"I don't know if I can help you, but I'll do what I can. Oh, and you needn't worry about your little phrases. If I don't understand something I'll ask. At least you'll probably answer me." She smiled a little, remembering her first puzzled encounter with the priest, then shook her head slightly to bring herself back to the present. "Why don't you start by telling me about your wife, and how she died."
I started a blog! Beware of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup...
They flew on through the night, like a comet of green fire searing a path across the sky. At least, that's what Umber might have written were he a hackneyed poet. As it was, he was too concerned about getting to Fianna to do much writing of prose. But at last, dawn was staining the horizon and he knew he would have to find somewhere to stop soon. Having considered the options, he decided an in would be best - he could dismiss the steed and summon it once again when he needed it. Thus decided, he looked for somewhere to land, a secluded spot near an inn where they could sojourn for the day - Mellita could feed, and he could... well, do whatever he needed to do, he supposed.
(Just going to focus on speeding things along a bit here, since we seem to have the details more or less worked out - thankfully! This sounds like a fun plan to me! )
The Abbot sighs. “Well. I think this meeting can be adjourned now, unless we have any matters to discuss. The sooner we can bring Karth under control . . . somehow . . . the sooner we can focus on the Council.”
With the meeting adjourned, Ander activates the communication crystal given to him by Karth. A minute later, Karth’s voice rumbles through the crystal.
“Yes, Ander? Have you convinced Dawn’s hope to surrender? I must admit I’m surprised to hear from you this soon.”
(Of course, if you guys have more to go over, you’re welcome to continue plotting. )
The Surrounding Forest
Titania continues to meet your stare until your last angry shout. There, she flinches, not quite turning your gaze away from your own.
“I do what I must.” The queen of Phaedra replies quietly, all anger leached out of her voice by weariness.
“I do what I must for my daughter. For the people of Phaedra. And for every generation of humanity to follow. I know the Valkyrie will not forgive what I have done, but neither will I allow one of Her lapdogs to tell me what to do anymore!”
Titania’s voice gains strength with this last announcement, clenching her fists. She jabs a finger at you, and then at the door.
“Run back to your mistress and tell Her this. I know the truth now, and I don’t love Her anymore!”
Istomilo winces at his Queen’s harsh words.
“Ti, are you sure this is what you want to do? Surely we can negotiate somehow, and –“
Angrily Titania waves her hand at Istomilo as well.
“Go with the bitch if that is your wish Milo! Far be it from me to deprive you of your obsession!”
Istomilo winces again, looking at you, and then back at Titania. And then back at you and back over to Titania once more. His face is one of torn anguish. Finally, he looks back at you, head lowered.
“I am sorry, Marisiel.” He says with a loud sigh. ‘I am afraid that I cannot follow you. My place is with my Queen, my daughter, and my people. May the Valkyrie smile on you.”
(Feel free to have Mar wake up at this point. I think this dream is pretty much tapped out.)
The Island of Dr(?) Sohssal
“Bawh . . . waw-wah, bwah . . .” The one pirate stammers in response to your throttling and demands for quick answers. The other pirate, having apparently seen things take a turn for the weird and pear-shaped far more often, is much more coherent.
“We be part o’ Captain Blight’s crew, sir.” He begins in what is likely his most polite tone. Which, for a pirate is probably pretty good, but still rather harsh for a normal person.
“We just be finishing a month-long tour o’ the local shipping lanes when we ran ‘foul o’ ah military clipper.”
That bit was somewhat strange, although not implausible. Your island was part of a small, relatively isolated archipelago inhabited only by a few primitive native tribes. Of course, nothing is completely isolated, and you still did occasionally have exploratory vessels or off-course trading ships showing up off the coast of your little empire. Few ever returned to civilization, and you imagine the seabed is fairly well littered with wrecks by this point.
“Blasted ship chased us fer days, but then we got real unlucky – a storm struck! Oh, it t’were a bad one it was, spun us about and almost certainly sunk the clipper. And well . . .”
The unusually verbose (for a pirate) man suddenly trails off, as if nervous of something. Finally, he seems to reach a decision to continue.
“One-eyed Willy was up in the crow’s nest during all this, and he swears to this day that he saw countless shapes swimming around beneath the waves. Mermen, he said they were! Pah!”
Certainly the stories of a pirate were not to be trusted, but even mermen were going too far. Mythical golden cities far out in the sea deep underwater, inhabited by fish-men? Complete foolishness!
“Anyway, the storm passed and we found ourselves here. Cap’n told us to set anchor, and start gathering wood fer repairs. After all this, he was pretty spooked, so he told us to go out and find a spot to bury all the goods from our past month o’ raids. And here we are! By-the-By, if you aren’t going to kill us, might I be wondering what you *are* going to do?”
On the Road
The X-Roads Tavern
It takes you a number of your precious remaining minutes to locate a secluded inn set deep in the dense forest you are currently crossing over. Thankfully, several trade roads cut through this forest, and where there are roads, there are places run by those seeking to profit off of travelers. Landing a short distance away from the inn so as not to unduly startle any of the inhabitants (at least not until you were face-to-fang with them), you dismiss your mount.
Mellita moving as quickly as she could while remaining dignified, she leads you over to the doors of the inn as the horizon begins to light up. Looking up at the front of the inn, you find a large sign declaring it as the “X-Roads Tavern”. An unusual name, given that there is only the single dusty road running past the inn, rather than an actual crossroads nearby.
Not really having time to ponder the origins of this name, Mellita dashes up to door, only to find her way blocked by a mountain of muscle. You wouldn’t be surprised if the dark-skinned man had a bit of giant blood in him given his size. Of course, with a bit of blood in you the old you could probably still have overpowered him easily. Mellita might be able to do the same with a bit of desperation.
Still, despite this she turns back to you, a growing panic in her eyes. Apparently she wasn’t quite ready yet to result in creating a bloodbath without your approval. The man shifts his gaze from Mellita to you, dismissing her from his mind out of hand. He raises his chin defiantly at you.
“Haven’t seen you before. Five gold for entry.” The man rumbles.
(Let me ask you a *completely* unrelated question WhiteKnight777. Have you ever seen Dusk to Dawn, a semi-hilarious movie involving Quentin Tarrantino and George Clooney? )
The Gastly Truth
Consulting your memory as you move to obey Fury’s command, you realize that things didn’t quite make sense. Cargo Bay 2 was largely crew supplies – spare uniforms and the like. It seemed unlikely that anything could be stored there that could pose a serious enough danger to mandate evacuation on a spill. Unless, of course, that something wasn’t on the cargo manifest for that cargo bay.
In any event, Cargo Bay 2 was in your way to your destination. Both necessity to reach your destination quickly and curiosity over what could be behind this dangerous spill drive you to head towards the evacuated section. You make good time traveling through the hallways, and soon the doors leading into the bay are standing before you.
At first, the doors refuse to open, apparently in locked down mode due to the spill. Of course, as a GHAST you have override codes, and it is only a moment before you interface with the door and send the necessary code. A few moments after that, the door slides open, allowing you a glimpse of the cargo bay.
Nothing seems immediately out of place, although the high walls of the cargo containers could certainly be blocking your line of sight to the spill if it were deep in the middle of the rows. From the ceiling, the voice of Fury calls out,
“Please proceed to Row 14, Container 137.”
The sudden presence of movement across the cargo bay catches your attention, and you catch a glimpse of a one-armed man ducking into the rows of containers. He seems to have seen you, and presumably was the one being addressed by Fury’s announcement. With only a glimpse from across the bay, it was impossible for your facial recognition to kick in. Theoretically, the man was likely someone sent to deal with the spill . . . or whatever was really the reason for evacuating this cargo bay. Perhaps you could aid him in some way?
Cautiously slipping down the corridor to follow the line of lights, you keep your eyes focused on the door Angelo had disappeared through. Thankfully, no one emerges from the room, nor do you hear anything through the doorway. In some ways, the silence is almost more concerning, but you are soon past the door and inside your own room.
The room you now find yourself in is both massive and cramped at the same time. Despite its cavernous volume, much of the room is taken up with large metal boxes, stacked up nearly to the ceiling in orderly rows. Although there is a clear area around the perimeter of the room, the center looks much like a maze due to the arrangement of these walls of crates.
The feeling of being watched continues even after the door slides shut behind you, sheltering you from the possibility of being seen from the hallway. In combination with the maze before you, this whole situation starts to become quite creepy. The tension is enough to cause you to jump when a distorted feminine voice booms from the ceiling.
“Please proceed to Row 14, Container 137.”
As you consider this mysterious command and whether or not to obey, you notice a door on the other side of the cargo bay begin to slide open. Reflexively, you dash for the safety of the crate maze, ducking out of sight just as the doors swing fully open. Even so, you catch a glimpse of gleaming metal standing there in the doorway before you duck out of sight – a GHAST. And it’s entirely possible that the creature got a glimpse of you as well. Things were certainly getting more complicated for you, as if they weren’t already complex enough to make you pine for Ironheart, of all places!
The man gives a relieved smile at your agreement to help.
“A skunk covered in mud might be welcomed as a cat.” He says with a slight smile, although that smile immediately fades when you mention his wife.
“Yes . . . my wife.” He mutters, wringing his hands while refusing to meet your eyes. Then just as suddenly, he fixates on you with an intense stare.
“I killed my wife. I knew the risks, but I went ahead anyway. I pushed her.”
Nephilium holds one of his hands up.
“Wait. The epilogue goes at the end. Allow me to start over.”
Nephilium runs a hand through his hair and sighs.
“My brothers and I find it . . . difficult to have children. Not that we are mules, you understand, but it’s dangerous. Human bodies cannot endure great amounts of divine energy. We are hybrids, but . . . our wives are not. Our children tend to take after their fathers, although their blood is a bit thinner. Thin enough thankfully not to cause too many issues – except at birth. Then there tends to be complications . . . many complications. I was only a babe when this happened, but my eldest brother Celestan was the first to discover this.”
Throughout the conversation, Nephilium’s gestures grow more and more animated.
“The birth of Celestan’s daughter was protracted and difficult. Mother is a skilled healer, but even her talent was stretched to the limit. In the end, she was able to save the baby but not the mother. Even so, the child was crippled, unlikely to ever walk.”
Nephilium slumps down, his hands still and his voice low.
“Unable to control his grief, my brother he . . . he committed suicide. Quite sad, but very unprofessional don’t you think? Father was outraged, I understand. Perhaps you have seen my brother’s new armored body wandering about? Mother was able to capture his soul as he died, and Father ordered it put into the first of the GHASTs. Father and Mother will not allow us to perish until our task is finished, you see. Until the Valkyrie is destroyed and mankind is free of the gods’ influence forever!”
A fervent tone enters Nephilium’s shaking voice as he says these last words, but then the spell is broken and he shakes his head with a laugh.
“Once again I get off-topic! Anyway, perhaps now you see. I understood quite clearly what the risks for my wife were. It was no small amount of trepidation I felt when she announced it to me. But no . . . I believed. Mother had learned much in the intervening years, and now knew what to prepare for. We could have looked into . . . canceling the pregnancy, but I insisted we continue. I was so sure everything would be alright. I wanted to make Mother and Father happy – surely a healthy and whole grandson would do that!?”
Nephilium’s voice begins to crescendo, but then sharply drops off to a harsh whisper.
“But everything was not alright. It was all lost instead. My son, my wife . . . Mother was able to save neither this time. If I hadn’t been so insistent, so forceful in my assurances . . . my wife would still be alive.”
Nephilium stares down at a single point on the floor now. He tries to lift his eyes up to meet yours at one point, but fails to complete the motion and returns to looking down. His lips begin to quiver as he spits out the next words.
“I betrayed her. I was supposed to protect her but she’s dead because of me. I killed her.”
Something in Nephilium’s face hardens, and he rolls his slumped shoulders back as he finally raises his head to look up at you. But his voice is still fragile as he continues.
“Then I met her, the archangel. Ysora doesn’t *quite* look like my wife, but she reminds me all the same. When I am around her, I can . . . forget, for awhile.”
A look of horror flashes across Nephilium’s face.
“Did I just say that? Have I betrayed my wife – AGAIN!?”
At this admitted realization, Nephilium’s face falls, and he buries his face in his hands.
The Screaming Dark Estate
Your danger senses proved to be right once again, as a moment after you and Jim stumbled up to the edge of the pool, long black tentacles emerged from the murky waters of the pool. They seemed more curious than hostie at first, extending up into the air to waft towards you, beckoning you forward into the pool. When this proved insufficient, the tentacles did indeed grow violent, flailing out in an attempt to wrap themselves around your legs.
“On it.” Melcara said simply, leaping into the air over the pool and then diving down into the center of the tentacled mass. The impact sends both her and the tentacles back underwater, and due to the darkness you can see little save for the violent displacement of water underneath the surface.
You were barely aware of this conflict, however, as your pain-numbed mind was focused solely on the strange sight hanging above the pool. You sensed that this portal was not ready to be opened, still a mere pinprick leading out into the mortal realm. But something inside of you reached out to that pinprick, a reflexive action, and you could feel the portal start to widen.
Even unintentional, this action was not without consequence. You could feel the Hells Itself snarl and push back on the widening portal. You were Its now. You belonged down here, and you would not escape!
At this, something deep inside you roars back, refusing to surrender. Your will strains against that of the Hells, and slowly the portal continues to open. Eventually, something gives way entirely, and a massive shimmering hole splits open above the pool. You cannot see what lies beyond clearly, although from the dim light of the portal you think you can see an interior room of some sort on the other side.
The pool begins to grow still once more as dark blood begins to blacken the water further. After another few moments, a soaked Melcara thrusts her head above the water. Spewing a mouthful of the water out with a loud cough, she weakly swims over to the side and hauls herself out.
“I hate Kalarri demons.” Melcara grunts, continuing to lie by the side of the pool while catching her breath. Even through her mask, you can tell Limier is smiling.
“I’m not sure how you did it Tare, but I do believe that is a portal out of here. Good work.”
(Let’s just assume you take the portal out of here, as anywhere is presumably better than the Hells. )
After Melcara regains her strength, she carries your small group one by one over to the portal, dropping them through to whatever awaits on the other side. She picks you up last, as you can tell only your will is continuing to keep the portal open. Together, you pass through the portal. It is a disconcerting, but only momentary sensation of vertigo and light. Then you are through, dumped out onto the floor of a dark room. You can hear the others moving about all around you. A moment later, light flashes into being as Limier ignites some sort of flameless candle.
The room is relatively small – a basement of some sort, with wooden stairs leading up to a doorway in one corner. The room is otherwise empty, save for something particularly disturbing. On every wall and across the floor of this basement, strange script has been scrawled in a muddy red ink. The letters almost seem to bend and twist as you focus on them individually, and a sense of wrongness pervades the room.
The Perist Residence
The assembled group stares at you in concern for a few moments, but then Cerise snaps out of it. She quickly scuffs one shoe over the line of runs, breaking it and allowing you to exit. She frowns and crosses her arms across her chest as you cover the replacement hand and make offers to explain – later. Carlain reacts similarly to your joke at his expanse, although the slight flush of embarrassment to his cheeks suggest that it’s not entirely untrue.
Berrick’s already steady frown deepens to an outright grimace as you mention the Baron of Gast and ask about the Perist sisters.
“Yes, I taught Ruya most of what I know about magic. The girl was completely incapable of using it save for their unique runic script. Unfortunately, she left to find her own way sometime ago – her younger sister Alya as well. Of course, I did try to keep tabs on them – and what I heard wasn’t good. Both of them were rumored to be in the Barony of Gast.”
“No, that isn’t good at all . . . and what that fey said – one of them was responsible for this!? How could they do such a thing!!?” Cerise chimes in, triggering a snort from Carlain.
“It’s entirely possible, particularly when the Fey are involved. For all we know, they’re both like Isera was a moment ago, completely at the mercy of a Fey controller. And given what I’ve heard of goings on in the Barony, they would probably be lucky if that’s all.”
To your surprise, the old veteran gives a slight shudder at the thought. Apparently, there are unpleasantries in this world that disturb even a man who has seen so much.
“So now what? We go back to exploring these ruins?” Carlain grunts. To everyone’s joint surprise, a new voice suddenly interrupts the conversation.
“I’m afraid there’s no need – everything has been destroyed. I could, however, make use of medical attention.”
Whirling, you see an elderly man in torn and burnt clothes standing at the top of the cleared stairway. Cradled in his arms is a comatose woman, in similar shape although with her graying blond hair stained red in one place with her own blood from a head wound.
“Soneir!” Berrick shouts, immediately running over to the stairs at a pace surprisingly quick for an old man. Together, the two of them gently lower the woman to the ground while the rest of you move over.
Apparently aware that he has nothing to offer or perhaps just being his usual aloof self, Carlain hangs back with his arms crossed. Cerise meanwhile, moves forward to check the woman, beginning to murmur an incantation while running her fingers over the woman’s head. Berrick helps Soneir slump down to the ground.
“It is good that you came when you did – I do not know how much longer I would have been able to hold that thing back.”
“How did you survive!?” Berrick presses, earning a wry chuckle from Soneir.
“At the cost of my pride, I must admit that we hid down in one of the underground cellars used for storing materials. I was able to ward the area from the creature’s notice, although I was beginning to consider I would need to deal with it and figure out a way to escape to the surface. Ayse has been fading in and out of consciousness since the attack.”
Looking away from Berrick to the rest of you, Soneir’s eyes widen at the sight of you and your bloody runes.
“Berrick! Another of the tainted!” He shouts, making a warding sign at you with his fingers while his other hand begins to dig into the dirt by his side. Berrick is quick to react, lowering Soneir’s hand.
“Relax old friend. That is Isera. She’s a very brave girl – she tricked the creature hunting for you into leaving. Although her appearance right now is rather shocking, I will admit.”
“Ah. I see.” Soneir replies as he slumps. He gazes at you intently, his brow furrowing in curiosity. “Pardon my asking miss, but is that a Phantasmal Descrying Eye?”
Escaping Mina and anyone else waiting for you down in the rest of the Bell, you hop out the window and down onto the street. Except for the confused stare of a beggar who had watched your descent, no one paid you any heed as you walked down the street. Apparently, the drab clothing of the Hand really was good at avoiding notice. At least, from any random passerby – to someone on the lookout for trouble, they would likely be looking specifically at those trying to escape notice. Which, of course, was why you dressed so flamboyantly in your new life – although bright colors attracted attention initially, they were immediately discarded as unimportant.
Of course, the guards wouldn’t care how harmless you looked – anyone wandering around the impound warehouse would be brought in for questioning. And in addition to escaping notice, your Hand clothing was perfect for blending into the dark shadows you would be making plenty of use of inside the warehouse.
It is a fairly short walk to the impound warehouse’s gates – the City Guard had set up shop near to the slums in order to avoid offending anyone “important” with their presence. And certainly, the presence of the City Guard, no matter how thin, in the area where the slums began to give way to the merchant district wasn’t an innocent coincidence.
The walls were reasonably solid brickwork, about ten feet high. Enough to keep out anyone who wasn’t determined to get in, but of course the rough brick would actually make your job of climbing over the wall rather easy. Particularly in comparison to some of the Hand training you had endured, making your way up an icy, slick wall overlooking a high cliff, while others stood at the bottom and shot arrows up at you. Not with the intention to hit you, of course, but merely make enough noise to startle you and make concentration difficult – as if making your way up wasn’t difficult enough! You had heard later that the Wall was one of the crucible points in Hand training – either you proved worthy of survival, or you slipped and fell to a painful death – those unlucky enough to survive the fall were used as test subjects for new torture and poisoning techniques.
Of course, while the wall would not be difficult to climb, doing so while being unseen would be harder. The road pulled back a short distance from the walls of the impound yard, allowing a bit of a clear area to surround the compound. As such, there wasn’t really anywhere to go to be completely out of sight – even if one of the guards meandering along the top of the wall didn’t see you, a passerby walking down the street might. And then, it was entirely up to the person in question as to whether or not they would alert the nearest guard. Someone from the slums often knew to keep their mouth shut about any illegal activity, but those from the richer areas of the city that didn’t know any better . . .
Truly, it would likely be better to wait to do this until night, when there would be less people about and you would at least have the cover of night to help cover your entrance. From experience, you knew that the guards patrolled the walls even more heavily at night, but they only carried torches with them. As such, there were long sections of the wall left dark at any given moment. In particular, you had heard of one corner of the wall being especially useful for discrete entrances. Apparently, a nearby building helped block line of sight from the walls for the several crucial seconds it took for a thief to regain their footing and plan out the next part of their entrance.
Of course, having no idea where this contraband was being stored, you would likely need to go to the central office near the middle of the yard. Getting in there, with its constantly lit lanterns and dense patrols of guards, would be considerably harder than just hopping over the wall for a bit of mischief. In fact, that might very well be part of the guards’ strategy – keep the idle thieves away, focused on easier targets, and keep the layout confusing enough that thieves there for a specific purpose would have to figure where to go first, or try to get into the very heart of the guards stronghold to get the necessary information.
The easiest solution to this dilemma would likely be to clamber up the wall, ambush a guard, and take his uniform. Then, walk straight into the offices as if you belong, and pray no one looked too closely at your unfamiliar face. Otherwise, you’d probably need to slip past the constant patrols, the searching eyes of the guards watching inside, clamber up the side of the office, and slip in through an open and unattended (ha!) window. Or turn yourself invisible – you knew a few suppliers who could probably hook you up with that short of magic, even now, but it might take time to get that sort of help. And time was definitely something you didn’t have in abundance right now.
The Northern Forest
“Um . . . would you stop doing . . . well, whatever it is you’re doing to my cabin?” Richard asks, looking uneasily away from you as you reform the matter of the floor into a cloak to help conceal at least part of your bizarre new body. “Please? I mean, I’ve already offered ya hospitality, but I’d rather not you cause the roof to fall on my head because you made the supports disappear.”
Although you had little experience in determining the stability of human structures, the damage you had inflicted so far to the building itself was fairly minor. However, you did know most humans had an odd preference for covering up the ground with other material, rather than leaving the ground bare. As such, further consumption of materials in this room would likely involve stripping the rest of the floor out, and/or consuming the walls/ceiling, which could possibly damage the structure severely.
In response to your question, Richard shrugs.
“The Heavens, I guess. I never really paid much attention in church when I was a kid. But that’s my best guess! He hangs out up there with his Wife, doing whatever it is the gods do. Watch us I guess. Good luck getting up there, I sure as Hells don’t know how to do that short of dying! And even then, you’ve got basically a fifty-fifty chance of ending up in the Hells instead! Ha!”
Richard scratches his ear in consternation.
“So, ah . . . anyway. What are you going to do now?”
I didn't actually intend to kill EVERYONE. It just sort of happened.
(Yes... yes I have. The only question is who plays who...)
The Lord of Blood was not one to be intimidated. He'd been stared down by outraged demons and horrible things from beyond space and time that didn't even have eyes. One oversized fleshbag wasn't going to phase him. He gave the man his friendliest grin, and deposited the gold in his hand , and wrapped his arm around Mellita, brushing past him with her in tow - while he wasn't really afraid of the man, he didn't want Mellita to dare the sunlight, and gutting the foolish pig probably wasn't going to accomplish anything.
They had found it. The light at the end of the tunnel. The smallest dot, the tiny point of existence, or perhaps the opposite thereof, infinitely small and yet unable to be denied in its existence. Tare felt the emptiness in his chest expand, and then act-- and it was then that he realized that what had felt like nothing was actually something else... exactly the thing he had not expected...??
There was no time to consider this, however, as he instinctively--no, deeper than instinct--pried open this channel between worlds. At first the portal reacted as though it was glad to be called upon, eager to respond to anyone's summons... But then, it remembered why it had laid dormant for so long, what had forced it shut to begin with. Tare felt the briefest imagining of a Warning in the back of his mind... the moment before the very Fabric, the Will of the Hells bore down upon his tiny, isolated spark of consciousness floating adrift in a sea of darkness.
Tare did not understand what happened next-- there was much that he did not understand over the last few days, much that his brain was not wired to accept-- but the battle that he now fought was unlike any he had ever seen. Neither his effort, determination, understanding, motivation, nor almost his entire conscious mind played any part at all; most of his conscious will was bypassed completely. His strength of character mattered not at all. The only thing that made any difference was his absolute Potential, the highest peak that he could possibly achieve, and the force of his Will that was exercised almost without his knowledge. Fortunately, and almost completely independent of his influence, he was not found lacking.
At that moment, Tare could see everything. Something at the back of his mind told him that he would not remember it, that his mind could not even contain the vastness that he now beheld, and even more than that Understood. That did not stop it from demanding, consuming his complete attention. Tare stood near motionless, his pupils completely dilated but his pulse weirdly steady, unwittingly holding the portal open as the others were ferried across one by one.
Time passed. Maybe little, maybe much. Tare had no comprehension of time any longer. Ages of Dragons later, the touch of something Physical pulled his consciousness back to himself, and just as he had known, none of it remained.
Tare blinked. The Portal began to shimmer, held open now only by the remnants of his Will and its own nonsentient desire to remain open, for whatever reason. Melcara gestured, and trusting like a yearling lamb, Tare followed her without thought, for very little remained in his exhausted psyche. And yet, just before he crossed through, Tare paused.
He stopped, and looked back. Back at the mansion. Back at the Black Forest. Back at the Hag's hut. He looked back at the path that he had followed into the dread estate, and saw the haunted eyes of the slave girls on his path back out. Those who had been Spared no Justice.
Though he could not see it himself, Tare's soul brightened.
You who are trapped here wrongly... You who have no hope... You who have been cast aside, the luckless remainder of a heartless cosmic equation... Tare took a deep breath. You, who have no one else. I'm not much...
But watch for me.
...I'm coming back for you.
Tare smiled a tired, hell-worn smile... and the Brightest that had ever graced his lips. He had no idea how. He hadn't even known about this place a week ago. He didn't even know if it was possible. But if it wasn't, he would break the rules. He would re-write the laws, re-draw the lines. It was so ludicrous he couldn't even explain it to himself, but he knew what he would do. He knew that he would someday find the answer, however long he had to search.
Watch for me. I will be back.
Turning, Tare stepped through the portal, again trusting his life to the former angel that was now his only guide... And Walked out of Hell, alive.
Deo Soli Sit Semper Gloria
Originally Posted by Innis Cabal
Its offical. Overwilliam is Duke Devlin.
Last edited by OverWilliam : 12-19-2009 at 10:45 PM.
Argan stood and looked at the Brickwork. If he wanted to do this, he was going to have to slip back into being the Baron's Hands. The memories of the wall were good for that. Compared to some of the assassinations he had completed, this would be a piece of a cake. The only price would be his soul.
I got it second hand anyways...
Argan nodded. He'd have to wait till nightfall, certainly. He wasn't going to try an assualt on the warehouse during the day. The Guards carried Torches, which meant they could be easily avoided.
At least, I hope.
Argan sighed, walking back into an alleyway to wait for nightfall. This couldn't begin until then. Until then, he just sat and watched. Memorizing the timing was utterly useless. But learning a bit about the Guard's demeanor, their attitude, could mean the difference. Such and more, if he was doing this as a Hand, would he have learned. Time was rarely as great a concern for his Assassinations as it was now.
As Nephilium told his tale, Pyrene kept her expression serene, almost blank, withholding judgment. When he broke down again, however, she lost patience. However tragic his experience, this was a bit much.
"You're an idiot you know that?" she said bluntly. "I have no doubt you wish things had been different with your wife, but that doesn't mean you killed her! It's not like she had no will of her own. She must have known the risks, but she wanted your child. To say that you killed her, in face of that, is insulting to her love and courage!
"And if you go around starting your story with 'I killed my wife' of course women are going to take it the wrong way! Particularly someone who liked you and considered you a friend! I only just met you and I already like you better than your father or brother, but if you build up a relationship and then drop a stink bomb like that, of course she's going to react badly. Hellfire, even most strangers would react badly!"
Realizing how loud her voice had gotten, and that she had half risen from her seat, Pyrene settled back, taking deep breaths to calm herself. "Women die in childbirth all the time - normal human women bearing normal human babies. Even if you never told her about Celestan, even if she somehow never heard about it, she knew her life might be in danger. To say that you killed her is self-centered and insulting to her memory. As soon say that I killed my mother when she protected me from an angry client. Your stubborn insistence on blaming yourself discredits her choice to sacrifice herself if necessary."
Pyrene paused, realizing she had gotten closer to her own past than was comfortable, then continued more gently. "As for betraying her... if she loved you, I find it hard to believe she would want you to live like this. Wouldn't she want you to find whatever happiness you can?"
With a heavy sigh, Pyrene closed her eyes. "Look, I apologize if I said too much. I don't have much experience with giving advice, but I did my best. I know it's probably too much to ask for you to get me out of here, but... see what you can do? Otherwise I'm probably going to end up as Cheran's toy, and I don't relish the idea of sharing your wife's fate after he takes what he wants from me."
Opening her eyes, Pyrene met Nephilium's gaze with her own resigned one. She was tired, physically, mentally and emotionally. The day had been too long, with too many revelations and surprises. Seeing Wulfric again, confronting Cheran, finding out about Titania, meeting the Baron, and now this... it was too much. She needed a good sleep and maybe a good cry, and damned if she was going to do either in front of one of the Baron's sons, even if he didn't seem a bad sort.
I started a blog! Beware of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup...