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Wolf Blackstar
24th Oct 2000, 08:19 PM
This is something that I been discussing with some of the other PuF'ers, especially LK. Originally concieved as an "alternative" to the starship eternaty threads, we decided to make something deeper out of it.

Should you wish to take part in this thread(I'm hoping you will, I'll be writing the parts of several characters myself, and we'll try to flesh out the setting as we go along), try to keep it "serious": i.e., no spamming, at least a paragraph or two, and if you wish to have a continuing character, keep posting on a somewhat regular basis.

You don't have to be a diehard RPG fan to write here; you can describe your characters skills and special abilities, but there's no need to talk about alignments, attack bonuses, THAC0, etc. etc. I myself play little more than Diablo2, and LK can be our "realism consultant" if needs be. :)

Thus being said, the journey begins here....


Wolfram stepped slowly into the dark cavern. It seemed to have been hewn directly into the face of the rock, but all indications of man-made construction dissappeared within the first twenty yards of the entrance. There had been a series of carefully placed support beams starting on the sides and ceiling of the opening which seemed to end abruptly, and there were several piles of the beams thrown haphazardly about the floor. In addition, there was a large collection of hammers, picks, and other tools scattered about in the same manner.

It was as if something had frightened them off, even before thay had been able to finish the entryway.

Wolfram continued further down the abandoned mineshaft, the light of the midday sun giving way to the gloomy glow of the torch in his left hand. His greaves smote the hard rocky floor with a dull metallic thud at every step. He had hardly progressed more than fifty paces before he saw the first body.

Holding the torch close enough to see clearly, Wolfram examined the wounds on the corpse and determine that they had been made by a a trio of long and extremely sharp claws. The dead man's spine was also shattered, his back bent nearly double over the sharp rocks upon which he rested. What had done this had to be extremeley strong. As Wolfram progressed further, the cavern drew increasingly more confined, and Wolfram was barely able to make his way through the tortuous passage without removing his armor. Though the uinique combination of a light breastplate with heavy leather bracers and leggings offered far greater mobility than full plate suits or plate mail, it was still a bit of a discomfort in such tight quarters.

The smell of rotting flesh assailed his nostrils; Wolfram passed several more bodies along the way, all of them slain in much the same manner as the first. The deeper he went, the stronger the stench seemed to grow. Wolfram saw several trails of blood now, indicating that many more had died here, and something had been dragging them off. Eventually, he encountered loose piles of bones, all human. Whatever he was after was very large, very powerful, and had developed quite a taste for human flesh. Wolfram unsheathed his broadsword and checked the one-handed battle axe that he always kept slung over his back. It was ready to be drawn instantly. When the area of combat was too close-in to use a shield effectively, the next best thing was another weapon. Wolfram pressed on. Suddenly the caves opened up into a somewhat larger area, and as he entered, he heard a heavy, muffled, series of what could be footsteps.

Then something bellowed in the dark, a grisly, beastly tone sufficient to turn any mortal's heart to wax and melt it. But Wolfram stepped forward, and was greeted by the sight of the creature's eyes.


[Edited by Wolf Blackstar on 10-25-2000 at 02:09 AM]

WAnk
24th Oct 2000, 11:34 PM
Natalya WAnkolovich was busy picking the lock to a small gem studded treasure chest when a series of strange sounds came to her ears. the first was a strange roar that could only be described as bestial. the second could only be described as laughter. These noises perked her intrest, so she threw a dingy, decaying rag over the chest and stood up.

Tall and slender she had a laid back almost indifferent look too her. Her movements were filled with grace and composure, and a look at her eyes revealed an alertness that belied her outward appearence.

She smoothed an invisible wrinkle from her form fitting black leather pants. She turned towards the sound, causing her loose dark green robe to open slightly. At her hips was a black leather belt worked in silver with a pair of impressive looking daggers. she wore a tight black leather vest with a green and silver insignia of a foxes head on the right shoulder. In her cloak, she had several more daggers hidden but easily accessable, as well as two daggers tucked into her knee high green boots made of a soft leather with cushioned soles to ensure silence.

again, she heard laughter and decided to investigate further. she pushed her long black hair out of her face and wrapped her cloak around her arms again. She took a deep breath and padded silently down the hallway towards the large central cavern, hugging the shadows the entire time....

Wolf Blackstar
25th Oct 2000, 01:39 AM
For a moment the eyes were all that held Wolfram's attention, then he glimpsed the rest of the creature and nearly fell off balance laughing.

The creature had to have been the ugliest mortal form Wolfram had ever encountered. It was huge, and though it possessed the size, the scales, and the claws of a dragon, its incredibly bloated and corpulent body was completely lacking in the grace and power which characterized such a creature's movements. It had only two large arms, though both were extremely powerful and tipped with hands possessed of three claws each well over two feet long, they had to be limited in range of movement. The foul beast's head was shaped like a snake's, but instead of fangs, the mouth appeared to be lined with hundreds of small but sharp teeth. It's body slid along the ground like a slug, and it seemed to wallow in its own fat as it moved. The whole thing was colored a disgusting shade of brown and reeked of a different smell than that which Wolfram had encountered earlier.

The filthy monster attacked, spewing forth a cloud of venomous gas which Wolfram easily avoided. Wolfram's torch seemed to intensify in light, and he realized that the poison was flammable. The creature took a swipe with its claws that would have surely severed Wolfram's head off in a single blow, but again he was too quick for the beast. He leaped well out of range of the creature, and quickly took the opportunity to plant his torch in the ground, freeing his left arm. Reaching into one of the pouches on his belt, he pulled out several magic crystals and threw them on the ground. They flared into light, illuminating the chamber far better than the single torch had been capable of doing. With his left arm he reached behind himself and unslung his axe.

Sword in his right arm, axe in his left, the bright lights of the crystals shining radiantly on his powerfully built body, Wolfram advanced. He carefully danced around the beast, luring it closer and closer to the torch.....

The creature lashed out with its claws again. Wolfram sidestepped a cruel slash, then his axe and sword bit deeply and tasted of the creature's blood. Howling in rage, the monster unleashed its venom again, as Wolfram had anticipated, leaping aside as the toxic cloud enveloped the burning torch.

It was a strangely beautiful sight, the fire ingniting the poisonous cloud and lancing up into the beast's throat, the monster writhing in agony, clutching its neck with its claws, thrashing about like a drunken slob. Wolfram couldn't resist laughing out loud again as he watched the ugly thing die.

As the beast collapsed dead on the cavern's floor, an almost imperceptible motion drew the attention of Wolfram's keenly honed senses. He had seen something, definitely alive, an unmistakable form....... a woman.

Cammy
25th Oct 2000, 08:39 AM
As he stepped over the foul creature's carcass for a closer look, he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes upon in his life. Not even the fairest ladies in the court of his lord could compare with her. And he could see that she was chained, and deep in distress.

Somehow her features were different from those of his race, beautiful though she was. Unlike his kinsmen, she had jet black hair and yellow skin, and slanting almond eyes. A curious fragrance seemed to issue from her person -- a welcome change from the retching stench of the caves. And dressed as she was in long, flowing garments of richly embroidered silk, she looked all the more divine...

"Oh, save me, noble lord!" cried out the woman as she caught sight of Wolfram. "The hell-spawned beast devoured my entire family and everyone in my village as well. Then he chained me here so he could feast upon me later!"

"Your kin are avenged, my lady," replied Wolfram, "and I shall now undo the shackles that bind you. Yet curiosity prompts me to ask of your name..."

"I am Chun-Li," came the reply.

MoyDoy
25th Oct 2000, 03:12 PM
The forest was thick. But Moy carried on with his struggle in to it. The many months in the city had taken it's tole, he was getting tired. Very well, he thought, the sun is setting anyhow. Might as well catch my breath. But in the back of his mind he knew that he should carrie on, what he was rushing to was not going to wait. He laid down his black robe on the ground and sat on it. His thoughts dwelled on the boy he left in the shop in Face.

Doy was cleaning the floor when he realized something that made him very angry. The old man had fooled him. In his eager to get the boy to take care of the shop he had concelead alot off vital information, such as how tedious it was to clean the floor. It had been two days since Moy left and Doy was already bored. He didn't know why the old man all the sudden thought it was necessary too leave, but he knew that the cranky geezer was doing something dangerous, he had heard the tales of Moy's past life. An old knight wouldn't rush off like that to go to a dinner party. Moy had said he was going to do some business, but he refused to tell where. My knees, Doy said as he sat up.

Troll|PuF
25th Oct 2000, 04:44 PM
huddled in the shadows cast by a cask of old ale in the corner of the shop, a little Troll sat watching Doy at his daily chores. Its bright little eyes were nearly hidden by the floppy brim of its velvet hat, but they missed nothing. The little Troll knew the secrets being kept from the young Doy. She'd lived in this shop for ages upon ages, and had been privy to almost all of the old Moy's secrets. People are not quick to hide their thoughts from the creatures they deem of little consequence. She missed the cantankerous old man, but he did bring her such lovely shiney things from his travels! It was the promise of such a treat that kept her silent. She pulled back farther into the shadows, drew her knobby little blue knees up to her chin, sighed with the weight of what she knew, and closed her bright little eyes and began to remember..........

WAnk
25th Oct 2000, 04:59 PM
On her way to the cavern, Natalya heard the sounds of battle, and eventually the inevitable hideous scream of death. she stopped near the small dark entrance and peered through the shadows at the brightly lit room. her quick appraisal reveiled a hideous charred body, and a seemingly endless pile of bones with a torch stuck in it. against the far wall, a man stood before a chained woman in once beatiful but now thread-bare silk robes.

the man mumbled the words "hold still" as positioned the chains against the wall. with one powerful blow from his impressive battle axe, the chain was cut in a shower of sparks. now free, the woman flew into the mans's arms, the metal bands on her wrists clanging awkwardly on his breast plate. seeming somewhat taken aback, the man put a strong arm around her, letting his battle axe drop to his side, and stuttered the words "you're welcome" Natalya almost chuckled at the effect the woman had on the man. He did not seem the type to be easily phased by such things. The two seperated and stood there awkwardly, and the mysterious light that illuminated the cavern died down. once again, the torch provided the only light in the room.

Natalya hugged the shadows and silently made her way to the two. as she moved over, the mans senses perked up and he looked in her direction. Impressive, Natalya thought to herself. Men did not usually see her until her dagger was in their back. She continued her way over to the pair, all the while with her usual indifferent look. The man's powerful muscles tensed up, and his knuckes whitened around the handle of his axe. Natalya casually produced a dagger out of her robe and idly flipped it into the air, catching it neatly.

"it seems like i missed all then fun." Natalya said with a playful air.

"yes it would seem so," the man said carefully.

"Ahh, my dear boy, you don't need to be so wary of me, lighten up, i can't stand your type, no fun at all, it is a pity, if you ask me," Natalya replied.

"Who are you, and what are you doing here, if i may ask?" the man said skeptically.

"not one for conversation, i see. You may call me Natalya. who i am is of no import. I was just passing through and heard you and this thing's 'epic struggle' and thought i would pop my head in." she glanced at the women who was standing there staring awestruck at her. "can i help you with your armbands their dear?"

the woman, obviously still in shock at the events that had just taken place managed to whisper "yes please" in a weak voice. Natalya pulled a pair of small tools from her belt buckle and deftly picked the locks on iron rings around the woman's wrists and ankles.

"much better. well, now that you both know who i am, would you two indulge me by sharing your names?"

"i am Wolfram," the man said. his muscles were still tense. he still did not trust Natalya in the slightest.

"i am Chun-Li," the woman said in an even voice. She had gathered her wits and was now standing regally before them. it was apparent she had years of court training that was taking over.

the strange trio looked at eachother awkwardly.....

LordKhaine
25th Oct 2000, 05:33 PM
And onto the deck did step, Khaine, daring swashbuckler and infamous ravenger of women. He stood tall and pround, scanning the seas for a glint of land. His body thin, his clothes well cut, and his well groomed hair flowing in the ocean breeze.

It had been a long journey, but the destination was now so close.

"Now is the time for adventure, and hopefully a lot of beer and women" grinned Khaine, as he boldly stepped across the deck.

The_Dudester
25th Oct 2000, 05:44 PM
From the edge of the Forest of Silence staggered a battered and bleeding body...
Before it made 3 metres into the clearing, it collapsed to the ground, with an audible groan. As it fell, a tiny glinting jewel flew from its grasp and rolled a small distance away from the prone body.

The renowned Cathayan explorer Du-de-es-ta seemed to have finally met his end, and all for a tiny trinket...

Wolf Blackstar
25th Oct 2000, 06:38 PM
{note: This is excellent. The thread isn't growing as fast as the starhip threads, but the replies are somewhat meatier, and have more continuity. Keep 'em coming! :)}

Back in the cave, Wolfram's eyes darted from one woman's face to the other. Deciding to ease the mood a bit, he slung the battle-axe over his shoulder, but kept his sword in his right arm, which hung deceptively loosely at his side. He walked slowly to the torch and collected it, along with the magic light crystals.

Chun-Li stared at him for a moment, then at Natalya, then was the first to break the silence. "Come, let us be gone from this foul creature's lair. I should like to learn more about each of you, so that I may properly introduce myself, as well."

Wolfram began to follow the woman to the corridor that led to the mine's entrance, and made a note of Natalya, for as she left the large room she glanced about it quickly but thoroughly, the way a warrior surveys terrain for memorization.

After they had emerged from the dank mine into refreshing sunlight, he spoke.


"I am Wolfram. I know only that i am, or once was, a warrior. There is little else I am able to tell you about myself; seven days ago I recovered consciousness lying in a bloody battlefield, a bludgeon wound on the side of my head, and no memories whatsoever. I was surrounded by the dead on all sides; as far as I could tell, I was the only living soul on a mountainside covered with fallen corpses slain in battle.

Who or what I or the others were fighting, or what we were fighting for, is knowledge lost with my memory. My name I knew only from the etched markings on my sword and axe. I was determined to find any other survivors; I scoured the area, but I found nothing but the dead. I recovered much armor and weapons from the corpses, but not a single living soul had survived whatever conflagration had claimed the lives of those now lying dead on the mountain. I was mystified; I not only wanted to recover my identity and memories, but now i felt driven to know why i had survived what so many others had not. The terrain, though nameless to my now confused mind, seemed somehow familiar. for seven days, I set off across the mountain trails, pressing down into what I would later find out was the Forest of Silence. I was determined to find something or someone that could provide a clue or set me in the right direction to finding myself.

My first stop was an old mage-healer's shack in the woods; he was able to heal my wound, but when I asked him if he knew of "Wolfram", or anyone who knew of him, he shook his head, and began babbling about the increase of demonic activity in the land. When I mentioned the killing field, he said that there had never been such a large scale battle anywhere near the land in nearly two centuries. Though I did not expect him to know much about arms and armor, the weapons and gear that I had taken from the dead and brought with me were unrecognizable to the old wizard. Once again the old man returned to chattering on about monsters and demons lurking in the forests. When I asked the old mage about the monsters, he said that I should go with all haste to a small village located only two leauges to the west, and that a great evil had terrorized its populace. I thanked the old man for his services and set off on this new quest, in the hope that i might gain more knowledge upon its completion.

When I reached the village it was in chaos; men were packing up carts and horses with all speed in preparation to depart their homes, and women walked in the streets crying and screaming, grieving about how "the beast in the mine" had slain their loved ones. After talking with the few remainning folk, I learned that the town's only industry was a small iron mine which barely seen six months of operation before a foul creature had appeared from unknown depths, slaying all that crossed its path and devouring their flesh. Immediately I made haste to the mine to slay this beast; and now that I have done so, I find the two of you."

For a few moments, there was silence once more. Then Natalya turned to face Chun-Li and spoke: "If the village here is only populated by poor mine workers, then where does a lady of your background and status come from, and how did you manage to be captured by the beast?"

Wolfram stopped walking. It was indeed a good question.

Chun-Li gave a light laugh, then smiled awkwardly.

Wolfram turned to face Natalya, whose face betrayed the slightest hint of a mischievous smile. Obviously, he reasoned, this one was even more dangerous than he had figured before.

Then Chun-Li spoke.

hal
25th Oct 2000, 11:33 PM
From within the bowels of the water-vessel there was a stirring among the crates and blankets stored there. The shadows held the humanoid figure like a vise...with only two faint lights breaking it's bonds.

The entity had heard the workers speaking of the one they called "Khaine". It knew he would be a powerful friend or foe. Only time would tell.

They were on their way to an unknown land, rumored to have the fiercest beasts and the richest of treasures. It was doubtful that the object it was seeking was there. But it could leave no stone un-turned.

It was trapped in this strange world and knew that sooner or later it would have to be seen. Then it would determine it's course of action.

As it stepped into the light breaking through the vessel's portal, it was clear that it was a most unusual human-creature. Two arms and legs with oddly transparent skin. Strings of metal and rods were faintly visible beneath. It's metallic, gray-ish colored head was hairless beneath it's hood. It moved as gracefully and naturally as a human. Yet it was not.

It had not seen the girl-human peering through the cracks in the ceiling. She was staring at the strange tattoo that seemed to be etched onto it's wrist.

"hal 2k01"

From above there were shouts, "Lord Khaine, land is nigh!".

The_Dudester
26th Oct 2000, 04:50 AM
From the motion of the sun in the sky it is clear that several hours have passed by the time Du-de-es-ta finally stirs. Slowly, he tries to move his stiff, battered limbs, but winces with pain at the smallest attempt. It takes him half an hour to roll over on to his back and then sit up, legs straight in front of him (to bend them would be too painful for now). He seems to lose consciousness again for a brief while, slumping forward slightly in his new position...and perhaps another hour passes before his next motion.
Suddenly, his head jerks up (followed by a moan at the pain this elicits from his aching muscles), and his eyes track the grassy earth around him. Eventually, he spots the gemstone he dropped - a red-purple shard of rock, not obviously worth risking a hand of cards for, let alone a life - and he lunges forward with both hands to recapture it.
Du-de-es-ta's muscles refuse to obey as fully as he had expected, and the end result is that the explorer finds himself flat on his belly once more, fingertips just brushing the gem - which now (although it might be a trick of the light, the effect is so tiny) seems to emit a red glow.
Despite the pain of his wounds, Du-de-es-ta's face twists into a smile before sleep claims his damaged body once more...

The_Dudester
26th Oct 2000, 09:22 AM
A strange and almost horrifying process begins to take place over Du-de-es-ta...slowly all of the lacerations, the bruises, even the few gashes in his side, begin flowing over his skin as if they were floating in liquid...they pass down his outstreached arm, across his hand (which at certain point in this process becomes almost unrecognisable when a large wound passes through it) and seemingly into the gem. The gem itself becomes increasingly bright as the phenomenon continues, and its edges somehow seem crueller by the second...until finally, two hours later, the body of the explorer is totally free from blemish or injury, and the gem is a wickedly hooked, barbed thing, throwing out an intense baleful glare as bright as a watchfire...
As soon as the process completes, Du-de-es-ta snatches his hand away from the amulet-stone, and leaps to his feet. Drawing a heavy lead-lined case, embroidered with eldrich sigils, from his belt, and donning a heavy leather glove, he quickly seals the gem away from any eyes or influence.

Then, with a slight shudder, he replaces the case on his belt, orients himself with an ornate Cathyan compass, and sets off due West towards the village he has been seeking for the past three months...

Wolf Blackstar
26th Oct 2000, 11:26 AM
Deep in the Forest of Silence, the old mage-healer warms himself in front of the fireplace in the tiny cabin. The shelves of his little mountain shack are lined with all manner of herbs and healing potions. A small bookshelf boasts a collection of arcane tomes.

The flames crackle lightly as they burn through the wood on the grate. The old mage gathers his robes closer about himself and draws nearer the flames.

All seems well, until the flames seem to rise higher. The mage adjusts the old wire-rimmed spectacles over his eyes, thinking it to be a trick of the light. Suddenly a massive tongue of fire leaps into the room and fans out in all direction. The terrified old man hurls himself to the floor to avoid the fiery onslaught.

Then suddenly, just as swiftly as it had happened, it is over. The mage stares at the fireplace for a moment, then looks around the room. He gasps in fright as he sees what had not been there before - a series of eldritch symbols has been burned directly into the surface of the wall.

The old man is puzzled for a second, then rushes to his bookshelf, retrieves a dusty old volume, and begins to translate the inscription.

After several more minutes, he slams the book cover shut, sending a fine spray of old dust into his face. He lets it settle, then looks again at the characters on the wall and reads: "A great evil comes forth today from the sea."

Cammy
27th Oct 2000, 12:58 AM
"I am actually a healer from Cathay," said Chun-Li, "a land several months' travel by ship away in the East. My family and I have been renowned physicians and healers for many generations, and we worship Kuan-Yin, Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. Such are the powers granted us by Lady Kuan-Yin we can even restore lost limbs and resurrect the dead within one day of their death. We also have in our possession a magical gem, The Eye of the Golden Dragon, a family heirloom that contains the very essence of our healing powers. But recently Lady Kuan-Yin appeared before my family and me in person -- an extremely rare thing -- and charged us with the mission of coming to this land to heal the sick and injured, of whom we were told there would be large numbers here.

"Travelling here on the wings of our dragon-mounts, we found that this land had indeed been ravaged by war and pestilence and vile creatures, and while we were busy healing the people we found in a village that seemed to have been ravaged by one such creature, the terrible beast struck again. With our powers virtually exhausted through all the healing spells we had been casting, we were left defenseless against the monster's attack and..."

Chun-Li broke down and began to weep. Seeing this, Wolfram quickly walked up to her, putting his massive arms around her to offer consolation. Seeing this, Natalya smiled nonchalently and shook her head.

"Eye of the Golden Dragon, eh?" thought Natalya. "Hmmm... Sounds good to me..."

"Du-de-es-ta..." wept Chun-Li. "Oh, my beloved brother Du-de-es-ta..."



[Edited by Cammy on 10-27-2000 at 03:04 AM]

Jing
27th Oct 2000, 01:00 AM
The horse strides slowly along the beaten dirt path; it seems to have born it's rider for endless miles, yet it continues on tirelessly. The rider, a noble man bearing an archaic half plate armor beneath a a wide, black velvet cloak, seems almost to be asleep. It would be difficult for any to see, shielded as his face is by his wide brimmed hat. He rides onward, black leather gloved hands negligently holding the reins, silent but for the clatter of hooves and the soft metallic clink of his greatsword.

Though the traveller's mouth does not move, a voice may be heard, light and converstaional,

"You know Jing, the last town wasn't so bad. We could have stayed there you know. We could easily have assumed a position of hegemon...lord protector, and ruler of the mensch"

The rider speaks, softly, "You should know by now that I do no prefer that term. Those people are no different than I."

And again, the voice replies, mocking, "Oh, but you are different! For one, there is the matter of my existance! And second, there is the matter of your father, the great and illustrious -"

"Silence, or I will cut you off and leave by the road."

"Hit a nerve did I? Well, you need me anyway..."

The road continues, passing near the Forest of Silence along the way to the port-city of Chotkarak

And the rider continues on, in silence.

trinity
27th Oct 2000, 01:10 AM
Doy nearly fell flat on the floor when two beautiful women burst through the doors and strode into the shop. One was tall and strong, she had long flowing red hair and vicious green eyes. And as he squinted into the light he realized that she was a warrior, clad in form-fitting armor, and carrying an ancient bow, fashioned from dragon bone. Slung over her pack was a dangerous array of edged weapons. The other woman in the party was smaller and more delicate, with raven hair and ice-blue eyes that seemed, in their own, to be more frightening then the first were. She also wore armor, but hers was of finest mail that gleamed with an unearthly glow. He stared at the jeweled staff in her hand, then jumped when he saw the skull that crowned it.

The tall one spoke first -

"I am Isis. I seek Old Moy. Where is he?"

Doy stuttered, unsure of himself - "Um, he left on, er, buisness..."

"Buisness? I have buisness with him. Can you point me to the road he took? I'll soon find him."

"Uh, well, he didn't really say..."

"Boy are you some kind of half-wit? Where has he gone?"

The smaller woman stepped forth and laid her hands on Doy's shoulders.

"Isis, he speaks the truth. We must go forth alone and unaided."

"Very well Freyja, let us take our leave of this wretch."

When they had stepped outside, Freyja stopped her companion.

"There was another presence in the shop with us, we must wait to see if this is the one that possesses the knowledge to aid us in our quest..."

Jing
27th Oct 2000, 01:41 AM
{notes: Hegemon, as derived from an old chinese word menaing 'lord protector' from the Eastern Zhou Empire (roughly 1000 BC; War General/Regent is probably the closest to explaining it); Mensch from German (?) meaning people, but in this cased used to mean lower class/commoner (ala deathgate cycle by weiss); and Chotkarak from Korean, meaning 'chopsticks'}

In the Forest of Silence, darkness flows like a raging river, rushing with a cold, silent, purpose towards the old healer's hut.

Jing jerks back on the horse's reins sharply...both he and the horse are surprised.

"Jing! Weirdlings! In the forest!"
With his cloak ruffling in the wind, Jing swings from his horse and with an inhuman speed and agility runs into the forest...his one hand reaching for the sword on his back, it's position causing his cloak to flare outwards like a pair of massive, black bat wings...he gracefully leaps on to the trunk of a giant fallen oak, and leaps skyward into the trees, and runs, leaping from giant tree branch to giant tree branch, until he reachs the healer's hut...and there it is surrounded a dozen weirdlings, pacing, striking out in frustration... the old mage did well to hollow out the trunk of the massive oak to serve as his hut, and to protect it with ancient sigils of power and defense... they flare brilliantly as the weirdlings attack.

{a Weirdling is perhaps a '25% werebeast.' it results from the mating of a werebeast in it's beast form with a normal animal. Weirdlings are stronger than normal animals, and share a some resistances. Most notably, they can only be harmed by metal (any) and magic. Herbs and other such 'weak' reppellants have no effect.}

Jing leaps downward, and in a massive swing hews a pair of WeirdBoars in two. Landing in front of the hut's entrance, he quickly strikes the shape of a star into the dirt before him, and jabs his sword in the ground. His eyes glow an unearthly blue color as he chants words of banishment;
Choui Kage-e kabang-iramyon muosh-idunji ta its-oyo (which is really korean for 'we have all kinds of bags in our store').

The old healer, sensing help, opens the door, and begins to chant along...and slowly the remaining weirdlings are reppelled... but they remain, pacing, screeching in frustration at the magical barrier that holds them at bay some 20 feet away.

"Jing, there is something wrong"

Remarkably, there are a pair of eyes and a mouth on Jing's left hand... it seems to behave as a sentient being.
"I can see that quite clearly Sinistre, I am however, presently engaged at rectifying the situation..."

"A Wampyr of your age and power should be able to banish these Weirdlings out of the forest entirely. Something is leanding them strength to resist...something powerful."

"Any ideas old man?"

The_Dudester
27th Oct 2000, 04:35 AM
The sun is low in the sky as the raggedly dressed explorer strides into the decimated village. His face twists with the shock of this sight, and a tear beads in his eye.
Chun-Li he thinks, distraught, My family....I never should have left you for a moment...

He remembers now the events that led to this tragedy...
His family, directed by the Goddess Kuan-Yin, had flown 70 leagues to this place in an attempt to undo the suffering spread by vile daemon-spawn, avatars of pain and injury. Du-de-es-ta had never been interested in the healing arts himself, being more excited by the prospect of roaming the far reaches of the world, uncovering new and exciting things...
However, the summons from Kuan-Yin visited him too, though he was twenty leagues from his homeland at the time, and he realised that he could not refuse...
A day later, his family's dragons flew over his head, and he rejoined his family entire for the first time in seven years. This time, unlike the last, there were no heated arguments - just the joy of rediscovering old relations and the sureity of common purpose.
The healing of the people had gone well at first, although the injuries inflicted by the cruel pain-daemons were enough to make even the hardened explorer blanch.
However, in the midst of one mass healing, an arch-daemon and its pack of daemonlings attacked without warning...the struggle was one sided to say the least, Du-de-es-ta's family being almost exhausted of mana from the healing effort.
Bravely, they resorted to hand-to-hand combat - a skill that all Cathayans are trained in from birth as both a physical and mystic art - but the odds were too much. In the midst of the melee, Du-de-es-ta's grandfather was cut down and the Eye of the Golden Dragon stolen from his dying grasp.

Impulsively, Du-de-es-ta had pursued the theiving daemon, but its body had sprouted wings and fled the battle...with the explorer in hot pursuit. For a day and a night, Du-de-es-ta had tracked the daemon's eldrich trail, until he came upon a hideous and warped temple deep in the Forest of Silence.
It was there that he saw the face of the one who summoned this daemon-plague across the land,
it was there that he saw the Eye of the Golden Dragon destroyed, although he recieved grevious injury in attempting to save it,
and it was from that temple that he obtained the crystal-amulet now in his possession.

Looking up from his recollection, the explorer's face suddenly filled with hope - on the side of a hill, less than half a league from the village ruins, was the entrance to an old mine shaft...a place where people might conceiveably hide...

A new determination in his stance, the battered explorer strode off towards this fresh source of hope...

Chun Li, maybe you are still alive...and if you are, my sister, I will stop at nothing to find you again.

Cammy
27th Oct 2000, 07:31 AM
"There, there, my lady," consoled Wolfram. "I'm sure at least some of your kinsfolk must still be alive..."

"I can only hope so," whispered Chun-Li, steeling herself after a deep breath. Then she looked into Wolfram's eyes, and Wolfram into hers... And for a moment, there was silence...

Then Natalya broke the silence. "I didn't know you're a healer, sister Chun-Li!" she remarked. "Care to give a demonstration of your powers?"

"If it should merit your pleasure," replied Chun-Li with a smile. Then before Wolfram could say or do anything she lifted his battle-axe to her wrist and gashed her flesh against the blade, and blood splurted out like a fountain.

"My lady, what are you doing?" cried Wolfram in shock.

"Do not fear for me, my lord," replied Chun-Li. "Watch!" And she covered the wound with her hand and closed her eyes. Lifting her hand, all signs of the wound had gone without a trace.

"Wow! I'm impressed!" exclaimed Natalya. Wolfram also stared on in amazement.

"This is nothing," said Chun-Li. "Wait until my powers are full! But for now, come, let us leave this sorrowful place."

They stumbled on until they came to the cave entrance. Then Chun-Li saw --

"Du-de-es-ta! My brother! You're alive!"

"Chun-Li! You're alive, too!"

The two were obviously overjoyed to see each other again, and they wept in each other's arms for a long time. Then Du-de-es-ta took note of Wolfram and Natalya and asked, "Who be these two?"

Chun-Li proceeded to introduce her two friends to Du-de-es-ta, and her brother to the warrior and the she-thief; but although Du-de-es-ta did not notice, all the while Natalya had been staring at him... She had met many men before, even fought with a few, but never before had she felt such curious emotions as were awakened in her by this man... Looking at the sun-bronzed skin, the lean, athletic build showing through the tattered clothes, the handsome, almost slightly feminine face with high cheekbones, adorned with a thin moustache... Somehow she felt an unmistakeable attraction towards him...

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
27th Oct 2000, 10:26 AM
"It is time"

The wind was dying down now, the shutters had stopped banging and the previously torrential downpour was now turning into a rather despondent drizzle.

"After over fifteen thousand years it is now time", the hunched figure repeated again, eyes gazing intently at the remenents of a temple font, split in two by the vast forces unleashed just moments earlier.

"His feet have touched this land and all that is may yet be undone ..... but if he can be .."

TAP-TAP

The hunched figure paused in his/her/its monologue, disturbed by the unwelcome intrusion from the outside. He/it/she? stretched out an arm and gestured with a wrinkled hand.
A brief flash of light.

A portion of the wall slid noiselessly aside, just wide enough to admit a slight figure, wrapped in a heavy fur cloak, who upon seeing the hunched figure dropped to her knees and touched her head to the floor.

The girl started to talk, obviously frightened, her words coming out in a rush,
"Lord, the villagers are getting more ... troublesome ..... by the hour. You MUST talk...."

"Did I give you permisson to speak?"

The girl stops abruptly, her eyes widening as she realises in horror what she has done.
She starts to shake ..... "but...but.....the villag..."

"Silence" The word snaps out like a whip, only a slight movement coming from the hunched figure sat on the cold grey throne."I will deal with the villagers shortly, until then I need your assistance ..... open the other door"

Still shaking the girl walks over to the otherside of the room and stops in front of a featureless part of the wall.
"Now hold" comes that whispery scratchy voice from the thing that she calls her lord.
A few minutes pass, the silence becoming more oppressive, until suddenly a dull green glow appears in front of the girl. She stares at it briefly, before closing her eyes and thrusting her arms through the glow, through the wall to somewhere else.
It is obviously causing her pain, her jaw muscles are clenched and she is shaking even more, but with a cry of anguish/relief she pulls her arms back out of the wall, out of the glow, holding something wrapped in grey cloth.
"Bring it to me" whispers the figure on the throne.
For a moment the girl looks as if she is about to resist, but finally she drops her eyes in resignition and turns about, walking towards the throne before kneeling and placing the bundle in front of her.
"I never thought I would see this day", a papery thin hand caresses the wrapped item, "but now it has come it shall not find me old, befuddled and weak!"
The hunched figure stands, and then straightens to its full height of 6ft4", before pulling back the hood of its robes.
The girl starts, she has never seen her lords face before, the high cheekbones, slanted eyes and slightly elongated ears appear to be the hallmarks of the elvish people, but yet there is something alien and indescribable as well. Her lord must once have been a mighty warrior, but now his bones are brittle, his flesh and skin hang off his skeletal frame and one of his fierce golden eyes are cloudy.
Sudden recognition dawns in the young girls eyes, her look changes from amazement, to shock then to fear,
"You're a ..."
"Stop" the figure growls, this word must have had some type of magical command about it, as the girl is frozen to the spot, unable to even blink.
Slowly the figure picks the bundle of the floor, gently unwrapping it. Soon he is left holding a sword and scabbard. The scabbard appears to be made out of some type of red leather scales, the hilt of the sword is plain and unadorned, the pommel stone black and unrecognisable.
"You know nothing of me, of us ", whispers the figure to the paralyzed girl as he circles her, "we were rulers of the skys and the seas whilst you were still living in caves and banging rocks together. You know nothing of our truimphs, our arts, our musics, or the sacrifices we made ...... the sacrifices I made," the ancient figure looks saddened, "to ensure that HE did not win".
The figure sighs.
"Yet I would make those sacrifices all over again if it gave me just a chance, the most miniscule of chances, to right what was wrong, to bring back that which was lost ..... to rescue my people."
"But all this means nothing to you. You have seen me for what I am, and I cannot allow you to inform others." The figure stops in front of the girl and places a withered hand on her shoulder, "it may be no solace to you, but I am truely sorry for what I must do here, it brings me no pleasure."
The figure releases the girls shoulder and the hold spell though she does not run, instead steeling herself and looking him squarely in the eyes.
"Sleep peacefully" whispers the ancient figure as he touches his lips to the girls forehead.
Her eyes widen briefly, then she smiles a most beautiful smile before crumpling slowly to the floor, dead.
The figure stands over the still smiling girl, before kneeling beside her and closing her eyes for the last time.
"I am so sorry little one, may you find the happiness in your next life that I denied you in this one, and may you be stronger for it"
The figure straightens, he appears slightly younger, healthier than five minutes earlier, leaning on his sword to pull himself up.
"And now I must leave"
The figure walks out of his throne room and proceeds through a maze of tunnels, appearing to turn left and right at random.
Eventually he enters a darkened chamber, the only light coming from a small glowing globe that the figure is carrying, casting harsh shadows along the walls.
In the centre of the room is a large stone sarcophagaus of some type, with the top carved into the shape of a tall warrior woman, appearing to have the same features as the ancient globe bearer.
The figure walks to the head of the carving, running his hand along the cheekbone of the carved warrior woman,
"Llaeresil.." he whispers, "you will be avenged ... you will ALL be avenged ..... soon we will be together ... soon I will have you back ..... and our people can once again start building our cloud castles, soaring the waves and dancing under the moons", the figure pauses for a second, appearing to be searching for something to say, "but there are things that I must do to open the paths for you, to be ready for you ... horrible things ..... I hope that you can forgive me ... I hope I can forgive myself"
With that last word the figure turns abruptly and heads out into the passages.
One hour later he is squinting down into a village, the setting sun behind it, watching the villagers gather in front of the bonfires, shaking there rustic weapons in the air and shouting amongst themselves. There appears to be a few people, in armour, standing on a raised dais, shouting to the crowd. A cheer goes up. The shouting is getting louder ..... soon the figure is able to pick out some of the words ... "abomination", "evil", "thief", "murderer".
The figure shakes it's head, he is in no doubt that he's the subject of the villagers ire, he just cannot understand why. Until four hours ago he had not killed for over two thousand years, but this last couple of months had been filled with accusations, fighting and cruelty amongst the villagers TO EACH OTHER.
Then he hears it, a word, carried by the brisk evening air to his enhanced hearing.
Upon hearing it he starts, then sighs, and then unsheathes his sword.
The blade, some type of silver/grey material glints red in the setting sun as he advances under cover towards the bonfire, tears streaming down his face, muttering to himself a litany to keep away the darkness.
"Llaeresil forgive me ... it is to soon for them to know that our people our not truely dead, that we were never the monsters they thought we were .... the sacrifice we took upon ourselves to preserve this world and all it's creatures from HIM cost us too much...."

Soon the screams begin.

Two weeks later a figure is spotted by several groups of travellers heading towards the coast. He appears to be some sort of tall elfling, a mighty sword strapped to his back, looking maybe mid to late twenties in human years, though at certain lights and angles there appears to be something terrifying about his features.
Quite often he appears out of nowhere, yet always he asks the same qustions and is gone within minutes of recieving his answer.
No one ever sees him leave.

But always the same questions ....

"Which way to the coast ?, which way to Khaine?"

[Edited by RumpleForeskin|PuF on December 7th, 2000 at 03:01 PM]

Wolf Blackstar
27th Oct 2000, 11:56 AM
"Forsooth; we should leave this place, for lo, even now, the sun sets upon us, and I sense something about the forest that does no bode well in the balance of life."

Wolfram addressed the three. He could not quite explain it, but something was wrong. Unsure of his identity as he was, Wolfram knew he did not possess manifested magic, but he had been driven from the start by extraordinarily powerful instinct. It had brought him to the forest, to the village, and to the monster in the cave. But now this same instinct was telling him that there was more evil here than the flesh eating beast that he had slain, and it seemed to indicate that it was stirring into life with every moment that the sun approached the horizon. The whole forest seemed rife with danger signals. "We must be off. To the village!"

The other three seemed to agree, and the party set off at a brisk pace over the forest trails.



Back at the shop, old Doy was almost finished cleaning. And good that he was, for the sun was just touching the horizon. He'd remember to give Moy an earful about not revealing the secrets of maintaining the place. Doy could hardly believe it had taken an entire day to clean and stock the little shop. Doy was also feeling somewhat uneasy, since those two women that had interrogated him earlier about Moy were still outside. He had no idea what they were after, but he did not appreciate being shoved around. He stole a glance out the window, and it appeared that the tall redhead with the bow was setting up camp. The shorter woman was sitting on a rock, her arms folded across her knees and the staff lying flat in the palms of her hands. Her eyes were closed in meditation, and Doy saw what looked like sparks flowing across the surface of the staff.

The tall woman suddenly turned and looked directly at him, and Doy jumped away from the window like a kicked cat.


"Freyja, he's watching us again. Are you sure he doesn't know anything?" But no answer came from her friend. Isis knew she she wouldn't speak until she had finished meditating, attuning herself to the frequencies of life itself, gaining strength and ethereal mana. Isis sat down next to Freyja and laid her longbow across her lap. Crafted from the ribs of an elder dragon and imbued with the essence of its blood, it was indeed a fine weapon. The dragon bow and it's blood-treated arrows could pierce any armor and completely nullify even the most powerful warrior's defenses.

The sun's lowermost edge sank beneath the horizon, and the pines cast long shadows over the trails. Isis was suddenly overwhelmed with a host of mental signals of danger. Only warriors knew this feeling, and those who survive battle quickly learned not to dismiss it. Isis stood, tall and strong, her studded leather armor girt tightly about her athletic figure. Slung over her shoulder was a formidable array of throwing knives and two short swords. She nocked an arrow to thw bowstring and held it taught. Then she looked at Freyja. If there really was a threat present, she would eventually feel it too, through the mana energies...

Freyja had just achieved a complete state of inner peace, and unity with the ethereal realm. Though her eyes were closed, she could see the world around her entirely through magic, as well as the forces and energies which the naked eye could not see. She felt her inner essence recharging as she absorbed energy, siphoning off the power given off by nature itself and giving her strength and ability. Her meditation was nearly complete when foreign energies suddenly focused themselves into existence. This was wrong. These were not the elemental forces of the world, but could only be from another source - demonic magic. Suddenly the malevolent energies synchronised themselves into a radiance of hatred that grew stronger by the second. Then the evil force turned on her and lashed out....

"Freyja! There is......" "Evil, I know, I have felt it, and it is very powerful." She rose to her feet and gripped her staff closely. She approached Isis, who had already prepared her bow and arrows, and steeled herself in a fighting stance. Freyja's long, flowing gown was crafted of elven mail. It was soft as silk to the touch, but was intrinsically stronger than steel and could absorb the most punishing of blows. It was also imbued with magical essences which gave her a reserve of mana energy that would also recharge faster. Her staff came to life in her hands, glowing brightly and radiating azure sparks which gathered themselves within the skull that sat on top of it.

Isis and Freyja stood back to back in the Forest of Silence, weapons and magic at the ready, and were more than prepared when a host of screaming creatures charged forth from the darkness and attacked.

Jing
27th Oct 2000, 01:12 PM
Quite suddenly, the weirdlings left...

"Most puzzling Jing. Quite likely they found other prey. It could be a trap, but I doubt it... weirdlings are difficult to control, and in band as large and diverse as that one... I'm not surprised."

Jing regarded his hand, the talking Sinistre for a moment, then released the banishment spell.

"Please come inside... there are things you should know." Said the old man.

Inside, the old man bustled about quickly, gathering leathery tomes and strange potions, all the while studying his mysterious savior seated by the fireplace. Tall (6f2), and athletically lean...he bore a finely crafted katana of silver, etched with ancient runes not even the healer, wise beyond his years, could recognize. Several silver throwing knives were concealed under his cloak, marking the stranger as a Vampire hunter. This was at once strange, since most vampire hunters were much more heavily armed, travelled in groups, and were much younger, due to their high mortality rate. Of further interest was the silver flintlock pistol at his belt. Such weapons worked only by magic, and were hideously rare. Moreover, they were the common domain of werewolf hunters. The stranger's pale skin spoke of his profession, though he did not wear a cross, as so many others did.

The old Healer cleared his throat, "And how should I address you, lord?"

Silently, Jing began to trace sigil after sigil within the air... Each flared in order, floating in ethereally in the air, interweaving.
"That is the name of my family clan. You realize who and what am I now, I assume?"

The Old healer stopped, his heart threatening to tear itself out of his chest. Could he have read the sigils incorrectly? The Vampire Hunter sitting so placidly by the fire was older than all the trees in the forest outside!
"Yyy....you....you.....you are.... the son of -"

"Aye. I am known by many names. The people of the east saw fit to call me Jing as a testament to the clarity of my purpose, and forged for me this blade."
"You know Jing," Began Sinistre "That was almost 500 years ago."
"That it was, you misbegotten summoning gone awry. And how many years has it been since the master librarian miscast the summon familiar spell that placed you in my hand?"
"Hmmm. It is a faint memory..." the finger's on Jing left hand began to move, counting off years...or perhaps centuries.

"If you are fit to travel and have your belongings, we should hasten... something is still lurking, and bears you great malice."

The old healer nodded. He placed his books and potions in a bag, then handed an old book and some potions to Jing, "I know these potions of healing and the grimoire Guerir of healing is of no use to you...but perhaps?" The old man continued packing. "You know, your mother was the one woman truly loved by your father. According to legends, he did not impart his dark curse upon her, leaving her a human."

"Aye, that he did, left my beloved mother human...and mortal. And the villagers burned her for a witch. She brought medicins to heal the villagers, and when they became well again, the healing was a testament of her witchcraft. That village was destroyed that night, and it's name has not been uttered for ages. My mother, with her dying words, sent me forth to do good among the people. But I cannot forgive those shades of the past, and I'll not revive them by uttering their name."

The old man nodded sagely as they walked through the forest. "Bear not the people malice, for ever do people fear what they do not understand. And know that now, they need your help. A great evil has set foot on our land this day, an evil from a faraway island nation across the sea. And -"

A hideous, incessant laughter breaks from the forest.
HeeHEhEEeehEheEHEhe HAahaAHHAhahHAHHAhahAHha EHEHAHahaheEHheHAH
"Jing" warned Sinistre, "It is the undead... and a powerful one come to replace the weirdlings!"
The old man looked panicked, "The laughter is nearer! we must make haste! The forest edge is ahead!"
HeeHEhEEeehEheEHEhe HAahaAHHAhahHAHHAhahAHha EHEHAHahaheEHheHAH
The old healer ran towards the edge of the forest... he could see two warriors, an amazon and a sorceress putting to death the last of the weirdlings...if only he could enlist their aid...
"Old Man! Neither stop nor run! You must WALK!"

But it was too late. In blur of black motion, and the healer was cut down. Over his dying body stood a squat, skeletal, black demon... it had long, razor sharp claws instead of fingers, an angular face with burning red eyes and a beak like mouth.
And it never stopped laughing.
HeeHEhEEeehEheEHEhe HAahaAHHAhahHAHHAhahAHha EHEHAHahaheEHheHAH
Jing had stopped inspite of his own warning to the old man.
"A screeling" he hissed softly.

The_Dudester
27th Oct 2000, 01:55 PM
{Wolf, Cammy, WAnk - I thought I might need to actually explain what the h*ll this gem is I have...so here goes...(my apologies for the bad dialogue) }

The sun was almost set, casting an ominous bruise across the horizon, as the quartet of adventurers arrived back in the ruins of the village.

Du-de-es-ta began building a fire from the fragments of wood strewn liberally around the area,
aided by the thief Natalya, whose slender attractiveness had not gone unnoticed by the explorer. He wondered briefly
whether this help, and the glances she had been giving him during the walk back, suggested a reciprocation of
feeling...but then thieves were known to be suspicious types, so it was equally likely that she was simply
wary of this unknown quantity he represented.

Soon, the fire was built, and the four were sat around it, sharing in its warmth (the night had become unnaturally cold for the season).
From the direction of the Forest of Silence came muffled screams and the sound of fighting...which attracted the interest of all the party for a brief while.
They ended soon after they started, however, and no-one was particularly enamoured of idea of investigating such things, especially at night, when pain elementals and
worse were abroad.

After a long silence, Du-de-es-ta took a long breath and recounted his story to his sister and their companions. The shock on Chun-Li's face when she heard of the
destruction of the Eye of the Golden Dragon was almost too much for the hardened explorer to bear, but he forced himself to continue...

"My sister, I know how much it grieves you to find our family's heirloom destroyed...it was a great force for good in this world. I can only say that I fought with all my life to
resist this tragedy - but my blades and magic could not resist the forces of the daemon horde, and the hideous forces at the command of their leader. I will regret this day to the end of my
life, but, look, there is at least some good to come from this..."

With that, Du-de-es-ta brought forth the heavy box from his side, and gingerly opened it a fraction so that the bale-light of its contents spilled out over his allies. All three started at the light's touch,
as if a jolt of pain passed through them (although the warrior Wolfram tried to hide his reaction to save face...). Then, the box snapped shut.

"Du-de-es-ta, my brother, is that what I think it is?" asked the healer anxiously.

"Yes, it is. An elemental cyst - capable of absorbing any elemental force and holding it for a time, until the gem's bearer wishes to release the essence within.
At present, it contains the elements of pain and injury which I projected into it to save my life...this is why its appearance is so threatening, and its light is bane to all living things.
My magical powers are no match for yours, dear sister, but this gem seemed almost hungry for my agony - as if it were used to such contents.
You of course know what this means?"

Glancing at the puzzled expressions of Wolfram and Natalya, the Chun Li nodded, then exposited for their benefit...

"It could only mean that the gem had been used to hold a pain elemental - a daemon of some kind. More so, for the gem to want pain so much,
the trapped daemon must have been incredibly powerful..."

A shudder passed through the group as they considered what this could mean...

Cammy
27th Oct 2000, 06:36 PM
"Shouldn't we help those poor people?" asked Chun-Li upon hearing the screams.

"At present our powers are not yet fully recharged," replied Du-de-es-ta, "so if we attempt to help them we'll only put ourselves in danger. We can always go to their aid at daybreak. After all, we can even resurrect the dead within one day of their death."

For a time there was only the sound of crackling fire. Then Natalya decided to change the topic. "So that crystal actually serves as a prison for those demons, eh?" observed Natalya, referring to the crystal Du-de-es-ta had just shown them. "Perhaps we can find more of these crystals. They ought to be a great help in handling the demons and elementals."

"I've got some magical crystals myself," said the warrior, producing a few. "They were given to me by the old healer-mage I spoke of. I'm actually not entirely sure myself what other use they might have, and I employ them mainly as a source of illumination."

Du-de-es-ta studied the crystals. "These... These are elemental cysts, too!!" he cried excitedly. "They should aid us greatly in fighting the evil creatures!"

"Are these creatures really that terrible?" asked the warrior skeptically. "I've already shown one of them who's the boss!"

"Big boy," said Natalya with a shake of her head, almost losing her patience with the warrior's youthful impulsiveness, "you simply do not know what you stand against."

"Natalya speaks truly," answered Du-de-es-ta. "These creatures are not to be lightly reckoned with. The one you fought was in truth but one of the weaker ones. We cannot afford to act on impulse in dealing with them. If they can destroy even the Eye of The Golden Dragon so easily, you've got to give them some credit for their terrible abilities."

"Ah, the Eye of The Golden Dragon..." sighed Chun-Li, shaking her head. Then suddenly, as if struck with an inspiration, she brightened up.

"Du-de-es-ta," asked Chun-Li excitedly, "do you recall the thirtieth verse from the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine?"

"I fear I no longer recall any such things," apologised Du-de-es-ta, "preoccupied as I have been with travelling and exploration. Why?"

"Because, according to that source, there are actually two Eyes of The Golden Dragon, a left eye and a right eye! As long as one is intact, it will always be possible to restore the other. And furthermore, should the two eyes be combined, they will form an utterly indestructible Third Eye of The Golden Dragon, which, so the Classic relates, can destroy every evil creature of every kind within a thousand feet of its wielder!"

"If all this is really true," said Wolfram, "we must find the other Eye!"

"But how?... Where?..." asked Du-de-es-ta.

Silence again, interrupted only by the sounds of the fire. How indeed were they to find this other Eye?

Then suddenly, the fire's colors changed -- changed from orange to yellow to a blinding white -- and the tongues of flame also arranged themselves in an increasingly symmetrical fashion like the petals of some giant flower. For some curious reason, the four did not feel frightened by this sudden change; indeed, they actually felt reassured, filled with hope and courage... Then in the middle of the flames appeared the figure of a seated lady of such beauty she could not be human... And Wolfram and Natalya found themselves involuntarily falling on their knees...

"Lady Kuan-Yin, most compassionate one!" cried Chun-Li and Du-de-es-ta as they prostrated themselves before the goddess. "Your servants hear and obey!"

"My beloved and faithful servants," spoke an ethereal voice, "you have suffered much in my service and for this I am proud of you. Do not fear, your loved ones are now safely reborn in the Western Paradise; but for you much work remains to be done. It is in this respect that I have chosen to come to your aid -- by giving you the Right Eye of the Golden Dragon..."

trinity
28th Oct 2000, 12:15 AM
A host of dead weirdlings lay at the feet of two exotic, powerful women. One screeling faced one strange man with an even stranger blade in his hand. And one little troll peered out of a shop window, watching the scene unfold:

The stranger (my what a shiny sword he has!) is standing, just facing the evil creature. Perhaps unaware of the danger? No, I sense some strange power in the man (is he a man or some other being?), he must know what to do. Why are the women just standing there? (that one has a curious gem in her sash, it seems to be what brought the screeling and the wierdlings in the first place). The screeling's insidious laughter filled the air. Horrors were coming...
The little troll shuffled closer to the doorway and peered out for a closer view.

Suddenly, an armed man ran from the forest. Wielding a deadly axe, he fell upon the demon...

Wolf Blackstar
28th Oct 2000, 01:00 AM
Wolfram had heard the unholy laughter first, and followed it to its source. He had rushed through the forest, departing the little ceremony almost as quickly as it had begun, despite warnings to wait for further instruction, only to arrive just in time to witness the butchery of the kind old healer-mage who had helped him earlier. Studying the creature, he instinctively chose his battle-axe over his sword, feeling that bludgeoning would be most effective. Though his memories had been cut off, the undead demon was somehow familiar. Could he have fought something like this before? That same instinct, almost a sixth sense, compelled him to advance, but slowly, at a steady pace instead of charging headlong.

When he had closed to within twenty paces of the creature, he reached to his belt with one hand, and flicked a throwing dagger into the tree nearest the creature. It had been concentrating on someone else within the shack, but the sound of the blade striking the tree grabbed its attention immediately. It whirled around and let out a blood-curdling scream of laughter.

Wolfram leapt with all his might, synchronising the jump with the initial burst of the demon's laughter so as to mask the sound of his feet leaving the ground. He sprang like a tiger, closing the last few yards in midair, his powerful body spinning for maximum power as he came down upon the creature, his arms like solid steel pillars as the y applied their force....

....And clove the undead demon through its skull, severing it nearly in twain with a single crushing blow of the axe. The damn thing laughed even as it fell in pieces to the ground. Wolfram had to place his foot on the carcass in order to apply enough leverage to wrench the weapon free.

A man emerged from the shack, a silver katana in his arms. A vampire hunter? Wolfram also noticed that all had fallen silent once more, and there were a great many carcasses of animals lying about. Du-de-es-ta, Chun-Li and Natalya emerged from the forest at about the same time two women, one a warrior like himself, the other clearly a magic user, entered the little clearing near the old mage's shack. Chun-Li instinctively knelt by the crumpled old man and examined him. Wolfram noticed that the vampire hunter, if that was what he truly was, for something seemed familiar about this man too, was smiling, nearly at the point of breaking into laughter.

"And what is it that you find so amusing?" he asked. The man pointed at Wolfram with his sword and said: "You got some entrails on you, boy." Wolfram looked down on himself and he, too, began laughing. His breastplate was spattered with blood, as well as his face, and pieces of demon innards, some still twitching faintly, had been sprinkled liberally on his chest and shoulders, so great had been the power of the blow which felled the creature. As Wolfram wiped the guts from his armor, the man with the silver sword spoke. "You did well, approaching quietly at walking pace, choosing a bludgeoning weapon instead of a piercing one - but remember, next time you see a screeling, two or three swift chops with a weapon such as your axe would do the work your......unleashed outpouring of power can accomplish, with far less the effort."

Wolfram nodded at the widom in the man's words. He looked up to the dark skies, watching as the last portion of sunlight disappeared from sight, and wondered what the future would hold.

Cammy
28th Oct 2000, 03:04 AM
"I think you all need some healing," said Chun-Li, who held the Right Eye of The Golden Dragon high above her head. A blinding flash came forth from the large blue gem and lo and behold the bruises and cuts on everyone's body were completely healed.

"Hey, that trinket of yours really is something!" remarked Isis the amazon, eyes gone wide. Freyja the sorceress, however, did not appear surprised; indeed she smiled at Chun-Li as if she knew it would all happen. Chun-Li smiled back.

Then Chun-Li turned to the body of the old mage-healer. "Du-de-es-ta, I will need your help," she said.

Du-de-es-ta nodded. He and Chun-Li propped up the old man's lifeless body and sat cross-legged behind him, each of them pressing a palm on the old mage's back and closing their eyes in concentration. Waves of power could be seen travelling down the arms of Chun-Li and Du-de-es-ta into the mage's body, and after what seemed like ages the body began to show signs of life...

The aged healer's eyes fluttered open. "No! No!" he screamed in horror...

Jing
28th Oct 2000, 06:03 AM
The Vampire Hunter Jing approached the old healer who continued to scream in terror.

"The pain of transition is great within you. Sleep now." Placing his left hand on the old healer's shoulder. The healer quite suddenly went limp again in Chun-Li's arms, his breathing slowly becoming peaceful and measured.

"Though you are a healer, you must not have had great occasion to revive the dead. This is a task better left unattempted. The soul of the departed is measured by the years spent in the living; one as aged as our hermit's soul lies far beyond the barrier between the living and dead. It becomes more difficult to bring a person back the longer they have lived."

Jing walks to the corpse of the undead, and begins to draw a circle around the two quivering pieces.

"It is not meet to return a soul to the realm of the living. And so, the barrier resists your attempts; if you are not strong enough, then your soul is claimed as well. It is well that you have your relic and the aid of this young man." Jing points at Du-de-es-ta; the face on his left hand smiles in greeting. Having completed two concentric circles and several runes, he continues to draw a star within the circle, inscribing elemental runes within each corner.

"The trouble in reviving also lies in the fact that the barrier grows stronger with the passage of time after death. It is further rumored that for every life brought back to life, the life of another is prematurely ended. Be wary."

The circle of power complete, Jing begins to repeat the symbol, a much larger version, centered around what was completed.

"I must warn you also; the relic gems that you possess, they are being sought by evil. You must not use them, for when they are used, the agents of evil can see us clearly. Be sparing and wise with their power."

As Jing finishes checking his work, the incessant laughing returns. Both halves of the screeling have each formed a new undead, laughing maniacally.

"Invoke! sunder! souls bidden, bring the summoner!"
Both screelings fall to the ground, their laughter eerily fading to echoes as the corpses turn to ash, blown away in an unnatural wind. A pair of tortured souls float above the circlular-symbol, bathed in it's blue light, twisting in agony. With a final screech they flee back to the nether realms. Slowly an image resolves.

A lanky, humanoid figure of rotting flesh and bandages appears. He (it appears to be male) is dressed in tattered robes of a magician. Its mouth is sewn closed in large, obvious crosswise stitches. And where one would expect eyes, are two empty, bloody sockets.

With a voice like the opening of a stone sarcophogus that resounds in the minds of all those present, it speaks, "I knew Kuan-Yin would be foolish...and now you, lady, will deliver the eyes of the dragon to me...you will do so now..."

The compulsion hit Chun-Li like a tidal wave. She staggers towards the Lich, mumbling "I.....bring.......the......eye....." but is stopped at the outer circle by a translucent blue dome of energy. The Lich howls in frustration, it's shadow beating against the blue dome restraining it. After a final, tormented howl, it vanishes.

Cammy
28th Oct 2000, 11:53 AM
The blue dome of energy suddenly stretched out into an elongated cone, then into a long tube, and shot towards the Right Eye of The Golden Dragon, disappearing into its crystalline depths.

"I wonder who's truly the foolish one," laughed Chun-Li, who had actually merely pretended to have come under the spell of the Lich. "To think that Lich had the nerve to condemn as a fool one who could reduce him to ashes with a mere unspoken thought! In truth our Lady Kuan-Yin already knew all of these would happen and warned us accordingly, and as for the Eye itself, this one's going to be a lot harder for the vile ones to get their hands on."

"Why so?" asked Du-de-es-ta.

"Because the Right Eye is masculine by nature, unlike the feminine Left Eye. Its powers are of a more aggressive and forceful kind -- it will actually repel evil creatures and their spells with its stern power in protecting itself and its wielder, as you all have seen.

"As for the risks of resurrecting the dead," continued Chun-Li, turning to Jing with a smiling nod, "my brother and I are in fact already more than aware of them. And in fact we have no fear of such transgressions against the scheme of things as you have mentioned, because, if our attempts at resurrecting a person are successful, that by itself already means that person was destined to be resurrected. Our Lady Kuan Yin would have let us known otherwise. But thanks for your concern in any case, friend."

"But of course," replied Jing with a smile. "I should have thought of that."

"Hey, enough talking!" interrupted the tall warrior woman. "Shall we introduce ourselves to each other first? I see so many new faces!"

Wolf Blackstar
29th Oct 2000, 11:05 AM
"We can do the introductions on the road," said Wolfram. "The village is destroyed, and the forces of evil run rampant in the night. We must find its source and destroy it!"

"There is a town - much larger than the village - only a few hours' hike from here." The sorceress was speaking. "It is possible for some of the villagers to have escaped, but if the evil here is as agressive as it appears to be, there next move would be to advance on the town.

"Then there is not a moment to be wasted. Let us go forth at once!"

MoyDoy
29th Oct 2000, 01:13 PM
Moy was walking down a dirt road. He knew there would be a village just down the road and he needed to get there before sunset. He haden't travelled for a long time but the land haden't changed. Still so beautiful, he had to himself earlier that day. He was hoping that people had not become less hospital to strangers on travel. Suddenly he felt a cold, though it was a warm season. "Oh no, it is already happening".

hal
29th Oct 2000, 03:00 PM
The suns and moons had risen and fallen many times on the old-one's pathway. Many more than most would have believed existed. Still, it began to wonder when "Khaine" was going to see fit to landing the blasted water vessel. Not much more time could be wasted...there were things to be done.

And time was already quickening.

These were possibly the end-days for this planet. It wasn't sure it was worth the trouble of being here when it all came to a head. Wasn't that thier own responsibility? Still there was a greater evil at hand.

It would have to be stopped here.

Wierdlings and Archane Magic were all around this planet. Elements commanded as though they were play-things. Sometimes the old ways were better left alone. But maybe this time it would be used for the better.

Land was near.

Wolf Blackstar
29th Oct 2000, 03:52 PM
"Ahoy there!" a voice rings out through the mists over the waters. Khaine snatches a spyglasses from the capstan head and points the instrument in the direction of the voice. Fifteen degrees off the port bow, a small, sleek craft rides low and fast in the waves, having left the docks and now headed directly on an intercept course with his vessel.

Khaine carefully sweeps the horizon and can just make out the outlines of two more of the small vessels hiding behind the first.....

"This....should be interesting, to say the least." Khaine smiles.





[Edited by Wolf Blackstar on 10-30-2000 at 01:03 PM]

Cammy
29th Oct 2000, 05:19 PM
Meanwhile, back in the ruined village:

"I think we should take a quick look around this village first," said Chun-Li, "just to see if there are any villagers left whom we can help." Du-de-es-ta nodded in agreement.

"Perhaps we can instead just use that magic trinket of yours to do a mass-healing of the village," suggested the amazon, "and then be on our way. That would be much faster, wouldn't it?"

"Then again," said Natalya, "what Chun-Li suggested might be a good idea. Besides helping any villagers, there might be clues or items scattered around the place which might be of further help to us. What do you say? It won't take that long, anyway -- this is a small village."

"Come to think of it," joined the sorceress, "that's a good idea. We have the time to spare, besides; I can use my magic later to conjure an elemental mount to take us to the city at an enormous speed, so in fact we'll only need a quarter of an hour to reach the city."

And soon everyone started combing the village. No one in sight...

Then there was an excited voice. "Hey, everyone! Look what I found!"



[Edited by Cammy on 10-30-2000 at 02:43 AM]

Cammy
30th Oct 2000, 02:26 AM
Elsewhere, in a celestial dimension far removed from the mortal world, Kuan-Yin was on her way to see the other Cathayan gods regarding the adverse changes currently taking place in the world of Unrealm when she met the Hellenic god Zeus and the Teutonic god Thor, so she decided to appeal to them for help.

"I'm not asking you to go down to Unrealm to help those mortals in person," said Kuan-Yin, earnestness in her voice. "I'm just asking of you that you spare a few of your Thunderbolts to aid them in their struggles against the evil forces that now assail them and their world."

"My gang and I couldn't care less," answered Zeus idly, fingering the laurel crown on his head. "They're just a bunch of mortal worms. Why should we gods bother ourselves with them?"

"You Hellenic gods are all alike!" remarked Kuan-Yin sharply. "You wallow like pigs in your glorious hovel on Olympus while those poor mortals below struggle in pain, and go down to make sport of them if it suited your whims. If one may ask, what makes you think you deserve any worship?"

Had a mortal said this Zeus would not have hesitated to blast him with a Thunderbolt. But this was one of the most powerful and respected of all Cathayan gods, not a mere mortal. If he were to engage in an actual fight with her, it was by no means certain he would win.

"Look here, my dear" sighed Zeus, "I happen to have better things to do than listen to your great speeches. If it's an audience you want, go see Dionysus and his bunch of Satyrs. For now, I'm out of here." And he covered himself with a great storm cloud and vanished with a rumble of thunder.

Kuan-Yin sighed and shook her head, then turned to red-bearded Thor nearby. "Well, Thor?" she asked very softly, trying not to look him too directly in the eye. "Will you help?"

Thor fingered his magical warhammer Mjolnir and his Girdle of Giant Strength with hesitation. "I..."

The_Dudester
30th Oct 2000, 02:53 AM
"...would love to help, Kuan-Yin," continued Thor, "but you know how jealous Freya gets. If she saw me doing a favour for a goddess like you, I'd never hear the end of it."

"You could always ask the other Aesir though - I'm sure that Heimdall would like a change from gate-watching for a while."

{Apologies for the shortness of this post...I have to rush off now - normal service will be resumed as soon as possible , i.e. tomorrow}

Cammy
31st Oct 2000, 06:10 AM
After a long pause, Thor finally decided to give in.

"All right, Kuan-Yin, tell you what," whispered Thor. "I'll loan you my Girdle of Giant Strength. Just keep this a secret between you and me, okay?"

Kuan-Yin was greatly pleased. "Fear not, Lord of Thunder," thanked Kuan-Yin. "I will never tell anyone."

But just as Thor was about to unbuckle his girdle...

Jing
1st Nov 2000, 02:46 AM
...Jing Suggested the group split up to search for survivors. "My Name is Alucard... Should you require my assistance, but simply call."

Wolfram was the first to hear it...the sounds of fighting to the east of where he was, where the mysterious Alucard had focused his search. Hurrying as best he could with the Old healer, reluctant to leave this most tenuous link to his past behind, he traced the sound of steel ringing against steel.
stalemate he thought to himself, able to mentally choreograph the battle, to some limited degree. There is something odd however...

When Wolfram arrived presently, he could see Isis on the rooftop of a building, her bow singing softly of blood and death. Freyja was beside her raining destructive energies upon the host of daemon-spawn beneath them... Natalaya was with Chun li and Du-de-es-ta, who had been searching the farthest side... they were not here yet, if they had heard the commotion.

And the daemon, massive 12 foot tall monsters known as "Baal-rog" slowly turned to face Wolfram. Their eyes spoke of only one thing. Pain and torture. Time slowed.

Beyond them, the Vampire Hunter was fighting another man sword to sword...it seemed as if the Baal-Rog were present only yo prevent interference. Neither swordsman seemed to gain the upper hand... Until Isis fired her arrow, straight and true, It sought the heart of Alucard's adversary.

And It pierced Alucard's chest in a font of blood.

It was impossible to conceive of... that the archer could miss so flagrantly...more over, the two were separated by quite a distance...

It was Alucards' words that made the memory stand out in Wolfram's mind: "I'd heard of you...a Mutant who could bend space around his body." Right before the arrow pierced the mutant's chest, it reappeared right in front of Alucard, and impaled him instead...

"Wampyr, you should be dead on the ground with that arrow in your heart... perhaps you are not the one I seek?"

A brief, sardonic smile came to Alucard's lips as he pulled the bloody arrow from his chest. "This side may be your left idiot... but it is my right... and my heart is not on the right."

"It is no matter...your father gave me this candle," replied the mutant, nonchalantly... he produced the candle, and lit it, brandishing it as a weapon before Alucard.

And to the Hero's utter amazement, Alucard falls to the ground, rigid and stiff, barely able to mutter, "What....magic....is.....this?"

"Ah so it does work... the light of this candle will paralyze anyone with Vampire blood. Your father bids his prodigal son to return. I hate to do this Alucard, but you were bothersome to hunt down, and Lord Dracula will never elevate me to your royal clan if i let you get away."

As the mutant draws for a wooden stake, Isis begins to loose arrow after arrow...however, the Baal-Rog spread their massive bat-like wings to shield their 'master'... Wolfram runs forward, Lochaber axe held at ready and berzerker blood rage ... and with a casual back hand is sent crashing through two houses before being stopped by a stone wall.
And suddenly Chun Li and Du-de-es-ta and Natalya are fighting as well... but when the smoke clears and the demons are banished, neither the mutant nor Alucard are anywhere to be seen. In the clearing where their duel took place, a birght red patch of blood can be seen..at the center of which is a small divot. Nearby, his fingers leave five small furrows in the ground, and an imprint of Sinistre's face. The only evidence that he had ever existed lay on the ground; his magical flintlock pistol, a were-hunter's weapon (magically fires silver bullets; is reloaded after each shot by a minor amount of mana. And no, you can't shoot bullets, collect them, melt them down for silver, etc...)

"And just like that, he's gone."

Wolf Blackstar
1st Nov 2000, 02:46 PM
Somewhere in the distance, a bird is singing. The horizon is lit brightly with all shades of the setting sun as dusk approaches. The sky is nearly free of clouds, and small flocks of blue songbirds dart back and forth through the skies. And further away, a great eagle soars over the hills....

Wolfram is lying flat on the ground, looking straight up. The green grass is fresh and soft. The smell of fertile soil is strong. Several paces to his left, a cherry tree is in full bloom...

I am dead? The first thought that enters Wolfram's mind causes him to sit up with a start. It is then that he notices he is without armor. No shield or helm is near; no weapons upon him, save his one-handed war sword,and instead of its metal sheath it is slung in an elegant leather scabbard with brass trimmings. Instead of the blood-spattered garments of war, Wolfram is wearing a clean white shirt, black pants, and soft leather boots instead of his metal greaves.

As he stands up, he is amazed at the softness of the ground... not a single square inch of it has been defiled, burnt with fire, or soaked in blood. Where is he? There is almost complete silence for several seconds... Wolfram watches the black eagle as it glides effortlessly over rolling green hills in the distance...

This is so foreign, but so familiar at the same time. Has he returned to his homeland? This is not as he remembers it...

As if on cue, voices suddenly ring out over the hills. Children's voices..... Wolfram walks toward the sound of the voices. A large hill stands in his way, and he quickly ascends it. He reaches the crest of the hill, and is amazed by what he sees.....

A massive stone castle lies on the other side of the ridge. It is built on lower, flatter ground. The battlements and turrets tower over the small houses surrounding it,and over the tops of the towers fly banners, all of them bearing the same insignia: A black eagle on a crimson background. Wolfram follows the slope of the hill, and then looks beyond the castle. He is further dumbfounded as there appears to be an edge to the landscape, and beyond that only clouds and sky. The castle, and all land around it, floats in the very skies, held aloft by some powerful magic. Wolfram looks behind him and sees what he did not see earlier: several more of the floating isles, each with small castles and cities builded upon them.

The voices call out again, and Wolfram is drawn away from the great castle, down to where the smaller dwellins are built. A small homestead, with a modest house. A sizable yard, with some horses and cows, and many gardens. He sees the children now, one boy and one girl, both about 5 or 6 years of age. They are running towards him, arms held out wide, smiling and laughing. They run to him and without thinking he scoops them up, one in each arm, and begins to walk swiftly to the house. "Father!" the boy cries out. "Where have you been? you'll tell us, won't you?"
"Yes son, I will." Wolfram replies, again subconciously. The girl looks at him with almost somber eyes, and says: "Please, Father, you won't go to war again, will you? can't you stay?" Wolfram is suddenly stricken by strong emotion and cannot reply. A woman's voice breaks the silence.

"Wolf! please, come inside and eat! Supper is getting cold, and I won't ask you again!" She stands at the door, beautiful without equal, tall, with long, flowing dark hair and eyes the color of the sky, dressed in a simple white dress, on the porch of the stone and wood house. There is no sight that ever was more perfect in his eyes. He walks inside, a warm fire crackles in the fireplace, and on the walls hang swords, shields, axes and daggers of many varieties, all kept in mint conditon. For a single moment, one sliver of time and space, Wolfram is free from the horrors of war as he stands with his arms around the woman he loves and his son and daughter.

Then suddenly demonic laughter ensues from seemingly nowhere, growing louder in volume. It fills the house, and suddenly the very foundations of existence are shattered, everything vanishing as if violently destroyed.

And before him, his wife and children turn to skeletons, which slowly crumble into dust. A second later, all is black.

A strong voice echoes from somewhere. His own voice?

"Arise! You have only begun to experience the might of true evil. Now you also have begun to understand that which I have carried upon my mind for hundreds of years! I did not choose you because you were weak. You are more powerful than your mortal limitations, and I will show you the way! But first, you must GET UP!"

Wolfram's eyes suddenly fly open, and he is again lying down, this time on cold, hard ground. there is a stone wall at his back. He picks himself up slowly and somewhat painfully. He turns around, and sees that there is a deep indentation in the wall, in the shape of a man about his size. Looking forward, he sees the same human shape as a hole punched clean through the wood and plaster wall there. He is in a small house. As he steps out of the house, he see the same hole in the walls of the house adjacent to it. He checks his armor, though covered in dust and small fragments of stone, it is still intact.

"Are you alright?" the amazon and sorceress are standing there, and there is blood and corpses of demons lying everywhere outside. "I think so" says Wolfram slowly. "But I also seem to have gotten some of my memory back."

Cammy
3rd Nov 2000, 11:47 AM
"Your memory?" asked Isis the amazon. "Are you suffering from amnesia or something?"

"I think so," said Freyja to Isis. "I can sense an abnornal disturbance in the flux patterns of this man's soul energies. In fact I sense a strange link between his energies and those of the old man whom the two Cathayan healers had resurrected."

"Wolfram is indeed suffering from a loss of memory," confirmed Chun-Li. "And it is to be feared that my healing abilities are of no avail against such a malady. Only the Third Eye of the Golden Dragon can cure that -- unless Wolfram recovers of his own accord first."

"Then let us first attend to what we can do something about right now," suggested Natalya. "Such as that weird bloke with that big silver sword and that face on one of his hands. Couldn't you do anything to save him?"

"I tried," replied Chun-Li. "It was no use. Somehow he just couldn't be returned to life. The large pool of blood -- if it was indeed his physical remains, of which I'm not sure -- just failed to respond to both my spells and my brother's. I can think of only two reasons: one, that he's in fact an undead, or at least partly an undead; two, that he in fact hadn't died, merely been brought elsewhere..."

"Ah, well, guess there's not much we can do about him, then," commented Natalya dryly. "But for now, has anyone found anything else?"

"I have indeed," answered a voice. It was Du-de-es-ta, who held up two crystals in front of everyone. The crystals shimmered erratically with all the colors of the rainbow, and somehow there was something repugnant, something putrid about the peculiar hue and shade of the colors. Looking more carefully, everyone could see several tiny and vaguely humanoid shapes darting about within the crystals.

"I have imprisoned the spirits of no less than a dozen of those vile demons within two of Wolfram's elemental cysts," explained Es-ta with triumphant satisfaction. "Now we can interrogate these spirits as to the exact purpose of their evil work and just who the mastermind is!"

Freyja's face broke into a wide grin. "Friend," she said to Es-ta, "I still don't know your name, but you truly are a man of genius!"

"Thank you," replied Es-ta with a smile. "But for now..."

Es-ta directed his gaze into the two crystals. "Speak now, hateful servants of evil!" questioned Es-ta in a stern voice. "Why did you go about doing what you did? What were your intentions? Who's your leader and what is his plot?"

"We won't tell you!" came a number of barely audible squeals from within the crystals, which shimmered in sync with the voices.

Es-ta walked to Chun-Li and took from her the Right Eye of the Golden Dragon, holding it near the crystals while still glaring sternly at the humanoid figures in them. "The Right Eye of the Golden Dragon has actually served as a purgatory for the spirits of countless evil beings," he said. "For millennia they remain locked within its crystalline depths, there to endure the endless torture of purification by mystic fire either throughout eternity or until they are purged of all evil. Shall you join them or shall you tell me what I desire to know? Choose, now!"

"We'll tell you!" replied the squealing voices, now filled with horror. "We'll tell you! Just don't lock us within the Eye, please!"

Jing
3rd Nov 2000, 04:38 PM
The demons' souls, each a shrunken withered wisp in stark contrast to their hulking massive bodies, quivered with fear.

"Our master, the dread Arch Lich Lesstarot Guildenstren, seeks the Eyes of the Dragon. He has gained eternal life and the knowledge of the gods but at a price; The corpse body he inhabits can no longer heal of it's own accord. No magics work to heal him. Such is the curse of his undying life. Not so of Count Dracula Vlad Tepes. Death is both ally and friend of the Arch Lich, but at the cost that Life is his scourge.

Long ago, an adventurer came seeking items of power in our lord's possession. While no match for the power of a Lich, he did manage to pass a torch before the our Lord's eyes... and destroy them.

With the eyes of the dragon, he would not only regain his full vision, but he would become all powerful, holding domain over both life and death!"

Isis looked confused, "You said full vision. Is that to mean that he can see without his eyes? He seemed to see our priestess quite well..."

"As a Warlock of incredible experience, he has the ability to sense, or in a fashion see, the life energies which flow through all things and in nature...the western mages call this force 'mana', while the eastern mages call it 'qi'."

Freyja addressed the demon, "And our friend Alucard, where is he now? What was your purpose in all this?"

"The Lich can sense great power in you adventurers...so resurrected Lord Dracula as an ally, but at a price. Lord Dracula desires the return of his son Alucard, who slew him many centuries ago. We were loaned so Dracula so that we could prevent you from saving him."

You have said far too much underling

"No! The MASTER!"

The elemental cysts begin to shake violently, resonating at a piercing frequency, causing the heros to cover their ears in pain. As the sound peaks and becomes unbearable, the cysts shatter, flinging the souls of the demons into the air... where they are consequently devoured by a black vortex. All that remains is some fine red powder, and a very chill feeling in the air.

[note, all players are temporarily deafened for 6 hours, unless they receive some sort of magical cure, eg: potions, spell, prayers, etc.]

Cammy
5th Nov 2000, 06:44 AM
The six adventurers -- Wolfram, Chun-Li, Du-de-es-ta, Natalya, Isis, Freyja -- found themselves plunged into a strange silence. Then they each looked at one another and, seeing a trace of blood coming out of everyone else's ears, instinctively felt for their own and quickly realized what had happened. Es-ta motioned to everyone to keep still while he held the Right Eye of the Golden Dragon high in the air. A bright flash came from the Eye and the silence was again replaced with the ambient sounds of the night...

"That's much better," said Freyja. "Certainly is," joined Isis.

"We might actually have died from that," said Es-ta, "if not for the constantly operative benedictions of the Eye. And now that a second mass-healing has been done using this Eye, it can only do a third and final one before dawn; only then will it be again fully recharged by the qi of the Universe."

"There are just certain things the demons said that defeat my understanding," said Wolfram. "If the Lich-Lord was after both Eyes, why did his minions smash the Left Eye, as you said? Or don't tell me the Lich-Lord and Dracula are not the only masterminds and there are yet other evil beings like him around with other goals of their own, presumably different from his?"

"Also," joined Chun-Li, "the Eyes are supposed to be good in their essential nature. It is inconceivable that an evil being could derive any benefit from them at all -- unless that being renounced his evil ways first, that is..."

Freyja smiled. "I have in fact found out everything," she said. "Earlier on I have in fact searched the minds of the demons with my telepathic powers."

"Really? Then what's the story?" asked Natalya.

"Shhh..." cautioned Freyja. "It is not advisable that I tell you all now. Remember, the Lich-Lord's ears are all around; if he learns what we know, he may attack again or change his plans." Somewhere in the distance, as soon as Freyja finished, the party could hear a scream of anger and frustration.

"Well, whatever the story is," said Chun-Li, "I can only hope nothing bad happens to Alucard..."

Just then the old mage groaned and began to stir. "Oh, I think the elderly one is going to awaken soon," observed Es-ta.

Then while everyone was turning to the mage, a small figure approached. It was Moy. And when he saw the condition of the entire village, he was horrified.

"Doy! Doy!" screamed Moy, running into the ruined village. "Where are you? Are you all right? Answer me!"

Everyone turned in the direction of the voice. "Ah, ha!" said Isis in delight upon seeing Moy's diminutive form. "So there you are!"

Wolf Blackstar
7th Nov 2000, 09:24 PM
"I've been looking for you for a long, long, time." Isis slings her bow over her shoulder and begins to approach Moy.

"Eh? Do I even know you? And what happened to Doy? Is he alright?"

"Don't worry, Freyja and I pulled him out of danger before the demons' first onslaught. He is safe. You, on the other hand..." Isis strides sultrily forward, her bow slung, but a deadly short sword carried in a reverse slashing grip occupies her gloved hands.

Moy takes a step back.

"You know, it's amazing how some people forget what could be considered landmark events in their lives so easily, in such short periods of time." She advances slowly but surely, the blade now seemingly dancing in her arms, and her long, well-toned legs, clad in skin-tight black leather thigh-length boots, gliding gracefully over the rough terrain without making a sound.

Moy begins to retreat. "What are you talking about?"

"It's incredible that you've completely forgotten who I am." Isis is nearly upon Moy now.

Wolfram watches with a silent curiosity, a smile on his face.

Suddenly Moy can take no more. He turns to run and flee, but the amazon's free arm lashes out with the speed and precision of a viper, grabbing him roughly by the neck. The woman lifts him easily off the ground, and pins him against the nearest tree.

Then the blade slams into the tree halfway through to its hilt, so close to Moy's face that he can feel the disturbance of air around the razor sharp metal.

Isis looks directly into his eyes with a gaze that could knock a full-grown orc off its feet and send it spinning end for end.

"Two years ago, you were fighting in a dungeon in the deserts near the city of S'mon Traska. Your companion, a young apprentice wizard, turned craven and abandoned you in a battle against a Sand Dragon Lord and his minions. I was in the same area, and heard your pleas for help. You immediately recognized my bow and knew that I had slain draconian creatures before, and promised me reward if I could slay the Dragon Lord. I immediately accepted and unleashed my arrows.

With all of his minions slain, The Dragon Lord attempted to flee by casting a Confusion spell on us, but I used my Amulet of True Sight to shoot the horn-like growth that crowned its forehead. This temporarily disabled the creature's magic, and I leapt upon it and slew it with this very sword.

When the Dragon Lord died, it exploded in a shock wave of malicious energy that knocked me unconscious. When I recovered, you were nowhere to be seen."

Moy gasps in recognition; Isis slowly lets him down to the ground, but does not soften her facial expression.

"Oh dear, the Dragon Lord thing. I was afraid it would come to this..."

"I have been searching for you ever since. I know of you special abilities, and I need the use of them in order to defeat this evil!"

There is a sudden thump on the ground; both Isis and Moy stop for a second to look and see that Wolfram has fallen to the ground where he is rolling on the floor laughing.

Cammy
8th Nov 2000, 04:58 AM
Puzzled by Wolfram's behavior, Isis turned to look at the other members of the party. Du-de-es-ta was doubled over in laughter as well. Freyja was grinning and chuckling. Natalya was grimacing away as if wincing at something unbearable, and shaking her head with a hand covering her eyes. Chun-Li was staring at her (Isis) with an expression of shock, hands covering her mouth. Feeling apprehensive, the amazon turned her gaze in the direction of their gaze... and saw Doy standing nearby, ugly face grimacing away disgustingly with something hanging from his fingers... her jock strap...

trinity
8th Nov 2000, 07:10 PM
Considering that both she (Isis) and Freyja go commando, it could only mean that Chun-Li was now panty-less! Damn, that Doy must have some mad skills to get his hands up her(Chun-Li's) skirt so fast and deftly remove the panties without removing the outer garments. Perhaps this one should be permitted to join the party after all.
Isis and old Moy both started to giggle too.
Isis called out "Hey Doy, if we ever meet a female DemonLord, we can all count on you to distract it while Wolfram delivers a killing blow, eh?"
The whole party laughed heartily (except for poor Chun-Li) and Wolfram produced from his pack a tankard of ale.
It had been a long day indeed, and it was time to rest.

Cammy
8th Nov 2000, 11:32 PM
(Interesting things happen when different people on the Web come together to co-author an RPG and make use of each other's characters, don't they?

Anyway, to continue the story...)

"What? My jock-straps??" cried Chun-Li in shock. "But -- but I don't wear jock-straps... I wear silk undergarments..." (We all want to preserve some dignity for our characters, don't we, Trinity? :D)

Natalya, Freyja and Isis quickly felt their bottoms. For all their lightning reflexes, experience has taught them there could always be another who would be better than oneself and one could simply never know.

"Relax, you ladies," said Doy. "These don't belong to none of you."

"Then whose are they?" asked Moy.

"I stole them from a female demon a couple years back," replied Doy, face twisted into a disgusting grin. "She meant to attack me but I snatched her thingy away and she flew off angrily... Hee, hee..."

"And what he did just now (chuckle) was use that to go through the motion of pretending to take off your jock strap," said Wolfram to Isis. "It was so funny I just couldn't help laughing..." Du-de-es-ta started to giggle too.

"Well," said Isis, turning to Doy and holding him by the chin, "you'd be well-advised not to try it in real life -- or you'll be very sorry indeed..." Doy just continued to grin as Isis pushed him away, and everyone laughed (except Chun-Li who was too decent a girl).

Then there was a voice. It was the old mage, who had just awakened. "oh, what happened?..." he groaned.

Wolf Blackstar
9th Nov 2000, 08:14 PM
The old mage struggles to get up, but can barely stand. He looks around at the destruction around him, and nearly feints....again...

"Oh dear..... not again...."

"Take it easy; we weren't sure the resurrection spell was going to work."

The old man blinks his eyes; gradually, clear sight returns.

Freyja, Chun-Li, and Moy help the old man to his feet.

Meanwhile, Wolfram is pacing back and forth near the party's campfire. "Clearly, whis is the work of some great and powerful evil overlord. But what their immediate goal here remains unknown. If they wanted both Eyes of the Dragon, why destroy one of them? and is rampant destrucion their only goal?"

Isis, seated next to the fire, prepares acid and fire arrowheads as she makes ready to attach them to their wooden flights. "Whatever it is, it's incredibly powerful and will stop at nothing."

Meanwhile, the old mage is speaking to Moy.
"...and it said, 'a great evil comes forth today from the sea', and shortly thereafter, demons came forth from the depths of the forest...."

"Then this bears investigation." Moy suddenly notices that the fire is burning slightly brighter. The more he looks at it, the brighter it seems, and the flames themselves suddenly seem to rise higher and higher. "Do you see that?" he asks the mage. "Indeed" he replies. "It is in the same manner that the first vision manifested itself in my presence.

Moy looks at Wolfram and Isis, for they are sitting immediately next to the fire, yet neither of them act as if they notice. Suddenly the flames leap competely clear of the fire ring and swhirl themselves around Moy and the mage, wrapping them in fiery curtains which seem to flash and flicker in color.

Wolfram is still pondering his actions when suddenly a loud voice calls out. "Behold! The future reveals itself!" Wolfram and Isis stare at Moy and the mage, who sit facing each other, their arms held over their heads, meeting palm-to-palm. Their eyes both appear white and clouded, sightless. Then they open their mouths, and their voices speak as one.

"The Lich Lord commands the demonic army and legions of undead which you have encountered. But he is not the source of evil which has entered the mortal realms today."

All eyes are on the two as they continue.

"The Lich Lord's superior, Bha'al Sa'oudth, Master of Fear, has determined to tear the very fabric that separates us from the demonic planes. By doing so, evil will have unfettered and unlimited access to run rampant among the mortal realms. In order to do so, he requires the Right Eye of the Dragon. For without the Left Eye to keep the balance, the Master of Fear can use the energy and powers manifested by the Right Eye's aggressive nature, in addition to the scores of demons imprisoned within, to build incredible power and force - force sufficient to shatter the celestial bindings that divide the Unrealm from the dimensions of hell and death."

For a brief moment, there is a deafening silence.

"Wolfram - your past is obscured to you by an unknown force; it is not for us to disclose it, but know this: you will continue to regain memory, but the full knowledge of who you really are will only be fully unlocked by the death of Bha'al Sa'oudth. Know also, that you cannot defeat Bha'al Sa'oudth without the Rune Sword of Kheiran - a weapon you once wielded in times past."

"In order to find the sword, you must first..." the words are suddenly cut off as a ghout of flame plunges from the skies and scorches both men, killing them both and charring them to ashes.


Shocked, the adventurers scramble into action. Isis throws her quivers over her shoulder and nocks an acid arrow.

Freyja casts a light spell which increases the illumination as all eyes turn to the skies....

"A young red dragon!" Smaller then a full-grown dragon, the beast is incredibly fast and every bit as deadly.

The dragon unleashes another burst of flame, directed at Wolfram, who leaps to the side, barely avoiding the blast. The axe he held in his hands, however, is turned to a burning stick, the head haviing melted off into a shapeless lump of steel. Cursing, he picks up his shield and draws his broadsword.

The dragon loops back for another pass. This time, the adventurers are ready and Isis looses an acid arrow. At the same time, a bright blue fireball streaks up from the ground as Chun-Li attacks. The dragon jerks in mid-flight, showing pain, but no intention of ceasing its attack. This time, instead of a long burst, the dragon belches forth a large globe of fire which lands on the ground and upon impact, splits into a dozen smaller ones which fly in all directions. Fortunately, the impact from the fireballs are not as intense or concentrated as the first attack, and Wolfram's armor and shield manage to absorb some of the damage. Most of the lighter-armored adventures manage to dodge the flaming projectiles. As the dragon passes overhead, Isis looses another acid arrow, and the draconian winces in pain, but does not fall.

"Wolfram! stay still for a moment, I will cast Fire Protection on your shield!" shouts Freyja. A second later, a bright red orb issues forth from her fingertips. It strikes Wolfram's shield and gives it a bright crimson glow. As the dragon passes again, Wolfram stands directly in its line of attack. The dragon unleashes an incredibly hot sheet of flame, but Wolfram holds the shield close in about himself and is protected by the sorceress's enchantment.

While the dragon concentrates its attack on Wolfram, Chun-Li strikes the creature with two successive fireballs, and Isis and Natalya pepper the dragon's thick hide with acid arrows and throwing daggers. The dragon quickly breaks off its attack.

"Damn! If only I could get that bastard within a sword's stroke!"

The dragon circles around again.

"We don't have much time before the enchantment wears off, and I can only cast it once a day!" shouts Freyja.

"I'm down to four fireballs left." says Chun-Li.

"My acid arrows are doing damage, but not nearly enough!" Isis announces in frustration.

"We must come up with a plan, or we won't survive this." says Du-de-es-ta.

Wolfram suddenly speaks again. "Isis, can you tie a bundle of acid arrows together and fire them as one?" "Yes, but it would be too heavy to fly accurately." Isis replies. Freyja speaks up. "I can use my powers of telekinesis to guide Isis' arrow, but it will be extremely difficult against such a fast-flying target." "Chun-Li!" says Wolfram, "when I give the signal, I want you to launch you remaining fireballs all in rapid succession - the knockback force should slow the dragon down for a moment." Wolfram turns to Isis and Freyja. "Immediately after she casts the fireballs, I want to to fire your arrows, and Freyja - try to guide the arrow cluster into one of the dragon's wings. If we can bring it to the ground, that'll put an end to its advantage, and I can engage it in close combat. While I am fighting the creature, I want Natalya to try to backstab it a few times. That should make it easier for us to finish it off. Are we ready?"

The adventurers glance from one to another, then steel themselves for the dragon's onslaught. "Good!" says Wolfram. "On my signal....."

The dragon soars over the trees, swooping downward and slowing slightly as it approaches the small clearing. It lines up on Wolfram and drops down to unleash its fire.

"Steady......."

The dragon slows to half its speed and spews another concentrated flaming attack on Wolfram, who holds the shield forward, then shouts....

"NOW! FIRE!!!.

Cammy
10th Nov 2000, 09:02 AM
(How do you like it -- Moy and the mage have hardly left a significant mark on the story and already they are two piles of ash... :( And Wolf -- phew, you just wouldn't let the poor party have some respite from all the fighting action, would you? :)

Anyway, here I go...)

As the whole gang poised to deliver an all-out attack on the dragon, suddenly music was heard -- music so soothing all thoughts of fighting left the minds of the adventurers upon hearing it. The music made Wolfram think again of the beautiful meadows and chirping birds in his earlier vision...

The music actually came from Du-de-es-ta, who was playing a long bamboo flute. The gentle melody of his flute had a surprising effect on the dragon; it stopped attacking the party and became tame and docile, coming very close to Es-ta and rubbing itself against him with affection while he stopped playing his flute and stroked it like a pet.

"I've learned many things in my travels," said Es-ta to the adventurers with a smile, "such as the temperaments of dragons and how one could bend them to one's will. We now have a big ally -- a dragon mount!"

Everyone stared at Es-ta and the dragon in disbelief. "You... You're just amazing!" exclaimed Isis.

"You took the words right out of my mouth, Isis," said Natalya, smiling at Es-ta.

"Thanks, ladies," smiled Es-ta.

Doy wasn't smiling -- quite the opposite. "The bastard dragon... He killed Moy! He killed Moy!"

Chun-Li walked quickly to Doy and consoled him. "There, there, don't be sad, friend, we can resurrect your loved one for you. We promise!"

"Really?" cried Doy in excitement.

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

It was dawn. Everyone was sitting or lying down to rest, being exhausted from the near-continuous encounters -- especially Chun-Li and Es-ta, who had been using their magic to resurrect Moy and the mage. Moy was restored and soundly asleep with Doy sitting next to him, shedding tears of relief and gratitude. Nearby, the old mage's body was also restored -- but unconscious and only barely alive.

"All these extremely demanding spells have drained me of every last bit of my mana," sighed a very tired Chun-Li. "It's no joke resurrecting someone whose physical form had been completely destroyed, especially if he had died a second time after being brought back from death shortly before..."

"I can't agree more," groaned Es-ta. "Thank the gods it is now dawn. Daylight is the ultimate bane of absolutely all creatures from the demonic plane, so we can be perfectly sure we'll have no more of those hell-spawn to deal with until dusk -- by which time we'll again be fully recharged and rested."

"And thank the gods for our newly gained ally, too!" remarked Wolfram, indicating the red dragon resting nearby. "With an ally like this, fighting those hell-spawn ought to be a lot easier!"

"Wait! What about the town?" asked Isis.

"The town is safe for now," answered Freyja, also exhausted from the spells she had been casting. "Had the town been assailed by the vile demons, I would have immediately sensed the resulting disturbances in the Aether. But I sensed nothing. Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't go to the city by today to protect the civilians there."

"And there's a lot more to do, besides," sighed Wolfram. "Such as restoring the Left Eye and hopefully combining the two Eyes into one... And finding that... That sword... What's it called again?..."

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

Meanwhile, in the celestial dimension of the gods, two small figures were standing before Kuan-Yin.

"Gold Boy and Jade girl!" asked Kuan-Yin. "Have you delivered the message to the mortals who had been with my two servants?"

"We..."

"Well?" pursued the goddess.

"We took two of the mortals in the party," replied Gold Boy, "a dwarf and an old man, and conferred the message through them... But before we could finish the message, a stray dragon came and slew the two..."

The goddess gave an all-knowing smile...

Cammy
15th Nov 2000, 09:14 AM
Gee, isn't anyone interested anymore?... :(

CHRYSt
15th Nov 2000, 09:22 AM
Uhh...

is this where I get to bathe in oil and wrestle with naked chicks?

Cammy
15th Nov 2000, 09:36 AM
Just read the story first and then contribute something accordingly, CHRYSt. You could always play a lustful half-orc barbarian who wears just a g-string and who's somehow related to the hero in the story. Or whatever. :D

Wolf Blackstar
16th Nov 2000, 06:36 PM
Many miles elsewhere, in the city of S'mon Traska, situated just beyond the Deserts of Doom and Despair, a young knight sat in a tavern nestled deeep in the sprawling slum regions. At the same table sat his companion, an elf. It was dark outside, the sun having just set beyond the horizon. As the last reaches of the light slowly disappeared, the criminal underworld of of the city slowly came to life, like a dragon awakened from a deep slumber.

The elf was the first to speak.

"Must you wear that armor? Surely you realize that the thieving vermin in this city'll be drawn to your back like flies to a rotting carcass." The knight looked at the elf, and replied. "This is exactly my purpose. There is no other way to find what we are looking for."

"Always doing everything the hard way." "I understand," said the knight, that your experience as a thief has made other options available to us. However, In addition to finding our source of information, I wish to rid the alleys of a good portion of the murderers, and make the streets safer for the general populace in the process."

"Always the honourable cavalier, driven by your neverending aspirations of such noble concepts as kindness and generosity!" The elf took a deep swig of his ale, then continued. "I tell you, I both admire and despise you. Speaking in terms of practicality, you are one of the most foolish men i have ever met, and yet in being as such, you also posess more honour and integrity than any other that I have known to walk the realms."

"Remember, Qu'ean Quicksilver, that I am a Paladin, and as such am compelled by forces that are not always immediately understood, not even by myself. I assure you, I do not go about my business because I choose to; I do so because I must. I am sworn ever to hunt down and destroy evil, wherever it may strike; in the name of righteousness and honour, I shall defend the innocents from its perilous grasp."

Qu'ean Quicksilver's wary eyes darted from one corner of the tavern to the next. Already, a large portion of the establishment's patrons had left. Those that remained huddled in groups, nestled in the more poorly-lit areas of the tavern, black cloaks pulled closely about their faces, hiding themselves from the eyes of unwanted attention. The barkeep had brought down the thick iron doors that hung hinged over the windows and bolted them fast.

"It appears," the elf spoke again, that you shan't wait much longer for you to do what you must."

Though they had only been in town for two days, the paladin and the elven thief-mage had been scouting out the city streets, and the knight had taken it upon himself to discover the truth behind a series of grisly murders that struck anyone without warning. At first glance, it had appeared to be the work of the deadly bads of thieves and assassins which ruled the streets of the slums by night, but then the terror had begun to prey upon them as well. The result was that all guilds of thieves and assassins had armed themselves to the hilt, and in some areas, outright war was being waged in the streets in the midnight hours of S'mon Traska.

"It can only be," said the knight, "that whoever accomplishes this is orchestrating a rise to power. Clearly, we face more than assassins. Dark magic, or powerful evil, is behind this."

"Yes." The elf responded quickly. "But is this something that we shall be able to handle by ourselves?" The knight looked the elf squarely in the eye. "That is not for me to know now. It is known only that this is my quest, and my destiny."

The elf drained the last of the ale from his mug. "Well then," he said. "It appears that once again, we throw ourselves into the fire without hesitation."

Screams rang out in the night; the light of the moon seemed to purposefully dim itself to an absolute minimum of light in that very moment.

The elf set his mug down. Swiftly and silently, he produced a gemmed dagger from beneath his cloak. The paladin drew his longsword from its scabbard. Steel touched against steel lightly in the dark; followed by the elf's words. "Death or Glory." He whispered silently. The knight echoed the words of his comrade. "Death or Glory!"

They both rose to leave. The sounds of death and battle grew louder; but instead of recoiling, the elf and the human seemed to gather strength considerably. The sudden appearance of the two, the elf with his beautiful dark green robe, clearly magical, and the taller human, clad in full plate armor crafted of the finest elven steel, striding calmly to the door without the slightest hint of trepidation, drew the scrutiny of all eyes in the tavern like moths inveigled by the dancing flames of candlelight. Some watched in sheer incredulity, others in fear. Finally the barkeep gathered his wits, enough to speak.

"Ye cannot be goin' forth at this time of evening! Won't be lastin' so much as one minute, I'd bet money on it! Crazier'n a fevered hound, ye be!"

The elf threw the folds of his cloak to the side and returned his dagger to his belt, where many more of the weapons could clearly be seen. In his other arm, appearing so swiftly that all in the room qould have sworn it was by magic, a crossbow sat wickedly, it's black darts thirsting for the blood of any who dared cross the elf's path. The paladin's sword seemed to dance in his hands as he turned to reply.

"Be glad, old man, that we are not the type to bring you up on such a bet."

The elf smiled, the paladin spinning the sword once more in his hand for effect, and then they turned and stepped out into the night.

Cammy
17th Nov 2000, 06:59 AM
Outside the tavern, the paladin and the elf-thief saw to their shock that there were a number of animated corpses lumbering around the streets -- seven or eight of them, their flesh decayed and infested with vermin, with bits falling off every now and then. Their foul stench made the elf want to vomit, and he noticed a large, deep pit in the ground some distance away. He could remember that there wasn't a pit there several hours before. Could the zombies have dug their way out from there?

Even as these thoughts went through Qu'ean Quicksilver's mind, the animated corpses were making for a number of peasant girls, all screaming loudly with horror and standing behind a handsome, bearded man with silver, shoulder-length hair who was evidently trying to protect them. Nearby a girl's body lay on the ground, presumably being mauled by the abominations earlier.

"Back off, vile creatures of the night!" shouted the man as he brandished what could only be a magic wand, sending bright, tiny darts of mystic energy flying towards the zombies, which slowed them somewhat with their impact, but did not stop them from coming closer...

The paladin rushed into the fray. "Begone, ye abominations!" he shouted at the zombies as if giving an order, pointing a stern finger at them. "The Force of Light commands!" Even as he spoke, the numerous runes that covered his armor glowed brighter and brighter, until the entire street was flooded with light; and the zombies crumbled into heaps of decomposing matter as the light shone upon them, and further disintegrated into smouldering dust, which crept along the ground back to the hole in the ground before it closed up again... The bearded man stared at the whole episode in amazement...

"The forces of darkness fell more easily than I thought they would," commented the paladin with satisfaction before turning back to the others. "Are any of you hurt?"

"Oh, kind sir, thank you so much! Thank you for saving us!" cried the peasant girls in gratitude.

"No need to thank me, ladies," answered the paladin. "Just doing what I'm supposed to do. Do any of you know the injured lady?"

"I know her," said one of the women. "She lives with her husband and children in a house next to mine."

"I can sense she is still alive, and is not too badly hurt," said the man with a wand. "I'll tend to her. You may all hasten to your homes now -- and tell her family they'll see her tomorrow. Remember, stay indoors -- there is much danger in the streets at night!"

"We thank thee kindly, sirs," said the women, who quickly left.

Qu'ean Quicksilver looked with fascination at the handsome, bearded man with youthful eyes and long silver hair. Evidently in his early twenties, he was short but muscular, and wore nothing at all but a leather jock-strap and a pair of fur-boots.

"Who are you, friend?" he asked. "But for your short stature and your magic wand, one would have thought you're one of the barbarian warriors of the Northern Ice!"

The man laughed. "The name's Rufus," he replied, waving his wand playfully so that bright multicolored sparkles filled the air. "I'm just an aspiring mage who enjoys entertaining people with my spells. My mentor recently gave me a few days' break from all the wearisome magical studies, so I thought I'd come out for a ride. Didn't expect to run into all this, though."

"You're just a mage? How could a mage be so strongly built? But anyway, I'm Qu'ean Quicksilver. Good to know you, Rufus."

"Good to know you, friend," joined the paladin with a smile. "But for now, shall we get back inside the tavern and bring the poor lady along, so we may heal her?"

But before they could say or do anything, the trio heard a flapping sound such as might be made by great leathery wings. Looking upwards, they were stricken dumb by the sight of a huge red dragon... And the elf noticed there were people riding on the dragon's back...


[Edited by Cammy on November 17th, 2000 at 09:24 AM]

The_Dudester
18th Nov 2000, 03:58 PM
<note: start of a new character / race... Cammy - I'm still entrusting you with Du-de-es-ta... while I take Tzchee-inki>


It is almost time for the ceremony to begin. The slave-maniples are straining to position the
bronze reflecting dish at the optimum angle,
the scry-princes have almost finished constructing their runic-mazes, and Tzchee-inki, the En-keeper, can feel the mana potential growing, like an itch in the small of his back.
Resisting the urge to scratch, to disrupt the intricate web of forces channelled through myriad
gossamer threads, to prematurely begin the cascade that leads to true-seeing, she moves lightly
along the single path that brings enlightenment.
Carefully, she avoids the few silk cords barring her progess, making sure all six of her legs pass
cleanly over without the slightest nudge.
Eventually, after what sheer concentration makes seem a thousand suns, she arrives at the nexus, the point where
all tangles meet, where knots form in the actuality of things. Even without the aid of the sun-power, the
sheer topolomancy of the location brings her fresh perspectives - all tinged with a hint of wrongness, as if a tiny snarl had formed somewhere in the Universe-web.
She signals her readiness, and the slave-maniples give a final nudge to their reflector, bringing it exactly into place.
The sun-power streams through the silk-labyrinth, visibly brightening individual strands, adding energy, dynamism, to the static twisting of the rune-maze. As always at this point, Tzchee-inki feels a slow drifting sensation, as if she were dangling high in the air from her spinnerets, and there is the pleasant-unpleasant shifting of space and perception all around/inside her.
As she recovers from the sensation of it all, Tzchee-inki returns to the snarl, picks at it with her mental training...
...all six of her eyes widen with the discovery of what lies within.

The_Dudester
19th Nov 2000, 06:00 AM
<Hmm...lets keep this momentum up with another post to bring the Ash-en up to date (after this, no more posts from me until someone else does, promise...)>

Several days later, several days longer than Tzchee-inki would have liked, Ash-en made a landing on Urnamu soil for the first time.
The journey had been fast, the true path to sail being obvious to an En-keeper accustomed to interpreting the warp and weft of
destiny and determination, the main delay had been in the construction of a suitable vessel. Ash-en had never crossed the wide water to
far distant lands - there had never been any need to until now - and so the art of shipbuilding was a relatively new concept. Luckily, the
hulks of several Urnamu ships were kept just off-shore for study purposes, and the principles encoded in them proved simple to reproduce.
Nevertheless, the journey was not as smooth as Tzchee-inki would have hoped, the wide water proving disturbingly mobile beneath them.
Even the Hunting-spinners were glad when they finally touched land and disembarked.

The beach ahead of them was clear and free of obvious life into the visible distance (for this reason they had chosen this site - knowing the
feelings of the stupid Urnamu towards their kind), and so Tzchee-inki and her entourage made only the most cursory efforts at stealth as they approached
the dunes ahead.

Lucky for the Urnamu who suddenly lept out at them that this was so, for he was too far from the Hunting-spinners to be instantly eviscerated by their
sharp instruments. By the time Tzchee-inki's bodyguard had surrounded the human, who was dressed all in black flowing fabric, the En-keeper had decided that
curiousity could be allowed more importance in this case.
She gestured to the True-speaker (the only member of this caste her city possessed) to interpret the noises of the Urnamu. With the hesitation of one's
first attempt at a difficult task, the True-speaker moved to obey.
The conversation they had was thus:
Tzchee-inki asked, "Urnamu, why are you not afraid of my people, or incited to furious violence by our prescence?" For it was clear that the man was not trembling
in the way of his kind, neither had he tried to strike any of the Hunter-spinners encircling him.
The Urnamu replied, "Madam, why should I strike at your group, when I know them to be on a mission of good? Being somewhat of an outcast from my own kind, I know
not to choose actions purely on predjudice and tall tales spun by sailors."

"You make me more curious with your speech, Urnamu. Why should you be persecuted by your own kind? While they are a stupid race on the whole, we have never noticed such
divisions amongst them..."

"With all due respect madam, a common fear of the unknown will unite my species like nothing else will. As for why they reject my kind, I am what they call a necromancer,
a raiser of the dead. Amongst my people this is seen as a great evil, despite the fact that their religion states that once dead, the body is just a liveless husk."

"That is a most strange belief, and an even stranger reaction from it, Urnamu. Do you seek us out to flee from your own kind then? I doubt that we would be considered
good company to most Urnamu...but you are welcome to act as our guide in this land."

"Again, I must respectfully correct you, madam. I have no real need for protection from my people. However, I have divined that we have a common purpose in battling the
wrongness in the world... and so I seek to join forces with you. Just hours ago a force of minor zombies I had sent to investigate a nearby city were destroyed, probably
by some doltish paladin and his armour of the 'One True God'. While I still have more useful forces elsewhere, this and other recent losses have compelled me to seek help."

At this the Urnamu Dead-raiser fell to one knee and lowered his head. Apparently this was intended as some kind of salute, so Tzchee-inki returned the gesture with the dance
of five namings.
Such was the first strange alliance between the Ash-en and the Outcast of the Urnamu made.

trinity
19th Nov 2000, 09:27 PM
Watching the dragon soar overhead, Isis frowned and turned to Freyja.

"Are you sure we did the right thing leaving their party? They were very powerful, even the wench Chun Li had her strengths, perpahps we should have stayed with them on our journey? Are we not seeking the same thing?"

"Isis, even with the aide of the dragon, it will take them at least a day to reach S'mon Traska. We, however, will take a much shorter route."

With that, she procured a set of rune stones from her belt and set them on the ground. Whispering soft strange words, she touched each stone three times.
A web of light appeared beween the stones, and the lines grew and merged to become what appeared to be a shallow door of light that glowed weirdly.
Gathering her staff and pack, she stepped closer and beckoned to Isis.

"Come, we have much to do..."

The Dopefish
19th Nov 2000, 09:40 PM
In the murkiest pond of the land a creature, long stewing in the spam-thick waters, arises from his domicile in search of something to do. His instincts tell him to go downhill since it would be an easier trip. Rolling sideways over rocks and twigs, the fish-like creature continues his descent until rolling onto a dirt road. Hoping to find a way towards a city, the fish (whom I will now refer to as the Dopefish since it is kind of dumb) looks for help.

Wolf Blackstar
19th Nov 2000, 10:03 PM
In the streets of the S'mon Traska's slums, a filthy young bandit was on the prowl for pockets to pick. The moon was up over the cityscape, but it was still in waxing gibbous state, which still provided ample cover in the shadows of the dank alleys.

Ahead, his destination came into view, one of the numerous taverns that dotted the area. Establishments such as this were a favorite hunting ground of the assassins and thieves, for often foolish travelers and adventurers would take up shelter there, thinking themselves safe for the evening. Those that were caught in the streets after dark quickly became the primary source of income for the thieving rogues.

Dagger in hand, he crouched low in the darkness, performing a visual assessment of the street. One sight in particular caught his eye; a man wearing full plated armor, kneeling in the street with his elf companion, who was dressed in the garb of a thief, but also sported a cloak suggesting magical properties as well. Surely these were seekers of fame and fortune from miles abroad, and no doubt they carried substantial wealth. The human's armor seemed to be without a single scratch, and reflected light incredulously, as if it was giving off a luminescence of their own. There seemed to be a numberof runes carved upon it as well. Perhaps this man was a knight of some kind. The brigand's eyes widened at the sight, and he prepared for a stealthy advance into the shadows.

He never got the chance.

Small, bright sparks seemed to phase themselves into existence from nowhere, then flowing with more intensity between the walls of the alley. The street urchin fell backward suddenly as the energy compsed itself into an orb of blinding light which expanded rapidly until it was the size of a small door.

The thief's mouth droped open in shock when seemingly out of the light itself, two women stepped into the street where there had been nothing before, smiling as if such an act did not inconvenience them in the least. Both of them were tall, slender and beautiful; one clad in dark leather armor and the other wearing a mage's robe over a gown that could only be elven mithril mail, and both armed. He backed away slowly, dagger at the ready, but in shaking arms, as the ethereal doorway closed behind them. The cloaked woman stares at him for a moment, then smiles again, and with a quick wave of her hand, everything seems to fade into darkness.

Isis watched as the bandit's unconscious body dropped to the floor.

"He will awaken tomorrow morning, and remember nothing" said Freyja. "Come, let us be off, we have much to accomplish and scant time to do so." Isis complied, and the two disappeared slowly into the shadows.


In front of the tavern, the paladin and the elf noticed nothing, for it had all transpired behind their backs, and out of hearing range.

Jing
20th Nov 2000, 02:06 AM
S'mon Traska is a fair sized city; indeed, it is an important hub for many of the outlying townships. It was founded some 500 years ago beside a river, which has proved to become a boon, transforming a small struggling settlement to an important trade center in a scant few decades. In later years, after the War of the Twin Magi culminated in the creation of the vast wasteland known as the Desert of Doom and Despair, S'mon Traska became an important base of action for explorers and treasure hunters seeking the ruins of townships and keeps buried under the sand.

As with any city of this size and importance, different sectors arose. The newest sector, on the eastern side of town, took in the treasures and gold of weary adventurers returning from the harsh sands - or sold cheap wares to those venturing out. It is now home to decadence and arrogance, expensive stores all purporting to sell the very best equipment and even more expensive inns in which young nobles can show off their newly bought toys and pursue various dalliances.

In contrast, Old Town situated on either side of the river is the seamier side of nature. The docks on both sides of the river are run by thieves and assassins...and worse. Stolen goods, illegal goods, slaves...all can be bought by those who can pay the price. Those who cannot often find that they become the goods sold to the next customer. Long 'abandoned' to the lower classes, Old Town still shows it's root as an important commercial center in the bridges that span the river. Built to allow the city to expand and connect both banks of the river, they became problematic for the larger boats travelling along the river. City mages were commissioned to find a solution, and so they did: by some magic no longer well understood (at least, by most magi), the bridges become intangible when large ships approach. A warning siren is sounded when a bridge is about to become immaterial; a popular but dangerous dare amongst children is to see who will stay the longest at the middle of the bridge...and whether or not the 'bravest' can reach the edge of the bridge before falling in the river. The east and west banks of the river are divded between largely human and humanoid population and non human populations respectively.

The western and southern sectors are collectively referred to as 'tent town' by the locals. These slums are the absolute poorest of the poor - destitute adventurers who lost everything in the desert: their gold, their equipment, their comrades. Almost every structure in Tent Town is a makeshift tent or shack of some sort. The slum lords who command bands of warriors often are in possession of a cabin, or some similar sort as a symbol of their 'wealth'. However, there is little for them to gain in terrorizing their neighbors. Typically they thieve and waylay persons in the westbank

The northern side is at least as large East Side, and is considered by most to be the city proper. None too clean, it contains many reasonable bars and inns, armorers, fletchers, black smiths, stables, and so forth. More so than East side, Northaven (as north side is often called) attracts thieves and pick pockets seeking to relieve adventurers of their burdernsome gold. Many a drunken sot has awoken in an alley completely bereft of belongings... some never wake.

West bank is an oddity. The majority of it's inhabitants are nonhuman beings, such as classical orcs, ogres, Centaurs, gully dwarves (admittedly humanoid, but they smell really bad, and no one really likes them anyway), Tantaloids, Oshufi, and so forth. Humans, especially those of prettier races such as Elves and Half-elves and Werewolfen (whom are hated because they can hide themselves as humans), are looked down upon and can typically find prices raised... even then, however, prices are cheaper than elsewhere. This area is dangerous, as many of these beings possess supernatural powers or strengths...as well there are also mutants, those who descended from magical experiments of mages long past (or even recent!) or from parents who were twisted by the rampant magical energies of the War; these mutants can appear as 'normals' of any species, or can have a more 'exotic' appearance. All have unpredictable powers.

Cammy
20th Nov 2000, 05:09 AM
(Wow! Great portrayal of a city, Jing! I noticed you never said anything about the sewers :D, though...

Hmmm, and why do I have the odd feeling Trinity doesn't exactly like my lady healer? ;) Well, anyway, here I go...)

The elf, the paladin and the young mage stood rooted to the spot in shock as the huge dragon landed just in front of them and the people alighted from its back -- three men, two women, two dwarves and a troll. Who were they? Were they friends? Or enemies? As if that was not enough, another two women suddenly came into the scene as well!

The paladin's hand tightened around the hilt of his sword and the elf got his dagger ready, while Rufus waved a hand over the emerald tip of his wand, which glowed brightly in preparation for the confrontation... Then Qu'ean Quicksilver's face broke into a wide grin...

"Natalya!" shouted the elf in delight. "Long time no see! How have you been since the last time we trained at the Foxfingers Thieves' Guild?"

Natalya was just as delighted to meet the elf. "I've been fine, Qu'ean. Such a joy to meet you again! I'd presume you've been well all along, too?"

At the same time, the old healer-mage recognized Rufus. "Say, you there! Don't you happen to be the apprentice and adopted son of the archmage Gandalf?"

"Indeed I am!" replied Rufus, a boyish grin on his face. "I still remember you; you're the nice uncle who often visited my mentor and discussed your magical researches with him!"

"Has my friend Gandalf been well?" pursued the old mage, waving a finger. "Have you been a good apprentice, or have you been causing him trouble? I still remember how you once animated a broomstick to do for you the work of fetching the water, and how you nearly submerged the entire laboratory as a result!"

"He's been well," grinned the young mage, face turning red. "And as for me... Well... I..."

"Well, I can see we're all friends!" commented Wolfram. "This is such a happy occasion!"

"Indeed it is!" said the paladin. "Come on, everyone, why don't we all get inside the tavern for a drink? I'd like to get to know you all!"

"As soon as I heal this lady..." said Chun-Li.

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

Overhead, lightning flashed across a dark, malevolent sky laced with scarlet storm-clouds that had never parted for centuries. Fierce gales howled loudly. Below, a huge chasm in the earth several hundred feet wide and tens of thousands of feet deep stretched across the scarred wasteland from horizon to horizon. Lava flowed slowly along the bottom of the chasm, and mid-way down to the bottom a ledge jutted out from the chasm's side, a great black castle perched on the ledge. Hellsgate Castle.

Inside the castle's main hall, a skeletal figure stood near a large table. It was the arch-lich Lesstarot Guildenstren. Next to him, Count Dracula studied the manicure of his nails nonchalently.

"I never thought the Right Eye of the Golden Dragon would be so difficult to get hold of!" hissed the lich in anger. "And now those imbecile servants of mine have revealed a part of my plan to those mortal fools!"

"Don't get so worked up," counselled Count Dracula. "Look at the dark side; at least we've got my son back... Once I've successfully persuaded him to serve our cause, we could always let him go back to those fools to bait them into our trap..."

[Edited by Cammy on November 20th, 2000 at 08:51 AM]

Jing
20th Nov 2000, 12:54 PM
The happy reunion, however, was not long-lasting. The Great Red Wrym spoke, its voice sounding like thunder rolling across a emtpy plains, "Thank you mortals, for leading me to this place of feeding. My young shall grow and feed on the flesh of these people. In gratitude, I shall make your deaths quick..."

__________________________________________________________
Elsewhere, in the heavens.

"Kwan Yin, your servant most humbly begs forgiveness for intrusion, but a royal personage requests and audience with you: Lord Hades of the UnderRealm." Kwan Yin was slightly startled at this, but then all at once knew what was to occur. This would be a most unhappy event, but had been necessary for the greater good of the realm; what choice did she have? The Unrealm was threatened with grave danger... yet only mortal beings, that which lives and can die, could walk the realm and directly influence it. No suitable receptacle could be found, so she had to work within those constrains... and work through her worshippers.

And now the cost. As unsavory as it was, it was necessary, lest a war start in the heavens, and then all would be lost on the Unrealm.
__________________________________________________________
Meanwhile, back at the 'ranch'
Chun-Li looked at her brother, eyes wide with surprise and the beginnings of fear, "I thought you had it under control?"

The dragon snorted, "As if I could be controlled by such pathetic magicks as can be conjured by this lot. Now, which of you wishes to be eaten first?"

The paladin raised his sword, gleaming in the moonlight. "No one of us beast; 'Twill be ye who falls this night!"

Suddenly, the moon is blocked for a moment by wings, wings such as a dragon might hold. Three glowing green lights gaze upon the scene. The apprentice, Rufus, was shaking. "Surely this cannot be good."

With a glint of steel, the winged shape dives downwards towards the group...

__________________________________________________________

"Lord Hades, to what do I owe you for this unexpected, but delightful visit? We honestly do not see enough of each other."

"I think we can do without the pretenses. But you are correct, you do owe me. Or more precisely, you have stolen from me. Two souls, which are rightly mine, you have taken for your own purposes, and now they reside here in your realm; you have not even forfeited them to the Yama Kings. This is an unfortunate action that you have undertaken in a time of unrest."

"Yes, I realize that. And the unrest is only furthered by the troubles on earth and the meeting called by Zurvan (4th dimensional being; the definition of omniscience). If you'll let me explain however, you'll see..."

"No. There will be no bartering. Much as you do, I have work to see to. I demand payment, or I will raise the issue with the Yama Kings, and there will be war between the heavens and hells to make the troubles of the Unrealm seem petty and laughable. Your handmaiden on Unrealm, the instrument of your ressurections, will be the price. You will either give her soul to me, or she will pay homage to me - the slaughter of an innocent for each soul she took from me, and periodic sacrifices. Let us say a greater beast every two weeks. Or if you tire of her, give her over to my worship..."

__________________________________________________________

The shape is clearly humanoid, but with large, black, leathery wings much as a dragons. His three eyes glow an eerie emerald green. With a face contorted in incomprehensible rage, he dives straight at the dragon with a tanto in his hands shouting, "DRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAGON!" There is the sound of rending metal as the person lands in front of the adventurers in a shower of dust. As he turns around, a single scale drops to the ground from the dragon's neck. The tanto gleams an evil purple color; most likely poisoned, but that is a futile gesture, like offering a field mouse to a ravenous gorgon. He is holding on to two bags, one a canvas bag ubiquitous in the realm and the other a leather knap sack.

"Dragon! You slew my village! And I return for vengence!"

The dragon grumbles in obvious anger at the minor injury. "So the man thing which thinks it is a dragon returns. As I recall You could not defeat me before." It's eyes narrow, and then the dragon coughs, a noisy affair of fire and smoke. You are certain everyone in S'mon Traska is awake now. And you realize just how dangerous and lethal a fight with this dragon here and now (on the east bank) would be. "I see, you raided my trove and now you wield the Tanto of Hellish Poison. The demon's blood may weaken me somewhat, but I will slay you as I did the previous owner!"

"Ah, but that is not all I took from your lair! I have freed the survivors whom you toyed with, and they have taken your treasure!" The smug look is suddenly replaced with an indefinable look of hatred. "And even as you took from me the one whom I loved, I took from you those whom you loved. Gaze upon your hatchlings."

From the canvas bag the man lets tumble forth the severed heads of three baby dragons. The lifeless eyes dully reflect the moonlight. The Red Wrym lets loose a mighty cry and a font of flame into the sky. The very earth trembles in respone, and it seems as though the sun has risen.

"But my vengence would not be complete dragon, without this! You Slew her in front of me, held me helpless to do naught but watch! Gaze now, at this! Your last egg!"

From the leather knapsack the man retrieves a large, pearly white oval; the dragon's egg. And smashes it upon the cobblestone in a messy explosion of ichor. The dragon rears to it's full size, fully 10 times that of a large man. It's trashing tail levels an empty grocery market behind it.

"And now I will have my own vengence. DIE DRAGON!" The man takes to the air and rushes at the dragon, tanto in hand.

__________________________________________________________

Kwan Yin wept for her most favored priestess. There was little she could do; the heavens could ill afford a war, on the situation on earth was rapidly degenerating to become as bad or worse than the unrealm... it would soon require her full attention. And all that was happening was drawing the concern of Zurvan, the god of time, and that was most ominous indeed. Zurvan had been present before creation existed, and would be present after it ceased to exist. He could perceive past present and future as it happens and as it could happen. That he was worried was something that sent most lesser (but still divine) beings in gibbering hysteria. What choice had she but to choose...

Cammy
20th Nov 2000, 06:23 PM
Du-de-es-ta woke from his dream with a start, his brows lined with perspiration.

"Es-ta, what's the matter?" asked Chun-Li, who had woken up earlier and was tidying her bed nearby.

"I... I had this terrible dream..."

"What was the dream, Es-ta?"

"I... had this dream in which the Lord of the Underworld approached Our Lady Kuan-Yin and demanded you as some sort of payment... And I also dreamt that the red dragon had broken out of my control, and then there was this being who wielded a great tanto that gave off a violet light..."

Then he quickly walked to a window in their tavern room and looked outside. The city was normal. The dragon hadn't gone berserk and started destroying houses and killing people. He breathed a sigh of relief.

"What could the dreams mean?" said Chun-Li, feeling puzzled.

(P.S. This is a quick one. I'll be beefing it up a bit more shortly! Jing just brings in too many changes in the storyline, and these changes are far too ENORMOUS... I just feel compelled to water them down by making them just... a dream (for now)...)

trinity
20th Nov 2000, 10:59 PM
The city elders had been worried for days. Worried over omens and signs. And When this new band of travelers had arrived on the back of a large red dragon, soon after an attack by animated corpses - the conclusions were easy. They must be stopped,lest the city be destroyed.

***

Deep in the maze of odd shops and taverns that made up the heart of the old town, an aged enchantress sat by a dying fire.
She woke from her trance and smiled. Her work was done. Du-de-esta's dreams, and his loss of control over the Great Red Wyrm - these were all her doings. Her dark meddlings came at a price though, and she smiled as she imagined what her master would pay her in return.
She smiled at the thought of the cool gold coins in her palm. Her master would have no trouble with this bunch. Others, and more powerful had tried before. But it takes more than a prideful bunch of ragtag adventurers to stop such as her Master.
She began to laugh as she imagined the dark forces he would unleash. She could hardly wait. Tomorrow, or the next day, certainly no more than three days hence, he would return. And he would wreak havoc.

Her laughter was interrupted as a man entered her hovel. He was broad shouldered and cloaked in a dark robe. His features were indiscernable beneath its folds. He was halt, but this handicap seemed to hinder him none at all as he approached her rapidly. Over his back was slung a dangerous looking bow and a quiver of arrows, and in his hand he carried an ancient tome.

"Where is your master?" He demanded.

"Eh? What? Master?" she mumbled, feigning innocence. "If you speak of my husband, youll have no luck, try the catacombs." She chuckled softly.

"Do not play the fool with me old woman, I know what I speak of, I will not be put off by your chatter. Where is the one who commands your evil deeds?
Where is Khaine?"

Cammy
21st Nov 2000, 12:00 AM
Even as Chun-Li pondered on the strange dreams Du-de-es-ta had, a column of light appeared in the room, growing larger and brighter. A beautiful female figure appeared in the column of light.

"Lady Kuan-Yin!" cried Chun-Li and Es-Ta as they prostrated themselves. "Your servants hear and obey!"

Kuan-Yin smiled. "I know the dreams you've had, my beloved servant Du-de-es-ta," said the goddess. "Rest assured that these are the greatest absurdities possible -- the Underworld Lord Hades never asked of me that I surrender your sister to him. He did visit me of late, though, to make an appeal to me concerning your actions."

"What have we done wrong, O Lady Kuan-Yin?" asked Chun-Li. Please tell us that we may not transgress again."

"The Underworld Lord was concerned that you've resurrected someone more than once within the space of twelve shih-ch'en (=24 hours). Such an act, if performed too often, would adversely affect the life-death balance of the Universe. I therefore hereby instruct thee that thou shalt not resurrect the same living being more than twice within the space of twelve shih-ch'en. Is that understood?"

"Yes!" replied Chun-Li and Es-ta.

(Gotta stop here, damn it. Will continue!)

WAnk
21st Nov 2000, 01:30 AM
Natalya sat in her room in a small inn on the eastern bank of the River Erohw, idly flipping a dagger. she was in a foul mood, which explained the dagger lodged in the door jam, and the ashen-white faced inn mistress downstairs fussing around the kitchen. the inn's employees all now had strict orders NOT to disturb her under any circumstance.

She had to leave S'mon Traska, this was for certain. She cursed the stupidity of the looseliped elf. what was he thinking acknowledging the thieves guild IN A PUBLIC PLACE nonetheless!! she hurled her dagger at the door, and heard a loud squeak and the hurried swishing of skirts of the unfortunate housemaid who happened to be walking past Natalya's room. She would have to leave the town, and fast. Her guild had too many enemies for her to safely stay, and anyone on the look out for her personally would know that a female Guildmember was in town. It was unfortunate that she would have to leave, but she was through with the idiodic bumbling of the ill fated group anyways, she had more important things to attend to.

***

Come nightfall, Natalya silently slipped out her second story window onto the sloping roof below. she crouched there in the shadows only long enough to quickly scan her surroundings. Her quick appraisal revealed only a small cat on the next roof over and a loud drunk stumbling down the dimly lit street. thankfully, the town watch's night patrol was no where to be seen. she moved through the shadows to the edge of the roof and dropped silently into the alley below. from there, she silently moved to the stables. she nibmly picked the lock on the back door of the stable, so as to avoid the comotose elderly stable hand asleep in front of the main door. inside, she found a sleek black horse in excellent shape. she snickered softly at how dismayed the owner would be come morning when he realized his prize steed was missing. in the corner, she found a utilitarian black leather saddle with suprisingly tasteful silver decoration. she grinned again, she liked this horse already. she carefully eased into the horses stall. the horse tossed her head and whinneyed in a low voice in curiosity.

"there now girl, it is ok, you and me will get along just fine." Natalya said in soothing voice. Natalya reached out slowly, and produced a carrot she had pinched from the kitchens out of her robe. she softly rubbed the horses black nose. when the horse pulled back, Natalya started whispering in a soothing voice, and offered the horse the carrot. This greatly reduced the horses suspiscions of Natalya. The sleek black mare twitched its ears in pleasure as it happily munched the carrot. Natalya deftly threw the horses dark blanket over its back, and worked the saddle carefully into place. she patted the horse in apology as she kneed the horses ribs so she might tighten the saddle strap. she worked a simple leather wicker into the horses mouth, who gladly accepted it in place of its accustomed metal bit.

she gently lead the now very trusting horse out of its stall and out the narrow back door. they slowly worked there way through the streets to the wide open south gate. bless these quiet times we live in Natalya thought as she and the horse walked past two smiling guards. once free of the city limits, she hopped on the horses back and urged the horse forwards. they moved west across the bridge spanning the River Erohw, and galloped down the main road towards the forest, and eventually towards the chest she had left behind....

Cammy
21st Nov 2000, 05:13 AM
(Didn't occur to me to let the elf-thief keep quiet about the Guild. Were there that many passersby to catch that, though? Well, perhaps a thief or two around in the shadows... Ah, well, my mistake, okay?

I'm honestly beginning to suspect that everyone here hates my ideas and characters. :( Well, I'll play along a bit more for the time being and see what happens...)

"Excellent," said the goddess. "Now I just need to tell you, I would have to visit you far less often in future, as the frequent presence of the divine in the mortal realm would greatly upset its natural balance to the detriment of all living beings therein. Be ye therefore a lamp unto yourselves, my beloved servants. And fight strongly against evil. I have one last thing to give you before I take my leave."

Kuan-Yin produced a girdle and handed it to Es-ta. The girdle was immaculately crafted, with sparkling gems set into it. "This is the Girdle of Giant Strength worn by Thor, he whom the peoples of the Northern Ice worship as the God of Thunder. Anyone who wears it will have his or her strength and endurance increased a hundredfold. This should greatly aid you and your friends in your quest to restore the Left Eye, to find the runesword and ultimately to defeat the Master of Fear. But remember, this girdle is only loaned; every Freya-Day (Friday) it will vanish and return to its owner, but at the end of each Freya-Day it will return to you and your friends. Use it wisely."

Chun-Li was just thinking that this would be the ideal gift for Wolfram when someone opened the door and came in, much to the shock of Chun-Li and Es-ta. But the goddess merely smiled. It was Rufus.

Rufus stared in shock at the goddess. "W-Who are you?..." Nearby, Es-ta tried to motion to Rufus to kneel down in respect. But he was totally taken in by the goddess' radiance.

"Never fear, sweet child," said Kuan-Yin. "I am Kuan-Yin, she whom the Cathayans worship as the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion[/i]..."

"I... I never saw my mother all my life..." stuttered Rufus. I always tried to imagine how she looked... You look just like how I imagined she'd look..."

The goddess walked to Rufus and kissed him affectionately on the forehead. "I love you just like my very own, sweet child. Be good, and stand with your friends against all adversity! You have my blessings, child!"

Rufus was dazed. "I thank you, mother..."

"I must take my leave now. Farewell, beloved servants!" and she vanished in a flash of light.

Just then the door opened again. It was Isis. "Hey, fellas! I'm afraid we've got some trouble with the city elders!"

[Edited by Cammy on November 21st, 2000 at 08:28 AM]

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
21st Nov 2000, 06:27 AM
Something was wrong.
The Gods were meddeling again.
Asteph'theroc Draco swore, a word that had not been used in a millenia.
Some meant well ......others not, but they were still to young to understand the consequences of what they were doing.
They were creatures of belief, sustained by the believe of every prayer, veneration and act performed in there name. When a god lost all of its believers, it lost its higher consicouness, all its powers dispersing back into the mana weave, only to be re-emerge as a another new god when belief swung back the other way.
In the beginning, before the mortals evolved, there were no gods, only the mana weave, the heart and lifeforce of the universe from which everything else has sprung.
"Mortal, immortal or divine, we are all still children of the weave", muttered the figure in the shadows.
Asteph'therocs' race had been one of the first born. Some of those races had died out in wars whilst others had evolved and moved on.
One race, the closest to Asteph'theroc Dracos' own had sought power and in doing so, had lost themselves in their lust to have more, becoming what the mortals called shadowfiends.
Asteph'theroc Draco laughed a short bitter laugh. That had marked the turning point. Disrupting the weave to allow the emergence of HIM, starting the chain of events that had led to the Great War. The slaughter and imprisoning of his people.
But in doing this, what were to be later known as shadowfiends had doomed themselves. They had forgot that power is nothing without will and had become, over the years, a pathetic remenent of their once powerful race.
With a start Asteph'theroc Draco emerged from his meditation.
A horse, approaching rapidly from the nearby city, about two miles away he determined, listening carefully......and behind that, a group of 3 in a stealthy pursuit.
Asteph'theroc Draco shifted slightly and peered at the crossroads where he knew they would converge.
Something must be done soon, to either convince the various panthenons to stop meddeling, an virtually impossible task he thought, or remove their ability to directly intervene temporarily.
Each time they acted, the quicker the restraints on HIM were loosened.
Neither Asteph'theroc Draco, nor the rest of the world, were ready to withstand HIS full power yet, more time was needed.....

Horses.

Asteph'theroc looked on as the woman edged her black mare into the concealment of the trees on the other side of the road, her hood pulled up concealing her features. Fifteen seconds later the group of 3 arrived, reining in and stopping their horses in the centre of the crossroads.

"Come out pretty thief!" teased one of the armed knights looking around warily.
Some type of city guard thought Asteph'theroc to himself.
Looking back over to where the thief was he saw her dismounted trying to keep her mare quite.
The mares in heat realised Asteph'theroc, and all three of the men are riding stallions, she can't keep that mare quite for lon.....

The mare whinnyed a greeting.
All three heads of the knights turned round in the direction of the sound, swords making a scrape as they came out of scabbards.

She can't take all of them, thought Asteph'theroc, not daggers against platemail.

The thief obviously thought otherwise, slapping her mare and sending her out of cover.
The knights heads swiveled after the mare but as soon as they realised noone was on the horse they snapped back to where the thief was....had been.....just in time for one of them to take a thrown blade in the face and a split second later another to fall as his horse collapsed under him, disembowled as the thief had rolled under it just after retrieving her dagger from the head of the dead knight.
Crunch.
The thief went flying, having been caught out not realising that the remaining knight was on a trained warhorse, which had kicked her as she was darting round to attack the remaining knight from his blindside.
With a crunch the thief landed 10ft away from him, her daggers out of reach and her ankle twisted painfully under her.
Just sprained realised Asteph'theroc, though it will probably feel like its broken, and a fractured rib.
Then Asteph'theroc Draco looked at her face.

Llaersil?!?!

What?

Looking again he realised that she was just a mortal, a human, but the resembalance was uncanny!
What can this mean he thought frantically to himself ..... is she meant to aid me in what I must do, what if she....

"Time to die pretty thief" sneered the approaching knight.

No!

Asteph'theroc Draco didn't realise he had shouted this until he saw both the thief and the guard turn round abruptly to look at him.
With a scream he called upon his powers, feeling the weave, letting it flow through him, altering it here, bending it there, bringing millions of myriad different forces together in perfect harmony, before encasing himself in its aura as he leapt from his hiding place, traveling faster than the mortal eye could see, swinging his sword.

The resulting sound echoed thorughout the forest.

"Ow!" yelped the thief, "Why did you go and have to do that for, I can hardly bloody hear now?". She looked at the discoloured smear on the ground, all that was left of her opponent, and then at the tall muscular elfling with the fierce golden eyes and alien, though striking, appearence.
She grinned suddenly, "I was going to stick him anyway", she said moving slightly and re-sheathing a hidden dagger that she had been concealing underneath.

"My name is Natyala by the way", she said, "now are you going to give me a hand getting up or not?"

What can this mean?!?!?
Asteph'theroc Dracos' thoughts churned wildly in his head as he tried to make sense of what was going on, why this happened, why this thief resembled someone lost long ago, his soulmate.
Asteph'theroc Draco blinked, quashing his doubts underneath his will.
This must have meant to be, maybe she will aid me, he thought to himself.
Extending his hand he took her proffered arm and helped her up, pulling one of the deads knights swords to him via his will for her to use as a crutch.
"My name is Asteph'theroc", he spoke, "and I believe we will be traveling together for a while".

"Where to?" questioned Natyala warily.

"The where does not matter, what we will do there will probably upset the majority of gods, but it is only for there own good, as well as the good of the rest of this world. If we succeed they might even forgive us"

"Is it dangerous?" asked Natyala, "might there even be a large amound of gold, trade goods or precious items to.....ummmm... aquire?"

"Yes on both counts", Asteph'theroc replied confused.

"Sweet" grinned Natyala

WAnk
21st Nov 2000, 07:05 AM
with the aid of the sword Asteph'theroc had handed her, Natalya gingerly rose to her feet. determined not to show weakness before the strange man who had appeared out of the night, she tested her ankle, and fell uncerimoniously into a heap of dark green cloth and leather onto the cold ground. Asteph'theroc leapt to her aid with a strange, almost lovingly concerned look on his face.

"you really shouldn't attempt to walk on that ankle, it is a rather nasty sprain," Asteph'theroc said as he lifted her to her feet and offered his arm for support.

"bah, it is nothing," Natalya mumbled, obviously wincing in pain. she gladly took his arm for support, she new her ankle would give out again if she tried to put any weight on it. she was impressed by the quiet strength this stranger held.

"fortunately we do not need to start our journey immediately. the evils we will be facing take little note of mortal beings conceptions of time. the earth will not fall into utter peril it we spend a small amount of time to bandage you up," Asteph'theroc said in a mockingly serious tone.

Natalya laughed

"how nice of these unearthly evils to be so consiterate of my needs. speaking of unearthly evils, where is that she-devil of horse i had the misfortune of stealing. if it hadn't been for her raging hormones, those guards would have never found us."

it was Asteph'theroc's turn to laugh.

"I think you will find her over there, acquainting herself with one of those war horses. besides, she cannot be all evil, for if not for her "raging hormones" you and i would have never met."

an amused look came over Natalya's face

"some how i sincerely doubt that." Natalya said, a slight smile forming at the edges of her lips.

[Edited by WAnk on November 21st, 2000 at 08:17 AM]

WAnk
21st Nov 2000, 07:58 AM
after an awkward silence, Asteph'theroc lead Natalya over to her horse. Natalya took hold of the pommel on the black mares saddle, handing the guard's sword back she had used as a crutch back to the elfling. He then took a few moments to give the two living warhorses a firm smack on the flank with the flat edge of the broadsword, and to retrieve Natalya's daggers before returning to her side. she thanked them, and quickly cleaned them on the horses saddle blanked before deftly returning them to various places beneath her cloak. Asteph'theroc wondered with a small smile how many of these daggers she had hidden about her person. He was also fairly certain he would not like to be in a situation to figure this out.

He lead Natalya and the mare back to the small clearing he had been using as a temporary camp. he tied the horses reigns onto the same tree branch as his own horse, a beautiful blue roan stallion. the black mare knickered a greeting to the grey horse, which merely shook its head in annoyance. although he didn't really need a horse, Asteph'theroc travelled on one for the sake of ambiguity. A man travelling on horseback drew much less attention than a man travelling at unhuman speeds on foot. besides, his horse had proven an interesting companion, if nothing else.

Before taking Asteph'theroc's arm for support again, Natalya took the mare's nose in her hand, and gave the horse a menacing stare.

"you and i are going to have a long talk tomorrow, missy," Natalya said in a stern voice. The horse flickered its ears, bobbed its head, and almost managed to look embarassed. The elfling watched this strange conversation in amusement, his smile fading as Natalya turned her glare upon him.

"don't look at me, i am not the one chasing down strange male horses," Asteph'theroc stuttered

Natalya grinned in response, cheerfully taking her new travel companions arm again.

"i think you and i are going to get along just fine, my dear fellow."

Asteph'theroc chuckled as he led her to the tree he had been using to ponder the quest ahead of him before Natalya had unexpectedly burst into the roadside before him. She greatfully lowered herself off her feet, and gave the elfling a thankful look. he responded to her look with a happy smile, and went to work taking off the mares saddle and blanket. when he was finished, he walked to his own saddlebags and produced a linen bandage. Squatting before her, Asteph'theroc carefully worked Natalya's soft leather boot off of her injured ankle. Natalya grimmaced slightly, but in all was taking the paid better than he had expected. despite her feminine form, she was a surprisingly tough woman. as he bandaged the thief's ankle, Asteph'theroc made idle small talk.

"I am sorry, but i do not have a bedroll or anything for tonight."

Natalya gave the elfling a bemused look. "that is quite alright, i have grown accustomed to travelling without such luxuries."

"as have i, travelling light does have its advantages," Asteph'theroc said in a knowing tone. "There we are, all bandaged up. That should remove some of the mobility, at least. It should be better before you know it."

He helped her put her boot back on, and Natalya thanked him again. She was indeed very curious about this strange man who was helping her, and about the quest that lay before them.

Cammy
21st Nov 2000, 02:55 PM
Zeus returned from the mortal plane, reaching between his legs and massaging away with sheer pleasure. Ares passed by and saw him.

"Went down there to screw another gal again, I presume?" asked Ares, eyebrows raised.

"Shhh!" said Zeus. "Not so loud, Hera might hear! Yes, you bet -- and it was an elf this time, too! Hee, hee, such pleasure!"

"Honestly, Zeus, don't you think the denizens of the mortal world are having enough of this? To say nothing of the danger of upsetting the natural balance in the energy cycles of the mortal plane? I mean, this is the hundredth time you've gone down there in a single mortal year!"

"I couldn't give a f***ing damn!" replied Zeus. "Who cares what those stupid mortal worms think -- such as that presumptuous Asteph'theroc fellow! His mind sends out the loudest signals of displeasure at my entry into Unrealm, I'll give you that -- but if he's not happy, let him come see me and tell me that -- I'll blast him to smithereens with a thunderbolt faster than you can say 'Anaxagoras'!"

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

In a stable in S'mon Traska, sparks of light suddenly appeared. Brighter and more numerous they grew, and then suddenly there was a flash and in their place appeared a knight on horseback.

"Ohhh... What happened?" muttered the knight. Then he remembered how this stranger leapt towards him, throwing at him a multicolored orb of light as he pursued the she-thief. "Damn that man -- he must have been an aide of that no-good bitch!"

Just then another two knights on horseback appeared in the stable in like manner. "Ohhh... What happened?" they groaned. One of them felt a stinging pain in his face -- as if he had been stabbed there...

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

"My master Khaine's been out to sea," replied the old woman, realizing she could no longer hide the truth. "He should be back soon, though I have no idea when."

The man could tell that the crone spoke truly. "Well," he sighed, "guess I'll have no choice then but to await his return."

Then suddenly the old woman sensed something terribly wrong. Her spell had been undone by a divine power! Furious, she uttered a piercing scream. Even the man was taken aback somewhat. "My spell... It has been broken!"

"No matter..." snarled the witch between her teeth. "This time I'll try something much more dramatic... I'll truly break the Cathayan man's hold on the dragon, and his means of controlling it!"

WAnk
21st Nov 2000, 03:07 PM
note....

post unnecessary, problem solved much more eloquently by PMB in later posts :)

[Edited by WAnk on November 21st, 2000 at 06:48 PM]

Cammy
21st Nov 2000, 03:26 PM
"Well, actually," said Asteph'theroc, "what I've said is just a generalization; not all their religion is nonsense, though a lot of it is. There actually are a very few Cathayan deities who are real enough, and whose wisdom and power are in truth far greater than mine... Such as the wondrous goddess Kuan-Yin... Indeed, if I were to worship any god at all, she would be the one..."

(If you can put words in Asteph'theroc's mouth, Wank, so can I... Oh, and thanks so much for offering me such great challenges! :D)

[Edited by Cammy on November 21st, 2000 at 05:45 PM]

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
21st Nov 2000, 05:31 PM
"Belief can be a powerful thing", Asteph'theroc spoke to Natalya .
"It is what defines what you call gods, gives them there powers. Disbelief works the same way. Cursing a gods name benefits it as much as a prayer to it will".
Asteph'theroc paused briefly briefly before continuing.
"To me the gods mean nothing, I walked this world with my people and many others, before they existed , before they were born out of the mana weave, their parents mortal minds beliefs".
"Subjective reality is the closest you can get to it in normal terms. I do not believe....nor do I disbelive in them, therefore they can have no effect on me. The only way they might inconvience me ... slightly..... is via there mortal followers. If we accomplish our mission we will not have to worry about them interceading with their faithfull for a short while. If the mortal races are to survive what is coming, the only way they can do it is beliving in themselves."
Asteph'theroc paused then, staring at Natalyas face.

"What!" exclaimed Natyala, sort of freaked out by the intensity of his fiery golden eyes.

Asteph'theroc blinked.

"Sorry.... you just remind me of someone from long ago."

Natalya grinned.

"I'll roll you for first watch", she said, producing a couple of dice out of a pouch, "high roll gets first watch".

"Agreed", siad Asteph'theroc, a tiny hint of a smile appearing for a fraction of a second, before his face resumed it's normal unreadable mask.

Natalya rolled first. "Two fives", she grinned, before picking up the dice and swiftly switching them for her low rolling set as she passed them to him, "now you roll....HEY!"

"What", asked Asteph'theroc, "I just rolled a five and a six, I get first watch............ is there a problem?"

Natalya grimaced, she knew he must of cheated somehow, but the only reason she knew was because the dice he now had should have rolled a two and a three. She couldn't argue that one, no matter how good she was at bluffing.

"Ok I get second", she muttered, curling up by the small enclosed fire that Asteph'theroc had got going a few minutes earlier.
"Make sure you wake me", she muttered, glaring at Asteph'theroc.

Natalya hated second watch, you were always shattered by early evening the next day.

"Of course", Asteph'theroc muttered leaning forward, touching her forehead gently, "I won't".

Asteph'theroc pulled his hand back from the now sleeping Natalya. The acceleration he had placed on her natural healing process would last the night and when she woke from her ensorcelled sleep she would also most be as good as new, though she might still feel slight bruising around her ribs.

"Sleep well little one, I have no need", whispered Asteph'theroc, settling his back against a tree, his sword unsheathed across his knees, his eyes fixed on Natalya, awaiting the coming of dawn.


__________
PMB

[Edited by RumpleForeskin|PuF on November 21st, 2000 at 06:37 PM]

Cammy
21st Nov 2000, 06:09 PM
...but for the indignity to which my pet characters would be subject. Anyway, here I go...

In an ancient temple, next to a font, a young girl woke up.

She had died. Or at least her former self -- her former identity as a slave of the great Asteph'theroc. By powerful magicks he had bound her to him; but then, after seven years, he gave her the Kiss of Liberation and the bonds were broken.

Now, after seven days of deep, restful sleep, the life energies Asteph'theroc borrowed from her had been rejuvenated. She was free -- free to start a new life. And she recalled her former master, no longer with dread, but with fondness.

She hurried back home, unable to wait to see her family and friends! How happy they would be to see her again! Unfortunately, none of them knew of the dark forces now besieging the world of Unrealm...

Jing
21st Nov 2000, 06:41 PM
[Note: I would like to point out that as an equal participant, I have EQUAL say in what is and what is not real in this realm. And I write on behalf of several unnamed others, because quite frankly I think we are ALL a little tired of having to bend over backwards to the dictate of someone who didn't create the unrealm. And what is written here does happen, is not the result of some dream unless otherwise noted, and in inescapable.]

Little did anyone know, the gods were very real. And unfortunately so...

The arch magus Jing strode into the Tavern. With a flick of his wrist, the patrons turned to stone. The adventurers stood, weapons at ready. The Arch Magus began to laugh hysterically. It was very strange. He brandished a jar in his hands, as if some weapon. Moreover it appeared to be empty.

Chun-Li looked around with wide-eyed surprise. "I'll not let you torment these people so!" She began to pray to her goddess. "Oh Kuan-yin, here my call, I beseech you to..."

She was interrupted with loud laughter.

The arch magus held the jar out towards her. "Now now, why don't you speak to her directly?" A tiny figure, that of Kuan-yin, could be seen inside the jar, futilely banging against the jar shouting "Let me out! Let me out!"

More laughter. With a snap of fingers and a spoken word, Chun-Li explodes into many fleshy bits...

The peasant farmer awoke with a start. Never had he had such dreams before! Of witches and adventurers, the undead and dragons! What did it portend to? And why had he been a female? He ambled out of bed...the sun had yet to rise, and the many chores awaited doing. His favorite cow was pregnant, and he thought he might name the calf after the female in his dream...it had started with a C, what was the name now? Cam-Li? The more he thought about it, the more and more ridiculous and inconsequential the dream became. And he had much to do if his family was to continue eating.

Elsewhere, a warrior named Wolfram was stirring after being knocked unconcious...

WAnk
21st Nov 2000, 07:24 PM
A leather clad woman rode silently through the night atop a sleek black mare, her dark green cloak billowing behind her in the cool autumn breeze. she ducked to avoid a low branch that hung over the small, ill-kept trail. the events of the past few weeks required her to stay out of the public eye, and off of main roads where she might be seen by a passing guard or spy. Once she reached the Daryethian border and crossed back into her homeland she would be safe, but for now stealth was very necessary. soon she would be back home, her mission complete. she had learned to suppress her the moral doubts her conscious always threw at her after these types of missions, but still a tear came to her eye as she idlly fingered the fox head tattoo hidden under her clothing. What she had done was necessary, a mission of upmost importance. there was a reason she had received the job, she was one of the best at what she did, one of the few who could have done what she had just done successfully, and made it away alive. even that she had almost done. Her cloak now had a large tear in it, slashed by a palace guardsman, and her face bore a thin red scar from another man's dagger. Another man not quite so skilled with those daggers as i she thought to herself as a smile crept across her face. the wind picked up, and she shivered and nudged her horse to move down the trail faster

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
22nd Nov 2000, 05:59 AM
(had a long talk with WAnk in irc and we both agreed that we really liked where we were going with this, so we agreed to redo it after the "reset" button was pressed by Jing. Rather than WAnk posting his stufff again I've combined them in one post and neatened up the dialogue/grammmar/spelling a bit in an attempt to make it a bit more readable

NOTE (25/11/00): I've altered it slightly so I suggest you re-read it. My character is no longer regards gods with apathy... he's quite intrigued by them :D).

A few minutes later an armed company of men on horseback arrived, one man lightly dressed in leathers running ahead of them, peering intently at the ground.

"She went this way, we're about 5 minutes behind", the man whispered back to the horseman following him.

"Lead on", commanded the nearest horseman, "soon we'll have this murderesses head on a pole. That, a few executions and burning a few houses down should be enough to quell the general populace again".
As one the guards kicked their horses and followed the trail

__________________

Something was wrong.
The Gods were meddeling again.
Altering reality just enough to introduce an uncertainty factor.
That uncertainty factor had been enough to tilt the balance, albeit very briefly, but just long enough to allow HIM to reach through the barriers to impose HIS wishes on this world.
It had taken a vast concentration of his will to snap this timeline back to it's correct destiny, even he had almost been pulled into that other dimension.
If not for the intervention of some the gods he would have been lost.

That had suprised him.

Astepth'theroc hated suprises.

Some of the gods had broken away from their eternal bickering and pursuit of their own satisfaction, to act in concert to help seal the breach in the weave.
Even some mortals had somehow - Astepth'theroc had no idea how - managed to alter the weave, help block HIM long enough for the weave to repair itself.
"Maybe I have underestimated them......maybe..".

Asteph'theroc Draco swore, a word that had not been used in a millenia.

Some meant well ......others not, but they were still to young to understand the consequences of what they were doing.

They were creatures of belief, sustained by the believe of every prayer, veneration and act performed in there name. When a god lost all of its believers, it lost its higher consicouness, all its powers dispersing back into the mana weave, only to be re-emerge as another new god when belief swung back the other way.

In the beginning, before the mortals evolved, there were no gods, only the mana weave, the heart and lifeforce of the universe from which everything else has sprung.

"Mortal, immortal or divine, we are all still children of the weave", muttered the figure in the shadows.

Asteph'therocs' race had been one of the first born, born before the mortal races had arrived and created the gods. Some of those races had died out in wars whilst others had evolved and moved on.

One race, the closest to Asteph'theroc Dracos' own had sought power and in doing so, had lost themselves in their lust to have more, becoming what the mortals called shadowfiends.

Asteph'theroc Draco laughed a short bitter laugh. That had marked the turning point. Disrupting the weave to allow the emergence of HIM, starting the chain of events that had led to the Great War.

The slaughter and imprisoning of his people.

But in doing this, what were to be later known as shadowfiends had doomed themselves. They had forgot that power is nothing without will and had become, over the years, a pathetic remenent of their once powerful race.

With a start Asteph'theroc Draco emerged from his meditation.
A horse, approaching rapidly from the nearby city, about two miles away he determined, listening carefully......and behind that, a large group of riders in hot pursuit.
Asteph'theroc Draco shifted slightly and peered at the crossroads where he knew they would converge.

Something must be done soon, to either convince the various panthenons to stop meddeling, or remove their ability to directly intervene temporarily.
Each time they acted, the quicker the restraints on HIM were loosened.
Neither Asteph'theroc Draco, nor the rest of the world, were ready to withstand HIS full power yet, more time was needed.....
Maybe some of these mortals gods could help keep the balance.....

Horses.

Asteph'theroc looked on as the woman edged her black mare into the concealment of the trees on the other side of the road, her hood pulled up concealing her features. Fifteen seconds later the group of riders arrived, reining in and stopping their horses in the centre of the crossroads.

"Come out pretty lady!" teased one of the armed men looking around warily.

Some type of city guard thought Asteph'theroc to himself.
Looking back over to where the thief was he saw her dismounted trying to keep her mare quite.
The mares in heat realised Asteph'theroc, and the majority of the men are riding stallions, she can't keep that mare quite for lon.....

The mare whinnyed a greeting.

All the heads of the men turned round in the direction of the sound, swords making a scrape as they came out of scabbards.

She can't take all of them, thought Asteph'theroc, not daggers against platemail.

The girl obviously thought otherwise, slapping her mare and sending her out of cover.
The knights heads swiveled after the mare but as soon as they realised noone was on the horse they snapped back to where the thief was....had been.....just in time for two of them to take a thrown blade in the face and a split second later another three to fall as their horses collapsed under him, disembowled as the thief had rolled under it just after retrieving her dagger from the head of the dead knight.

Crunch.

The thief went flying, having been caught out not realising that the men were on trained warhorses, one of which had kicked her as she was darting round to attack a man from his blindside.
With a crash the thief landed 10ft away from Asteph'theroc, her daggers out of reach and her ankle twisted painfully under her.
Just sprained realised Asteph'theroc, though it will probably feel like its broken, and a fractured rib.
Then Asteph'theroc Draco looked at her face.

Llaersil?!?!

What?

Looking again he realised that she was just a mortal, a human, but the resembalance was uncanny!
What can this mean he thought frantically to himself ..... is she meant to aid me in what I must do, what if she....

"Time to die pretty lady" sneered the man approaching her

"NO!"

Asteph'theroc Draco didn't realise he had shouted this until he saw both the thief and the guard turn round abruptly to look at him.
With a scream he called upon his powers, feeling the weave, letting it flow through him, altering it here, bending it there, bringing millions of myriad different forces together in perfect harmony, before encasing himself in its aura as he leapt from his hiding place, traveling faster than the mortal eye could see, swinging his sword.

The resulting sound echoed thorughout the forest.

"Ow!" yelped the woman, "Why did you go and have to do that for, I can hardly bloody hear now?". She looked at the discoloured smear on the ground, all that was left of her opponent, and then at the tall muscular elfling with the fierce golden eyes and alien, though striking, appearence.
She grinned suddenly, "I was going to stick him anyway", she said moving slightly and re-sheathing a hidden dagger that she had been concealing underneath.

"My name is Mirya by the way", she said, "now are you going to give me a hand getting up or not?"

What can this mean?!?!?
Asteph'theroc Dracos' thoughts churned wildly in his head as he tried to make sense of what was going on, why this happened, why this thief resembled someone lost long ago, his soulmate.
Asteph'theroc Draco blinked, quashing his doubts underneath his will.
This must have meant to be, maybe she will aid me, he thought to himself.

Extending his hand he took her proffered arm and helped her up, pulling one of the deads knights swords to him via his will for her to use as a crutch.
"My name is Asteph'theroc", he spoke, "and I believe we will be traveling together for a while".

"Where to?" questioned Mirya warily.

"The sea. It was foretold that the first one, the instrument of HIS will, would come from over the sea."

"Is it dangerous?" asked Mirya, "might there even be a large amounts of gold, trade goods or precious items to.....ummmm... aquire?"

"Yes on both counts", Asteph'theroc replied confused.

"Sweet" grinned Mirya

"Excuse me", asked one of the previously forgotten guards with a sneer on his face, "sorry to interrupt your little union but she's under sentance of death and if you don't move out the way we'll kill you as well"

"For what reason?" Asteph'theroc asked, fixing his eyes on the nervous guard.

"Murder", growled another one.

"Justice" spat back Mirya from her position on the ground, "he was a murdering tyrant who butchered and stole from his own people. He deserved to die, me getting paid to do it was just a bonus"

"Enough!" shouted a guard, "she dies now, as will you.... charge them!"

Ten of the remaining guards leaped off their horses whilst the others wheeled theirs around and set their lances.

Asteph'theroc plucked at the weave again, creating a bend in TIME where he once again stepped outside it. Calling on his innate powers he started glowing gold, filled with his feelings, of rage at HIM, with loss and bitter sadness over the fate of his people, filled with remorse at what he was now doing, but converting all that emotional energy into a weapon via the strength of his will as he set on the guards.

"Now I suggest you leave unless you want to end up like your companions", Asteph'theroc told the guard in front of him.

"What....", the guard looked round puzzeled, then blanched white. All that was left of his company were a few pools of blood, entrails and severed limbs, some still attached to the horses they had been riding via the stirups.

The guard ran.

with the aid of the sword Asteph'theroc had handed her, trying to keep her stomach from turning at the way all those men had suddenly just exploded, Mirya gingerly rose to her feet.
Determined not to show weakness before the strange man who had appeared out of the night, she tested her ankle and fell uncerimoniously into a heap of dark green cloth and leather onto the cold ground. Asteph'theroc leapt to her aid with a strange, almost concerned look on his face.

"You shouldn't attempt to walk on that ankle, it is a rather nasty sprain," Asteph'theroc said as he lifted her to her feet and offered his arm for support.

"Bah, it is nothing," Mirya mumbled, obviously wincing in pain.
With a resigned sigh she reluctently took his arm for support, she knew her ankle would give out again if she tried to put any weight on it, but hated having to rely on others.
She was impressed by the quiet strength this stranger held, if - she looked over to the remenants of the palace guard - not by his way of making a point.

"Fortunately we do not need to start our journey immediately. the evils we will be facing take little note of mortal beings conceptions of time. The earth will still turn if we spend a small amount of time to bandage you up," Asteph'theroc said in a mockingly serious tone.

Mirya laughed

"how nice of these unearthly evils to be so considerate of my needs. speaking of unearthly evils, where is that she-devil of horse i had the misfortune of stealing. if it hadn't been for her raging hormones, those guards would have never found us."

it was Asteph'theroc's turn to show a slight smile.

"I think you will find her over there, acquainting herself with one of those war horses. besides, she cannot be all evil, for if not for her "raging hormones" you and i would have never met."

An amused look came over Mirya's face

"Some how i sincerely doubt that." Mirya said, a slight smile forming at the edges of her lips.

"It was fated", replied Asteph'theroc, who then looked rather shocked that he had spoken what was meant to be a private thought aloud.

After an awkward silence, Asteph'theroc lead Mirya over to her horse. Mirya took hold of the pommel on the black mares saddle, handing the guard's sword back she had used as a crutch back to the elfling. He then took a few moments to give the two living warhorses a firm smack on the flank with the flat edge of the broadsword,and to retrieve Mirya's daggers before returning to her side.
She thanked hom, and quickly cleaned the blades on the horses saddle blanket before deftly returning them to various places beneath her cloak.

Asteph'theroc wondered with a small smile how many of these daggers she had hidden about her person. He was also fairly certain he would not like to be in a situation to figure this out.

He lead Mirya and the mare back to the small clearing he had been using as a temporary camp. He tied the horses reigns onto the same tree branch as his own horse, a beautiful blue roan stallion. the black mare knickered a greeting to the grey horse, which merely shook its head in annoyance.
Although he didn't really need a horse, Asteph'theroc travelled on one for the sake of ambiguity. A man travelling on horseback drew much less attention than a man travelling at inhuman speeds on foot. Besides, his horse had proven an interesting companion, if nothing else.

Before taking Asteph'theroc's arm for support again, Mirya took the mare's nose in her hand, and gave the horse a menacing stare.

"you and i are going to have a long talk tomorrow, missy," Mirya said in a stern voice. The horse flickered its ears, bobbed its head, and almost managed to look embarassed. The elfling watched this strange conversation in amusement, his smile fading as Mirya turned her glare upon him.

"Don't look at me, I am not the one chasing down strange male horses," Asteph'theroc responded

Mirya grinned in response, cheerfully taking her new travel companions arm again.

"i think you and i are going to get along just fine, my dear fellow."

Asteph'theroc chuckled as he led her to the tree he had been using to ponder the quest ahead of him before Mirya had unexpectedly burst into the roadside before him. She greatfully lowered herself off her feet, and gave the elfling a thankful look. he responded to her look with a happy smile, and went to work taking off the mares saddle and blanket. when he was finished, he walked to his own saddlebags and produced a linen bandage. Squatting before her, Asteph'theroc carefully worked Mirya's soft leather boot off of her injured ankle. Mirya grimmaced slightly, but in all was taking the pain better than he had expected. despite her feminine form, she was a surprisingly tough woman. as he bandaged the thief's ankle, Asteph'theroc made idle small talk.

"I am sorry, but i do not have a bedroll or anything for tonight."

Mirya gave the elfling a bemused look. "that is quite alright, i have grown accustomed to travelling without such luxuries."

"as have i, travelling light does have its advantages," Asteph'theroc said in a knowing tone. "There we are, all bandaged up. That should remove some of the mobility, at least. It should be better before you know it."

"Gods willing" muttered Mirya,

Asteph'theroc started at that phrase, reaching out and holding her chin whilst staring fiercly into her slightly startled eyes.

"Belief can be a powerful thing", Asteph'theroc spoke firmly to Mirya .
"It is what defines what you call gods, gives them there powers. Disbelief works the same way. Cursing a gods name benefits it as much as a prayer to it will".
"To me the gods mean nothing, I walked this world with my people and many others, before they existed , before they were born out of the mana weave, their parents mortal minds beliefs".
Asteph'theroc paused briefly, his mind considering the possibility that he no longer belived that in light of there recent aid in fighting back HIM, before continuing.
"Subjective reality is the closest you can get to it in normal terms. I do not believe....nor do I disbelive in them, therefore they can have no effect on me. The only way they might inconvience me ... slightly..... is via there mortal followers. If we accomplish our mission, or ...", he paused briefly, then continued with a wry grin,"Gods Willing, we manage to convince them to stop taking a direct hand, we will not have to worry about them interceding with their faithfull for a short while. If the mortal races are to survive what is coming, the only way they can do it is beliving in themselves."
Asteph'theroc paused then, staring at Miryas face.

"What!" exclaimed Mirya, sort of freaked out by the intensity of his fiery golden eyes, as well as his rather theological speech, "it's just a saying".

Asteph'theroc blinked.

"Sorry.... you just remind me of someone from long ago."

Mirya grinned.

"I'll roll you for first watch", she said, changing the subject and producing a couple of dice out of a pouch, "high roll gets first watch".

"Agreed", siad Asteph'theroc, a tiny hint of a smile appearing for a fraction of a second, before his face resumed it's normal unreadable mask.

Mirya rolled first. "Two fives", she grinned, before picking up the dice and swiftly switching them for her low rolling set as she passed them to him, "now you roll....HEY!"

"What", asked Asteph'theroc, "I just rolled a five and a six, I get first watch............ is there a problem?"

Mirya grimaced, she knew he must of cheated somehow, but the only reason she knew was because the dice he now had should have rolled a two and a three. She couldn't argue that one, no matter how good she was at bluffing.

"Ok I get second", she muttered, curling up by the small enclosed fire that Asteph'theroc had got going a few minutes earlier.
"Make sure you wake me", she muttered, glaring at Asteph'theroc.

Mirya hated second watch, you were always shattered by early evening the next day.

"Of course", Asteph'theroc muttered leaning forward, touching her forehead gently, "I won't".

Asteph'theroc pulled his hand back from the now sleeping Mirya. The acceleration he had placed on her natural healing process would last the night and when she woke from her ensorcelled sleep she would also most be as good as new, though she might still feel slight bruising around her ribs.

"Sleep well little one, I have no need", whispered Asteph'theroc, settling his back against a tree, his sword unsheathed across his knees, his eyes fixed on Mirya, awaiting the coming of dawn.

[Edited by RumpleForeskin|PuF on November 25th, 2000 at 04:44 PM]

Cammy
25th Nov 2000, 05:34 AM
"Heavens, whatever could have caused you to have a dream like that?" asked the peasant farmer's wife with deeply knit brows after listening to his accounts of the wild dream he had. "What special significance could all those things possibly bear?"

"I wouldn't have a clue at all," remarked the farmer, shrugging his shoulders. Then he recalled their pregnant cow. "Say, June, has our cow given birth yet?"

"No. Why?"

"I'm thinking of naming the calf she'll bear after the heroine of whom I dreamt…" answered the farmer. "She just struck me as a most noble woman…"

"What?" cried the farmer's wife, eyes going wide. "How could you think of using such an outlandish name for our calf? And besides, that heroine you spoke of died a gruesome death. Would it not therefore be a most inauspicious thing to use her name? Do you want our calf to die like that too, huh? Use your brains, John!"

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

"Oooh…" groaned Wolfram. "What happened?"

"Easy, Wolfram," said Chun-Li. "We and our dragon just got chased out of the city of S'mon Traska by hordes of angry peasants."

"We tried reasoning with them," joined Freyja. "It was useless. The sight of the dragon convinced them that we are the source of all the troubles that have recently occurred in the city. Before long they started confronting us with sticks and stones, and in the commotion you got knocked unconscious. We didn't want to harm any innocent civilians, so we just picked you up and left…"

"Freyja and I actually reached the city last night way in advance of you all," joined Isis, "precisely with a view to visiting the city elders and telling them not to be alarmed upon sighting the dragon. Evidently our words had fallen on deaf ears…"

"I wonder what we shall do now…" sighed Du-de-es-ta. Then he noticed someone was missing. "Say, where's Natalya?"

"She asked me to tell you all she had to leave on account of certain personal matters," answered the elf-thief in a soft voice, as if sorry about something.

He actually had been lying. Even as he told this lie, he fingered the note Natalya had left him in his pocket, in which she cursed him for his sheer stupidity in letting out her being a trainee in the Thieves' Guild. How could he have been so careless? How could he let a moment of elation carry him off like that? He cursed himself endlessly, but it was too late.

"Don't be so downcast, friends," said Rufus. "Maybe we can come over to my -- "

Suddenly the dragon roared loudly, as if in great pain, thrashing its head from side to side. Everyone turned to look at the dragon in shock. "What's going on?" asked the paladin. "Why is the dragon suddenly behaving in this way?" Moy and Doy were so frightened they ran behind Wolfram and the paladin.

"I… I can sense it!" cried the old mage-healer. "Someone somewhere is working some kind of evil magic on the dragon!"

"Yes! I can sense it, too!" confirmed Freyja. Du-de-es-ta quickly reached into his sleeves for his bamboo flute with a view to taming the dragon again with his music. To his horror, he found the flute… broken…

"H-How could this be?" cried Es-ta. "What could have broken my flute?"

The dragon continued to roar for a while. Then it stopped and glared evilly at the adventurers. "Thank you, adventurers!" hissed the dragon. "Thank you for bringing me to this city! Now I can feast upon its thousands of inhabitants! But first I shall start with… all of you!"

The_Dudester
25th Nov 2000, 07:32 AM
<this brings the Ash-en back into sync with everyone else - I'm assuming that Asteph'theroc's battle to deal with "alterations to reality" really happened :)>

The Ash-en and their new allies made significant headway in the next few hours, travelling with a definite direction provided by the necromancer, Von Schwartzentodder.
Tzchee-inki had decided to accept this strange Urnamu's advice and head for the city of S'mon Traska. Obviously something strange was occurring near that city, for Von Schwartzentodder's Zombies to suddenly break from his control (he had only admitted this fact some time into the journey - apparently feeling some embarrasment that such a simple spell could
fail on him).
While they marched, the Hunting-spinners ranging far ahead, invisibly stealthy in their motion, the group's numbers slowly swelled.
The Urnamu Dead-raiser called upon his powers as he walked
beside the Scry-princes (who were curious to investigate this alien magic) and gradually skeletons and zombies began to emerge from the ground beside them, falling flawlessly into step as soon as they were free of the earth's reluctant grip. By the end of the sixth hour, there were as many of the undead as there were Ash-en, although the two groups remained very separate (the undead flanking the spider-people on both sides).
It was at this point that Von Schwartzentodder seemed to relax, a low moan escaping from his lips as he tied off the complex motivating spell which had been formed.
The Scry-princes besiged him respectfully with questions about the process that they had only imperfectly percieved, and the Urnamu happily (though tiredly) tried to answer.

For a while Tzchee-inki listened in on this discourse, learning that the undead were motivated as a whole, not as individuals, which was (the Urnamu cryptically pronounced) both their strength and weakness.
Tzchee-inki thought she understood; being joined as one by the web of his spell, these Urnamu-shells would respond instantly to everything around them - if one were destroyed, all would know of it. Conversely, if the web itself were destroyed, all of the undead caught within it would fall free to the ground and be lost. Feeling she understood all that she needed to, the En-keeper diverted her perception to matters of business, studying the weave of the world nearby...

Quickly, Tzche-inki discovered that the weave was filled with myriad tiny snarls and knots for hundreds of li [approx. 2 leagues]. With this distracting background, it was challenging to uncover the texture and flow of the weave itself...without which even the most simple divinations could not be performed. Even as she observed, more snarls grew up, apparently from nowhere, until the whole of the weave was opaque with twisting torsions.
There was a wrenching feel, a sensation the En-keeper had never experienced before, a sense of two forces battling to unravel the weave and remake it in new patterns.

Suddenly, the feeling passed, almost dreamlike now that it was over, and the tiny snarls had all vanished from the web of life. All but one, which lay a few li ahead on their current path, somewhere near the Urnamu city of S'mon Traska. Tzchee-inki looked around at her entourage, feeling the irrational need to check for any changes amongst them, but it seemed as if no-one else had noticed.
Even the Scry-princes seemed unconcerned, still deep in conversation with the Dead-raiser Von Schwartzentodder.
Something strange was happening, beyond the power of anything Tzchee-inki had ever experienced...

Minutes later, there was a rasping cry, pitched higher than Urnamu ears could hear. The vanguard of Hunting-spinners had discovered something on the path ahead, and had decided to capture it. Anxious to explore any possible connection
to the strange occurances, the En-keeper pushed her allied forces ahead at double pace...

Wolf Blackstar
25th Nov 2000, 11:14 AM
"Curses! I knew it was a bad idea to charm a Red Dragon from the start. They are evil by nature and must never be trusted!" Wolfram gritted his teeth as he surveyed the situation for the best plan of attack.

The dragon laughed out loud, a long, sneering cackle that was heard throughout every street and corner of the city. People on the roads leading to the city gates stopped to gawk at the spectacle. In an attempt to draw the dragon's attack on himself, Wolfram cursed the dragon and his foul ancestors with language that none in the party thought verbally possible, let alone considered using on another being.

The dragon obviously understood, for it ceased its laughter and commenced an assault on Wolfram, spraying him with a long jet of flame. Wolfram leaped to one side and rolled along the ground, the stream of fire scorching trees and bushes as the dragon tracked his movement. He brought himself to his feet just as the fire was upon him. Clutching his shield tightly over his body, he threw himself to one side again, catching some of the blast on the shield. Wolfram could see that the metal surface of the shield was glowing red with heat. As the dragon's breath gave out and it inhaled deeply to attack again, Wolfram darted beneath it and struck one of the taloned legs full force with his sword. The sword struck true, gashing open the leg and causing the dragon to screech in anger.



"A dragon, and a foul red at that!" Sir Damon Vanderwal, the paladin, was one of the first to see the creature, and now was running with all speed to do battle with the creature, his elven companion Qu'ean Quiksilver in tow. His plated boots beat rapidly on the hard and dry surface of the street. The elf trotted lightly alongside, crossbow at the ready and hurriedly reciting a spell as he ran. By this time, the scene had attracted the attention of everyone in the area, as store owners and tavern proprietors stepped out of their establishments to see what had drawn all their customers out to the streets. They too, immediately found themselves rooted to the spot as they stared in amazement. A dragon at the city gates, locked in combat with a small group of adventurers. Fire and steel striking each other. A human in shining full plate armor screaming cries of battle and brandishing a magical blade, and a crossbow-wielding elf chanting a spell frantically as it tried to keep up.

"So much for keeping a low profile" muttered Qu'ean as he finished the spell.

Cammy
25th Nov 2000, 05:13 PM
Seeing the extreme danger of the moment, Du-de-es-ta quickly ran to Chun-Li and handed her the Girdle of Giant Strength.

"I'll distract the dragon a little," said Es-ta hurriedly, "so there'll be some time for you to put this on Wolfram."

"But..." said Chun-Li in hesitation.

"Don't worry, the benedictions of the Right Eye will protect me," said Es-ta, who dashed off to the dragon. "Hey, you fat a$$ dragon! Here!"

The dragon turned to Es-ta and breathed a jet of flame, but he nimbly somersaulted around and avoided the fire, toying with the beast. Chun-Li hurried to Wolfram and put the Girdle around him. "Here, wear this, Wolfram!" she cried.

"What are you doing, my lady?" asked Wolfram, puzzled. Then he felt a terrible surge of superhuman strength course through his body, a godlike strength he had never experienced before...

The_Dudester
25th Nov 2000, 05:27 PM
Tlak-chee and her force of Hunting-spinners watched in amazement as the Urnamu and the scaly lizard-thing fought.
While the lizard-thing seemed incredibly strong, and possessed the ability to breathe fire, it was not obvious that it would win... its opponents were nimble and skilled, managing to avoid almost all of its attacks.
Suddenly, the biggest, brawniest of the Urnamu donned a strangely wrought belt and charged straight at the beast, while others of the two-leggeds distracted it.
Incredibly, the lizard-thing ended up lifted above the Urnamu's head, before being thrown in an arc through the sky. It landed far from the barbarian Urnamu, but only metres from Tlak-chee...
Quickly, she moved into action...with a silent signal, the Hunting-spinners were ordered to converge on the strange beast...quickly wrapping it thickly in their webbing before paralysing it with a bite. Once the lizard-thing was secured, (and so the Urnamu removed from harm), Tlak-chee retreated further into hiding, to observe the Urnamus' reaction to finding the lizard-thing thus disposed of.

Wolf Blackstar
26th Nov 2000, 12:39 AM
The battle had been short but fierce. Immediately after Wolfram had slashed the dragon's leg, it had struck him with its tail, knocking him to the ground and shattering his shield in the process. Wolfram's sword had also been knocked out of his grasp. At that moment, a man had appeared sporting a suit of full plate armor that seemed to shine unnaturally, reflecting more than the sun's light alone. The man sang praises to his god as he leaped upon the creature's back, striking it in the back of the neck with his sword, then leaping off deftly. As the dragon turned its attention to the new assailant, an elf ran in behind the dragon and rolled underneath it. He stopped directly beneath the dragon, and extended his arms, one holding a light crossbow, and the other sporting a small but similar weapon attached to his wrist. He fired both weapons, then rolled just as quickly out from underneath the beast. Roaring in pain and rage, the dragon turned and released a fireball at the elf, who back-flipped out of the projectile's path with ease. The armor-clad knight struck the beast from the other side, and when the dragon retaliated again, the elf launched a series of small lightning bolts from his hand. Then Du-de-es-ta caught the beast's attention next, but he was moving far too fast for the dragon's flames.

This was a perfect distraction, and as the dragon fought back and forth against the explorer, knight and elf, he rose quickly to his feet. It was then that he was offered the belt. Though not understanding the magic in the item, Wolfram wisely made use of the dragon's distraction to slip the mysterious girdle around his waist.

Wolfram looked back just in time to see the dragon's whipping tail catch the elf solidly in the chest, sending him flopping head over heals across the ground until he slammed into the side of the wall. Then the dragon turned to face the paladin and unleashed a wall of fire in his direction.

Sir Damon Vanderwal did not even attempt to flee; he faced the dragon squarely and raised his arms high above his head, looking upward and closing his eyes, his sword held high in defiance and his other hand reaching out to the heavens. Wolfram saw his armor grow even brighter still, the runes and holy symbols that were embossed upon the pauldrons and breastplate phosphorescing with intense light, a second before the man disappeared into the flames.

A savage battle-cry of rage and bloodlust escaped Wolfram as he ran straight towards the dragon and leaped into the air. He caught the red beast in mid-flame as he connected with a solid blow to the side of its head. To Wolfram's surprise, the dragon bellowed in pain and fell back from the force of the blow. Then Wolfram was upon the beast once more, plucking the stunned beast from the ground by its tail and raising it high above himself as he threw the beast with all of his newly summoned supernatural might.

All the people of S'mon Traska were treated to the sight of the huge scaly beast flying backwards through the air, as close an expression of shock and surprise as possible with such a creature plain upon its demonic visage. It plummetted to earth again, vanishing behind a warehouse with a loud, dull *THUMP!*

Wolfram couldn't believe that he had just picked up a dragon and hurled it through the air with his bare hands. He looked down at the belt. The thing was not leather, nor any cloth he had ever seen. It was rough like canvas to the touch, and dark grey in color. Then he understood. In the northern regions, the seafaring Norsayr told legends of such magical items. The girdle had been woven from the beard hairs of a frost giant, giving the wearer strength equal to the giant's.

Wolfram quickly removed his studded leather belt and fastened it over the frost giant girdle, for such items were coveted above all else in the Unrealms. All of the adventurers tensed, expecting at any moment for the furious beast to charge furiously in retalitory rage, but all that came their way was a faint screech, then silence.

Wolfram turned to the newcomers. The elf had recovered quickly from the blow and was reloading his crossbows with a second set of poisoned quarrels.The paladin, despite having been the focal point of a dragon's searing breath firestorm, was on his feet and appeared unhurt, his armor not even charred in the least manner. "Well met, my friend! Damon Vanderwal's the name, a paladin of the noble Cavaliers of Light. My companion, Qu'ean Quicksilver."

"Call me Wolfram. How did you survive the fire?" Damon smiles and explains. "A Paladin must live by his faith and faith alone; in return, he is granted special abilities, especially in the face of such evil. Greetings also to you, sir, and to you, my lady." The paladin introduces himself courteously to Du-de-es-ta and Chun-Li.

"I hate to interrupt the forming of new friendships..." says Qu'ean, "...but should we not see if yon foul monster is dead yet?" There is a strong tone of sarcasm in the elf's voice. "At once" says the paladin, and Wolfram is in no mindset to argue. They immediately make their way through the gawking crowds and head out to the warehouse.

They approached swiftly and silently. Wolfram took the direct route from the south edge, The paladin cutting in from the northern side, blocking the easiest route of escape. Chun-Li and Du-de-es-ta approached from the east, and Qu'ean Quicksilver placing himself on the most strategic point possible from the west - the roof of the warehouse.

What they saw was not what they had expected at all, and brought about surprise for all.

Cammy
26th Nov 2000, 05:54 PM
(I thought Wolfram et al had already been acquainted with the paladin and the elf-thief before? :confused: Well, never mind...)

To their surprise, they just managed to catch sight of several spider-like creatures scampering towards the dragon at lightning speed and wrapping him all up in webs before giving him a bite and dashing off again. The bite seemed to have an immediately noticeable effect on the dragon -- it caused him to grow still...

"W-What were... those things?" asked Rufus to himself.

In the distance, hidden in the shadows, the Ash-en watched on intently. They had never tried taking on a creature of this size and this nature before; would their web and venom work against him?

Their qualm just received an answer as the dragon started to stir again, slightly at first, then with greater determination. The adventurers stepped backwards. Isis and Freyja looked at each other with shocked realization, then quickly proceeded to call upon the curious onlookers to leave. "Back off, all of you! Back off! The dragon might break out again soon!"

Then there was a loud tearing sound as the dragon burst free from his web casing, rearing his angry head, eyes glowing with rage. "You've really made me angry, human fools... Now I shall destroy all of you!"

[Edited by Cammy on November 27th, 2000 at 04:49 AM]

Wolf Blackstar
26th Nov 2000, 11:48 PM
On a road traversing the Deserts of Doom and Despair, less than seven leagues from S'mon Traksa, Jrathek the slave trader sat proudly at the head of his caravan. Riding on the back of an elephant, the slave lord looked proudly over his shoulder at the long line of camels and carts that followed. What a profit he would glean from the merchants of S'mon Traska with so many fresh slaves and beasts!

Jrathek's greedy mind was already calculating the rewards from such a "crop." He had traveled far and wide in search of such a boon, the sale to end all slaving runs, and now at last it had come. After years of following conflicts and battles, Jrathek would make offers to the victorious forces concerning the sale of their prisoners of war. He then sold them at exorbitant prices in S'mon Traska, where the rich lords and land owners were more than capable of meeting Jrathek's costs. Jrathek did wonderful business in the slums as well, for guildmasters and powerful assassins were in constant need of fresh victims for their spectacles and gladiatorial bloodsports, whether for public display of power, or personal use.

Jrathek took in the splendor of his shipment of flesh, caring nothing for the fate of those who made up his profits. Surrounded on all sides by his personal guard, powerful warriors all, he had taken great pains to insure that none rob him of his precious goods. Jrathek paid top coin for their services, but they had never been defeated and proved well worth the extra gold. Soon, Jrathek would be rich beyond his wildest dreams. Nothing would stop his precious cargo from reaching his destination.


Or so the human thought.....


It was early morning, though the sun's light had barely crested the dunes. The shadows were losing their dominance, but for now they held sway. It was a deceptive hour, for the tall, rocky outcroppings that pockmarked the dry landscape blocked the sun's light in many places. The guards were wary and apprehensive, but nothing could have prepared them for what was about to happen.

In fact, Jrathek saw it first, because he had been meant to see it. In vain he cried out, but his men were already dead. The first line was cut down in less than a second, the last man to be struck dying before the lifeles body of the first fell to the ground. An archer on one of the carts raised his bow, but was cut in half by a sword that came spinning through the air from seemingly nowhere. The slave convoy was under attack from both sides.

Jrathek's guards ran out to meet the threat. Some human, others half-orc and ogrish creatures, all were cut down with deadly speed and terrifying finality. Those who fought were struck down; those who turned to flee were stabbed in the back. Jrathek cringed in terror as he finally saw his assailants. A black-cloaked figure brandished a sword in either hand; he turned and spun about, dancing among the thugs with deadly ease. He struck not only with his blades, but with the backsides of their pommels and his flying feet as well, crushing blows followed instantly by the killing cut or thrust of steel.

Blood spattered the side of Jrathek's face and he turned to see more of his guard being slaughtered like swine. A woman in leather and chain mail swung a massive two-handed sword over her head, striking with force easily sufficient to sunder her foes in pieces. Tall, well proportioned and strikingly beautiful, yet deadly and lethal at the same time, she moved with ungodly speed and precision as she butchered the last remaining guards. Most disturbing was the expression on her face; she was smiling.

Within minutes, it was over. Jrathek's horde had never stood a chance. The black cloaked figure sheathed his gory blades and pulled the cowl back from his head; the light was enough to show clearly the black skin and silvery white hair of a drow elf. Jrathek nearly froze in shock, for he recognized the face all too well. He slapped the reins of his panic-ridden elephant in an attempt to escape. Instead, he was dumped to the ground as the frightened animal lurched forward in fear, running with all speed and leaving him face to face with his tormentors.

"My dear Jrathek," the drow spoke slowly. "You seem so surprised to see me again." Jrathek backed away in the sands, only one word escaping his trembling lips. "No.......No........"
"Oh, yes." The drow smiled as he began to advance slowly, one of his blades appearing swiftly and silently in his right hand. The woman stood off to one side and remained silent, but her eyes were locked on Jrathek as if feeding on his very fear, relishing his terror. Clearly it would be unwise to attempt any course of action, but Jrathek knew he was already dead, and he reached behind himself, drawing a jeweled scimitar and lashing out in primal fear and rage. The drow smiled and nodded to the woman, who stepped forward to meet the assault.

Jrathek swung with all the force he could muster. The woman didn't even draw her sword, but deflected his blow with the bracer on her right forearm. Then her hand snaked over the blade and siezed his own in an iron grip. Pulling him forward with her arms, she kicked him savagely, dislocating his right arm at the shoulder and landing him disarmed and in pain at the drow's feet.

"Now that you've met Taria, we can get down to business." The drow picked up the flailing Jrathek in one arm and pressed his blade to the man's chest. "The slaves.....take them, you'll be rich...." Jrathek sputtered. "I'm not interested in your slaves, Jrathek; they can rot here in their cages for all I care. No, Jrathek, you'll not buy your way out of it this time. I have come only for my revenge."

Jrathek screamed as the sword pierced his flesh slowly.

"You see, it takes more than a Sand Mauler pit to kill me. I slew the beasts with my bare hands that day, and swore an oath of vengeance upon you. It is fitting that after all these years of searching for you, I find that you are still the same spineless scum you were when you betrayed me, and know you get to die as such."

Jrathek screeched again as the blade pressed in again. The drow knew exactly what he was doing, and the sword was driving directly into one of Jrathek's ribs.

"You do remember my name, don't you, Jrathek?" The sword stopped its slow thrust.

Jrathek gasped for breath, then he hissed out faintly, one word, his last. The name of the drow.

"Dhakhath."

The drow slammed the blade forward suddenly, smashing through the ribs and skewering Jrathek's heart, the weapon's hilt slamming against the man's chest with a heavy thud. He lifted his sword arm, suspending Jrathek in air as he the last of his life force left him in spasmic jerking motions of the body, then angled the blade downward and let the now lifeless corpse drop down to the sand.

The sun now lit the desert clearly; Dhakhath wiped clean the blades of his weapons, then pulled his cowl over his head and set off across the sands, Taria following close behind.

Jrathek's blood drained into the sands. The desert winds began to howl over the dunes, almost echoing the sound of the dark elf's name.

Dhakhath.



[Edited by Wolf Blackstar on November 27th, 2000 at 01:17 AM]

LordKhaine
27th Nov 2000, 06:07 PM
{You wanted an evil person, your getting one:)}


<Cue dramatic music>

And so the scene is set, a small isolated village, where business was as usual for a cold winter’s day……



….The village blacksmith set about fixing farmer Pindles spade.

“Ok laddie, give the bellows a good blow, we’ll need this here fire to be hot as the fires of hell for this job.”

The smithy’s apprentice obeyed the smithy, and soon the fire was burning a hot white colour. The smith donned his thick leather gloves and picked up the spade. He held it up to take a close look at it.

“Yep, looks like old farmer Pindle found another rock, he does have a talent for finding these here rocks, now if we can just knock this here bit a little further this way… You see lad?”

The apprentice nodded as he watched the smith do his work. He so longed for a more exciting life, surely there was more to life than fixing spades?…..


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


…..And so the scene changes, we move but a short distance to the hills, where dark forces are stirring…

The silence of the wood, is shattered by the sound of approaching creatures. Had the smiths apprentice been here to witness this army of darkness, he would have longed for the life of the smithy.

At the front of the force, were drow horsemen, scouting ahead of the main force, their mighty dark steeds moving like shadows, with the grace of a cat.

A short time after the drow passed, the main force could be seen, it was a terror inspiring sight. The drums thundered, and the warcrys echoed for miles, numerous banners and flags were held aloft. Ranks upon ranks of undead warriors strode onwards, marching in a tight formation along the road. All of them equipped with rusty armour and weaponry, several leaders wielded swords of magical origin. Here and there could be seen Wrights and zombies, the eyes of which glowed with a dark, unholy light.

Behind the undead strode the orcs and their various sub races, the animosity of the orcs a huge contrast to the rigid, inhuman discipline of the undead. Here and there could be seen huge orc champions, bullying their underlings into order. At least 2 dozen stone trolls could be seen amidst the orcs, at least 10 foot tall, with muscles bulging underneath craggy skins.

It was behind the orcs, that the man army was located, a vast mass of humanoid races, all armed with crude but effective weapons, humans mixed with beastmen, half-orcs with goblins, evil with evil. These, creatures, held nothing in common but their desire to inflict pain and suffering on the weak. Located behind these creatures, dark war engines were pulled by dark steeds, boars, and even a few giants.

At the very back were the heavy cavalry, dressed in dark, twisted armours, studded with spikes and cruel barbs, evil magical weapons glowed in the darkness, numerous mages and shamans rode amongst them.

Another band of drow horsemen passed by, armed with bows and insidious daggers, one of the horsemen held high a banner, displaying unholy satanic symbols, glowing bright red in the darkness. The darkness that followed this army likes a curse, leaving nought by death and misery behind…..


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


…High above the main force, flew a dark dragon, its sleek body cutting threw the air with ease. Its dark scales had a metallic hint to them. This beast was a grand sight, but its rider was even more impressive. On this dragon, rode perhaps the most evil and twisted entirety on this planet, Tzarina, daughter of Bhaal. Though she is the offspring of a god, she is still mortal, though you would not have thought so from her appearance.

Tzarina is a pale human, adept in the art of magic, specialising in the art of necromancy, the magic of death and life. Her magical powers were clear to see, as her eyes glowed a bright, piercing blue, a gaze that appeared to penetrate into the very mind itself. In her hand was a sword, upon which an unholy flame burned, her robes were dark purple, with hints of blue and yellow, and bellowed out behind her. Strange symbols on the robes seemed to change shape before the very eye, and a magic amulet round her neck radiated a metallic blue aura.

She looked down at her advancing army as it advanced along the forest path, heading through a small village. The screams and cry’s rose up from the village, as the drow reached the village folk. She laughed satanically, and dug her heels into the dragon, swooping towards the village. Another town to be consumed by darkness she thought to herself……..

Jing
29th Nov 2000, 03:45 AM
On another continent, far far away...

A man, on a grassy knoll. Before his kneeling figure lies a most ornate cross, the resting place of someone dear to him. He clenches his hand tightly around a pendent. His eyes are closed, lost in pain and memories of another time.

"Garrison, the power to bestow life and death is the ultimate power. Watch and understand..." A cloaked figure raises gauntleted hands into the air amidst a raging battle. Intricate runes of magic cover his ornate silver gauntlets, bracers, and armor. The hood hides his face, but not the intense, evil glow of his orange eyes. Another, the one addressed as Garrison, raises his hands into the sky in response. It can be no coincidence that beneath his tattered white robes, his body is a perfect silver, as if his body were molded and cast of that metal. The only break, aside from his golden eyes, comes from a cross over his left eye, also gold.

The man lays roses of the purest red color down by the tombstone. "I've come to say goodbye...When you were in the world and by my side, you lent me your strength, your patience, your calm. But now... I can feel myself slipping. The rage and anger you fought so hard to bury, my promise..."

"Clael, what foul magic is this? What do you think you are doing?" The wizard's hood slips down, revealing the face behind the burning eyes. A maniacal grin greets the world with insanity, "You are nothing more than an obstacle to me Garrison, an inconvenient rock lying upon the path to enlightenment. I will remove you. Know the pain of watching a loved one die, and being unable to help..." A few yards away, a female clothed in robes of brilliant crimson red ran towards Clael, a war-hammer held in one hand. Clael, unruffled, turns to face her. "You know Garrison, after this I will don the helmet I made, and you will be my slave. But I want you to see this with your own eyes." The strain is evident on Garrison's face, but he cannot resist as his body is compelled to turn and draw a massive broadsword. His anguished voice shouts, "Rose! Nooooo!"

A tear waters the earth. "If only I had listened earlier... And that promise is all that keeps me from slipping into insanity. But now... now I am afraid, so very afraid of breaking my promise... of becoming..."

Another voice cuts in. "The man whom you were. The man whom you were meant to be, and whom you will always be!"

It is as if time has slowed to an infinitesimal crawl. Every detail is painful enhanced and perceived with crystal clarity. The sound of his sword piercing Rose's body, the sound of breaking bone and tearing flesh. The widening of her eyes, the small sound of pain Rose makes, the evil laughter of Clael. Every tiny detail of that moment forever drawn out into eternity, burned into his mind's eye.

Garrison, with his eyes filled with tears and his heart filled with pain, turns his head, the only part of him he can still control, to face Clael. Garrison's eyes burn with unspeakable rage and hatred... His eyes glow brighter and brighter as they accumulate cosmic, living energy... the cosmic blast fueled by his pain engulfs Clael, incinerating all of his enchanted armor and knocking Clael senseless... and further obliterates a score of warring soldiers.

The grieving man's eyes narrow, and his head turns at the sound of this new voice. "Maestro! How dare you!?"

"It has been a long time Garrison. The city needs you; prepare yourself, and I will explain along the way."

Garrison pauses for a moment, and studies the man named Maestro, his mentor and the leader of the Martial Paladins. His bald head is covered in tattoos and scars, belying years of experience... experience gained from action, as his sole left arm can testify to. His pure white eyes stare with an intensly at Garrison, as if evaluating his former pupil's soul. "I'm sorry Maestro, but that's not my problem."

"Oh, but it is. Enhanced criminals escaped from Skyhold last night. Criminals you put away, who have declared war on the city Garrison. If you do not show, they will raze the city."

The emperor glanced up from the scroll at Maestro, "This is the list of the criminals who escaped from Skyhold?"
"Yes. The lesser ones were quickly reclaimed, or killed at our outposts. However, a handful of enhanced criminals escaped, killing a dozen of the Mentu - their psychic jailors. They were last sighted moving in this direction - towards the capital city."
"I see. And at a time when we are without our heros. Of these enhanced criminal, Maestro, which should we be most concerned with?"
"Frankly sir? All of them."
"Then we must redouble our efforts to find Wolfram. Is there any news of his sister, Vanilla?"
"Only that she left on a quest to search for him; she left when the few survivors of the crusade returned but Wolfram did not. What details we have are sketchy at best..."

"I just told you. Find someone else; I'm retired."
With a surprising speed belying his massive body, Maestro backhands Garrison, sending him sprawling, then picks him up and negligently flings him against a large oak tree.
"You self-centered fool! I have had enough of your wallowing self-pity. Have you forgotten all that I have taught you? What it means to be a Martial Paladin? You will remember, if I have to beat it into you!"
Garrison rises to his feet, somewhat unsteadily, and spits blood on the ground. "I remember well my lessons. But I had to learn on my own, that we only harm the ones we love; sometimes, the greatest blows are struck from within."

Maestro snorts. "We all have our crosses to bear Garrison..." With a single, fluid motion, Maestro draws his bastard sword out, through the cross headstone of Rose's grave, and back into its scabbard. "But this one is not for you. Your hands are no more cursed than this sword... or your destiny. And you may bury your pain and your past... but you cannot hide from your destiny." The headstone crumbles away to reveal a large ornate broadsword. It's jetblack blade gleams softly from what meager light breaks through the mist... blood red runes cover the surface of the blade and the intricate gold crosshilt.

"Garrison, there will not peace for you until you return to the path of your destiny. And I do understand your pain. That is why I am here. In an hour's time, hundreds more will share your pain, countless innocents left to mourn their loved ones. You can stop that from happening."

Garrison, kneeling by the grave, looks up at the sword, his face a mixture of pain, sorrow, hesistance.

"Look not upon this sword as a curse Garrison...but instead, as your salvation!"

Wolf Blackstar
29th Nov 2000, 04:35 PM
Wolfram watched the dragon break free of the webbing that the spider-like creatures had bound about its body. Obviously the beast still had plenty of fight in him yet. But a new wave of confidence washed over him as he felt the powerful energies of the frost giant girdle flowing through his body. Though his shield had been destroyed, he had recovered his sword, and even now his eyes searched out the weak spots on the back of the dragon's head and neck, and it's soft underbelly. He felt like he had fought numerous creatures such as this one before, but how or from where he knew he possessed this knowledge was a mystery.

The dragon reared up to full height, preparing to explode into a raging fury upon the adventurers. As it did so, however, it brought its head within mere feet of the elf on the warehouse roof. Qu'ean was not one to pass up such an opportunity, and with a light twang he sent two poisoned quarrels from his crossbows flying true, striking the dragon in a chink of the scales on its neck, delivering their blight into the vein beneath.

The enraged creature lashed out at Qu'ean with its huge teeth, but in doing so, it stumbled slightly, and the resulting attack came clumsily and very easy for the elf to evade.

The poison. Not just the deadly ichor that coated the elf's bolts, but the spider creatures had been biting the dragon when he was on the ground. The dragon had powerful resistance, but it was evident that it had weakened him considerably. Wolfram decided to exploit this immediately, and threw himself upon the dragon with renewed strength and vigor. His sword stroke had immediate effect on the dragon, which retaliated with a different attack. The beast's huge wings suddenly began flapping, and though the flesh upon them had been torn away in several places when the dragon had been thrown, they still moved the air with tremendous force. Wolfram was struck by this great gust of wind, and found himself bouncing backwards and rolling on the ground.

The paladin seemed to know what was coming next, because he began muttering a prayer, something that Wolfram couldn't quite hear clearly. Sir Damon Vanderwal closed his eyes and raised his arms skyward, and called upon divine protection. Wolfram watched as a brilliant sheen surrounded the paladin, sparkling magical energy thatWolfram knew would help him resist fire. But then he saw the same magical essence shining upon the Chun-Li and Du-de-es-ta, and the elf as well - and he looked down at himself and saw the same light shining upon him.

The dragon released a massive orb of pure fire that incinerated the warehouse to its bare framework, leaving a burning husk in its place. The orb expanded outwards and scorched the grass on the gound in all directions. The center of the fiery explosion was created where the five adventurers had stood moments before.

Cap'n Beeb
29th Nov 2000, 05:54 PM
While riding through the woods today, I saw a strange occurence. A series of beams of light shot down from the skies and maintained their position without moving an inch. A few seconds afterwards, a great and enourmous explosion occured. Thinking quickly, I raced into a nearby cave and waited for the explosion to stop. After quite some time, it did. I poked my head out of the mouth of the cave, and saw PEOPLE in the beams of light! Not knowing what to do next, I grabbed my axe and approached the people...

The_Dudester
30th Nov 2000, 03:29 AM
As the flames died down around them, and fragments of wood began to fall from the sky whence they had been cast, the adventurers were amazed to find themselves completely unharmed. The cost of this seemed high for the Paladin however, who had fallen to one knee from the exhaustion of creating the protective spell.

Meanwhile, the Dragon hovered nearby, flanked on one side by a large tower which had miraculously managed to escape the destruction. It seemed confused as well as poisoned now, and it wavered certainly as it discovered its failure. Slowly, it drew back its head for another blast...

...to its side, the windows at the top of the stone tower shattered, revealing several score skeletons. Moving with perfect, inhuman, speed and co-ordination, they leapt across on to the Dragon's back, and began attacking the base of its wings with a wide range of ancient and rusting weapons.
Distracted from its attack, the Dragon reared and bucked to throw its assailants off, but with mechanical efficiency the skeletons continued unabated...the Dragon slowly losing power in its wings until, suddenly, it fell from the sky with a resounding thud, which threw the undead scattered for some distance.
Relentlessly, they picked themselves up and marched upon the now seriously injured creature. Some were baked with flame from the lizard's smoking maw, but this scarcely seemed to slow them.

It seemed as if the Dragon's fate was sealed...

Cammy
1st Dec 2000, 03:35 AM
(Note: If you don't like this post -- if you judge it's going to seriously affect what you have in mind for the story -- then please ignore it. Please just carry on the story just as if this post hadn't been here at all. Really, I mean it. :))

The numerous injuries sustained by the dragon finally began to tell upon it, and it collapsed heavily on its side.

"P-Please..." pleaded the dragon. "Spare me... I promise I'll never harm any humans again..." The advancing skeletons seemed to understand, as they stopped advancing.

"How are we to know you'll keep your promise?" interrogated a skeptical paladin, eyeing the skeletons every now and then with cautious suspicion, like the other adventurers.

Freyja stared hard at the dragon for a while. Sparkles could be seen in her eyes, and Rufus looked at her with fascination.

"I've searched the dragon's mind," she said. "He's sincere about it."

"I... can continue to serve you all as a mount..." croaked the dragon pathetically. "And I can also give you a powerful magical item as a token of my intention to keep my word..."

Chun-Li felt sorry for the dragon. "Come, Wolfram, let's give the poor dragon a chance. I think he's learnt his lesson."

"All right," relented Wolfram. "But what's that magic item you spoke of?"

The dragon coughed hard several times -- and finally spat out a large red gem from its mouth. Du-de-es-ta's eyes went wide with surprise and excitement. "H-How could this be?" he exclaimed. "It's... It's the Left Eye of the Golden Dragon!"

Wolf Blackstar
2nd Dec 2000, 12:27 AM
Note:Isis and Freyja, though somewhere in the city, seperated themselves from the party several posts ago.


"First things first," said Wolfram, and facing the dragon, he raised his sword menacingly over his head. The dragon cringed in fear, but at the last second, Wolfram turned the blade away from the creature's head and struck it squarely on the skull with his gauntleted fist. The dragon's head slumped to the floor, unconscious. "That's a start in ensuring you keep your promise."

Damon Vanderwal picked himself up from the ground, recovering his strength. He was only now beginning to master sharing his auras with others, and despite its effect on him, he was pleased to see that it had successfully fended off the flames.

Wolfram looked up from the dragon. Before him stood what lloked like a massive army of creatures. Half of them he recognized as skeletal warriors and mages, a common sight in the realms. Though they roamed freely as undea, and were sometimes dangerous, Wolfram had been quick to notice the unity of their assault on the dragon. Had they been acting naturally, undead were usually in the company of dragons or demons. Wolfram also noticed their non-aggressive stance now; with their primary target neutralized, the skeletons simply stood still, their weapons and arms moving slowly, but not at the ready.

But it was not the skeletons that put Wolfram on edge; rather it was the equally large number of many-legged, spiderlike creatures that made up the other half of the host of creatures.

Suddenly Qu'ean Quicksilver appeared, and striding forward without fear, but in an unthreatening manner, he spoke to Wolfram, saying "I'm gonna try talking to them" before moving ahead of him and into their midst.

Jing
2nd Dec 2000, 04:47 PM
King Valedon stood in the war room, looking over the map of his realm. Outpost Zeta was a dark circle. It had been destroyed by the escaped criminals.

"That's quite a predicament you're in...I can make it much worse for you..."

The King turned quickly. Floating outside the balcony was a strange man - his entire body was translucent, a dull grey color covering a blood red interior. He had no distinguished features, as if his body were made of jelly; every now and then parts of his body quivered, a pseudo pod formed, but was quickly reabsorbed.

"Do not speak, Lord for I come with an offer to save your precious city and it's pathetic people. We have only one demand: the Martial Paladin who hunted us down like dogs. Give him to us, and we will spare you city. What do you think Valedon? One man for the lives of countless innocents - quite a bargain, don't you agree?"

King Valedon spoke with clenched fists and suppressed rage, "You know I can't do that."

"Then if you'll excuse me Highness," said the figure, as it began to speed away, "We have a city to burn!"

The King stood silent for a moment, then motioned for his page. "Call for Captain Clavius."

Wolf Blackstar
2nd Dec 2000, 07:56 PM
Wolfram suddenly felt a dull pain in the side of his head as the elf passed by to speak with the spiders. It was not severe, but he couldn't ignore it. Sheathing his sword, he sat down gingerly on the dusty earth, resting his back against a large rock. This didn't seem to make the pain any better though; in fact, it seemed to intensify with every second. Suddenly everything around him went dark.....



The skies were beautiful that day. The clouds were pure white and silver in color, and the sun was high above even the tallest of them. It was hardly a scene befitting the clash that was even now taking place. Two islands floated in the sky, castles and towers crowning their precipices. The two strongholds dueled; boulders, arrows, crossbow quarrels, bolts of magical energy, and vats of flaming oil flew back and forth between the opposing sky fortresses. A large number of flying creatures circled above like birds of prey, seeking a weakness in their opponents side, waiting to strike.

Dragons.

Ahead of him, he recognized the castle of their ancient enemy. It's brimstone-colored walls were topped with stone carven demons and monsters. The standards on its turrets bore the bones and skulls of his fallen comrades, alongside banners displaying symbols of unholy power and magic. Evil red dragons took flight from its gates and commenced their assault.

He was leaving from his own stronghold, which bore the standards of the iron eagle on its towers. Silver dragons had been sortied to meet the evil reds in combat. It took him a moment to realize that he was actually watching himself, and that he was seeing into the past, or what he remembered of it.


Wolfram sat on the silver dragon's back. All told, a group of six rode upon the magnificent creature's back, but Wolfram held the reins and spoke directly to the creature, guiding and commanding it in flight. Wolfram was clad in gleaming segmented plate arnor, which had been forged of the finest metal, an alloy of the finest elven steel and dwarven mithril. The glowing runes incorporated into its shoulders told of its magical nature. The armor was lighter than leather, for it was magically blessed, and usable only by himself. Slung into scabbards were twin bastard swords which also seemed to be rune weapons in nature.

Directly behind him sat a wizard dressed in the traditional arch mage's robe and clutching a staff in his hand. The staff was embedded with a series of gemstones which sent pulses of magical energy along its length. The wizard's other hand was tightly embracing the straps which held him in place on the dragon's back; Wolfram seemed to find this amusing. Most magic users he had known spent all their time locked away pouring over scrolls or scrying orbs and rarely got a taste of the fighter's life. But here, the lines were drawn between good and evil, and all had to take the fight to the enemy.

Next on the dragon was a female cleric, who wore what seemed to be holy chainmail, for it radiated with divine essence and cast a calming blue light upon Wolfram and his comrades, which increased their concentration in the battle which raged around them. She was armed with a shield and a flail, and also had a belt that was stocked with healing potions and scrolls.

Behind her was seated a huge mountain of a man. He wore very little armor, but in contrast, his body seemed to be chiseled from stone. There was no fear in his eyes or anywhere on his bearded face, which clearly displayed his orc heritage; on the contrary, he was singing. In each hand he held a broad-faced axe, and his belt and shoulder straps held many more, some of them throwing weapons.

The woman behind the half-orc carried a sword on her back but wore no armor. No bracers protected her arms, and her hair flowed freely in the wind. She wore a silken dress that was imbued with magical protections, for fighter-mages could not cast spells with the burden of armor.

The leather-clad elf that sat in the back faced rearwards. He held a massive crossbow in his hands, yet he handled it with ease. It was clear that he was to defend the dragon from aerial assaults by other flying creatures.


Wolfram led the dragon into the battle, speaking gently to it, and keeping a firm hand on the reins. wolfram was flanked on eiither side by several more war parties also riding on silver dragons, but the enemy forces outnumbered his own by at least three to one, fielding both red and black dragons mounted by cambions, undead, liches and dark mages, knights, and archers of their own. In addition the dragons were reinforced by a large number of smaller demons and other creatures capable of flight.

But the differences in tactics was obvious from the beginning of the battle. The evil hordes fought by sheer brute force, concentrating as much firepower as possible on one foe at a time, while Wolfram's dragons fought in pairs and fours, each covering and checking the others, which helped make up for their numerical disadvantage.

A red settled on their tail and followed them closely, spewing red fireballs in an attempt to bring them down. A trio of liches fired a series of death spells at them, but the cleric wa able to nullify their effect. the elf shot two of them off with his crossbow and the barbarian sent spinning an axe that lodged squarely in the head of the third. The wizard cast a spell that turned one of the dragon's wings to stone, and the beast fell to earth helplessly.

Wolfram smashed his way through the enemy creatures, his own dragon unscathed, but sending six more red and black dragons down and slaying their riders. Suddenly, he handed the reins to the fighter-mage woman, and leapt from the back of the magnificent silver creature - directly into the courtyard of the brimstone castle beneath. Swords singing in his hands, he danced among the undead and demonic legions, cutting them down like harvested wheat. But where every demon met its death, more seemed to take its place, and he found himself fighting endlessly against an unyielding foe. He moved powerfully and swiftly, spinning and leaping in his attacks, striking each monster seven times in the time it would take most men to strike once, connecting with his boots, pommels and fists as well as his blades. Still the demons continued to reappear.

Then he heard something, a voice, calling his name. "Wolfram!!" He fought on in the direction of that sound, even though it seemed his vision was dimming now. He was covered in blood, his face, his hands and arms, even his armor, though still shining magnificently, it seemed almost defiled by the quantity of blood that drenched it. His boots seemed to be filled to their tops with blood, every step seemed to soak his feet in it. The blood of undead and demon covered him from head to toe.....

"Wolfram!"................ all turned to blackness..........

"Wolfram! are you alright? You passed out."

Gradually, Wolfram became aware of the present again, though he wished he knew more of what he had been seeing...

Jing
4th Dec 2000, 02:58 AM
The King looked out over his city from the balcony. Already the outer fringes of the city were burning. The brigands started from the outside of the town, and moved inwards, a common pressuring tactic. "And that Clavius, is where the situation stands. Your orders are to blockade the city. Your men are to assist the wounded; THey are not to engage the enemy, is that clear?"

"Forgive me Sire, but I do not understand. We are many, while they are few. Why sho--"

"Silence. Did you gain your rank by questioning orders, captain?"

"No, of course not Sire. I meant no disrespect."

"Make haste. The people call out to us now."

"At once sire!"

At the edge of town, Foxlam, the younger sister of the missing Wolfram, looked on with surprise. She and her new companions, Alita (who claimed to be a warrior-priest, but whom Foxlam suspected was a Seraphim [ed note: she's not, i will expand on these two later; I know how touchy we all are on the subject of divinites ;) ]) and Calibretto (a War Golem of old), had come to the city to purchase supplies for their trek to the north in search of Wolfram. Foxlam's recent experiences had been no less startling than Wolfram's.

Nearly 6 months ago, the King's mages detected a vast disturbance... every mana pool was unstable for a week. Those who ventured to brave the instabilities became withered husks... which rose from the grave the next day as powerful Ghouls. A magical contsruct which was sent to probe one mana pool came back and displayed what it had observed. The magi who watched were stricken with insanities, fearing the light and casting powerful magics against clerics who came to heal and calm them. When the much reduced imperial magery council was finally able to determine the cause, the plan for a holy crusade was set forth. Drawing upon the best of the realm, while leaving some few elite for defense, the crusade set forth to destory the source of evil, which had been pinpointed in the north.

Three months ago, the mad wizard Clael and his small army attacked the wedding of the Martial Paladin Garrison. His wife killed by his hands under the domination of Clael. Clael was rendered unconcious and placed in Skyhold, a prison for the supernaturally powerful - a band of psychics called the "Mentu" hold the inamtes in prison by sheer force of will. Garrison announces his retirement a day later. Of the attending knights and gaurdsmen, a third are injured - there are few casualties.

A month ago, a tenth of the crusading forces returned from the north, demoralized but in good shape - it is suspected that these soldiers deserted, though some saw action. They bring tales of great evil and dark magics sent against them. Over the next week, a stragglers return to the city in varying condition; they bring the survivor count to 3/10ths the original force. There is no sign of any more survivors after that, or of Wolfram, a general and hero who was sent with the Dragon riders. During that week, a magic box that Wolfram left behind for Foxlam opens. The note left with it mentions that it would only open in the direst of cases .

Inside the box is a finely wrought silver warhammer. Taking this weapon in hand, Foxlam set off to find her brother. That same day, a band of thieves attempts to steal the hammer from Foxlam. They are stopped by the War Golem Calibretto and the Warrior Priestess Alita. They decide to set out together to the northern lands to find Wolfram and see the great evil, stopping first at the Imperial City for supplies.

Which brings them to the present. In front of a burning city.

"hmmzzt. i am currently scanning for the source of hostile activity. alita, all these attacks seem to be originating from a single magic user." Calibretto's optics settle on the figure floating above the city. A maniacal grin graces his face as he sends blast after blast of dark energy into the city, setting off fires, explosions, and death cries.

Alita looked upwards, eyes scanning the sky. "I see him. Alright, you two try to find a safe place while I deal with this nut. Don't go getting yourselves hurt now while I'm gone..." A pair of ethereal wings sprout from her back; they appear to be made of some sort of green energy but appear his feathered wings, as one might expect an angel to have. Quickly, she takes to the air and speeds towards the assailant.

Foxlam looked around, and spotted a building which had caved in. "C'mon 'Bretto, we gotta help these people...there could be someone trapped under that rubble!"

"hmmzt. alita told us to stay out of danger. she will be angry if..."

There was, however, little point. Foxlam was already clearing away the rubble with the war hammer. "Stop babbling and give me a hand already! I was right! I can see someone..."

Inside the house, huddles on the floor was a young woman dressed in old, tattered rags and a fine woolen cloak. Platinum hair peaked out from underneath the hood, and her eyes had a dazed quality to them. She whispers, a hoarse sound, "...please....run...away....."

Foxlam moved forward, offering her hand, "It's okay, we're gonna get you out of here. You're safe now..."

"..no...I came here...to...hide....please....go...." She raise her arm to her face, as if chilled suddenly, or afraid of being beaten... on her arm is a jeweled bracerm intricate and very old.

"Gosh miss, that's a pretty bracelet you've got!"

Suddenly, the ground erupts, throwing Foxlam back into Calibretto's massive hands [note: as a war golem, Calibretto is a 12ft metal construct... he has massive arms and hands, as well as a massive body in general]. A giant red Efreeti seems to explode out of the ground... gold bands around it's arms mark it's bondage, while it's four red eyes gleam with pure rage. "You Find Bulgrim's prison to be appealing, do you? You might not think so child, were you forced to [i]SPEND AN ETERNITY WITHIN IT!"

Elsewhere...
Alita spied the hovering assailant ahead... dressed in dark robes, his translucent grey on red body was nearly indistinguishable from the robe, save his blood red eyes. He was throwing beams of darkness downwards into the city, laughing with glee and counting "34...35.....36...."

Alita stood at ready, hovering in the air as well. With a flick of her wrist, a battle staff of jade formed in her hand. "Let me guess, you were hired to tear down decrepit buildings, ya? Might have been a good idea to send an evacuation order first, don'cha think?"

With an angry cry, the dark figure let loose a withering blast of energy at Alita. "Damn you b**ch, you made Ink lose count!"

The shadow blast raged against the shield of green jade Alita hastily erected. The force of the blast pushed her backwards. "You...frreak.... lose count of what? The marbeles you've lost?"

"Of my victims...and now Ink start over. With you!"

"Right. You wouldn't hurt a lady would you? I think you need a time out!" With quick gestures a sphere of jade forms around Ink, then another, and then another. "Well now, that was simple enough..."

With a sound like thunder, the jade prison shatters; dark pseudo pods extend every which way like a messy ink spill in the sky. At the center, Ink laughs like the demented can. "Nice trick lady...Ink do trick too!"

The inky blob of darkness quickly engulfs Alita. "Raise your shield of jade pretty lady... Ink eat that away too, and soon you are mine!"

In the air, a dark sphere of blackness floats, as if a small section of the sky suddenly decided it was night-time. Ink's demented grin spreads across the surface, like a twisted giant smiley for the mentally ill. And within that sphere, inside a rapidly shrinking sphere of green energy, Alita couldn't help but think, this is not a good thing...

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
4th Dec 2000, 10:09 AM
He crossed the bridge of stars amongst the heart of the procession. Occasionally he heard sharp intakes of breath from amongst the younger member of the congregation as they gazed through the shimmering translucent bridge, at the stars and constellations whirling around in an endless dance of sheer beauty. Asteph’theroc smiled slightly to himself, he remembered when he first crossed the bridge, so many years ago, swathed in the plain grey T’thlar (novice) robes.

“By Verishtars Hammer”, he cursed softly, his smile turning to a frown as he surveyed the gathering of T’thlarei (plural). They were so young, from the look of them the majority of them had not yet even reached their fifth century, let alone their ninth (the standard initiate age).
But B’var the Firstborn had called for them. B’var, he who had led the people since The Dawning. Greatest of the seers, B’var had seen a need for this action. No one had previously attempted this before, not because it couldn’t be done –anything could be done if the will was strong enough – but that it shouldn’t be done.
But B’var had foreseen that this would be necessary, the war had gone on long enough.
Time passed, or to be more precise a semblance of time passed. In this place time did not apply, a person could spend years in here and no time would have elapsed, or spend only a brief time and come out to find that decades had passed. For Asteph’theroc and the rest of his people this was no problem though, they were used to the effects and could override them.
Soon they were gathered around the Talis’van, the stone of the crystal wind, waiting.
After what seemed like a few minutes, a light began to pulse in the heart of the blue crystal.

“He comes”, intoned Asteph’theroc from his place atop one of the points of the triangle, etched on the floor surrounding the Talis’van in a silvery metal.
An eerie sound, like that of the wind blowing cold over twisted mountain peaks began to echo round the chamber, the glowing intensified until it was almost to bright to look at directly.
Gradually the light began to subside and a low murmur went round the gathered people as the young ones expressed there surprise involuntary at the physical condition of B’var.
Even Asteph’theroc had to stop himself from stepping back when he saw the condition of the First.

The figure that once stood just over 7ft now was hunched up and shrivelled.

Llaeresil moved from her place atop on one of the other points of the triangle to stand beside B’var, stopping just beside him, not steadying him, but ready to catch him if he fell.
For a moment it seemed that he would fall, Llaeresil shifting slightly, ready to grab an arm if needed, but with a creak B’var stood tall and planted his feet firmly on the ground.

Tel’mirion spoke from his place atop the last triangle point.
“We have answered your call B’var, we are ready to do what we must.”
Asteph’theroc glanced briefly at Tel’mirion, catching the slight sneering undertones in that statement. Too proud, Asteph’theroc thought to himself, he thinks he can lead the people away from this war, that another solution can be found, that we do not have to do…….this.

“Begin”.
Asteph’theroc snapped his attention back to B’var, quashing his doubts with his will and linking with Llaeresil and Tel’mirion, each of them acting as a focus for the thousands of people gathered behind them.
Soon he felt the power thrumming in his temples. It was agony to hold this amount of energy and not release it, all it needed was the slightest hint of doubt for his concentration to slip and the resulting backlash to leave him and many others seriously injured.

Then B’var took control of the flows.

Asteph’theroc went down to one knee, exhausted, but still acting as a conduit for the energy that B’var was using to force a bend in the weave, just enough to enable B’var to reach through and fetch the one who was needed.
Hours, days, years passed, it didn’t really matter, when they eventually left this place only ten minutes would have elapsed.
With a thundering crack the Talis’van shattered, shards of razor sharp crystal flying everywhere.
Hastily Asteph’theroc threw up an inertial barrier, trying to divert and contain most of the concussive force, but it was only partially effective.

B’var was wounded, critically.

Llaeresil was beside him in a flash, summoning energy to infuse B’var in the hope that it would boost his bodies natural regenerative powers.
“Hold”, ordered B’var querulously, “help me stand”
Asteph’theroc lent B’var his arm, helping him to pull himself upright.
B’var turned and advanced towards the naked figure, lying unconscious where the Talis’van had been.
“What is that……thing” muttered Tel’mirion, gazing at the unconscious figure in disgust, “it is not even connected to the weave”.
B’var turned his head to regard Tel’mirion, but when he spoke he addressed everyone, the chamber carrying his voice right to the back.
“He, not it, is a race evolved from the animals of this planet. Whilst not born of the weave directly, or born from one whose ancestor was, they are still connected. Their race was born from the earth, evolving from the beasts and creatures that walk, swim and fly over this planet. They will call themselves “human”…”.
“When will their time come?” asked Asteph’theroc, shaken.
“Soon….far, it makes no difference, you of all people should know that”, B’var admonished Asteph’theroc, “you will learn much of their idiosyncrasies”.

For a moment B’vars’ eyes looked saddened, before turning back to the figure lying unconscious on the cold grey floor.

“Llaeresil, I need you to lock away his memories, he would not function well if his thoughts are distracted by memories of his past life. Just leave him his fighting abilities and his name”
Llaeresil knelt beside the figure, using the weave to block off and conceal parts of his mind. Asteph’theroc gazed intently as she worked, trying to work out how she did this. Rather unsurprisingly he didn’t see anything. It was strange the way that some abilities, like that of rejuvenation, healing and the greater mind manipulation powers, were only able to be used by the females of his race. Then again no female had ever been able to effect the weave directly.
“Asteph’theroc”, B’var feebly turned his head to regard him, “you will teach him the arts of war, of how to shield his mind and help unlock his innate powers…”
“Innate powers, he hasn’t got any”, Tel’mirion interjected, still glaring at the still unconscious body.
“Not yet”, B’var paused briefly, before muttering again with a slight smile on his face, “not yet…”
“Old one let us help you”, Llaeresil spoke pleadingly, “your wounds are….”
“Of no consequence”, interrupted B’var.

Steadying himself he spoke louder again, addressing the rest of the people.

“Leave this place, it has now served the purpose for which it was built. Its time has passed. Llaeresil and Tel’mirion will provide the leadership as before, the only difference will be that Asteph’theroc will remain here, preparing him”, B’var glanced down at the still unconscious figure, ”for the battles and trials ahead. Now I go to meet my destiny”.
B’var knelt beside the head of the unconscious figure, his hand on the …humans… temple.
He remained like that for a few moments before toppling to the side.

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!”, Tel’mirion shouted, “the human killed B’var!”.
Tel’mirion rushed the still unconscious figure, swinging his sword at the prone figure, only for it to clash against the sword of Asteph’theroc, who had moved between Tel’mirion and his attended victim.
“You would break the covenant?!?!?”, accused Asteph’theroc forcedly, “The human is my charge, placed on me by B’var and you would seek to stop that.”
“He killed B’var”, spat Tel’mirion, trying to force Asteph’theroc back but to no avail.
“No he did not”, interjected Llaeresil, "B’var knew this would happen, if anything he willed it, besides some of his consciousness still remains”
“Where?” asked Tel’mirion incredulously.
“In the human”, Llaeresil glanced down at the human sadly, “I don’t know how but he transferred something to the human at the last moment, can’t you sense it? The human is now connected to the weave….”
Asteph’theroc sent his mind out, probing the mind of the figure, it took him a while to find the link, whilst there was one where there had not been before it was very tenuous, almost a thread.
“Besides,” Llaeresil carried on more forcibly, “We must be gone, we have our cities to defend”.
Tel’mirion backed away from Asteph’theroc, sheathing his sword in one smooth motion, his eyes full of hate, glaring at the human.
“I will not forget” he muttered, before turning on his heel and heading back towards the bridge, motioning others and shouting commands to the thunderstruck gathering, ordering them to depart.

Asteph’theroc and Llaeresil embraced.
“Farewell beloved”, Asteph’theroc murmured, “and be wary of Tel’mirion, his pride may create problems that could have a drastic effect on the course of the war.”
“Farewell beloved”, Llaeresil murmured back, “and don’t worry about Tel’mirion, I’ve managed to get him to keep a tight rein on his temper for the last millennia, anyway its not as if…… hold, the human stirs”

Llaeresil knelt besides the human lifting his head up with her hands and gazing at his face, waiting for his eyes to open.

Slowly they did. Blue eyes gazed fiercely at Llaeresil,
“You are so beautiful,” muttered the human.
Llaeresil started in shock at the humans words, before blushing slightly and guiltily throwing a glance at Asteph’theroc.
Asteph’theroc frowned, for a brief moment he had felt doubt emanating across the bond from his soul mate, but it was gone as quickly as it appeared. A mistake he thought, brought on by the stress from the passing of B’var the Firstborn.
Llaeresil backed away from the human, gazing at Asteph’theroc for one last time before she turned and walked to the bridge of stars.
Asteph’theroc turned his head back towards the “human”, his anger growing when he noticed the way it followed Llaeresil with its eyes, almost hungrily.
“Stand, human. You have much to learn,” ordered Asteph’theroc.
Slowly the human stood up, his eyes locking on those of Asteph’therocs fiercely.
Impressive thought Asteph’theroc, he has a strong will, maybe this won’t be as hard as I thought.
“I have a name”, the human growled.
“As do I,” replied Asteph’theroc, “my name is Asteph’theroc Draco, Warblade and member of the Trivium, the three who interpret the Firstborn.”
Asteph’theroc stopped at that, his eyes moving to the dead B’var, the Firstborn.
“And you”, spoke the human, “may call me Wolfram”.

___________________________________

“Steph”
Asteph’theroc pulled his attention back to the present, his head turning to glare at Mirya.
“Lets pull up here and make camp, I have a feeling my randy mares thrown a shoe, and it’s going to be kind of hard if we need to get somewhere ….ummmmm…..like really quickly if we need to”.
“Agreed”, replied Asteph’theroc, “and you know I don’t like the word “Steph”.”
Mirya grinned cheekily before muttering under her breath,
“I know, that’s half the fun, besides, I could have called you Stephi”
Asteph'theroc wasn't listening, his thoughts were drifting again to a time long since passed, when Asteph'theroc himself had doubted, and in doing so had lost himself briefly, if only for a short time.

But a short time was all it needed.

Due to him Llaeresil was gone. His people vanished. Their last hope, the warrior Wolfram had been vanquished.
Wolfram had managed to defeat HIM, but due to Asteph'therocs doubts, his inability to act when he was supposed to, when he needed to, the enemy had escaped at the last moement, unleashing a great conflagration of magical energy that had razed the entire area.
By the time Asteph'theroc had recovered Wolfram had been nowhere to be seen.
The doubts caused by Tel'mirion, about Llaeresil and Wolfram....

"What are we doing tomorrow anyway?", questioned Mirya, sitting down by the fire she was preparing, her head turning to look at the nearby coast and the city on it.
"We are scouting out the city to try and locate the wherabouts of Khaine. We will need to be inconspicuous."

Mirya laughed,
"Inconspicuous .... you! You stick out like a sore thumb", she managed to say between laughs.

"Thats why I'm not going. Rest Mirya, you have a busy day tomorrow", replied Asteph'theroc.

Mirya stopped laughing.

[b](Here you go WAnk ..... you'll probably find Khaine in #stripbar :D)

[Edited by RumpleForeskin|PuF on December 4th, 2000 at 12:38 PM]

The_Dudester
5th Dec 2000, 03:18 PM
Helmut von Swartzentodder stood in the midst of his party of skeletons and Ash-en slaves and waited for the elf to come to him. He caused the skeletons to part slightly as the approaching figure reached them, forming a narrow path to the centre, where he stood.

As soon as Tzchee-inki had uncovered the cause of the Hunting-spinner's surprise, she had agreed to send Helmut with additional aid. Although confident in the abilities of her own forces, a Dragon was a dangerous unknown (these beasts apparently not being native to the Ash-en archipelago), and so every bit of help might be needed. Luckly that the decision was made so, as the Hunting-spinners (now perfectly concealed from all eyes) had underestimated the resilience of such a magical creature by some measure.

Finally, the elf reached the necromancer, and bowed in greeting. Returning the bow, Helmut responded with an introduction:
"I am Helmut Von Swartzentodder, necromancer. I represent this tiny force in my name and in the name of Tzchee-inki, the leader of these spider people you see amongst us. We are seeking the cause of the "wrongness" which is sweeping the land.
I suspect that your mismatched little band is also attempting the same task?"

The elf indicated his assent.

"Well then," continued the necromancer, "perhaps we can be of use to each other..."

Wolf Blackstar
10th Dec 2000, 04:52 PM
Wolfram felt that his mind was a locked tome; the knowledge which had been sealed away had to have been done so through the use of very powerful magics, for no other force could have such a thorough effect. Surely any natural memory loss would not have been so discriminating; for as Wolfram had discovered, his fighting skills had not been affected in the least, and fighting-related material such as information on enemies, monsters, and their abilities seemed to come to mind when needed. He seemed to know where to strike his enemies, and what he needed to defeat more numerous or stronger foes, but anything regarding his identity, such as where he got such knowledge, was inaccessible. Indeed, trying to recall such memories only seemed to come up with blankness, nothingness, a wall that was almost tangible in nature, a barrier to his inner psyche. All efforts were nullified, and served to create silent despair that was unlike anything he had ever known.

But no matter how powerful such magic could be, the mind and consciousness of a living being was a much more complicated creation than any sorecery could fathom, and there were gaps in the heavy blinds that had been drawn over the eyes of Wolfram's mind. It was through such gaps that the memories were returning, and they filled him with a powerful hope that drove him onward.

And as Wolfram walked the streets of S'mon Traska that evening, it was the hope that he would be able to make a breakthrough in this powerful magical barrier that pushed him forward. He had left his friends in the inn where they had made their temporary headquarters while they stayed in S'mon Traska. The elf had proved adept at public relations, and the necromancer that accompanied them seemed to possess a limited understanding of their culture and customs. The adventurers had taken to becoming acquainted with one another right away, as well as forming plans of action. Perhaps because he was a man of action rather than words, or more likely because he had so little of his own identity to share with the new species, Wolfram had decided to retire early from the discussions, in order to get some "fresh air" and be with himself for a while.

Wolfram had perused the street markets and suppliers for weapons and equipment. He had hidden the belt well by wearing two large leather girdles over it, and he guarded his back well against the prying eyes of the ever -present thieves. There were very few shields that held to the standards that Wolfram desired. Instead, he scoured the merchants for a good sword that would match his own. He finally found what he was looking for in the form of a bastard sword that seemed to stand out from among the others in display. The weapon was truly balanced, and the steel was finely crafted without flaw. The weapon felt very familiar in his grip, like a handshake with an old friend. Wolfram took a minute to hold a second sword in his off hand instead of a shield, trying to get a feel for what his mind would say. Though he received no concrete response, he felt that he had been trained to fight this way as well as with a sword and shield, perhaps even better. Sheathing his swords, he strode off into a dark alleyway as the dark grew deeper.

Wolfram walked without fear. Faces everywhere fixed upon him, sizing him up, assessing the threat he presented. Wolfram did not stare at them directly, but his fighter's instincts enabled him to keep his guard up without returning direct threats. Most turned away after a thorough assessment, some even started to approach him in groups, but all turned away almost immediately. Wolfram pressed on towards his goal.

The Sorceress of the Slums, she was called, also known as The Seer. A thorough casing of any informant types in the area pointed towards her being the best choice for what he had in mind. Wolfram was not about to waste his gold on a quick visit with a mad wizard or drunken cleric that would leave him without answers or give him false information. Only the Seer was anywhere near described as sincere, though she was obviously something more than what would meet the eye, for all who spoke her name did so in tones of suspicion or disdain. Though she was supposed to be good in nature, many who had encountered her seemed to harbor an inner hatred or distrust of the woman. Of course he was speaking to thieves and pickpockets, at best, but that did not necessarily discredit them completely.

Wolfram at last approached her dwelling, a ragged shack that was hewn from a purplish metallic alloy that looked liked it held one medium sized room at best. It was nestled tightly between two larger structures, and judging from their positioning, the shack probably never saw the light of day. He considered turning back, but decided to trust his instincts, or rather, what was left of them, and continued forward. Though Wolfram was no wizard, there was a palpable sense of magic about the little shack, and indeed, it seemed that there was much more than what met the eye. He paused for a moment, then knocked gently at the door.

As the door creaked open, a thick cloud of foul-smelling smoke rolled out into the streets and Wolfram was confronted by a shriveled old woman in a black mage's robe. "Whaddaya want?" she screeched in a voice that sounded like the scraping of rusty nails on steel. Wolfram looked beyond her shoulder and observed that the little shack was a mess, with animal entrails lying about and filling the place with the stench of rotting meat. The source of the thick green cloud was a large black kettle which roiled and foamed over with its foul brew. On the ceiling and walls, runes and satanic symbols were painted in blood, including a large pentagram which was centered in the ceiling. Cages lined the walls, live animals of all variety which probably served as the sources of ingredients for the witch's potions.

As he beheld the spectacle and smelt the putrid stench, however, his instincts told him of no danger, and despite the satanic symbols and the foul brew, he could detect none of the sensations of evil which had always been strongly present in any encounter with the forces of chaos. He stepped forward into the room and closed the door behind him, trusting only what fragment of instinct that he could call judgement implicitly.

As soon as he had closed the door, however, things began to change. The witch smiled, and suddenly a white mist filled the room, blocking everything from sight. Wolfram' hands touched the hilts of his swords, but there had been no expression of hatred in the woman's eyes, and there was no palpable sense of evil in the room itself. Perhaps he was being tested? Wolfram slowly moved his hands away from his weapons. The mist began to clear, and Wolfram noticed the foul smell was no more. Wolfram was standing alone in what looked like a staircase; not only had the room been an illusion, but the shack itself also served this purpose, for the lair of the witch, if that was what she was, was underground. Wolfram advanced cautiously down the steps. When he reached the floor, the room that opened up before him was large and spacious. The rooms only illumination was the large fireplace, but Wolfram could see that the place was kept neat and clean. Fine, thick carpets lined the floor and oak shelves held a rather sizable collection of magical tomes and chemicals. But instead of the shriveled old crone that had met him at the door, the "witch" was actually a young and beautiful woman, clothed in white silk, standing with her back toward Wolfram, silhouetted against the fire.

Wolfram couldn't quite place his finger on the style of architecture and layout of the room, but he felt certain that he had seen it before. He stepped forward, intending to walk around to face the woman, when suddenly turned around and looked him directly in the eyes. "Are you afraid of the truth?" she asked. Wolfram beheld her very dark skin and her bright white hair, and saw the pointed shape of her ears which made clear her elven heritage. She was Drow.

"Most mortal men would prefer to strike me down on the spot, and rightfully so." Wolfram considered this, but again restrained himself. Despite the drow elves' reputation for cruelty, mass murder, torture, and their general evil nature, Wolfram rationed that any attack directed against him would have been launched by now, and true drow do not live amongst humans. Wolfram now understood the need for the deception. Obviously others had seen her true nature before, and that was why they were fraught with fear and hatred when Wolfram had spoken of her with them. But, Wolfram was desperate for answers about his past, and he was not about to give up simply because the only seer in town capable of helping him was a dark elf. Besides, his instinct seemed to say that he had dealt with Drow before, and that there were valid exceptions to their barbaric nature.

"My lady, I have no intention of harming you. I come seeking answers for my memory, which has been lost. I was told that your was the only magic powerful enough to help me with what I need."

"You honour me with your words, human, but you must forgive me if I don't trust you. My time with your kind has been brief, since I was cast out from my house and my city, and I have had nothing but ill experiences from the surface dwellers."

"Humans do tend to be extremely superstitious. And, to this very day, nearly all encounters between human and drow have been on the battlefield."

"I am rejected no matter where I go. I was nearly killed by my own family for refusing to participate in the ritual torture of captured prisoners, and setting them free. When I fled the subterranean city of my heritage, I was chased and hunted by a human war party that included the same two humans that I had saved from death. I have since learned that there is no limit to the level your kind will stoop."

Wolfram suddenly smiled at her. "How did you escape the war party? You killed them, didn't you?"

Wolfram had never seen a drow blush before, but the color change on her face seemed to indicate that they were capable of doing so. She looked down at the floor, then back at him, and for a moment, almost smiled. "Your point is taken…..but you must understand they gave me little choice, and I am drow, regardless of what decisions I made which separated me from my kind."

"Of course," said Wolfram. "Perhaps now would be a good time to get to the business I had in mind. I need your spells, or whatever magic you have available, to aid me in recovering lost memories from my mind, which has been erased to a certain extent."

"Before I can accomplish anything for you, I require the price of 7,000 gold."

"7000?" The price was indeed steep, but Wolfram knew that it was a small price indeed to pay for gaining another shard of his shattered past. Besides, his recent exploits had left his party rather well off, and he had something that the drow might find suitable. Wolfram reached into his boot and removed a small leather pouch. Overturning it, he laid a small handful of gems on the table. The drow eyed them suspiciously, but then decided that they would suffice.

She removed some of the herbs and chemicals from her shelves, and began mixing a small vial of potion. She had also taken a couple of scrolls from the cases and prepared for casting her spells. "So, you say that you have no idea as to your true identity?"

"My name is Wolfram. I know only that I have lived by the sword all my life, and that I once fought for a great kingdom, and had many friends, and a family. I know also that they were all killed, and it was the doing of a very powerful evil. I cannot tell you any more, for I know nothing more of my past."
The drow sorceress set one of the potions on fire, giving the light in the room a strange blue tint, but giving off no smoke. "Call me Cryss," she said, then added another ingredient to the flaming mixture. It stopped burning altogether, but fluoresced with nearly twice the light, then faded slowly into a colorless, clear fluid. Wolfram stared at the other concoctions she was preparing; they gave off light but no heat, but had no odor whatsoever. "What, exactly, are you planning?" Cryss responded without looking up from her work. "I am creating a potion which draws on the innate magic of the mind, and uses such energy to work with mental information that is lost. I will then cast a spell of memory on you, and the combination of my magic and the potion's effects should be more than able to bring to your conscience the memories that you seek.

Several minutes later, the process was complete. Wolfram stared at the potion for a few seconds, then drank it. It had absolutely no taste whatsoever; the experience was akin to drinking warm water. But then Cryss began chanting the words of her spell, and when complete, his mind suddenly seemed to double in capacity to think, and he seemed to be doing so at a speed superhuman in comparison to normal human thought.

Wolfram sat down in one of the large oak chairs and closed his eyes, trying to relax and bring back the memories, or the state of mind he had been in when the memories had returned. His efforts were met with no success. "It doesn't work," he explained. "The only thing that seemed to bring it back was an experience in combat."

Then perhaps, we should recreate the stress of battle in your mind to aid the process of your memory." Wolfram considered her words. "And you have a potion that can recreate the feel of battle?" Cryss stared back, with an expression of mischief, deception, that seemed to typify the face of a drow female. "I have no such potion, and to create such a spell would take far too long. However, I have a more expedient solution at hand, one that, if I am correct, you might even find, entertaining." Cryss smiled, and began a second spell. "What the hell are you doing?" Wolfram sprang to his feet, but the words of the dweomer had already been completed and the spell set in motion. Before Wolfram a wall of fire suddenly rose from the floor. The flames gradually took on a swirling circular motion, and a large black hole appeared in the midst of the fiery wall. Wolfram stood speechless as he saw the claws of an otherworldly creature reach through. With a swift, and deadly graceful movement, the demon pulled itself through the fiery portal, followed by five more of its kind. The fiery portal disappeared, apparently having done no damage to the rug or the walls. The six demons closed on Wolfram, surrounding him in a circle as his bastard swords came free of their scabbards, and with an unworldly fury, they assaulted him.

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
15th Jan 2001, 11:28 AM
Meanwhile Elsewhere

Asteph'theroc remembered the first time Wolfram had achieved the Varankesh state. Literally it meant "To Step Around Time". It was one of the first things that the people were taught, once they had mastered this they were considered to have passed the first of the five Ahloars (tests/states) which determined when their passage to adulthood, and to the donning of the grey robes of the T'thlarei(novices), was completed.
It normally took at least fifty years before a child (all were considered children until they achieved the grey robes) managed to achieve the first state, and at least another two years until the child could slip into that state instantaneously by act of will alone.
Wolfram had taken just seven months until he first achieved it, then just another two months until he could summon it at will .....occasionly.
Astpeh'theroc had never been able to understand why Wolfram had only been able to access the Varankesh state whilst under extreme stress/duress. Asteph'theroc had thought that he could have trained Wolfram so it could be otherwise, as well as taught him the two remaining Ahloars that he hadn't mastered.
But the war was coming to a frightening conclusion by the time that Wolfram achieved the third Ahloar, requiring both Asteph'theroc and his trainee to leave their place of training and venture into the heart of it.

Maybe if Wolfram had learnt the remaining Ahloars, and mastered the ones he already knew, the end might have been different.

We might have won.

With a growl Asteph'theroc shook his head, then let it settle back against the tree, his eyes fixated on the city that Mirya had just left to go to whilst his thoughts drifted back to, if not happier, somewhat more peacefull times, whence he still had hope.

_________________________________________

Wolfram cursed, before throwing the crystal bowl to the ground where it shattered, a myriad of stars sparkling on the cold marble floor.
"This is not working!", he shouted at the cloaked figure kneeling across from him, looking slightly amused by the whole proceedings as well as the now irate Wolfram.
"Your impatience will be your downfall human," replied Astep'theroc from his kneeling position, "one cannot ignore the rules of the universe if one is not aware of there existence and be in tune with them. Now resume the position and start again!"

Wolfram made as if to leave, but then thought better of it and grumbling, took his place opposite Asteph'theroc on the floor. Last time they had had a strong disagreement ended with Wolfram unconcious with his jaw broken, never having seen the punch even though Asteph'theroc had been a good seven foot away the time.

"Now concentrate on the water in the bowl".

Wolfram did as he was told, picking up the now flawless ball (Wolfram had stopped being suprised by Asteph'therocs powers by the third day) half full of water and gazed into the perpetually moving depths.
He remained like this for some time before Asteph'theroc judged him sufficently relaxed enough to be able to proceed.

"Listen for the beat ....the pulse that coexists with the wave movement"

Wolfram listened ...... for the last couple of months he had been sure that he could almost hear it - before that he had trouble masking out the sound of his own heartbeat - but each time he attempted this he failed

Asteph'theroc observed his pupils blank, placid face with only the eyes active, gazing intently at the water illusion in the bowl. Wolfram had already entered the pre state, the Akesh, the state from which all of the other five states were achieved. Wolfram merely thought he was masking out the sound of his own heartbeat, not realising that he was causing it to slow, sometimes even stop when it was needed. This had always been one of the hardest things to do, it was why training took so long, but Wolfram had mastered the technique in a matter of days, almost as if he remembered doing it before.
Most strange.

Asteph'theroc returned to observing Wolfram again, gazing at his eyes fixed on the bowl.

More time passed.

Asteph'theroc smiled. Wolframs eyes had started to take on a golden tinge. He was now hearing it.

"What is it?" whispered Wolfram in wonder his eyes still fixed on the bowl, listening to the resonating chime that repeated itself in a ringing, archaic, beautiful pattern inside his head.

"That is what you might call the heartbeat of the universe. We of the People call it Eriallaeth, your race will generalise it and try and break it up into manageable portions, calling them new labels, not realising that it is all one infinitly big living entity. You would call it TIME."

Asteph'theroc was silent for a while then, letting Wolfram savour the beauty of Eriallaeth, tears dripping down Wolframs cheeks as he wept at the sheer beauty of the sound.

"Now for the hard part Wolfram. Listen intently to Eriallaeth, fill your mind with it till all that you can think about is that sound."

Asteph'theroc stared intently at Wolfram as his eyes glowed brighter, until they seemed almost miniature flames.

"Now listen to the gaps between the beats and place yourself there!" Asteph'theroc shouted.

Wolfram concentrated on the sounds that were ringing through his head, at first they appeared to have no set pattern to their rhythm, just a cacophoney of beautiful sounds ringing endlessly away in the vaults of his mind.
But in the same way that a cloud can become a creature, or a sword, or the face of someone once loved, so did the noise become a pattern, and with the recognition of the pattern so dawned enlightment. He could see the gaps. He could see the spaces. He could see the order of this. He could see where he must go.
Wolfram stepped outside Eriallaeth, stepped outside TIME, stepped into a new beginning for himself. He could see everything as it was first built, as it was when it had crumbled due to age and everything inbetween. Looking up he saw Asteph'theroc throwing a dagger at him, Asteph'theroc moving at the same speed if not faster than him, but the dagger slowing almost to a halt after it had left his hand.
Bemused Wolfram reached out and picked the dagger from where it was hanging in midair....no not hanging Wolfram corrected himself, moving swiftly in Eriallaeth, virtually stopped when you were outside it.

"Our lesson is finished for the day", Asteph'theroc spoke, interrupting Wolframs thoughts, causing him to step back into Eriallaeth, "You may practice summoning the sound of Eriallaeth again for as long as you wish. Only when you can hear the beat, when you can distinguish the pattern in it can you step outside it. You must be able to summon this at a moments notice, you will not always have the luxury of five hours mediation beforehand."

_________________________________________

Asteph'theroc sighed, his mind back in the present. Wolfram had never been able to enter the Varankesh state at will. He had only ever been able to summon it in the heat of battle and even then very rarely, though he could still reach it by meditating, for just a mere two hours.
"Why do I still torture myself?", muttered Asteph'theroc. Wolfram was long dead. If he was alive he would entered a Varankesh state at least a couple of times in the last millenium, and if he had Asteph'theroc would have felt the tremor on the weave caused by someone stepping outside it - one of the gifts from achieving the fifth Ahloar - and attempted to locate him.

Asteph'theroc looked back at the city, wondering where Mirya had got to when it came to him, the first feather faint touch on the weave that signalled that somewhere, something, was attempting to use the weave.
Startled beyond believe Asteph'theroc sent his thoughts out along the weave in an attempt to determine the direction this was coming from...

Now back to you Wolf :D

Taskmaster
18th Jan 2001, 08:23 AM
(Note: I have an idea of where I want to take this... at least for now, so I would appreciate everyone respecting that. This has been a really good story for the most part, but you can see what happens when folks disrepect each other's story}



SEVERAL DAYS EARLIER

"Oooohhh!" A painful moan escaped his lips as he slowly regained consciousness. It hurt to open his eyes, it hurt to breathe, it hurt to think and it hurt to move. His surroundings spun madly around as dizziness threated to overtake him. The nausea evoked his involuntary reflexes and he vomited.

He lay motionless, breathing as slowly and deeply as his aching muscles would allow. The pounding in his head faded from a thundering stampede of wild elephants to a small herd of mooing cows. It still throbbed, but was more tolerable. His entire body was sore, from dull aching muscles to a sharp pain in his leg.

He steeled himself and opened his eyes. He saw the ground...below him...about 12 feet below him. He turned his head to look around, each stiff muscle informing the brain as to their unhappiness at being force to moved.

"Where in the world am I?" he managed to choke out. His throat was parched and scratchy. He carefully surveyed his position, which he surmised was to be stuck in a cluster of tree branches a few yards from the ground. The sharp pain in his leg was due to the fact that his leg was wrenched between two tree limbs.

He shut his eyes for a moment and rested. His mind frantically searched his memory for recent events that might explain how he came to be in this tree. Nothing came remotely close to answering his questions.

"Must have been some party..." he laughed to himself. It hurt to laugh. He carefully twisted himself around on his precarious perch until he was able to sit up stiffly.

It was a painful struggle to pry the branches apart enough to work his foot free, but he finally managed to wiggle loose. His ankle was raw and bloody from the rough wood having been clamped down on it for so long. He hurt badly, but he could move his foot barely so he assumed it wasn't broken.

Steadying himself on the thick branches, he began to survey the immediate surroundings. He already gathered he was in a tree. This tree appeared to be on the outter edge of a larger forest surrounding a clearing. The ground below sloped suggesting it was on a hill or mountain side.

"Oh merciful God in heaven!" he cried as his mouth fell open and his eyes widen in shock. He swallowed hard at the sight before him. It hurt to swallow.

A large clearing sprawled to his left. What should have been a lush green field of colorful wildflowers, was instead a dark red pond littered with freshly massacred coprses. The dead were too numerous to count, and the pieces and parts would not have made it nearly impossible anyway. Such death and destruction was beyond his imagination, yet reality stretched before him. Again his involunatry relflexes took over...

He stood silently staring st the nightmarish vista before him, offering silent prayers for the dead, and for himself. Did he somehow play a part in this killing field? Was he somehow responsible for the carnage scattered across the mountain side?

He let out a gasp as he spied movement. From the center of the battlefield some one moved. A man stood up groggily, stumbled a few steps then fell back down.

"I have to help him..." he thought as he hurriedly grabbed at nearby branches. He shifted his weight to his not-as-sore foot.

"Whoa...no!" he exclaimed as he lost his balance. He plunged to the forest floor below breaking smaller branches in his descent and painfully crashing off the larger ones.

It hurt to fall. Darkness overtook his vision as pain filled his mind. Sleep came willingingly or not. The stranger lay sprawled on the underbrush alone in the forest, unbeknownst to the apparent sole survior of an epic battle.

Xadhoom
18th Jan 2001, 10:59 AM
(please ignore this post. i have remade her story a bit futher down in this thread)

Day 1:
Though this is not the first day of my life or this year I will from now on call it day one or the first day of my sorrow. I will write down a short description of what have made me call it the first day of my sorrow. The planet I live on was overrun by evil and I thought I had come up with a way of dealing with this evil with one powerful spell that would draw power of it own to create a barrier that would block any evil creature to enter the realm of our planet. The casting of the spell seemed to go fine from the beginning, the spell started to draw power itself as I had suspected it to do. But I had missed one thing in my research, it already existed a shield designed to ward of the evil beings though it had weakened. The spell I casted only weakened this barrier even more…

I realised this to late, the spell had grown to powerful already and while I was trying to undo the spell it unlashed all its power but not in the way it was supposed to, this is probably because I was trying to undo it. Its power was unleashed at ME, and changed my appearance. The spell domed the planet I lived in because now all the demoniac creatures that lived could now enter the world freely without anything to hinder them. My people were consumed in less than a few hours, leaving me the only one alive of my people.

The creatures didn’t attack me; why I don’t know but I guess that it has something to do with the spell I cast and affected me instead of the planet. I need to investigate this more.

Day 14
I have been busy, that’s why I haven’t written anything for almost two weeks. I have discovered something interesting; the spell didn’t only change my appearance but also my powers. I was earlier a sorceress who cast protective spells but that seemed to have changed along with my appearance. I discovered this when I was attacked by one of the most powerful creatures that have entered my planet.

I had earlier sensed that the power of the spell I cast had been somehow been imprisoned within my body, I only hadn’t realised how much of it. Because when the monster attacked me several spells come to my mind most of them was defensive spells and I tried to cast the most powerful defensive spell I know, but it failed. When the spell failed I was desperate because the monster was almost over me, I throw up my hand in protection and suddenly a spell that I never have heard nor seen came to my mind and in my desperation I grasped at the chance throwing all my power in that spell. (Though it might it have been good to leave this misery and lonely life I now live)

The resulting outlet of power in that spell shattered the monster to nothing more than a burning pile of flesh and ash. Later that day when I had recovered from the shock I investigated the mater more and found out that none of my protective spells that I cast was successful, the only spells that worked was offensive spells and most powerful was the formerly unknown spell that I had used on the monster that had attacked. The spell seemed to always end up where my arms was pointing, the nature of the spell seemed to be in the fire sphere. I will write more when I know more of my new body and my powers.

(for those hwo dont get it this have happened in a other realm, she will leave this later and travel to unrealm)

Wolf Blackstar
24th Jan 2001, 11:31 AM
The demons closed in on Wolfram, flanking him and cutting him off. Wolfram calmed himself as he drew his weapons, and considered his options. At the odds of six to one, he stood little chance. And these were no mortal opponents; these were Kharnak, demons that served as the shock troops of underwordly armies, fierce warriors in their own right, skilled in combat with weapons as well as disciplined in offensive demonic magic.

Wolfram drew his swords and steeled himself. The Kharnak closed in further, wielding weapons that gave off darkness instead of light. Their scaly hides and long, filthy claws were complemented by the presence of a foul stench, rather like rotting flesh. Despite his situation, Wolfram couldn't help but look one of them in the eye and smile. "Damn, but you guys are ugly."

Whether out of understanding his words, or anger that the human that stood before them showed no fear, the demons chose this moment to strike. Wolfram's bastard swords clashed against the infernal demonic weaponry with such force that sparks flew upon contact.

Defense, defense, defense...... it was all that Wolfram could do to prevent one of their black blades from getting past his guard and piercing him. His light armor would be of almost no protection against such weapons. Wolfram cursed as he was being forced back, then saw that two of the creatures were circling around to trap him. This battle would be over in seconds unless he could come up with some kind of counterattack....

That was when he felt the rage building up. It wasn't the fury of bloodlust that warriors felt in battle. It was similar, but it was something else as well, something more. He reached out to it, felt himself giving in to this force, which actually made him feel.......calm.

Wolfram suddenly stopped thinking of his defenses, and pushed forward. The only way to win this battle was by cutting down the odds. He surged forward with incredible speed, catching the Kharnak off-guard and sinking his swords into their flesh. Two of them dropped dead to the floor. Four on one now. Much better. Wolfram paused for a second, then went into a spinning circular form of attack that even the Kharnak could never have been prepared for.

Wolfram could not notice that Cryss was watching his every move, and making notes on a scroll. Even she did not understand the glow in his eyes and the passionate expression of rage that was upon his face, but what she saw before her eyes defied logic: a human fighting against powerful demons. And winning. This man moved with perfectly timed strokes in his swordsmanship. And yet.... he executed them at ungodly speed. Even the finest of Drow warriors might have found themselves overmatched against this one, she thought. She watched as he feinted a thrust with one arm and came back with his off hand in a chop that took one of the demon's heads off. Another Kharnak attacked from behind Wolfram, flinging his sword directly at his back. Almost at the last second Wolfram spun around and knocked the incoming sword harmlessly aside. The surprised demon seemed to register an expression of shock before Wolfram was upon it, his swords sundering the Kharnak into bloody chunks.
Cryss resumed writing frantically in the scroll.

Wolfram was upon the last two demons in complete concentration now. He was thoroughly enjoying this, and somehow felt that this was his element - he was at one with himself now. He was aware of some unseen factor at work, and though he did not understand it, it felt very familiar. He could suddenly sense the presence of his enemies in the room. And Cryss's presence not further beyond. For a split second, his perception reached outward in all directions, and for that moment he was aware of thousands of souls throughout the city. He felt them all.

Wolfram, no longer seeing the world through his own eyes, was amazed at the sensation. He felt himself fighting off the two demons almost subconsciously. Perhaps the most amazing sensation of it all, the sounds in his ears - in his mind - like beautiful music, it seemed, music that could not possibly be explained in mortal terms. Then he sensed it.

Something powerful, far overshadowing the human presence around him. An essence of power, of the very same power that he was now experiencing. A person. Wolfram concentrated on it. Yes, somewhere in this city. And Wolfram knew that he had felt this power before. Whoever it was, he recognized the signature of their power. And this person was here now. Wolfram had the answer he was looking for.


Cryss watched stunned as Wolfram cut the last two demons down without so much as looking at them. The human then proceeded to lower his arms, and stand perfectly still. His eyes increased tenfold in the intensity of their bright glow. It was as if he was in some kind of trance. The expression on his face no longer of rage, he seemed to be at perfect peace. In fact, he was smiling. Cryss finished the writing on the scroll, then rolled it tightly into a metal case, sealing it magically and attaching it to her belt. With one last look at Wolfram, she pulled the folds of her black cloak around her, and stepped out into the night. She pulled the cloak's hood over her head, covering her dark elven features, and then began to recite the words of a spell. When the magical dweomer was complete, the small building that she had occupied disappeared, leaving Wolfram standing in the dusty alley alone, his eyes still glowing in his trance-like state. She looked upon the mysterious human one final time, then ran out through the alleys, melting away in the darkness.

Wolfram came back to reality several moments later, and was surprised to see himself outside again. He considered the course of events and remembered something about the drow woman writing something in a scroll. Had he been tricked into displaying his power? Wolfram looked about. The corpses of the demons were gone, but the blood and chunks of flesh that stained his blades were very real. Wolfram tried to place some purpose behind the strange woman and her intentions, but he knew he lacked most of the questions, let alone the answers to do so. No matter, though, for he had his goal now. He must find the source of the powerful presence he had sensed earlier.

The moon shone down in pale splendor upon the streets of S'mon Traska. Thieves and murderers swarmed about in the alleys, performing their assigned tasks. Ruffians fought in the streets, and somewhere in the darkness, a drow female slipped past unseeing eyes. And walking brazenly in the streets without fear, Wolfram passed through the ranks of murderer and assassin alike, without a single challenge blocking his path. He walked in the direction he had last sensed the presence of someone he had known in the past, someone he had to find now.

Taskmaster
25th Jan 2001, 09:10 AM
His eyes lids flickered slowly, then rapidly, then finally opened. He was looking up at the canopy of tree branches above him through swollen eyes. He slowly regained his bearings, recalling his fall from the airborne perch to the hard ground. He slowly moved his various bodily parts taking inventory of which one's hurt, and which one's hurt worse.

His hand brushed against a hard branch lying beside him, apparently one he had taken down with him as he fell. It felt solid, but not to thick. He turned his head to examine the full length. It wasn't as straight and even as he would have preferred, but it was long enough and sturdy enough to be of service.

Rolling to his left he managed to painfully get to his hands and knees. His arms protested at having to hold his upper body up and his knees groaned like rusty gears. Grasping the stick tightly, he work himself to a full kneeling position. Now it was his back's turn to complain about all the mistreatment it had suffered in this most recent episode. Still, the pain was pretty much constant, so a little more didn't register as strongly as it may have otherwise. A few grunts later he was "standing" as straight as he could manage, leaning heavily on the rugged tree limb.

He stood patiently, with his weight shifted to and balanced by the wood, gaining he wits. He was able to break off most of the smaller twigs and sticks from the main shaft of the limb. A couple of larger branches still protruded from the cane, but they would not hinder his progress. He could deal with them later.

He tried to put some weight on his left foot, which had been twisted in the upper branches of the nearby tree, but it was too sprained to handle it. "For now you'll have to settle for being a crutch more than a walking stick." he stated to the stick as he returned his weight to it.

He remembered the carnage that was scattered across the once lush green meadow just a few yards from the forest edge. He was determined to take a closer look. He hoped the apparent survivor he had seen earlier was still alive, and better yet, still nearby. I could certainly use some help myself. he mentally assessed.


After moments of limping, foot dragging, resting and groaning, that seemed to take forever, he finally emerged from the confines of the forest underbrush. Even though he was prepared this time for the sight he would behold, he was still stunned at the magnitude of the destruction and death. He swallowed hard, sucked in a deep breath, steeled his nerves and continued to struggle forward.

"We're not in Kansas anymore!" he muttered, apparently to his walking stick, as he began to get a closer look at the bodies and debris. The clothing, the artifacts, the designs, the faces... they were at once familiar, yet entirely alien. His eyes danced from one body to another quickly drinking in the information. He struggled to make sense of it.

The man he had seen earlier -- he had no idea how much earlier since he had passed out -- was nowhere to be seen. Or maybe he was laying dead among the numerous corpses. No, no.... none of these have a huge battle ax strapped to their backs. The stranger had survived.

"If I'm right..." he thought, "...I need to find that man as soon as I can." He surveyed at the vast wilderness surrounding him on all sides. "I hope I'm not right!"

Finally it struck him that there were no weapons.. well, very few weapons. Those that were left were broken and no longer useable, at least for making war. Maybe the stranger had indeed died here and the large ax had been carried off by the looters. He just didn't know.

He used the walking stick to help lower himself to the ground next to one of the bloody corpses. The flies scattered with a loud buzz, then settled back down. He sat gingerly on his throbbing buttocks in the cool green grass.

"I guess you won't be needing this any longer?!" he apologized to the dead man as he pulled a broken spear tip from his throat. He wiped the bloody implement off on the grass.

He scraped and hacked at the remaining off-shoots on his walking stick. He chopped off as many knots and prortusions as possible, ending up with a decent, albeit raw, walking stick.

He ripped some cloth strips from the ragged and tattered clothing of other nearby bodies, and with some broken spear shafts and shield slats, tied his ankle tightly with a make-shift splint.

"That should make the going easier." he commented as he tied the last strip. "Much better." he noted after having stood up and tested his handiwork.

He slowly hobbled around the battlefield taking small items here and there that he felt might be useful at some point. Each time he did so, he apologized to the unfortunate soul from whom he took it. There was very little that had not already been removed.

Finally he found the clue he was looking for. A trail of flattened grass and a few bloody footprints lead down the mountain ending at a small trail through the forest. The weight of dragging off all the weapons and spoils had left a tell-tale trail of broken grass, weeds and wild flowers.

He took one last look over his shoulder at the sprawling waste of life before limping slowly into the shadowy forest...

Xadhoom
26th Jan 2001, 12:13 PM
As Xadhoom regained consciousness she felt a throbbing pain in her left arm. When she brought the arm in her view she saw that her arm had been priced by a wooden stick. As she looked at the arm she noticed that she was lying beneath a tree and that evidence of some ones fall could be seen through the branches. “Is it I that have fallen through that tree” she thought. “ It must be, strange that I don’t fell more hurt than I do” she muttered, talking to herself.

She pulled the stick out and bandaged herself with a shred torn from her clothes. As she lay back against the tree to rest her memories started to come back somewhat…

She had just completed the spell that would perhaps lead her of this place, this… wasteland… “THIS PLACE WHICH ONCE WAS A BEAUTIFUL PARADISE!” Her last thought echoed like a burning fire, filling her mind with self-contempt and hatred. She walked forward to inspect the spell once more to see that it was perfectly completed. Suddenly a powerful wind blow up and pushed her through the unfinished gateway, which she had just created.

She had appeared above a large tree leaving her in a fast and uncontrolled fall through the trees branches.

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
29th Jan 2001, 08:57 AM
Asteph'theroc was running.

Forests flashed by in seconds. Cities were there and gone in an eyeblink. Grassland changed to farmland then back again in an instant.

Asteph'theroc was running, his mind reeling at the possibilities of that brief contact of their minds. Even now he could still sense him, like a warm spot in his head, sense the direction he was in, it was almost as if he had soul-linked with him

Asteph'theroc had left Mirya back in the port city of Al'Dareyth (NOTE: Al'Dareyth is the capital city of the country Daryethia - Mirya's (WAnks character) home and also where the HQ of the assassin/thiefs guild is. Unbeknownst to Asteph'theroc Mirya used "scouting out the city to observe Khaine" as an excuse to go and report to her guildmasters on the success of her recent mission (assassination of a tyrant of a neighbouring country), he was starting to worry about her, she hadn't made contact for over a day.
In fact he was just about to enter the city when the weave was utilised about 400 miles away in the city of S'mon Traska.

Asteph'theroc had sent his mind over the weave in an attempt to observe what was happening, or at least to see if he could "recognise" the mind that was utilizing it.
He was so shocked upon contacting that mind that he had almost lost his grasp on the weave, a event that could have severely damaged him, if not killed him, as well as the mind he had contacted.

How could Wolfram be alive?!?!

Asteph'theroc remembered those last few hours they had spent together as vividly as if they had happened yesterday, such was the power of the events that had occured, events etched on the darkness of his mind in lines of fire.

_____________________

The battle in the dark place

The traitor Tel’mirion's blood on his armour, his dead, decapitated body at his feet

Llaeresil, his beloved standing facing him, her lifeless eyes fixed on his face, his sword through her heart.

Unseen by him in the smoke obscured dark place, blood dripping into his eyes from the headwound Tel'mirion had given him.

Unssen until his sword had pierced her chest.

When he felt the agony of the soul bond between them shattering he had stopped his raging, realising with horror that it meant her death.

Releasing the rage he wiped the blood from his eyes clearing his vision, to see his soulmate impaled on his sword.

He knelt beside her, too stunned to put a coherant thought together. He had broken one of his peoples most sacred rules by killing the traitor Tel'mirion. None of the people were to kill one another. Now he had killed his soulmate.
Assailed by doubts and selfloathing he curled up beside her.

Twice damned.

Wolfram was shouting for him, his battle with HIM was going as planned, Wolfram was winning and needed Asteph'theroc to help finish HIM off, to start the ritual.

Asteph'theroc was mourning.

Wolframs yells were becoming desperate, HE was starting to recover.

Asteph'theroc was mourning.

Wolframs yells turned to screams, Asteph'theroc felt the tingling and increasing pain in his mind as a tear in the weave started to form, growing larger and larger until it seemed as if his head might explode. Wolframs screams getting louder as he realised that the battle was lost, their moment to vanquish him had passed and now there was no hope.

Asteph'theroc was mourning.

Wolframs screams turning into one last battlecry as he threw himself at HIM, at the rift that was forming.

The light.

The noise.

Then the silence.

Asteph'theroc was mourning.
_____________________

Soon he would be at S'mon Trask, soon he would see for himself if it was Wolfram, or an imposter that must be dealt with, maybe even a trap to lure him in.
There was only one way to tell if this was the real Wolfram.

Astep'theroc loosened his sword in his sheath as he ran....


TO BE CONTINUED

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
30th Jan 2001, 07:33 AM
Meanwhile, somewhere in S’mon Trask…

Cryss knelt before the unholy alter, the remnants of what appeared to be a small child scattered atop the acid etched black marble surface.
Her brow was creased in a frown of concentration as she attempted to trace the whereabouts of that strange human warrior, trying to trace him by the unearthly power that he appeared to contain. Power that was so much like, but yet so different to the powers wielded by her secret masters.
She was scared, she admitted it secretly to herself.
The conquest of this city was supposed to be taking place in just over a day. The plan had been executed perfectly, the initial motions having been set in place almost fifty years ago. She herself had been a spy in this depressing, ugly, sunlit city for almost a hundred years.
The host was approaching overland, cloaked by magic provided by the human witch Tzarina, a useful ally, but maybe one who would soon outlive her usefulness...

Cryss chuckled quietly to herslef as she entertained thoughts of the tortue she herself would inflict on that human witch.

They would be in position ready to attack the cities walls by noon tomorrow, at which point Tzarina would drop the cloak.
S’mon Trask, for such a …backward.. city had a suprisingly efficient garrison, as well as a well-armed and well-funded army. Whilst the army itself might be able to hold the cities walls against the approaching host for a while … exactly how long was open to speculation ….. speed was of the essence, which was why the main host of the dark elves was currently moving into position beneath the city
Only a couple of hundred drow warriors were with the army approaching overland, and they were only males, in addition from being from only fairly low ranked houses. The rest of that host consisted of slaves and mercenaries as well as a large number of warbands from the various goblinoid races, some drafted with promises of gold and plunder, some bullied and threatened, the others just ensorcelled.
That whole army was a diversion, the true attack would come from underneath.
The city garrison would take to the walls and shut the gate almost immediately once the alarm went, holding the walls till the army had positioned itself for a few outward sorties, hoping to slip a messenger through in the confusion to some of the neighbouring countries /cities requesting aid.
By sunset the host will have pulled itself back from the walls, appearing content to leave the fighting to the next morning, looking to be settling down for a long drawn out siege.
3 hours after sunset, two hours till highmoon (midnight) local time the main drow army would infiltrate the city from where it even now waited, rising up from the sewers, slaying sleeping defenders, poisoning the water supply and assassinating the cities elders. The host remaining outside would at that point renew their assault.
The defenders would be trapped between two forces, mass panic would ensue, partly exaggerated due to the night fighting.
In the confusion the Drow would open the city gates.
The mass slaughter should be finished before sunrise, leaving the only humans left alive in the city those that were bound for their sacrifice in the summoning ritual, which would take place the following night..
That had been the plan, until Wolfram had appeared.
This changed things. If Wolfram had even a fraction of the power of one of her masters, he might just have enough to throw a spoke in the works somehow.
That was why she was attempting to trace him now.
Once she had his location she could despatch assassins, or even better yet she thought with an evil smile, she’d send dark knights ….two score should be enough, the trick would be to ensure that it was done quietly so as not to prewarn the city of its impending doom…..

There.

She sensed him now, moving east towards the city gates, at a walking place … almost as if he was wait..

WHAT!

In her minds eye she sensed the strange aura, so much like her masters, but as different as fire was to ice, pulsing faintly round Wolfram, almost seeming to reach out east as if searching for something, but that was not what startled her and caused her to start a new incantation.
One she herself had never used before, had never dared to use before.

Approaching from the east, still outside the city and some distance away, but moving at an incredible speed was another aura of power like Wolframs.
But whereas Wolframs aura pulsed faintly, this one shone almost blindingly in her minds eye, growing brighter and brighter as it drew closer, almost too bright.
Suddenly she realised her mistake, this other presence was somehow aware of her, even now rays almost seemed to spring up from it searching for her psyche in an attempt to block her scrying, maybe even kill her.
She dropped the scrying spell and finished the dark incantation.
For a moment nothing happened, then slowly the shadows moved away from the wall and came together in the shape of a humanoid, almost elvenlike were it not for the 7ft size.
Completely black it was, from its dark hair and elven, yet somehow alien features, it’s skin, its eyes and even its body. The edges of it were hard to determine, the creature almost appeared to be shimmering, blurring into the surroundings.

Cryss dropped to her knees, terrified that she was finally face to face with one of those she called masters. Only those who were very sure of themselves, or had numerous sacrifices prepared to offer for this intrusion ever summoned one.
Then she realised her second mistake.
She had no sacrifices left to make.
A moan escaped her lips.

The figure regarded the cowering figure before him. Reaching out with its minds it burrowed into her conscience, reading her surface thoughts.
Wolfram, it thought to itself, that name was familiar, but so much had been forgotten in the years that had passed. Upon ripping the location from the prostrate womans mind it smiled.
Time to deal with that later, it thought to itself, there are still a few minutes remaining till Wolfram reaches a secluded area with little or no bystanders.
Time to indulge.
With what appeared to be a grin the figure pierced the dark elven females shoulder with its hand and lifted her shrieking off the floor. With its other hands it proceeded to shred her clothes till she wore nothing apart from the blood trickling across her arms from where her shoulder was bleeding. Had been bleeding. Even now the flesh around his hand was beginning to die.
With a grunt it pulled the helpless figure close to him before falling atop her on the floor, her screams getting louder and louder until after one piercing, choking cry she ceased.
Pulling itself to its feet the creature left what had once been a woman lying on the floor, gaping holes all over body which it had created ….. and then used.
And now for Wolfram it thought to itself
With a grin that was the gateway to hell itself, the shadowfiend folded the weave just there and stepped into the shadows.

Xadhoom
30th Jan 2001, 01:59 PM
Xadhoom sat in the clearing looking into the fire wondering what to do next. She had decided to never again use her magic because the last times she had done that it had ended in catastrophe.

As the final part of the powerful spell was about to begin she noticed a strange flaw in the spell. She began sweating from the strain of holding back the spell. Despite the strain she made a short survey of the spell and became convinced that the flaw was nothing to worry about. She begun to shape the final part of the spell and suddenly a flame shot out from the flaw that surrounded her with a wall of flame. Despaired and shocked she let go of the spell. But as she let go of the spell the wall of fire closed in on her but it didn’t burn her but rather the fire merged in to her. Shocked by what happened she didn’t pay any attention to the spell she had been casting. Suddenly she felt like she was lifted up and thrown away…

Tears fall from her eyes as she thought back to the sight that had greeted when she had regain consciousness. The whole city had been obliterated leaving nothing but a few parts of the wall still standing. No one in the city had survived the blast from the collapsing spell. All friends and clan members had died her life had been shattered. She stretched out a hand grabbed the Katana, the only thing she had found in the city that was whole. By her clan swordmaster she was only considered as a novice with the sword. She sighed and stood up and started to practice with it as she had been taught to. Forming a mental opponent before her she started to fight it with the patterns and knowledge she had taught.

When she put the sword back in its sheath and turned around a man stood before her.

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
19th Feb 2001, 02:13 PM
Wolframs leather shod feet padded softly on the ancient moonlit cobbles as he walked steadily through the streets of S’mon Trask. The moon had past its peak and was now starting to descend. Wolfram estimated that it would be at least another three hours before light from a rising sun painted the eastern wall and the meandering streets and houses with a pale light. Maybe even longer than that he thought as he glanced briefly around, observing the dampness in the air, suspecting a misty day.
Wolfram, though he did not realise it, was walking through one of the more disreputable parts of the city, and his progress has been noted by many a set of eyes gazing hungrily from the mouths of alleyways and from the rooftops, trying to determine whether this barbarian was an easy mark or not.
The experienced rogues soon turned their attention elsewhere. They had noticed the well-worn grips on his swords, the calluses on his hands and knuckles, the faint impressions of a network of scars long healed - some more recently – that covered the majority of his body, even the way he walked, moving on the balls of his feet with an almost unnatural spring in his step seemed to convey an impression of a tightly wound spring, of massive destructive energy that would be a foolish thing indeed to be on the receiving end of. Even those rogues new to the “trade”, who originally thought him an easy mark soon changed their mind once they got closer, something about the barbarian just made them uneasy and the first thing a rogue learns to trust is his instinct.
So Wolfram walked on unhindered, though not unobserved.
He was walking under an archway – formed from the eaves of two ramshackle and deterioating houses leaning together – when he stopped, dropping to a crouch and half drawing his swords from their sheath.
He wasn’t sure what had alerted him, a sound, a smell, or some sort of sixth sense, he was not sure. All he knew was that something was wrong. There were goosebumps down his arm and the hairs on the back of his neck were standing up. There was almost an evil anticipation in the air.
His eyes darted left and right as he tried to pinpoint the cause of his alarm, ears trying to detect the minutest of the sounds that could give him a hint of where the danger was coming from and what it was.
Wolfram rolled forward unsheathing his swords in one fluid motion and coming up in a low combat stance, facing the spot where he had just been crouched a split second earlier, his eyes widening in surprise as they took in the creature standing before them.
The creature had appeared out of nowhere, just seeming to materialize and leap out of the shadows created by the eaves. One of its hands was resting on the ground where Wolfram had been crouching, the other dangled loosely by its side as it knelt there. Pitch black was the creature, no changes or gradients in colour existed, but somehow its definitions and features appeared to be sharply defined. Broad shoulders and a regal, though evil bearing accentuated by high sharp cheekbones and deep set eyes.
Wolfram gave a start as the creature stood up, not in reaction to its 7ft tall height, but the fact that when it removed its hand from the ground only the dirt underneath and a thin layer of dust remained - some still clinging to the things hand – whence there had been cobbles before.
I must not let it touch me Wolfram thought to himself , for its touch , whilst it might not kill me in an instance, would weaken. Too many hits or touches and his life would be in great peril.
Almost as soon as he finished that thought the creature moved and within a split second he was fighting for his life, trying to keep the things arms away from him as he realised that it might just need one touch for him to be defeated - as the weakness and pain the touch would induce would put a long enough break in his defences for the creature to finish him off.

______________________

Asteph’theroc was at the city gates. Pausing here he let his mind float out over the city, trying to pinpoint the location of Wolfram in the city ……….nothing yet ……. maybe if he ……
Asteph’theroc cursed vehmentally, Wolfram was here alright, in close proximity to what appeared to be a shadowfiend?!?!?
If a shadowfiend realised who Wolfram was ….. no, Asteph’theroc corrected himself …… who he might be, they would pursue him across the earth until he was dead and desecrated. The only reason they hadn’t bothered Asteph’theroc before when he was instructing Wolfram originally was because they had been unaware of his existence and purpose.
If that was to change now…..
Astpeh’theroc snarled as he pulled in his mind and triggered the Taleobkesh (Note: Literal Translation is “Light as Death|Heavy as Duty”), the second of the five Ahloar states, his weight corresponding to the rest of the world diminishing exponentially as he leapt the 50ft high city gates in one bound, before swiftly increasing back to normal in correspondance with his wishes to ensure a swift landing.
Asteph’theroc hit the ground running.


______________________

Wolfram was starting to despair.
He had managed to keep the creatures arms away from him so far, kept away by a blinding cloud of battle forged steel, but even with his “newfound”, or as he suspected “re-discovered”, powers of unnatural speed he was still a hell of a lot slower than the abomination he was fighting.
In addition, whilst Wolframs attacks were gradually slowing down due to tiredness there was no such weakness apparent in his enemy. Even worse his weapons appeared to have no effect on it, the few dozen times he had managed to strike it in the early stages of the combat had appeared to leave no mark on the creatures flawless black skin.
Wolfram almost groaned aloud as he noticed that the edges of his blades were now covered with speckles of rust where they had bit into the creatures’ body, hopefully he’d be lucky and they wouldn’t…

*CRACK*

His left sword shattered Wolfram managed to keep the creatures arms at bay for a couple more seconds before a hand broke through his defenses. If Wolfram hadn’t flipped himself backwards the hand would have shattered his knee cap and probably removed his leg at the knee, as it was it just lightly brushed his left calf as he twisted in the air.

A touch was all that was needed.

Wolfram cried out has a searing pain ripped though his left leg, then felt it go numb as he landed, collapsing underneath him as the normal healthy bronzed flesh covering his left calf turned an unpleasant mottled grey colour.
He managed to bat way feebly the next couple of blows before first one then another hit took him in the chest, sending him sailing 30ft down the alley to slam into the wall at the opposite end

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
19th Feb 2001, 02:15 PM
Had to post this in two parts - goddamn limit on number of characters per post :D

Asteph’theroc arrived just in time to see the shadowfiend send whoever it was fighting shooting pass him to crash into a wall 5ft away. The face was obscured by a barrel but Asteph’theroc could see the deadly effect of the shadowfiends touch on the mans chest as his armour fell away into dust and rust and the skin covering his chest start to darken and fall off, the flesh behind it as well.
Which was when Asteph’theroc saw the tattoo of a gray eagle low on the mans side.
Not a man, Asteph’theroc thought frantically to himself, once a man maybe but not anymore.

It is Wolfram, Asteph’theroc thought joyously to himself, these thought turning to panic as he saw that Wolfram was dying from the effects of the shadowfiend..

Asteph’theroc entered Verish Ta Naonu'kesh (Note: Literal Translation “Gift of Verishtar”), the fourth Ahloar state, the one that enabled him to enact his powers on other living beings rather than just confined to himself or inanimate objects.

Hastily he wrapped fragments of Eriallaeth around the dark entropic, malignant curse of the flesh that the shadowfiends touch had wrought on Wolframs body, slowing the speed at which the dying flesh spread until it had almost stopped, as well as accelerating the mans natural regenerative healing process so that the deadflesh gradually dropped off as new living tissue grew underneath it.

He can heal the rest himself Asteph’theroc thought to himself, if the shadowfiend doesn’t kill him first.
With that thought Asteph’theroc flattened himself against the wall, dropping a shield across his thoughts and sliding two long objects out from under his cloak.

The shadowfiend had stopped at the mouth of the alley, head tilted sideways as it peered at the groaning man crumpled at the end of the alley, unable to spot Asteph’theroc crouched round the corner 25ft away.
The shadowfiend was surprised that the human wasn’t dead yet, it was sure it had killed him with its last blow. Maybe not, maybe it should make it last …. longer ……
With a smile that was no smile the shadowfiend advanced down the alley

_____________

Wolfram felt the numbness spreading throughout his body, gettting colder and colder until he realised he was about to die, that his quest to find himself had been in vain, that he had failed in whatever his mission had bee…..
Suddenly he was aware of a new presence, yet somehow strangely familiar as well, he felt it tingle in the front of his mind, then felt a warmth in his leg and chest that suggested that whatever the creature had done to him had been healed or reversed.
His eyes opened to a slit as he looked out to try and evaluate the current situation.
The shadowfiend was advancing quickly, it would be on him in moments….. there must be some sort of weapon he could use against this creature .. something that would hurt it somehow….something that …

Relax – a voice echoed through his mind, You will have your weapons when you need them

Who! – thought Wolfram frantically – What are you! What do you want! …..where do I know your voice from!

All in good time – replied the voice – For now the essential part you must remember is that the lighter something is, the easier it is to move it and the easier it is to move it swiftly. Light as death, heavy as duty

Upon hearing the last phrase something clicked in Wolframs mind – Taleobkesh, the second state …….. I remember it ………I remember training ….. I remember you teaching me it Asteph…………but I still need a weapon to harm this creature …..I still

The weapons you need are where they have always been Wolfram – replied the voice with a sigh – Awaiting your call

Wolfram felt himself grow calm.
The shadowfiend was now only a few feet away and had started swinging at Wolframs head when his eyes snapped open blazing gold. Stepping outside Eriallaeth, his weight reduced to virtually nothing he leapt over the astounded creatures’ arm and body, soaring a fully 30ft in the air before landing some distance behind the shadowfiend.

“Kathe’mari ……duty” whispered Wolfram as he landed crouched, the sword materialising in his left hand as he spoke its name, the golden and white hilt surmounted by a 4ft single edged slightly curved silver blade.
“Kathe’maouri ….. honour” he spat as he stood up, the archaic tongue of an empire long since gone, his birthtongue, as the sister of the sword he already carried materialised in his right hand, its golden blade glinting in the sun, the silver and white hilt nestling snugly in his hand, feeling the raised relief on both hilts depicting the Eagle of the Empire pressing against his palms, as familiar to him as his hands themselves.

With a cry Wolfram leapt at the abomination who had almost killed him.

_____________________________

Asteph’theroc gazed at the empty scabbards in his hands. Scabbards that had contained the two swords, which Wolfram now wielded, that had disappeared from the scabbards when their owner had called for them.
“It is him,” he spoke quietly to himself. Wolfram still lived and from the looks of things retained most of the powers brought about by the dying energies of B’var the Firstborn.
Asteph’theroc looked at the now distinctly one sided battle. Even though Wolfram now carried weapons that would wound the shadowfiends as easily as iron wounded men, even though he was now moving faster than before, it would still be a fairly long battle. Shadowfiends took a long time to kill. But kill it Wolfram would. At least there was only one this time.
Was now the time to approach him, to continue his training?
Asteph’theroc didn’t know. What he had been able to piece together from his brief contact with Wolframs mind earlier was that there were still portions of it blocked and hidden. Some were obviously the doing of Llaeresil, others of the traitor Tel’mirion who had attempted to kill Wolfram just before the tragic battle with HIM. Others appeared to be more recent and covered parts that related to his training with Asteph’theroc and the dialogue and the emotions that they had shared.
Does he remember our fight? thought Asteph’theroc, or how I betrayed him?
Obviously not, otherwise he would have……..Mirya!

Asteph’therocs’ thoughts flew eastward, back towards the city of Al'Dareyth. Someone, something was creating a disruption in the weave there. The only purpose for the gradual building of potential that he could feel was almost always evil, and always destructive.
With a start Asteph’theroc was up and running back the way he came, his thoughts sent to Wolframs head, asking him to remain in the city for the next couple of days whilst he investigated to the east. Asteph’theroc would be back.
With Miryas’ name in his head, but Llaeresils name in his heart he ran, hoping he would not be too late.


(You guys get to fight the big battle :D)

The_Dudester
20th Feb 2001, 04:13 PM
It was late in the day by the time the slaves had finished constructing the fortifications for Tzchee-inki's entourage. Although they had been labouring for several hours, the progress had been limited by the physical reserves of webbing left amongst the Ash-en present.
Slaves were bred for the size of their webbing-glands (amongst other things)
but the scale of the construction was such that it would have stretched the 40 slaves even if they had been granted several days.

Now the fort was complete, it towered over all the assembled Ash-en by two whole leg-spans (about 2 metres each), and glistened redly in the dying sun as it dried. At the centre,
the forms of the 6 Scry-princes could be seen still working away on their centre-piece. Led by Mak-inkai, the most skilled eldrich-sculptor Tzchee-inki had in her possession, the palace/Weave-fulcrum was rapidly taking shape... its twisted spines already describing the complex topolomantic knots required to focus the Weave at the palace's core.

Moving closer, past the assembled ranks of the skeleton-Urnamu which Von Schwartzentodder had raised to guard the fortress portals, past the inner ring of slaves now standing guard, Tzchee-inki
could feel the twist of the Weave itself as its nature became concentrated by the Scry-princes' work.

Just in time as well she thought, for the host of dark Urnamu, and twisted things is almost at our fangs.

For the assembled Ash-en and Undead to succeed against such a mass of foes, it would require active intervention in the Weave itself to misdirect the attacks of foes, and bring good "luck" to Ash-en fighters.

It was for this purpose that the construction had been planned - a fort to protect the En-keeper while she twisted the threads of fate, and a Weave-fulcrum of truly massive complexity to allow her to
achieve her task with the deftness of touch required. Active intervention in the weave itself had only been attempted five times in the entire history of the Ash-en people, and required great skill both in the En-keeper
and the construction of the palace complex itself, lest the Weave remain too stiff or, even worse, tear with the force applied to it. A proper balance was necessary in all things, and so Tzchee-inki was glad that
Mak-inkai was in charge of this project - his sculptures and understanding of the harmonics of topological nets were the greatest she had seen in her whole life.

I just hope he is good enough... she thought to herself, as she made her way to the palace itself, where the weaving had just come to a close... the Scry-princes deftly scuttling down the escape-threads they had placed
early on in the construction process, their weight causing the final shifts to occur in the Weave-fulcrum itself, now a dense well in the Weave, thrumming with unexpected energy - as if some force nearby were strumming on the threads of what Urnamu called "time".

Tzchee-inki suddenly had a sense of foreboding, and made haste to the palace core to prepare for what might come...

Xadhoom
23rd Feb 2001, 12:26 PM
The man suddenly attacked her fiercely using his fists. Though she was very good at fighting using only hands and feet’s she was forced to retreat. Shaking his head the man almost seemed disappointed that she wasn’t better then she was. When she had retreated almost a to the end of the clearing he brought a knife from his belt, as she jumped backward to avoid the cutting blade she stumbled. Using the moment from her fall she rolled on the ground and in the same motion as she stood up she drew her sword. Before she had fully recovered he slashed at her throat and in the last moment she backed away and shielded herself with her arm. The blade cut deeply in her arm leaving it almost useless to her. With only her right hand to use the sword she was barely able to keep him at some distant. Sweat now rolled down her forehead and down her arm making the wound hurt even more. As a strange fog started to cover her view she thought she was going to die and as the fight went on the fog became thicker and thicker but the strangest thing was the it didn’t cover the man only the surroundings. Suddenly her arm stared to move on its own using the sword in way she never before had know or thought of using the it and her mind became flooded with memories from the past.

Xalya stood before the head of the clan explaining the newfound energies that she had found and was able to control. “Yes they are somewhat unpredictable but with time and experience I might be able to control it so well that it would be negligible…

Xergal stood on top of the looking down on the soldiers who lined up on the battlefield before him. Today he could lead his clan to victory and gain supremacy over the other clans…

More memories flooded her mind filling it with memories from people that had passed away long ago. When the flow of memories stopped she felt herself become get numb and just before she passed out a voice whispered: “you are not alone, one more did survive…”

Wolf Blackstar
5th Mar 2001, 11:57 PM
The guards shuffled back and forth on their beats, glancing nervoulsy about. They weren't specifically told about the incident, but sound carries far in the cold night air, and scuttlebutt travels faster.

And it was a very rare event that a drow was found in the city, much less brutally slaughtered and horribly mutilated by something leaving marks that could only indicate some creature of vast, unholy power.

Captain Stormwind looked at the corpse again. Or rather, what was left of it. His lieutenants had already had their squads perform an extensive search of the premises, including the use of dogs, which turned up nothing. Again, powerful magical forces were implicated. With a sigh of resignation, he ordered his men to bag the dead drow and carry her remains away. Neither the captain nor any of his entourage noticed the stealthy shadow slipping quietly past them.

The shadow made it's way swiftly through the streets, out into the city limits and through the very gates themselves, and out into the dark landscape, before assuming coporeal form. It was another dark elf, clad in black from head to foot and outfitted for maximum stealth. But this one ran with an almost clumsy, panic-induced gait that was uncharacteristic of his race. He was in a great hurry, and very much afraid.

Several thousand yards away and out of sight of the gates, the drow scout had secreted away his horse. Away the two of them went, riding at maximum speed under the night sky. For the burden the young drow now carried bore down upon his shoulders like a half-ton of mithril ore. It was with the utmost urgency that he reach Daryeth that very evening. Reaching into a small leather pouch strapped to his saddle, he removed a magical amulet and invoked it. The horse's feet moved with several times their usual rapidity, and it seemed that the steed now hardly touched ground. To the naked eye, the horse and rider seemed a nearly invisible blur as they sped toward their destination.


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


The shadowfiend was angry. Glowing red eyes seemed to intesify in color and brightness as they bored into Wolfram. He had come as summoned, and his prey had been as good as dead, until another appeared and destroyed his mission. For now the man he had been sent to kill had been fully healed, and now possessed magical weapons - swords that cut through his dark hide with no regard for his immunity from mortal
weaponry.

But the shadowfiend tired not, nor feared the power that this man now faced. For he was not a creation, but a summoned being that possessed no free will while on the surface of the mortal plane. By the power of the evil gods he served, he would destroy this mortal, even if it meant his death.

Xadhoom
7th Mar 2001, 01:43 PM
Xari stepped out of the forest just as Xadhoom had finished the making the portal. Drawing an arrow from the quiver and fire it almost in the same motion. Just as he fired the arrow she jumped through the portal. Racing after her to get her he jumped through the portal just as it was about to vanish.
The time seemed to freeze when he jumped through the portal. Xari could see the landscape before him turning dark and bright in a rapid flow and suddenly it stopped and he tumbled down from the point where he had been hanging. Landing hard, he lost his breath. Breathing hard he was able to rise to his knees and have a good look at where he was. It didn’t look like anything he had seen before.

*

Xadhoom slowly brought herself up; looking around she couldn’t see the man she had been fighting, not even his corpse. She touched her left arm to feel how bad the wound was but she was unharmed it wasn’t even the slightest bruise on it. Walking over to the campfire she begun to think about the fight but was unable to recall almost anything of it. She could not help it but she was starting to feel somewhat uncomfortable by it for she had always had a very good memory.
Xadhoom decided to use a special type of meditation that she had learned when she studied to be a sorceress. Relaxing she cleared her mind of all thoughts, keeping only a small part of her mind active. She was about to begin a journey in into her own mind and memories.

PsychoMoggieBagpuss
6th Aug 2001, 11:21 AM
A callused hand gripped the handle of the great axe that was still stuck in the wall.
With a grunt the axes owner pulled it out of the thick oak, letting the two halves of a very, very dead household spider dropped silently to the floor.
"I fecking 'ate spiders" - the axe-wielder muttered as he stomped to the door of his room, steel clad soles making an impressive crunch.
Reaching up to the door handle he paused.....it sounded like something hit the alleywall outside his window hard.
Attempting to tiptoe back (not very successfuly due to the steel boots) the axe wielder pulled a chair up to the window before standing on it and looking out at the alley below.
"a godrotting fiend.." muttered the axe-wielder gruffly, spitting on the floor instinctivly "...and a dead human".
Finishing his statement he then proceeded to almost fall out of the window when the sprawled human pulled himself up and started to move towards the advancing fiend.
With a short curse he did when he saw the swords appear in the humans hands out of thin air and the human charge the shadowfiend. Not for the swords themselves, but the fact that the human now had a faint golden afterimage following him as he proceeded to attack the fiend at blinding speeds.
A human using old one magic were the axewielders last thoughts before his head hit the cobblestones.

______________________________
Wolfram was starting to get tired. A long day and several strenuous battles already were starting to take its tole. Not to mention the previous hits from the fiend still sapped at his strength somewhat, even though Asteph'theroc had managed to curtail the mortification curse that was passed on by touch and mend the worst of his torn flesh.
The longer this battle takes, the further Asteph'theroc and the answers I seek get away from me. I must end this quickly.
The shadowfiends eyes flared as it detected the tell tale sign of fatigue creeping into the strange humans movements, soon it would be able to land a telling blow......soon it would have....

*SWISH*

Wolfram jumped back startled as the fiend keeled over holding its hands close, screaming. He waited a brief second in case of it being a feint, but then decided to press for the kill anyway, skewering the prostrate kicking fiends skull to the cobblestones with his swords.
The fiends heels drummed on the stone for a few brief sceonds before all movement ceased.

"Now yer can git me a drink" shouted a short gruff voice.
Wolfram looked up to see a dwarf coming out from where he had been concealed behind the shadowfiend.
And this was a weird dwarf. Wolfram - even though he had not had many dealings with them, - knew for a fact that spiking your hair and beard, and then dying it pink was not a typical dwarven thing to do. He was also sporting a huge bruise on his forehead.
In addition he was twirling a double headed evil looking battleaxe that seemed to crackle with energy with one hand, whilst tossing something up into the air repeatedly with his other hand and catching it.

"Why do I owe you a drink dwarf?" asked Wolfram, slightly amused by the whole thing
"Because I distracted the stinking fiend long enough for you to stick your stinking sword in its stinking head" retorted the dwarf, throwing the small item he had been playing catch with at Wolframs feet...."tell yer what, you get to keep them as a souvenir"
Wolfram looked at the object on the floor for a brief second, before then laughing out loud and turning round.
"Friend dwarf, I believe I owe you several" Wolfram chuckled as he walked away, leaving the fiends deadbody........and its recently seperated testicles......lying on the cobbles

LordKhaine
6th Aug 2001, 07:24 PM
And so we rejoin with the story, but the fight is already afoot....


The Dragon swooped down low across the valley, mimicing the direction of the drow horseman that rode beneth. On the Dragon rode Tzarina, leader of the vile and evil horde that was decending upon the defenceless village. She looked down to see the progress of her drow scouts, she was impressed she had to admit. Admitedly the villagers werent putting up much of a fight, but the speed the drow advanced at was impressive none the less.

She pulled hard on the reigns and turned the dragon sharply about, to see how far behind the main army was. Excellent, at this rate the village would be wiped out before the main body arrived. She dug her heels into the dragon and swooped down close to the drow captain. The Captain was dressed in dark studded leather armour, a large spiked shield in one hand, a lance in the other. His face was masked by a basic metal helm, though his drow nature was evident by his dark skinned neck. He fell silent as Tzarina landed by him to issue his orders.

"You know what you have to do, just don't waste time chasing petty villagers."

The Drow Captain bowed and rode off to set about his grim task, while Tzarnia retired back to the main body of the army.....


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

{Out of story, I need an/some evil underling(s). Potential evil captains and lords feel free to introduce yourself. Potential candidates must be evil, find pleasure in inflicting pain on others, must be able to write, and must have some past experience in leading dark forces of evil. Backstabbers welcome}