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#1 Vortigern


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Posted 29 May 2011 - 10:12 PM

Blaise chuckled as he heard the dramatic intake of breath from Liiara and Varashi as they crested the hill side by side and saw the sprawling metropolis before them. Even Don stopped grumbling for a moment as he noticed the gaunt, devastating beauty of the fractured city, dusty sandstone buildings spread from one side of the valley clear across to the other, the small matter of perhaps four miles. Given that this city had been a busy, bustling place a thousand years ago, the extent of the construction was hugely impressive.

"Imagine a time when this city was full of people," Vieran murmured, lazily hitching a ride on Sholl's broad back. (He had had a serious disagreement with his horse about who deserved carrots more.)

"It's still pretty impressive," said Blaise, shielding his eyes from the morning sun to look eastward down the valley, down the length of the city. At a rough guess, he would have said it was getting on for ten miles at least, but probably much, much more.

"So what do we do now?" Varashi enquired, after a few more moments' silence to observe the awesome splendour of the decaying town.

"We wait for Harald to catch up," Blaise told her. "He shouldn't be more than half a day behind us, and he has a much better idea of what to look for than we do."

"By which you mean we have no idea why we're here," Vieran put in. "For the record, I'm still having trouble understanding why we followed the directions of a magic table."

"Don't you feel it, Vee?" Liiara asked him.

"Feel what?"

"We're a part of something here, you idiot," she said, cuffing him none too gently as he slid off Sholl's mighty back. "Whatever's going on here is important, and Feruilen has chosen us to be her emissaries." Vieran looked around, warrior's eyes taking in everything that was to be seen.

"Unless I'm having a very dense day, Feruilen is nowhere to be seen, sister," he replied. "Forgive me if I don't have your faith in the unknown."

"Feruilen is only unknown to those who live in wilful ignorance," she declared, turning away from her oft-irritating companion. Vieran rolled his eyes but said nothing more. Blaise and Varashi exchanged weary glances. They had been dealing with this all the way here, and it was starting to grate. Blaise had remarked to Varashi a few nights before that he had not expected to become a father so soon, and Varashi would have replied in kind but for having to take a moment out to prevent some relatively mild bickering breaking out into a full-fledged fight.

"I thought immortals were supposed to have more patience," Blaise murmured to his Drow companion.

"Most of us do, but close friends and family can aggravate one another in a manner that defies logic," Varashi answered, making Blaise laugh.

"The gods know my sister and I have demonstrated that often enough," he agreed. "I think we need something to do, don't you?" he carried on, addressing the group. "Harald said to me something about a temple dedicated to some ancient god called Besz, so I suppose we could try looking for that." Vieran raised a hand. "Yes?"

"I've never heard of Besz," said Vieran. "I have no idea what we would be looking for."

"Besz is one of the oldest gods," Varashi told them all. "Scholars believe he was first worshipped in the years immediately after The Fall in eastern Nyasa, and later through Mirmida and Khurnay. Apparently his followers died out about two thousand years ago, but what survivors there were seem to have been based mostly here in Bylazora."

"So what would his temple look like, O fount of all knowledge?" enquired Vieran, with only mild sarcasm, which Varashi ignored.

"Besz was said to be the king of beasts, and to take the form of animals. So look for something temple-y with lots of animal carvings." Vieran shrugged.

"We should split up," he suggested. "Cover more ground." And keep some distance between certain members of the group, Blaise added to himself.

"Excellent idea. Varashi, Don and Vieran can take one direction, Sholl, Liiara and I the other. Varashi and I will bespeak each other if anything comes up." Vieran and Liiara set off in opposite directions before anyone had a chance to say another word. Their respective groups hurried after them.

* * * * * * * * *

"So what exactly does this map of yours say?" Naian wondered. Falarin drew it out from the holder he had crafted and unfurled the aged hide, peering closely at the markings.

"It says we should head for something marked with a big cross," Falarin announced.

"It says that, does it?" Morion asked him.

"Yep," Falarin replied. "Look, right here, you can tell by the big cross."

"And by the way all the additions seem to be centred on that bit," Morion observed.

"Good work, eagle eye," said Falarin, patting Morion on the back and getting a mid-strength headbutt for the trouble.

"Any idea what the big cross is in real life?" Naian asked. Falarin almost looked taken aback.

"Not a bloody clue, darling," he cheerfully declared. "Wouldn't be much of an adventure if I knew where we were going." Naian smiled. She had grown rather fond of the deathknelf and the manner of gleeful abandon with which he approached everything. His excitement was infectious, and had the other three almost as eager as him, not that that was much of an achievement as far as Vam'brac was concerned. The little Vyre was a constant source of entertainment to the others, bounding about the place and asking questions to tax the understanding of any six-year-old. And, like many six-year-olds Naian had met, he was in the habit of trying to eat more or less everything he came across. The evening before, just after they arrived in Bylazora, Vam'brac had staggered into their little camp under the weight of a saddlebag filled with things he had never seen before that he was determined to examine, including several still-untarnished gold ornaments, which turned out to be from a run-down old chapel and which Falarin determined to be worth a small fortune should they have the inclination to carry them back to Valenti or Mistaine or the Maughold. They had eagerly awaited the rest of the contents of the saddlebag, only to find that it contained several pieces of petrified wood, a fossil of some kind, half a clay brick, three pieces of qwartz, a length of bindweed, a concussed and increasingly furious starling and sixteen unusually shaped rocks.

Naian's hand brushed the satchel in which she had taken to carrying Ralsere's skull, the magical item that had nearly seen them killed in the acquisition. She was loathe to carry it so close, but Falarin had determined that was the only way to ensure its effectiveness after the attack by wraiths outside Amborne, brought to a close only when Naian's foot came into contact with the bag containing the skull, causing it to send bright white bolts of magic into the creatures, obliterating them almost entirely. Needless to say, they had not returned to sleep that night.

"You know, I think we're actually on the right road," said Falarin with some surprise. "If I've got this right, we should just need to follow this big wide open street down that way for a while, and we'll get to whatever the big cross is."

"Let's get a move on, then," Morion exclaimed. "How far is it?"

"Not more than about twenty miles," said Falarin after a moment's thought. Morion's face fell.

"Just how big is this city?"
I hope I am a good enough writer that some day dwarves kill me and drink my blood for wisdom.

#2 mike_


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Posted 02 June 2011 - 04:00 AM

Morion slashed and bashed at imaginary enemies with his new toys - a short, one-edged cutting sword weighted by a heavy curved tip. In addition to it he practiced with a small round shield made entirely of light steel, and decorated with a fanged, snake-haired woman's visage on the outer face.

Coordinating his breathing with his lunges and punches, Morion rehearsed his movements for a few more minutes under the stars before he noticed that he had company. Their party had stopped for the night to catch a few hours' sleep before moving further into the cadaver-like cityscape, but being ever-restless Morion had opted instead to further familiarize himself with his newly-favored falcata and its mate, the buckler.

"Remember, what, two weeks ago when those gorram bandits tried to kill us in our sleep?" He spun and lashed out with a back-cut that would have fallen across the nape of a man's neck, all-but beheading him. He then gutted the invisible man. "Well, six of the poor bastards came at me at once. The best of them carried this.

"Thirty inches long, or I'm a Vyre. The steel plates it was made from was buried for two, maybe three years and allowed to rust so that only the strongest material survived. All of those plates were smelted together into a single mould to make one continuous piece. The hilt is part of the piece - it's got a knuckle-duster that flows up over the knuckles to let you put out the lights rather than cut off the fuse, you could say. The edge is so fine that I could shave with it, provided that I didn't slit my neck in the process." He thrust out with the weapon in question, remarking, "Ooh. Shiny. It splices as well as dices."

Pausing from his gnawing on the empty shell of a large crustacean Morion was unaware of the origins of, Vam'Brac said inquired, "What is her name?"


"Yes, she."

Morion paused. "I'll call her Vera."

Vam'Brac nodded, "And your shield?"

"What of it?"


Varashi stroked her dark hand over the face of one of the idols before Besz' temple. It was a chimera of several animals, not unlike the melds still rumored to wander the outlying wastes of the world. This one sat upright, like a domestic pet; but the wide-sweeping wings, monstrous fangs and flaring mane were hardly peaceful in nature, if not appearance.

"Is it a lion?" Vieran had leaned up lazily against a significantly less-threatening statue made in the shape of some sort of sharp-toothed ivory rabbit. The Deathknelve's pale skin shone brightly in the night sky, contrasted against night-black stripes like the shutters of a window.

"Am I a lion?" Varashi turned her hooded head back to him. "No. I do not think of myself as one." Her tone turned bemused. "But maybe you should."

"And why's that?" Vieran placed his hands on his daggers, an old nervous (but not overly threatening) gesture.

"For I have a great roar. It echoes, over the hills and under the rivers."

"That's awful boisterous of you."

She nodded. "The mages say that men are far stronger than women, and yet only women can produce children. Does that seem right to you?"

Don chose that moment to poke his head up from behind the rabbit-statue. "Lass and laddie - we aren't alone here. Does that seem right to you?"

There was a sudden crash from inside of the temple; Varashi drew out one of her ring-blades in each hand, and sprinted into the maw of the structure, her pale robes seeming like a terror older than memory woken again into life. Her companions shared a glance before following her inside.

#3 some_weirdGuy


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Posted 08 June 2011 - 10:07 AM

((i'm not exactly sure what's meant to be happening now, but i'll try not to break anything))

Vam'brac sauntered down the road, having long since lost interest in marching, prancing, strutting and even shambling. He was now taking some interest in the partially decaying structures, but never kept his attention fixed for long. Following behind the group he shuffled his way in behind and to the side of Naian, his eye drawn once again to the bag containing the skull. He still felt on edge around the mysterious artefact, but Vam'brac found it's valiant actions during the attack had been somewhat endearing, even if it waited far longer than what would be called considerate.

"Are you sure its not alive?" he said, poking his way around Naian's arm and to the satchel with a complete disregard for her personal space.
"Yes Vam'brac, I am nearly one hundred percent sure it is not alive," she replied in an a slightly exasperated tone, pulling away. It was clear that they'd had this conversation a few times since the wraith attack.
Vam'brac retreated, still looking unconvinced. Unable to come to a line of thought which hadn't already been exhausted in this matter though, he let it drop.
He reached back into his own pack, fishing out one of the prizes he collected. A building caught his eye and he stopped before it, shooting a glance to the group who continued to walk without him, then deciding to go investigate.

A few moments later he popped his head back around the pillar to see his now distant comrades,
"Hey! Come Back, Come Look!" he yelled across the gap, indicating something out of view.

The others paused in their stride.
"I swear if its a pile of broken pottery or something I'm going to throttle that simpleton..." mumbled Morion, as the group begrudgingly turned around to humour the excited sounding vyre.
"Hey, for all we know he's found more gold, so don't scold him just yet," replied Falarin, though he sounded dubious.

They rounded the corner to find an old ruined building, its back wall having collapsed into a pile. Vam'brac stood atop the pile, pointing at something which the rubble currently obscured. They walked over to find a large statue a small distance off.
"Strange, it looks like a mix of different creatures. Seems like its arms have broken off, though," noted Naian.
"There's people," said Vam'brac matter-of-factly, eyes fixed on the statue.
Naian squinted against the sunlight, and at first saw nothing.
"So there are, and a Minotaur too," agreed Falarin, and now Naian saw them too.
"Deserted cities aren't much known for having inhabitants..." said Morion, exchanging a glance with Naian who had raised an eyebrow at this ingenious observation. "...surprising as that sounds," he added. She rolled her eyes a little while Morion looked back towards the statue, rubbing a hand over his stubble.
"So anyway, I wonder what they're doing here?"
There was a pause as they watch the figures moving around the large statue.
"Well I'm not sure what they're doing here, but i do know one thing, they're not far from our X," asserted Falarin, comparing their position to his map. "How about we head over there and check them out?"

((ok, so the ones they see are the other group, the group mike_ didn't mention. That way i'm not interfering with what he's set up XD))
((Vort: Yeah, that's pretty good. We can all join forces, as was the intention of this new thread. Huzzah! I'll get the next post up in the next couple of days, but I've got an essay first which I've been putting off for far too long.))

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#4 Vortigern


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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:44 AM

"Should we just walk right on in there?" Naian whispered to Falarin as they watched the other group making their camp.

"I think it should be safe. We deathknelve don't tend to attack each other," Falarin told her. "Unless they're Deathbringer rebels." Naian glanced at him curiously. "Oh, we had a big civil war type thing going on for quite a while. Tom was in exile, and a chap called Carai Deathbringer usurped the throne. They were on opposite sides at the battle of the Maughold. It'll make for some very interesting history lessons some day." Naian nodded and went back to observing the group. As well as the two deathknelve, it consisted of a dwarf, a minotaur, a drow and some thirty-odd humans. Morion and Vam'brac scrambled up to join them on their vantage point.

"What have we got?" Morion asked. "Ooh, a minotaur," he carried on, not bothering to wait for one of them to explain exactly what he could see for himself. "I could have a word, if you like. I'm known to the bulls."

"Really." Falarin sounded sceptical. "I've only ever heard of the minotaur showing the vaguest respect for one person not of their own, and she was an elf. Not you."

"You mean Theria?" Morion wondered. "Yeah, she's got plenty of friends out that way too. I should go visit her some time," he murmured to himself. "Anyway, no point hanging around up here. Come on." With that Morion simply hopped down from the shelter of the ruined building that was their current hideout and strode across to where the much larger group was making camp, with Vam'brac barely a pace behind, but scurrying to keep up. Falarin raised his hands in a gesture of irritation, but he and Naian followed suit.

"Siunauksia tuonela!" Morion called out through the gathering gloom. Heaven's blessings.

"Olet tervetullut," rumbled the minotaur in response - you are welcome - though there was a hint of suspicion in the bull's tone. The thirty-something others all stopped what they were doing instantly, with more than a few hands dropping straight to their swords. "Mika olet sinut tanne?" What brings you here?

"Uteliaisus," replied Morion with a little chuckle. Curiosity. "Nimeni on Morionquetil, toiselta nimeltaan Varjo Ystava." The minotaur's eyes widened then, and he dropped to all fours, coming forward to look Morion in the eye.

"Siunauksia tuonela, Friend-in-Shadow," rumbled the minotaur. "I am Sollemnis Rauniri. You are always welcome where bulls hold sway," he added, raising his head as if daring his companions to challenge this edict.

"Well I'll be damned," Falarin muttered to Naian. "Who'd have thought he was telling the truth?"

* * * * * * * *

"Treasure-seekers, I guess you could call us," Blaise told Naian. "Though the gods only know how we got into this. Basically we're following the mystical instructions of a room that shouldn't exist, for some reason. The cynic in me keeps saying we just give up and go home," he added, tone tending to the soulful, "but I'm a Valentine and a Watcher. I was born to meddle." Naian laughed along with him. Even in Fenrig they knew the reputation of the Watchers, always going off and getting mixed up in other people's problems. She had often speculated as to what life must be like for Watchers to have so few concerns of their own that they could spare the time and resources to help fix everyone else's. "What brings the strangest quartet I've ever seen to this miserable old ruin?"

Naian almost didn't know where to begin, and she told him so. "At first I set out looking to find something to help defend Fenrig, where my father is the warlord." That piqued Blaise's curiosity instantly. "Then I got captured and met Morion and Vam'brac, then I visited the king of the deathknelve, then the Convocation of Princes in Tyburn, then the Pontifex of the Meres, then we met Falarin in Stavangr, then we came south and I'm not sure what else I can tell you. It's been a very strange year for me."

"No kidding," said Blaise. "At least it wasn't boring."

"So what treasure are you after?" Naian enquired.

"I don't honestly know," the Watcher told her. "I think Harald has some idea, but he's keeping it to himself. Honestly I barely even know where we should start looking."

"Then maybe we should talk to Harald," Naian suggested. "Which one is he?" Blaise laughed.

"He's the giant blond one." Naian could see at least ten men fitting that description. "Harald!" Blaise shouted, and one of giant blond men turned around. Blaise beckoned him over. "This lovely young lady would like to talk to you about treasure." Harald sat down with them and considered the request. "And come to that, I'd rather like to know exactly what you have in mind for us here as well."

"I suppose I couldn't keep it to myself forever," Harald said, mildly begrudgingly, but she suspected that in truth he was relieved to be able to talk about what lay ahead. "You know, Blaise, that I was sent here by Tolemus, the duke of Tashhad. I assume you also know that Tolemus is something of a mystic and an eminent historical scholar." Blaise nodded. "He found something in one of his most ancient books. Tabarayn's Tome, he called it, and I can only assume that's Tabarayn the mage-king." Harald looked carefully at his audience, gauging their reactions. He found no reason not to continue. "Apparently Tabarayn kept a hidden chamber here, somewhere in the catacombs below the temple of Besz, and kept all his most powerful secrets locked away there. Tolemus thinks that if we can recover those secrets for him, he'll be powerful enough to conquer all of Mirmida." Blaise looked slightly incredulous, but not for the reason Naian expected.

"And you just thought you could walk into the private rooms of one of history's most powerful magi and steal his stuff?" he demanded. "Come on, Harald, even I put magical defences on my personal stuff, and I'm not exactly the mage-king." Harald looked slightly miffed.

"That's what I said to Tolemus, but he assured me that all the spells would have faded by now."

"The loose magic probably will have, but only probably. You can't try and second-guess a mage of that power. He could have figured out some way to keep them fresh for millennia." Harald had begun to look extremely concerned. "And if you lock a spell into something physical it can last for as long as the host." Blaise shook his head despairingly. "You're bloody lucky you ran into me, you know." He was about to say something else, but a cry of alarm split the evening quiet.

"To arms!" came the shout from one of Harald's men, and in a second all three of them were on their feet with weapons drawn. Naian recognised the next sound to break the calm, a deep, guttural roar.

"Melds," she announced calmly. "Aim for their faces. Body blows don't even slow them down."

((There you go guys, some action that you can all get your teeth (or swords, or keyboards if you're feeling literal) into. A party of semi-wild melds, most likely complete with a few escaped lizardmen, sentient-ised Vyre and probably a few humans as well. We just get everywhere.))
I hope I am a good enough writer that some day dwarves kill me and drink my blood for wisdom.

#5 some_weirdGuy


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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:22 AM

Vam'brac pulled out his weapon, twisting the shaft to release it into a two handed piece. He had been neglecting the unique tool, and he felt that this time he did not want to face grievous injuries.
His compaions never seemed to come out of their fights even half as bad as what Vam'brac would endure, and although he had said nothing he was feeling more than a little shown up.
He wasn't about to be shown up again in front of this new group. While pride was not high on his list of personality traits, it was still there somewhere.

He licked his teeth nervously, as Vyre sometimes are seen to do, and came into line with the others. The group had taken to a defensive formation, facing the direction of the noise.
"Great... I have the Vyre covering my back" said one of the men just infront, casting Vam'brac a contemptuous look over his shoulder. His friend also cast a glance back at Vam'brac, saying nothing but giving a slight shake of his head. Vam'brac ignored them, though made note not to try to hard when it came to helping those two in the heat of battle.

The creatures came into view. It appeard that the melds were the leading party, with on particularly nasty looking bear-man standing with an unmistakeable air of leadership.

The large group moved into the open street, both parties now staring each other down and noting who it was they would be fighting when the charge came.
There was slight shuffling, but other than that the scene was surprisingly quite. The leader roared, and with him the rest of the group joined to form a bestial chorus. The cries trailed off, replaced again by the tense silence.

One Vyre stepped forward, a nasty twist to his facial expression. He tilted his head back, giving the impression of a noble looking down their nose, but with a distinctly more hostile air about the gesture
"You trespass..." He snarled, pausing to look over the group slowly,
"This area..." he continued, pausing mid-setence for another tense moment,
"belongs to Ursidias!" he continued,, turning sharply to cast his accusatory gaze to the left flank of the group. He was clearly the speaker for the large bear-meld, who stood, chest heaving and eyes full of deadly intent, mouth foaming. Melds may have gotten the gift of the mind just as the Vyre, but it seemed even they still had the occasional madman.

"Enauggghhh!" roared the beast of leader, chewing on the word as one might chew a particularly tough piece of meat. Those nearest to him flinched, clearly their leader was not beyond taking his frustrations out on any and all who were closest. It was only after a moment that Vam'brac released he had said 'enough'.
"Yough leaghve! Yourgh fooghd, yourgh slughplies, yourgh vughluables... aghnd yough womeghn" Ursidias features contorted into a wicked snarl-like grin, and the enemy group started to make a bit of a ruckus. The grimey humans who hung at the end let out hoots, obviously appreciating the last demand (Vam'brac translated in his head as best he could: "you leave! your food, your.. um, ah! supplies, he said supplies, your valuables... and your.. what? women?") Vam'brac was disgusted. The melds and lizardmen he was unsure of, the humans were understandable enough but still just plain scumbags, but what self respecting Vyre would have relations with women of another race?

The noise quietened again, as both sides took each other in angrily.
Harald stood at ease, resting his weapon over his shoulder and looking to the men nearest to him. He chuckled, the sound incongruous in the tense silence. When he spoke his voice betrayed nothing of any fear he might have felt, instead coming out light and conversational:
"I don't know about you boys, but I don't think I like this ugly son-of-a-bitch's tone... not that I could understand a single word that came from the frothing muzzle of that overgrown child's toy." The calm of Harald's voice spread itself among his group, and he could almost feel their morale lift. Several of his men laughed.
Unfortunately Harald's taunting also saw an immediate effect among the enemy, as their leader ripped forward in a fit of rage, tearing right through the vyre who had first addressed the group. The others followed their leaders example, and the air filled with the combined roar of bestial cries and the yelling of men, as the first clashes of claw on steel rang out.

((Vort: Sorry, slight edit on Harald. These guys don't get scared. Ever.))

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