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Fantasy A Tide of Flames: a d20 Dungeons & Dragons adventure

Discussion in 'Role Playing Forum' started by Saintheart, Feb 20, 2008.

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  1. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    The Company of the Crescent Flame

    Brindol Cathedral, Elsir Vale
    Around four bells, before dawn, Twenty-fourth of Mirtul
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    Tredora didn't reply to Zanaek's question. She hadn't suffered any obvious wounds; Skadi had already checked for that. But she was wounded, indeed; Skadi could feel the woman's weight on her shoulder, the priestess's hand clutching like a child to its mother, the slowing of the lungs from panic down to normal respiration, fear and adrenalin draining away and the horror seeping in like floodwater beneath a door. Skadi's eyes fell on Mazarun for a moment and she had a sudden, fleeting, horrified thought - had the demon ... but no, the steel-bright part of her discounted that possibility. Sa'adi Adim had seen many in the aftermath of battle, and Tredora's shattered look was that of one who'd suffered violation of her home and associates, not her own body. And for all the blasted wasteland that would likely be the woman's heart right now, Skadi had a feeling this one would recover sooner rather than later. She gave a surreptitious shake of the head to Zanaek and kept walking the woman down the aisle of her shattered church.

    Light began to follow. Ariel noticed it first, and mostly because she'd stayed on guard for a few moments more, peering from one place to another. Even if many of the Cathedral's fittings had been profaned, the building's structure seemed intact -- and the great rose window at the eastern end of the structure, too, was still round. There were such windows that not only admitted light on the Eyrie, but also magnified it. This one, it seemed, was so made: the first, faint rays of dawn glimmering in the window. Ariel's gaze followed their line: an amaemic puddle of light, centred on the altar they'd moved Tredora from. Oddly enough, the altar's top itself had not been desecrated, and the white marble glowed faintly, a candle in darkness: natural sunlight this time rather than the godfire that had radiated from Zanaek's body. But no magic, now; no sense of evil or darkness.

    They quietly fell into rough column behind Skadi as she half-carried Tredora Goldenbrow to the Cathedral's front doors. Corrath had already quietly opened them, and a tangle of silver-and-gold-and-obsidian -- clerics of Lathander and of Kelemvor, gathered anxiously around the portal -- received them. The first faint glow of dawn was visible up over Brindol Keep's frowning battlement. Across the square, small clumps of men: Lions of Brindol, speaking quietly to one another, some invisible barrier holding them away more effectively than any blade. Over the threshold of the Cathedral, then, and Skadi's first thought was that the ground was no longer humped and rippled. Indeed, its exterior had changed back to the Cathedral they had first seen on arriving here only this morning; graceful buttresses; regular brickwork; sacred geometry in every line.

    There was a muted groan of grief and relief from the throng of priests as they saw Tredora and what had happened to the Cathedral's interior at once. But Skadi felt a suddent weight lift from her shoulder, and realised Tredora was standing on her own two feet; the child's grasping hand left her shoulder, and she turned to the Company.
    "I thank you." A rasp; a whisper. It was costing her legs to speak. "You ... have saved us. Saved this church. I. We. Owe you. Much."

    And then Lord Jarmaath was there, surging up the stairs, chainmail ringing like Luiren bells, a muffled sob escaping him as he caught Tredora Goldenbrow in his arms. A cheer, from across the square: guardsmen, throwing helmets into the air, surging forward, the Company suddenly surrounded by back-pounding hands and the subject of blessings from every tongue. A sort of heartbeat went across Cathedral Square, in predawn darkness: a murmur, growing into a cry, growing into a rhythm: "Heroes of Brindol! Heroes of Brindol! Heroes of Elsir Vale!"

    TAG: All
    Last edited by Saintheart, Feb 24, 2013
  2. Benjamin Bunny Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 22, 2013
    star 1
    Crapple Dapple, wrong thread. My sincerest apologies.
    Last edited by Benjamin Bunny, Mar 1, 2013
  3. Ktala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2002
    star 6
    OOC: No problem, BB! ;) Done that a few times myself. :D


    Ariel Elandinai
    Brindol Cathedral


    Ariel noticed as light began to stream into the church. She turned her head, following the source. A sliver of light, magnified by a rose colored window began to illuminate the building within. It somehow seemed rather fitting. A rebirth. The alter seemed to glow in the first mornings light. Ariel circled slowly, as she stayed airborne, and did not land until the doors of the Cathedral had been opened, as the Company led Tredora Goldenbrow to the front doors. Ariel had to give the woman credit, once the doors opened, the woman shifted herself, to stand on her own two feet.

    Ariel landed behind the party, and gently folded her wings around herself, as she noticed the people reactions from outside. The church woman turned first to face Skadi and the others.

    "I thank you." A rasp; a whisper. "You ... have saved us. Saved this church. I. We. Owe you. Much."

    And then Lord Jarmaath was there, surging up the stairs, chainmail ringing like Luiren bells, a muffled sob escaping him as he caught Tredora Goldenbrow in his arms. Suddenly the quietness was broken as a cheer broke from across the square. A throng of people surged forward, and the Company was surrounded by people, slapping them across their backs, as others broke into what Ariel guessed were well wishes, in various tongues. Not wanting to be thumped or grabbed anywhere near her wings, Ariel took flight once more, circling wide. Eventually, she could hear a cry that seemed to grow and swell in the pre-dawn hours. "Heroes of Brindol! Heroes of Brindol! Heroes of Elsir Vale!"

    It was strange, but Ariel didnt feel that way. Perhaps, because there was still so much to do, before the Horde reached them. Ariel had wanted to speak to Zanaek. To find out exactly what had happened. His spells seemed so much .. MORE. It was something that peaked her curosity. Ariel flicked Sulsalka with her wrist, to dispel the reminants of blood from the deamon, and then held her blade in front of her. With the blessings of the new light that began to rise, Ariel bowed her head. "Thank you, Winged Mother.." she began, as she prayed for the blessing of her, and the rest of the Tel'Seldarine. She thanked them, dancing in the morning light, as she moved for a few quiet moments to herself. She then allowed herself to scan the area around the city, before she moved to land once more, once the rest of the party began to head back towards the Great Hall. When they did, she would move to land next to Zanaek if possible.


    TAG: ALL
    Last edited by Ktala, Mar 2, 2013
  4. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Zanaek Grahorn

    Cathedral, Brindol

    It was over. Everything turned back to normal with the cathedral and the people gathered around them, patting them on the back and simply just trying to get closer to the heroes who had just saved their church and possibly the city from a very dire and demonic threat. He should have been used to it by now. Saving a community. Perhaps it were the eagerness the city showed them or the chanting shout declaring them heroes that was making him uneasy. Before they had come to Brindol it had mostly been simple thanks from farmers and towns folks, and dubious looks from the city folks.

    He caught sight of Ariel taking off to get away from the throng of people wanting to praise them for their heroics and he envied her ability to take flight. Zanaek smiled as warmly as he could but it felt forced to him. The horror of the demon was still fresh in his mind and he could only imagine how much worse it could have been had Torm not been with him. The cleric glanced to the sky and saw that it was still early morning, but he doubted he could get any more rest. No doubt Lord Jarmaath would want to celebrate the victory, to take advantage of the high morale it would bring to a city that would soon be plagued by another threat. Hopefully after he had tended to Tredora Goldenbrow and the ruined cathedral.

    Glancing at them, he could see that the Lord of Brindol was doing exactly that and Zanaek turned his eyes once more to his fellow cleric and companions, speaking so they could only hear. "I do not know about the rest of you, but I am not comfortable with this kind of attention. Shall we retire back to the Keep to break our fast and rest?" His gaze shifted to Ariel hovering over them, desiring her company the most. He had seen things in their fight with the demon that unsettled him and although Skadi would have been the better choice to discuss them, he was not in the mood for a lecture or her advice. He also knew that Ariel had been wanting time with him to talk and he wasn't sure when they would get another chance if they didn't take it now.

    TAG: ALL, @Ktala @Saintheart
  5. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 6
    Evelios D'Rtan Knows What Time it is, and So Does Poe the Raven
    But does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care about time?

    "I love the smell of victory in the morning, Poe. Smells like... victory."

    "So it smells like itself."

    "Well, of course it does, it's not wearing any cologne, is it? Stupid bird."

    "I'm stupid? You're the one saying 'victory smells like victory.'"

    "I said no such thing."

    <<Back me up on this one, guys.>>

    <<No can do.>>

    <<I didn't hear nothing.>>

    <<I didn't see nothing.>>

    <<Tooooommmmyy can you hear me?>>

    <<Who are you?>>

    <<Who?>>

    <<Who?>>

    <<Who?>>

    <<Who?>>

    <<I really want to know.>>

    <<Forget I asked.>>

    <<Forget you asked what?>>

    <<The aristocrats!>>

    "Anyway, as is customary on such occasions, I believe there is only one tradition that truly requires invocation on this... customary occasion."

    "Victory bagpipes?"

    "Victory bagpipes." And with a short arcane flourish, there, in the bard's hands, were exactly what he had been expecting.

    "You know this really cheeses Zanaek off, yeah?"

    "That's half the fun."

    "Half?"

    "... Three fifths."



    TAG: All

    OOC: It's been far too long. :p

    Perform at +31 = 35
    Ramza threw 20-faced die for: Perform = 1d20 + 31 Total: 4
    Last edited by Ramza, Mar 3, 2013
  6. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    I swear I'm writing the cutscene with Rillor but after two months my writer's block is massive and - anyway, baby steps.


    IC: Corrath Marktos
    Dawn - 24 Mirtul
    Cathedral, Brindol

    Corrath had never been very comfortable with being the centre of attention.

    Well, to be sure, she liked it when people listened to her - who didn't? And the Company did so much thankless nonsense that it was nice to be treated like heroes. But she had also spent a good two decades dodging the attention of guardsmen much like the ones throwing their helmets in the air - so to be surrounded by them, congratulatory though they were, was not exactly her idea of fun.

    Curiously, Zanaek and Ariel felt the same way, although Corrath would bet it was for some other reason. Regardless, she nodded. Sleep would be good. She felt like she'd not had a chance to sleep since, well, forever. First sneaking into the Keep, then negotiating with Rillor, and now this -

    Out of curiosity, her gaze flickered to the rooftops. There was a hint of movement, perhaps the edge of a disappearing cloak - but nothing else.

    Tag: All
  7. Rilwen_Shadowflame Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 6
    IC: Mazarun Zothyrr
    Dawn, in front of the Cathedral of Lathander

    It was strange, to come forth from the cathedral that had been their battlefield. For a moment, the nightmarish horror of the place lingered in Mazarun's mind, making this scene, this open square and its occupants, seem over-bright. This apparent normality itself seemed unreal, after the twisted shadows that had overlaid their reality throughout the fight.

    Stranger still to stand before a crowd and hear their cheering, and to be subject to their admiration. He'd hung back a bit, to avoid being caught up in the throng of people, certain that at any moment the blessings would turn to curses in his case -

    And yet... it never did. The strange unreality of this predawn crowd only increased for him then. This couldn't possibly last. There was no way it could last.

    But perhaps it was worth accepting it while it was around. They'd walked into a nightmare, and emerged again unbroken. They'd faced such creatures as haunted his memories, monstrous fiends with terrible powers, and they had survived. This Company was strong, for all its strangeness, and in this battle they had triumphed.

    True, they hadn't been in time for some, and he felt another little pang at the thought of Ulwai. He refused to dismiss the feeling. The others who had died would have people to mourn them. If he could feel any sorrow for Ulwai's death, then she would have that much, too. He felt as though he owed her that at least. Someone had to remember.

    There were other things, though, that he owed today. He'd have to take care of those soon.



    Later morning

    Coming to the Keepwood in daylight was an odd sensation. Some might have found it a lessening of that elven atmosphere he'd experienced last night, but to him, the sunlight lessened nothing - if anything, it increased it. If he was going to feel heartily uncomfortable walking of his own accord into a gathering of elves, the painful glare of the sun overhead might as well be the polish on the knife.

    He'd found the scholar already who had given them their direction to the stone lion, and had traded with him the name to record, Saemyra, for the location of the lost wingrider. This information now lay upon the scrap of parchment in his hand.

    Mazarun found his way to Sellyria, ever-conscious of the other elves watching him, and laid the scrap of parchment in her hands. His only explanation he delivered with an ironic little smile.

    "I keep my promises."

    TAG: Any/none
  8. cassie5squared Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2010
    star 2
    IC: WIlliam Marshall and Maeghen

    The light and air of clean, untainted dawn was almost soothing to William as he stepped out of the cathedral; it washed away the thoughts of the perversion they'd walked into a few minutes ago - was that really all it had been? Still, this was the least the Morninglord could do after they'd saved his priestess and holy building.

    He barely caught the sight of Lord Jarmaath approaching out of the corner of his eye before a much more immediate arrival distracted him. Maeghen, panicked and relieved and overjoyed all at once, was fluttering around him, checking for injuries and generally bombarding him with as much attention as she could, the argument forgotten already.

    By the time he finally got her reassured and settled on his shoulder, the cheering had started, and, like the others, all he could do was try to keep his footing amongst the crowd all apparently wanting to touch them, to shake hands or pound them on the back. A dissonant wailing arose from nearby, and he grimaced; Evelios was playing the bagpipes.

    Well, if that doesn't get anyone's attention, something's definitely wrong, he thought wryly, before letting himself relax a little and just enjoy the rest of the moment.

    TAG: None/all
  9. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Part Three: A Pool of Blood


    From the Castellan's Ledger, Brindol Keep
    27 Kythorn, 1368 DR Year of Scattered Lanterns



    I do not think I have ever been so frightened.

    There is nothing more that can be done for the season ahead; it will be hungry. Bos’s crews have harvested more completely than locusts would. The west fields are yellow stubble now. But I looked down in the Keep’s vaults today, and it is as though the grain and fruit have shrunk in the hauling to the cellars. I needed no arithmetic to see that. Too much grey wall for Bos’s voice to echo from as he was speaking to me. Too much empty air, and nothing to fill it, like a beggar’s stomach.

    I believe Bos when he says this is all they could gather in, and that none has been pilfered. The Black Knives are a treacherous lot, but I believe this compact saer Marktos has carved out held; that it will hold. More than optimism drives that. I have seen faces familiar from my court walking the battlements - thin, unsmiling, blinkless men, like shadows or ghosts. Standing alongside men who’d have imprisoned them a few months ago. War makes every man lawless. And wanting to survive makes all men good – at least a while. Yes; I think there will be no theft from the vaults - not with the Red Hand on its way. Where could such a thief go, in the Vale? Indeed I count myself lucky we gathered in as much as we could; saer Marktos’s Company, so Bos tells me, kept his foraging from being a bloody harvest indeed -- out to the west. The men have done their best, in the face of an army.

    The enemy is closing. The nights are still, and we can hear their war drums. There is a glow on the western horizon long after the sun has set. I can think of nothing like the sight but a glimpse of hellsfire. The size of the force against us is not known to all the men – yet – but any man with eyes can see, and wonder. I do not know what to think that the desertion rate is as low as it is. Perhaps it is simply as with the lack of thieving: it is too late to steal, or run.

    Outnumbered ten to one! Even with the walls prepared and strong as we can make them. Even with a full, hard company of mercenary dwarves to bulwark my men. And to attain those miserable odds, I have put swords into hands that should hold toys. I have asked hands clasped to walking sticks to bear steel. Men that trust me. Men that follow me because they say they believe I am doing the right thing. At least I do not have to listen to the sobbing of their mothers and sisters, except in my dreams. The wayns went many days ago, without incident, and they at least have the safety of Dennovar’s walls. I’ll hear many more cries, I think, when those wayns return.

    If they return. And if I live to hear them coming.

    I am afraid, but I will stand. There is still some hope. The wall still has some strength in it. With it we level the odds, or so the Lady of the Balance says. I do not know which god to thank for the Company, who brought that hope with them. Should all of us die here, I only hope their story lives on. Because no matter what Ulverth says about me leading this city, they are the ones who have given us a possibility of life. They have done more than any man could ask of a band of adventurers, as I damn well know. I can see some mettle in the men, even the boys, thanks to the strange lectures the Harper has given them. And then there’s the tall one, the Northerner; when he walks past, it’s as if the men straighten like parched corn after a good burst of rain. And when the Lady of the Balance passes, they straighten as much out of respect as fear that she’ll dress one of them down for a misplaced weapon. The Tormite cleric spreads hope where he goes, half the time with that angelic elf by his side. Mazarun, the drow, stands watches on the walls alongside saer Marktos – nighttime, mostly. I have heard tell the sentries feel as if the shadows are their allies, not their enemy while they’re present. Immerstal the Red is apprehensive about William Marshall, so I hear – and that is one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time given the way that old goat likes to preen himself. Two mages are four times as good as one, as they say. Without all of them, I do not know what my courage would lead me to do. But while they are here, I will stand – and so long as I stand, Brindol will not fall. For so I have sworn.

    And their effect on the men’s morale has been the least of their work on our behalf. Tredora has recovered - fully, she says. For that I would thank them a thousand times. And they have travelled from one end of the Vale to the other on our behalf, tireless, protecting our foragers, guiding the dwarves to our gates, even, so they tell me, managed to kill the general leading the Red Hand! They have been worth an army on their own.

    Tomorrow, final preparations. The Red Hand will reach the western fields, and thus our walls, in the next two days. This will be my last entry until the contest for the wall is done; I will have no time left. I have done all I can to be ready.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Mar 17, 2013
  10. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Ariel Elandinai & Zanaek Grahorn

    Brindol Keep, Elsir Vale
    Twenty-fourth of Mirtul
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)


    Ariel heard Zanaek as he spoke to the others. "I do not know about the rest of you, but I am not comfortable with this kind of attention. Shall we retire back to the Keep to break our fast and rest?" Ariel saw him look upwards to her, so she circled once and then gently came to land behind him. She didn't say anything, but just gently laid her hand on his shoulder, even as Evelios began to play his bagpipes. She could only shake her head at his antics now, even as a wisp of a smile played on her lips.

    She didn't say anything, but gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze, as she turned to head back towards the keep. She could care less if the others followed or not. If they wished to bask in the upbeat mood of the moment, then that was their right. But she was tired of bending to the will of the company. If Zanaek followed or not, she was heading back to her room.

    Speaking of Zanaek, he took one more glance at the Company and even winced at the sound of Evelios' bagpipes. Being this close to the bard was already giving him a headache and he had no qualms in vacating the area for a more peaceful surrounding. So he followed the only member of their group whose company he did not mind at all.

    Once they were away and well on their way back to the Keep, he lightly commented on Evelios, "I swear he does that on purpose to annoy me. I wouldn't mind so much if he was perhaps several dozen yards from me but, right in the ear? I hope he does not bring it back to the Keep and stays in the streets for a while."

    Ariel laughed softly. "But the look on your face is priceless." she said, teasing him gently. "But lets not give him any ideas. I think if he played it for too long, even Skadi would have issues with him,” she stated, as they walked back to the Great Hall. "Well, if he ever wanted an audience, then he has one now for sure," she added as they walked. She kept an eye out, making sure the others didn't rush up towards them, as they walked. She really was not in any mood for it. She then looked at Zanaek as they walked. She reached up, and gently tugged at one of his locks of white hair. "A new fashion statement?" she mused.

    Her amusement and teasing alleviated his irritation caused by Evelios' bagpipes. When she gently tugged on a gray streak of his hair, he frowned slightly. "No," he replied. "A gift, I suppose you could say, from the Ghostlord when I turned him. It... took a bit out of me to do it." He remembered how tired he had been afterward. It had been difficult to turn the powerful undead and perhaps it had been the reason why he hadn't noticed the demon in Urial the first time. Then again, demonology was not his forte.

    Ariel nodded slowly, as she remembered that battle. It almost seemed like in a distant memory, compared to what they had just now battled. But she wanted to take his mind off of battles, so Ariel quickly added. "Well, at least it was not from the bagpipes." They were nearing the Great Hall now, and she was glad to see its walls. Ariel sighed softly. She gently smoothed the errant lock back in place. "It makes you look a bit more distinguished. More established." She stated with a soft laugh, as she shook her head. She then grew a bit more serious.

    "I know, I should probably be thinking more of the larger battle to come. But I wish to think of other things, before we meet that battle. Life should be more than a string of upcoming battles to come." Ariel shrugged her battles. "Perhaps, if I was Ragnar, or Evelios, I would see it differently. Or even Mazarun. But after the last bit of visions..." Ariel flapped her wings slightly. "I rather concentrate on what time is available to me now." Ariel offered Zanaek another smile.

    "I agree. Let war be enjoyed by those who relish in its ingloriousness." Zanaek paused at the top of the steps leading up to the Great Hall's doors and looked to his avariel companion. He had caught what she had said about visions and he wondered what she had seen and perhaps dreamed the night before. "You saw things too?"

    Memories of what felt like a nightmare came to him and he allowed a shudder ripple through him at the thought of dying the way the demon had tried to make them believe. The cleric shook his head and continued on into the Great Hall. "I saw us dying, to the demon," he quietly added. "I tried to heal us... but," Zanaek shook his head again and ran a gauntlet hand through his hair. "I don't know why it stopped the illusion."

    Ariel gave a sharp laugh. "Oh, I saw things. Many, many things. Dark evil elves." Ariel added a snort. "Flying death. My home, dying. It perverted the Aerie. Changed things. It wanted me to fight it. Drawing strength somehow from it. Only when I figured that out, and laughed at it, did the illusions vanish." Ariel's voice had gone a bit tight, as she thought about the images. She could imagine how Zanaek must have felt, to have people dying around him, but unable to do anything. She nodded. "But it is gone now. And we are still here. And that is enough for me."

    Ariel smiled brightly once more. "So its illusions have failed. We did not succumb to them. Hopefully, the visions will fade with time as well." Ariel followed Zanaek into the Great Hall. "But right now, I am more interested in breakfast. Something, that lately seems to be a most difficult thing to have, without interruptions." She flashed him a smile. "And this time, I would like to not have to scrub down another sanctuary, and just enjoying a morning meal, without the thoughts of an upcoming battle." Ariel, looked out over the area. "Hmmm. It has been a while, since I have practiced on my horn. Perhaps I could give Evelios some competition..." She shot Zanaek a look.

    He laughed, something he hadn't done in quite some time and it felt refreshing to do it again. "Breakfast without interruptions or cleaning would be splendid, Arael'sha. Though I think your horn can wait until afterward, no?"

    He looked forward to spending the rest of the morning in peace with her and he hoped that it would remain that way for the rest of the day. No more demons, goblins and dragons to worry about. Though he suspected Skadi would probably come looking for him soon enough for some reason or another. He was half tempted to simply tell her no if she ever did seek him out later in the day.

    "Shall we?" he gestured ahead, eager to find food and talk with her in the privacy of either one of their rooms or somewhere else in the Keep.

    She then pulled back and laughed. "I think I can restrain myself from horn practice until much later. Though I make no promises, if he comes in with those bagpipes." Ariel added with a grin. Ariel's heart skipped a beat. 'Arael'sha.' He had not used the word with her in ages. She had wondered if he had simply forgotten. To hear him say it, made her feel more at ease. She had missed hearing him say it.

    She gently put out a wing, and gently touched his shoulder. "Indeed, Arael'sha." she whispered, putting her lips close to his ear. She then moved back, walking alongside him. "I wondered if you had ... changed your mind. You had grown... distant. Silent. I would not blame you. But I was, unsure. But I am at least glad you are willing to try. And with so many changes that have happened to us lately... I could see if your focus had changed." Ariel looked away, as if embarrassed about bringing up such a thing. She then looked back at him. "I am glad to see that I am wrong about such things." She offered her hand to him. "I know, that I can be difficult to understand sometimes." Ariel's eyes shined. "But my heart speaks the correct words, if I do not."

    Ariel looked at Zanaek. "I did have another vision. But this one was different. Many earlier before the one of the demons. A gift, from the Goddess, she shared with me. It was one of those nights, when we as a group often 'dreamed.' Ariel smiled. "I saw you." She looked at him deeply. "I saw you, on the night that changed you, to the man you are now." she stated softly.

    Zanaek was mortified at hearing her doubts for him and as he listened—and remembered how aloof he had become recently—he silently berated himself for failing to consider how his behavior of late might have appeared to her. "I am sorry for allowing you to think such things," he kindly apologized and reached up to lightly caress the wing she had brushed him with, to show that he had not forgotten her in spite of the trials of late. "You are right that my focus has been elsewhere and after the Ghostlord, I've had many new things to consider and reconsider, but you are not among those considerations that has changed. My... feelings for you have not lessened."

    He titled his head slightly to the side as he considered what she had told him about her visions. He had not known that she had dreamed of him. His dreams of late had been more nightmarish than pleasant save for the few where Torm seemed to speak to him and that usually was a prelude to a change within his abilities as a cleric of that holy deity. Rarely has he dreamed of the company or her and he wondered why. Something to ponder later, he thought.

    "I... wish I could say I had dreamed similar," he sighed softly and then chided himself for being so negative when he sensed she was trying to make things more pleasant, happier. He was not going to ruin their one chance to enjoy each others company with his sour moods of late. "Tell me more of what you saw, what She was telling you? I hope all good things." He grinned at the last, his tone clearly teasing.

    Zanaek and Ariel walked some ways into the Hall, heading for the floor that their rooms were located. She leaned into him. "Well, I saw you, as a young boy." She smiled gently. "You have your mothers eyes." she stated gently, not wanting to bring his mood down. She reached up, and gently touched his face, her finger tracing his jawline. "The Winged Mother approves of you." Ariel gave him a wink. "It speaks very well of your heart." She told him. "Humans burn bright, in the scheme of things. While I may not be as long lived as some of my elven brethren, we also appreciate this fact. Many do not realize how much we admire those who we manage to make true friendships with. We hold them close to us."

    Ariel blushed slightly as they turned and walked up the steps that headed up to where they were presently staying. A few servants scurried out of the way, but for the most part, they were ignored, as they climbed the steps. Ariel stayed silent for a moment, and as they reached the floor they were staying, she stopped, and turned to one of the servants.

    She asked where they could find some breakfast, and the servant told them that they would bring it to them. After confirming with Zanaek, she asked that breakfast be brought to his room, and together they both turned, to head towards his room, while the young girl moved to relay their request. Ariel felt relaxed now. More than she had in quite a while. She hopped that Zanaek felt the same. The pressures of the last few days had been showing. She hopped she could cure that, if only for a little while.

    His posture changed when they entered the room he had been given by their host. It seemed when he wasn't in the presence of others or knew he had privacy, he let down his guard and seemed less like the holy man he appeared to be and more like himself—a side that Ariel has only seen. "You are blessed to see that which I do not remember," he said calmly. If he was upset that she had seen his mother, he didn't show it. "I do not remember my mother."

    Zanaek dropped his haversack at the rectangular, short-legged table and undid his scabbard and potion belt. Aside from the bed there was a small table and chair, a nightstand and small table beside the bed. At the foot of the bed was a trunk to store the guest's things and an armoire and bookshelf against one wall. A weapons rack and a water basin on the opposite wall and a dresser also adorned the room. It was a comfortable chamber for a guest of Lord Jarmaath for sure.

    He began to undo the straps to his armor while he spoke, "I was too young to remember her, except a few things. I remember her being sad about something but I do not know what. I also remember her fearing for me the night the raiders came." He sighed softly, vague memories of that night surfacing. "It was also the night I found my destiny though I didn't know at the time."

    Ariel untied her belt, so that she could put down her weapon, before she moved over towards Zanaek. She extended her wings, something she only did when she felt comfortable, and sat down on the bed, as she watched him undo the straps to his armor. "I know." she stated gently as she watched him. His shoulders relaxed, and his entire body language changed. Ariel was glad to see it. For this was her Arael'sha... not Zanaek the cleric but Zanaek, the man.

    She smiled. "Well, then I shall dream for the both of us then." she added lightly. She stretched, and removed her cloak as well. She then stood, and looked, until she found the water basin, which she walked over to. She looked at her reflection in a nearby mirror, and reaching up, pulled down the tie holding up her hair. She poured a bit of water onto a cloth resting near the basin, and then she wrung out the water. She wiped her face, and then walking over to Zanaek, she bade him to sit still, while she gently began to wipe his face as well.

    She had barely begun, when there came a knock at the door. She looked over, grinning. "I do hope that is breakfast. I am quite hungry, surprisingly." she stated with a wink. She walked over towards the door, and opened it. Seeing the servant there with a tray of food, she smiled, as she took the offered tray, thanking the person. She took a deep whiff of the food. It smelled quite good. And the tray was quite heavy as well She turned, about to close the door, when she noticed the second person standing there also with a heavily laden tray of food. Her eyebrow shot up, but she said nothing, as she walked with the tray she was carrying to the table, and then went back for the second one. They seemed to be quite happy to stand outside of the doorway, though they both did take peeks inside. Ariel smiled, and took the second tray as well, and then looked into the hallway to make sure no one else was there to surprise her. Satisfied, she laughed softly, as she closed the door behind her, and then came back to the table.

    "Well, I guess we wont have to worry about starving, while we wait." Ariel said with a smile, as she sat down the second tray. All manner of foodstuff seemed to be on it, and it all smelled quite good. After eating hard tack for so long, it was nice to have a hot meal. Ariel walked over and pushed Zanaek towards the table now. "Come now. Eat. Before Skadi finds a new spot for us to scrub." she said laughingly. "You need to eat." She told him, as she began to prepare a plate for him, slapping his hands away if he reached for anything, until she was finished. She then handed him the plate, and sat down, her wings out and in a relaxed position. "Arael'sha, I've been curious." she stated, as she now fixed her own plate. "We all have had changes lately." Ariel gestured over towards her new sword. "My own abilities have changed as well. But your spells..." Ariel gave him another smile as she left the question hang in the air.

    Zanaek happily let her wait on him after his second attempt to try and serve himself. He sat at the table and accepted the plate of food, curious as to how they were going to eat it all and also feeling a little guilty at the quantity. He knew there were people out in Brindol and beyond its walls that needed the food more than they and the teachings of his church encouraged such generosity and frowned on gluttony.

    “What of them?” he inquired after her even though he had an idea of what she was curious about. He had noticed the change in the way his Torm-granted abilities have worked. He had grown stronger in his ability to heal, and a divinely glow seemed to radiate from his more holier prayers. He gave Ariel a gentle smile and tasted some of the cooked eggs and meats that were on his plate before he answered her question.

    I am not certain myself as to what has happened to my prayers and abilities,” he began. “I am still figuring it out, but from what I do understand Torm favors me. At least more-so than usual anyway.” His tone and choice of words suggested humility. He knew there were others in his church that would do just about anything to have Torm's favor and no doubt was just the same across any other faith in the world. He had the deity's favor but that did not mean he would be arrogant about it. “There is one prayer I've been granted that I've wanted to try out but I have yet been given the opportunity to do so. I would never waste it for personal reasons even though I would love to. So I will wait until the time is right for it.”

    He sighed softly and then glanced at her behind his cup of black coffee. “Does that adequately sate your curiosity, Arael'sha?”

    Ariel flapped her wings slowly, as she listened to him explain what had happened to his spells. She stayed silent, munching on some of the wonderful food they had before them, as she listened, her head nodding slowly. Finally, she spoke, as she drank some wonderful fruit juice she had chosen. "Ah, after my experience with the Tiri Kitor lately, I know what you mean." she answered with a grin. She was enjoying the moment, happy to simply enjoying the morning relaxing with her Arael'sha. “My own abilities have changed. And I would wager a guess, on everyone else as well. So it seems that we are getting 'prepared' for what is to come." Ariel leaned back, stretching. "But I doubt such a thing as a straightforward battle will be it. We shall need to do something to take the wind out of their sails, before they reach the city."

    Ariel took another sip of her juice, really enjoying the taste. She then looked up, giving Zanaek a wicked grin. "But, that is for another discussion." She paused. "For now," she timed her leap just right, waiting until he had put down his cup, and had the most interesting look on his face, before she leaped on him, smiling.

    "I want to think of something else!" she chuckled as her wings gently closed around him.


    Last edited by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, Mar 26, 2013
  11. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    A day’s hard march southwest of Witchcross, the Witchwood, Elsir Vale
    Late afternoon, 24 Kythorn, Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    Jorr’s elbows and knees screamed as he crouched and looked down into the dell. Old Man’s Twist in his joints was getting worse. The ghost in Vraath Keep had gone into his bones; had been working its way in there for the past three tendays or so. And all the cold spirits living in the green leagues of the Witchwood had been keeping the ghost company. It wouldn’ have been so bad if Warklegnaw had similar hurt. But the giant had been getting stronger over the past week. Jorr could see the barklike skin slowly lightening in hue as they fled east. As if the giant was coming into spring, like a tree or something. And in truth Jorr didn’t begrudge the giant painless knuckles. Warklegnaw’s hurt was inside, not out, and the greater.

    The dell was a green bowl in the woods, a scooping-out of grass open under trees that bent overhead like bowers over a child’s cradle. Shadow rustled from the leaves overhead; sunlight flickered in shafts, went out, flared to life again. Made it hard to see movement in the surrounding trees. Which made it gods-rotting impossible to tell if this was a trap. Suren the bait was there – on the east side of the dell, a fallen log, a man’s body sprawled facedown across it. The odd flicker of sunlight turned a streak of blood ruby where it touched it. Bait aright, but no noose or claws of the trap. So far as Jorr could see, and he’d had enough practice in three tendays of running from the stinking hobgoblins on their trail. He thought they were aright. No worgs for three good days, and no stink of hobgoblins. But he’d been wrong twice already in three tendays, and peaceful as the dell looked, a good place for a man to die, trouble walked in threes.

    Warklegnaw decided the issue. Rustling the surrounding wanderwood with uncharacteristic carelessness, the forest giant rose and took long, loping steps down into the open ground of the dell, striding into the clearing. Not a word to Jorr, not that Jorr begrudged him that; Warklegnaw’s hurt was inside, not out, and the greater. So the old woodsman of Drellin’s Ferry, or the big old pile of cinders that was probably left of Drellin’s Ferry, if yer please, rose. Old Man’s Twist screamed, but he covered it with grumbles in his head and moved down the side of the dell, turning a slow circle, hoping he’d not see a glint of sunlight off metal in the treeline. He didn’t; if Warklegnaw was sending them to their deaths, they’d be quiet ones.

    By the time he reached the forest giant’s side, Warklegnaw’s gnarled hands had turned the man’s form over with incongruent gentleness. The giant’s head cocked.
    This one still lives, Jorr Natherson. He breathes.” Warklegnaw’s voice was muted, a roll of far-off thunder. The giant had learned quietness such that Jorr sometimes could not hear him. Warklegnaw’s hurt was inside, not out, and the greater.
    Jorr’s pace quickened; the streaks of blood all over the log again gleamed red in a wavering shaft of sunlight, and suren there were more such ruby lines on the man’s green shirt. Be sure—”—inny horde markin’s onnim?”
    No, Jorr Natherson. Warklegnaw thinks this one is manfolk, not hobgoblin.” The giant inhaled deeply. Peered closer. “This one has the stink of hobgoblin to him, but Warklegnaw believes it is from the blood streaked on him.
    “Hobgoblin blood?” Jorr again did a quick circle of the dell with his eyes. If his attacker was – but there wasn’t a track within glancing distance, and no blood off the log, either. Warklegnaw was reaching into his heavy, whiffy pouch, rummaging among the lonely potions and salves there.

    Jorr got his first look at the man’s face. Stopped. Blinked. Looked again. “Well, pick me nose wi’ a toadstool.”
    Jorr Natherson knows this one?” Warklegnaw had his second-last scrounged healing potion held between thumb and forefinger, and the giant was looking at the woodsman.
    Jorr looked again, studying the cold, bearded, young features. “Aye. ‘Twas wi’ th’ Company – ye know, th’ Company, th’ ones who went t’ Vraath Keep. Th’ ones who go’ us all int’ this mess.”
    The man groaned, suddenly, the faintest air from his lips, and Jorr quickly took the healing potion, holding it to the man’s mouth. The potion splashed half over the man’s face, but some of it must have gone down the right way, because he took a shuddering breath, half-choked, and coughed, blood coming back to his face, hands coming up—
    “Easy, man,” said Jorr, grabbing the man’s arms as they came up. “No trouble here. All safe.”
    “Where—you!” said the man, focusing on Jorr’s face. He looked around, suddenly, eyes widening with fright. “The hobgoblins—are they—”
    “No. No. Nobody near, from what we know. Yer in the Witchwood. Eastern end, me head’s thinkin’, maybe a mile or two fr’m the forest edge.”
    The man seemed to calm, at that; looked at Jorr; looked up at the giant for a second, but winced with sudden pain, hand going to his side. Jorr hurriedly pushed the healing potion into his hands. As he drank, Jorr turned to Warklegnaw. “His name’s Alessandro Itrayem. Some kind of actor, I think, if I r’member whut the Company was sayin’ on th’ trail.”
    An actor?” Warklegnaw’s woody brow knotted. “What is that?

    Alessandro coughed, lowering the bottle. “There’s no time,” he said. “You said we’re where? At the forest edge? How far from Brindol?”
    “Aye,” said Jorr. “Hobgoblins’re crawling over th’ Vale, bu’ if I r’member the maps o’ the Vale right, it couldna’ be more th’n forty miles from here t’ the city walls. Warklegnaw an’ me were thinkin’ t’ make f’r the Witchstream an’ follow it t’ Witchcross, circle roun’ t’ the east.”
    Alessandro shook his head, a haunted look in his eyes. “There isn’t time. I’ve got to get back to Brindol. There’s word that—”
    Lissen, boy.” Jorr had grabbed Alessandro’s front. The healing potions had dealt with the horror of lacerations there, though the shirt was more or less beyond repair. “If yer talkin’ jus’ walkin’ out of the forest and goin’ as th’ crow flies t’ Brindol, ye’ll have every hobgoblin for fifty miles riding ye down in hours. The Red Hand’s abroad in th’ Vale, ye understand?”
    Alessandro pushed him back, a surprisingly strong movement that sent the old woodsman stumbling. “I know too damn well they’re out there, old man. You hear me! I lost a good friend, you wouldn’t know him, name was Mal Windrider. He gave up his life so I could get this far. And if you think for one gods-damned moment what’s out there in the Vale is the worst of it, you haven’t seen anything yet. There’s a bloody apocalypse coming. Right out of the gates of hell itself. And right now there’s only one group of people I can think of in the entire Vale who’ve got any chance of stopping it!”
    Warklegnaw does not understand. Does Alessandro Itrayem refer to the army heading up the great road, towards the men’s city? Because Warklegnaw understands the end of all things where such armies are concerned.
    “Gods no.” Alessandro shuddered again. “It’s worse. That army’s part of it, but the rest – we’ve got to get back to Brindol. We have to find a way. Because if we don’t then everyone who’s yet died, everyone who will die – my friend, Mal Windrider – they’ll all have died for nothing.

    Silence in the dell, for long moments.

    Jorr flexed his hands. Old Man’s Twist shrieked up his knuckles. They were getting worse. And unless they were lucky or found more corpses, there’d be few healing potions between here and the gates of Brindol. Or few places to hide. The woodsman looked at Warklegnaw, but the forest giant said nothing. Not that Jorr begrudged him that; Warklegnaw’s hurt was inside, not out, and the greater.

    The woodsman turned to the east. “We c’n prob’ly make the forest edge b’fore nightfall. Th’ stinkin’ hobgoblins’re getting thicker than flies on a dog’s arse, but we can take a few hours t’ see whut their p’trols are like b’fore we make a run int’ th’ plains.”

    TAG: No one
    Last edited by Saintheart, Apr 8, 2013
  12. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Zanaek Grahorn

    Brindol Keep
    27 Kythorn, 1368 DR
    Year of Scattered Lanterns

    Time seemingly passed by slowly since the demonic attack on the Cathedral and although the Tormite cleric had found a pleasant sanctuary in the company of his arael'sha, they both had been thrust back to reality shortly afterward in the form of more meetings with Lord Jarmaath and the other leaders of the Vale and Brindol. It led to one argument after another as to what they could do and how best to do it until it reached a point that Ragnar grew fed up and tossed down his large hammer and demanded action. None could argue with the northerner on that and from there action was taken and happened rather quickly that even Zanaek could scarcely recall what had occurred and when it occurred.

    But when the company began discussing on how to and proceeded to eliminate the Wyrmlord leading the army, he had put his foot down and refused to participate. Assassination was within the realm of his Lord's enemy, Bane, and he would not condone it no matter how much of a benefit they and the people of the Vale would gain from Kharn's death. He had thought he had persuaded the others out of it but apparently had failed and wondered if perhaps had he helped, he could have directed them to be less dishonorable about it at least and perhaps not lie to him and Skadi either. Even now he still held a bitter taste in his mouth at the memory of how they had been tricked into going after scrolls and magic items, while those with more stealthier and deadlier abilities sought and murdered Kharn in his sleep.

    Now he stood on the battlements of the western-most wall, looking out at the glowing horizon where the enemy encampments were. The drums of war could be heard, sounding dreadful and signifying all at the same time. He wished there was more they could do to stop the tide of death that was rushing in on them, but they had done all they could for the city. Walls were reinforced, men both old and far too young were armed and trained rigorously by his companions. He had spoken to the clerics of Lathander and Kelemvor to see what he could add to bolster the defenses of the city and prepare everyone for the dead and dying that would be flooding the streets once the siege began. He had spent time making extra battle and healing potions, and scrolls of healing, protection and summoning when he wasn't traveling with the others. But he knew it might not be enough. He had seen the size of the army approaching through his scrying and unless they dealt with the dragon, he feared the battle would be over far sooner than they hoped.

    However he never once showed his pessimism when he made his rounds to bring morale to the troops and even now as he brooded atop the battlements, leaning against the Staff of Life, he kept his thoughts to himself and disallowed for them to show in his expressions. The only people that probably would know what he was thinking were his friends and more specifically, Ariel. Thinking of her again brought his gaze to the sky searching for her soaring, winged form but did not see her in the vicinity. They hadn't had much time together since the attack on the Cathedral, but they had managed to steal moments of conversation and affection here and there whenever they could.

    The Tormite cleric closed his eyes and listened to his surroundings. The wind breezed gently and hot against his skin and rippled his vestments, the sounds of life still fluted up to his ears from wherever the birds chose to tweet their song, and in the midst of nature's symphony, he could hear the clash of sword and axe against metal and wood from below where men continued to train. If he listened carefully he could swear that he could hear the heartbeats of those on guard atop of the battlements as they waited in excitement and fear of the coming army, but knew the sound was actually the beat of the drums in the far distance.

    He opened his eyes once more to stare at the burning horizon, memories of darker times surfacing and reminding him of the terror and evil that was to come. At least this time there will be no children to orphan, he thought as a memory surfaced of evacuating the city of women and children, and unable men.

    Zanaek's grip tightened on the staff as the sound of war grew louder, May the Gods protect us from the coming bloodshed.

    TAG: @Ktala, @Saintheart @Ramza @DarthXan318 @Penguinator @cassie5squared @Rilwen_Shadowflame
    Last edited by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, Apr 8, 2013
  13. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Nimon’s Gap, Elsir Vale
    Ninth of Kythorn, Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)



    Kha’zorah was roused by the crackling of the hide tent flap as it was rolled aside. That, at least, had gone to plan. He had commanded Zakarr not to disturb him for an hourcandle’s life, and the warpriest had reached the desired point within himself. Eyes shut, kneeling, bent forward, kneecaps, forehead, and knuckles pressed to the black, clinging earth, he had reached the void; the twinned emotions of terror and anger had fallen away. In the meditative trance, he nourished and was nourished by the searing, constant fire that was there. There was certainty, conviction, in the rage of his contemplation.

    The fivefold rage, as he had been taught. The rage of Tiamat.

    As Zakarr closed the tent flap behind him, Kha’zorah raised himself from the ground, settling back on his haunches. The warpriest brushed dirt from his knees as he studied his acolyte. Zakarr’s face betrayed no fear – that was punishable by flogging in the presence of a warpriest – but Kha’zorah knew the signs of controlled agitation as the stripling’s gaze flickered to the other contents of the tent.
    “Speak,” he said. The voice was low, gravelled; sermons to the Red Hand were given on battlefields, not weak men’s churches.
    Zakarr’s hands clasped one another, and the object they held. “The recovery crews have finished. The brothers are mending what can be.”
    “How many?”
    Zakarr knew the priest was not referring to the dozens of faithful frantically attempting to ameliorate some of the raid’s damage. “The brothers estimate the loss of half the library.”
    “I asked you how many, not your brothers’ fearful estimates.” The sibilants were the sound of blades being drawn.
    Zakarr straightened. The acolyte’s eyes met Kha’zorah’s steadily. “I count a quarter remains. The brothers think another quarter can be salvaged from ash corruption, but I have seen what they regard as salvageable.”

    The warpriest of Tiamat did not howl or snarl at the number. Terror and anger had fallen away, and his meditation had revealed that neither emotion had any use. Whether he raged or wept, the Red Hand had still lost three quarters of the divine scrolls prepared for this campaign the previous night. Fire had consumed them; fire not generated by the great red that travelled with the Red Hand; a cursed fire. It mattered not. Ten thousand hobgoblins could not be stopped even by the destruction of healing scrolls. Soon the city of Brindol, weeks ahead of them, would see that for itself. So the High Wyrmlord had said, and so had Wyrmlord Kharn said.

    But it was a cursed fire indeed: because of the identity of the raiders who’d lit it. Raiders who’d stolen into the camp like thieves. Thieves who had grown from footnotes in dispatches to legends. Thieves the troops spoke of quietly around the campfires, no matter how many lashings the warpriests administered to stop the talk. Eight ghosts, the whispers went. Ghosts who appeared and disappeared; who flitted from one end of the Green Valley to the other in the blink of an eye; ghosts angered and awakened by that fool Koth trespassing on their castle back in the wood. Ghosts who did more than rattle chains. Ghosts with swords; with mauls; with magic. Ghosts that sang. Ghosts who had killed two dragons and Tiamat’s beloved servant Varanthian. Ghosts of dead priests sent by the Grey Hand and the Maul, who watched over the Green Valley, and now had their eye on the Red Hand.

    Fire had cut a deep wound into the Red Hand’s resources, but the talk was a deeper wound still.

    Kha’zorah looked at the object. “And that one? Is it salvageable?”
    “It is intact.” Zakarr had not moved; still held the scroll in both his clawed hands. “Though it perhaps is the only one of its kind that is. Fire did not touch it.”
    Kha’zorah looked at him. “What do you mean, stripling?”
    The acolyte took a small, hesitant step. “They found it lying in a ring of ash. Every scroll around it was consumed. Some of the brothers say the fire feared to feast on it.”
    “Fools.” Kha’zorah stood; straightened. “Where is their faith?”
    “Master Kha’zorah, do not do this.” There was a strange tone to the acolyte’s voice. “It is a task for the Champion.”
    Kha’zorah held the acolyte’s eye for a long moment. Pride suffused him. Zakarr had been under his tutelage for two years; half of the time since the warpriest had taken up the banner of the Five-Headed goddess. The acolyte had come to Kha’zorah a mewling child. Now he had the courage to openly question a warpriest’s abilities. Not to mention the brain to make an intelligent guess from Kha’zorah’s single order. “The Champion is not here, stripling.”
    “Lord Abithriax can lead us, until he comes. High Shadow Skather will return with the dawn—”
    “They are not the people of the Hand. They are shards of She Who Breathes. It is not meet that a dragon, whether one who walks or one who flies, should concern himself with the scurryings of the groundbound. The palm of the Hand is Wyrmlord Kharn.”

    Kha’zorah held out his hand, palm upraised. Zakarr did not move. “Master, you have honoured me as a sire does his eldest. You have taught me She Who Breathes’ ways without fault. I have killed in the Questioning Duel with your words and your tactics to guide me. But you taught me too well. She Who Breathes may not walk with you into the Lord of the Dead’s camp. You have not been through the trials that the Champion has. Nor do you bear any ransom.”
    “The Champion crafted the scroll you hold. Would he -- and She Who Breathes -- have provided it to us, if not against such a setback as this?”
    “Your arguing is flawed, Master.” Zakarr’s eyes gleamed. “The Champion may have provided it so he could make a demand, not you.”

    Kha’zorah’s palm lashed forward; grabbed Zakarr’s black robe by the chest. The warpriest drew Zakarr close enough so he could see the acolyte’s eyes moving.
    Look at him,” he commanded; and Zakarr did, eyes shifting past the warpriest’s shoulder. Kha’zorah already knew what the acolyte saw: Wyrmlord Kharn’s seven-foot-long body, laid out on a mat of woven sticks, the massive hands closed over the barrel chest to disguise the gaping gash in its centre. Kha’zorah had not seen that wound inflicted, but had seen the weapon that withdrew from it; seen Kharn’s blood on the blade. Had seen, for a brief moment, the dark face that had wielded the blade, as the shouts of outrage rang out and the guardsmen rushed to attend to a duty that was already beyond them.
    “You have good eyes,” said Kha’zorah into his acolyte’s ear. “Now think about what you have seen since we found him. In the faces of the warriors. In their eyes. Think back to how many were listening when the word came of the disappearances: of Saarvith; of Ulwai. Of how the search parties found the stone lion a charnel house looted, with no presence there but dust and bone. We cannot lose him.
    Zakarr said nothing.
    Kha’zorah unclenched his fist and let the acolyte go. “And it is within my capabilities.”
    “And the ransom?”
    “I have it. You will stay, to witness the compact made.”
    Zakarr looked at the body. “As you command.”

    The warpriest pulled the scroll from Zakarr’s hands. He turned to the corpse and unfurled the papyrus and closed his eyes. The fivefold rage burned still within, reaching out from his heart to scorch his mind. Kha’zorah swallowed to ensure the first syllables of the spell would not be choked, breathed in, and began.

    The wind began to rise. It was not a wind that moved the air or cooled those it touched. It was the black wind of nightmares, the howl one heard outside thick walls and trembled to hear nonetheless. A wind in the spirit; a wind that any creature attuned to it could feel -- as Zakarr and his Master were. With the wind came the cold. Ice crystals began to form in the decanter left at one side of the tent. Zakarr clenched his teeth to keep them from chattering. Kha’zorah was within the spell and did not feel it. For such was what he had expected.

    Zakarr’s family had a talent for music in it. A little of that music was in the acolyte’s heart still. That part of him responded to the wrongness when it expressed itself, for it was a wrongness like a misplayed note in a symphony. A misplayed note followed by more such notes, terrifying the heart as one realised with every passing second there was a symphony of chaos, of disharmony, that had always been there in the music.
    That the chaos had been the musician’s true intent to begin with.
    “Master, what have you done?” the acolyte called, as the chaos reached a crescendo. He did not concern himself with breaking Kha’zorah’s concentration; indeed there was a part of him that wanted the spell broken, the nonsense syllables spilling from the Master’s mouth to end. But neither did Kha’zorah respond. What he had done was self-apparent.

    And, as the warpriest drew the ceremonial knife from a cunning pocket in his robes and drew his palm across the blade, what he had done was given form. The candles in the tent dimmed as if a black veil had been drawn across them. Above Kharn’s corpse, above cold, dead fingers clasped to dried rivers of blood, the eyes appeared.
    Speak,” said a mouthless voice. Echoing from the bottom of a grave.
    Kha’zorah’s eyes opened. He gazed on madness. “I would have this one returned.”
    The eyes turned, hideously, impossibly, to study Kharn’s corpse. “This one is marked by the Dark Lady,” said the voice. “ Why should my master intercede where the Dragonqueen’s word rules?
    “Because I have need!” snarled the warpriest. “I cannot wait for the Champion to petition She Who Breathes!”
    The Lord of the Forsaken Crypt does not steal idly from the Fugue Plane, no matter how great a fool Kelemvor may be. Your need to him is nothing.
    Kha’zorah broke gaze with the madness and looked at Zakarr. He was suffused with pride. The acolyte was his finest work. In truth, his most precious possession; the first fruit of Kha’zorah’s mind. The warpriest’s empty palm crackled with pain and his own drying blood. “Because I present a ransom.”
    Faceless eyes turned to Zakarr. Fixed the younger acolyte in place with terror. Silence for an eternity. “Done.

    Kha’zorah raised the knife high. Pale green eyes watched it descend.

    The wind rose high, not just in the mind, but now in the air of the tent; ice froze the decanter’s water and began to paint the walls white. The pale green light from the eyes was now the only illumination in the tent. Zakarr pulled his robe hard around him as he stared at Kha’zorah’s body. The warpriest had crumpled forward on his knees, the knife hidden from view, head touching the mat before him.
    Bear witness, dragonling,” said the voice. “That all those who would cheat Velsharoon the Vaunted will know their fate.
    “What do you mean?” the acolyte dared, even as the room darkened. “He gave his own life! For the Wyrmlord to be raised from the dead!”
    Pale green eyes bored into the acolyte. “He gave his own life and soul. Not yours. Therefore the one he wishes returned shall be. But not as he was. To deceive my master is fruitless.

    And the cold, the wind, and the darkness were gone.

    Zakarr walked to his master’s body and knelt down. The acolyte’s fists pressed together. His eyes closed.

    On the mat of woven sticks, the death knight's eyes opened.

    TAG: Nobody
  14. Rilwen_Shadowflame Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 6
    IC: Mazarun Zothyrr
    Night, 8 Kythorn

    They came with the night to do their work, silent as the breeze, swift and deadly as a poisoned knife in the dark. Fire was kindled to consume the scrolls of the goblins with its voracious heat and hunger, yet Mazarun was not there to see it... just as those who did conjure that flame were not there to see the bloody work done in secret by the others; those who'd quietly agreed upon it earlier had set out to bring down a very different target to the massed scrolls.

    The Wyrmlord, Kharn. Great stature and mighty muscles were to no avail for the hobgoblin, felled before he could bring either to bear upon his attackers. Kharn had died in his bed, thirsty blades drinking his life even as he slept, unaware until the end of his peril. In those last desperate moments Kharn had seen them, and had seen in them his death.

    A fearful last sight, truly; grim-faced adventurers, all of their will and focus set to the kill. And death, most of all, had been on the face of the drow, so eager to kill this foe; the white-painted skull design adorning his dark features had been as an omen of the grave, a macabre smile welcoming Kharn to the end of life.

    Time had not been on their side, here amidst the enemy, but none had disturbed them until the deed was done, until it was far too late to stop them. The others had slipped away; Mazarun, still twisting the blade, still reaching for his knife as though to blind the corpse in one last gesture of contempt, had not. Instead, crimson eyes gleaming in the hellishly painted visage that was his face, he had stared down the oncoming hobgoblins, smiled cruelly -

    - and vanished, Kharn's blood still soaking his hands.

    Disappearing back into that all-consuming night, he had felt satisfaction at their success, and rejoiced at the destruction they had wrought. No recriminations that might be expected in the morning for this course of action could touch him just now; there was no future, only the present, and the blood upon him. No mark of shame, this blood, but a blessing; painted in scarlet, a tribute to the art of death.

    TAG: Any/none
  15. Ktala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2002
    star 6
    Ariel Elandinai
    Brindol Keep


    Ariel glided gently, carried by the blessings of the Winged Mother, whose strong winds carried her high as she slowly glided, circling high above the keep. It was calmer here, than with all the strong emotions that ran within the Keep. The
    anxiousness and grimness within the walls was one thing. She understood those. A army of death was making their way to the Keep, and all those within knew that they would have a hard battle before them. But what was more jarring to the senses, was the feeling within the Company, as of late. Ariel closely watched the various grounders, nothing what she saw.

    Her Arael'sha, kept time mostly upon the battlements, when he was not busy speaking with the various clerics, or in prayer. Skadi also, kept very busy, and more grimed lipped than ever. Ariel gave her a wide berth. Every since that night, Ariel perceved a bit of a change. Ariel did her best to lift Zanaek's spirits as best as she could, but she could feel how tense he was of late. It started with the meetings. After many arguments and meetings, for what felt like days on end, it was finally decided that they needed to act, in order to slow down the horde. After Ragnar's very persuassive point, it was decided they would sneak into the camp, their mission, to destroy the many scrolls and magic items they had found out that the Horde had been gathering for the upcoming battle. It was a good solid plan. And everyone made it back intact. But while the others were taking care of the task at hand, something happened. Ariel had no inckling of what else might have happened, but after the excitement of everyone after they had all returned, and the night turned into day, something felt differnt. Then there was the reactions of Skadi and Zanaek. Thought there was nothing deffinate, she could tell something had occured. It was a strange feeling, but was there just the same.

    **Sigh**

    Ariel turned, winging a slow circle. She took the time to play on her horn. To block the sounds coming from the camps, still so far away. To calm the minds and steady the nerves. Whatever time her Arael'sha had free to him, Ariel did her best to calm his spirit. Sometimes, it was just something as simple as sitting quietly, and listening to him talk. Other times, it was more. But she did her best, to assist as best as she could. Not just for him, but for any she could help, during the training and practices. But most time, she spent her time in the air, watching over all. It kept her close to the Goddess, and it gave her time in meditation for the battle to come.



    TAG: None
  16. cassie5squared Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2010
    star 2
    OOC: Combined post between myself and Rilwen. This is part 1, she will be following with part 2.

    IC: Mazarun Zothyrr, William Marshall
    9th Kythorn, Brindol
    Afternoon

    The sound of footsteps roused Mazarun from the contemplation of the little book in his hands. Glancing up toward his doorway, the drow saw William walking by outside. "Almost anti-climactic, isn't it?" he called. "Being back here, after going out there. Coming back and waiting for more to do."

    William paused, glad for the distraction, and came to the door. "I don't think of it like that, personally. It's more of a rest between troubles."

    The drow sat up, setting the book aside, and beckoned William into the room. "I suppose you could see it that way," he conceded, "but... I don't know." Mazarun shook his head. "Doing something active about the Red Hand suits me much better than the waiting."

    The wizard conceded and came in, leaning against the table. "I suppose it must be hard on you," he agreed. "You've spent so much of your life doing things."

    "There's always something to fight," Mazarun affirmed. "But the Red Hand - there's something to fight, certainly, but it's just too big." He tugged on one lock of hair contemplatively. "It would be easier in the Underdark. Limited routes, terrain I know... we could cut them off a thousand times over before they reached here."

    "Hazards of the surface." William half-smiled. "But that's why we've worked so hard to slow them, starve them, bleed them where we can. It's all we can do."

    "There should be more," Mazarun grumbled. He sighed, ran a hand impatiently through his hair, and motioned for the wizard to sit down beside him. "Still, if we pull this off..." He laughed. "If we get through this, quite a lot of things are going to seem very tame. Facing demons, dragons and a horde of goblins really puts the pressure on when you're looking for a next goal, doesn't it?"

    "Does it?" William sat down obediently, rather glad for the chance. "I've never really seen those things as goals. Just... obstacles." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "Very large ones, admittedly."

    "Large?" Mazarun scoffed. "A dragon is not a large obstacle. Why, it's barely as troublesome as a stone in your shoe, isn't it?" A wry smile touched his lips.

    "I don't ever count a dragon as a minor obstacle."

    "Mm. More like a little hindrance. A stubbed toe, perhaps."

    "You're very flippant about this." William rubbed the silver ring on his finger absently. "I almost wish I could feel less concerned."

    "So do I." Mazarun dropped the joke, speaking more seriously. He ran his thumbnail along the cord about his neck that held his insignia pouch. "But worrying isn't going to help, is it?" Twisting the thin cord around his fingers, the drow looked over at William. "Come, though; we spoke of goals. If we get through all this, what do you plan to do?"

    "Me?" The wizard frowned. "...Return to Waterdeep, I suppose."

    "That's all? Nothing you truly want to do?" Mazarun leaned back, sprawling across his bed, hands behind his head. "Surely you can think of something."

    "I've rarely had any definite goals in mind. I just... travel, and study. I help where I'm needed." William frowned. "I'm a scholar, first and foremost, and scholars live for study."

    "So, more studying?" Mazarun laughed quietly. "What's the likelihood of your discovering something that would have been incredibly useful, if only you'd known it earlier?"

    "Useful for what?"

    "Anything. If you got into any situation and only narrowly got out of it again, wouldn't it feel strange to learn there'd been an easier way to solve it, if you'd only known?"

    "I suppose." William chuckled a bit. "Worse is not being able to do something that I know could help. Like the translocation spell - I've known of that for a long time, but it was only a few weeks ago I gained the ability to cast it."

    Mazarun nodded. "That's one of the useful ones, certainly." An idea came to him, one that put an impish light in his eyes. "Where would you study, after all this?"

    "I hadn't much thought about it," William admitted. "I came to Brindol to study, but I have the feeling I won't really be welcome at the Academy any more." He glanced at the drow, and couldn't help but smile a little himself. "What are you thinking?"

    "Oh, nothing," Mazarun said airily. "...Well, maybe I was just wondering how exclusive the sorts of places might be that you would choose to study in."

    William raised an eyebrow. "You first met me in a Skullport bookshop. I'm not that finicky."

    "Then perhaps you may get some surprise visits, wherever you go," Mazarun told him, with a teasing grin. "Won't that surprise people?"

    "Why would I be getting surprise visits?"

    "Because finding you could be an interesting hobby for me," the drow replied blithely.

    This earned him a long stare. "You must have far too much time on your hands."

    Mazarun waved one slim dark hand in a dismissive gesture. "Merely taking an interest in your future, of course. I like to keep track of what happens to interesting people."

    "I see." Deciding not to pursue that line of conversation any further, William ran one hand through his hair ."There is one place I've never been that I'm not certain I could get into," he admitted eventually. "Candlekeep."

    "Why couldn't you?"

    "They have an odd sort of entry price. You have to give them a book that's rare - ancient forgotten lore, or new discoveries, that sort of thing." There was a rueful look on William's face. "I've none of that... at least not that could make for a book."
    TAG: Rilwen
    Last edited by cassie5squared, Apr 13, 2013
  17. Rilwen_Shadowflame Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 6
    OOC: Part two of combined post with Cassie.

    IC: MazarunZothyrr, William Marshall

    9th Kythorn, Brindol
    Afternoon


    "That
    is an odd entry price." Suddenly, Mazarun sat back up, expression afire with a new idea. "Why not lore from somewhere human scholars can seldom go?"

    William raised an eyebrow. "Are you offering?"

    "Yes." Delight shone in his expression at William having caught his meaning so quickly. "I know stories and all sorts of similar things that I very much doubt have ever even been translated into Common before. You don't get rarer than one-of-a-kind..."

    "I can't say I'd ever be willing to turn down an opportunity like that." The wizard's eyes were alight. "You'd really be willing to tell me all that lore, and let me write it down?"

    "For you? Easily."

    "It wouldn't just be me who reads it..."

    "I know that." Mazarun shrugged. "It's not as though I'd go telling the deepest secrets of the Underdark. But even the stories we tell must be worth
    something. And I think it would be good for more people to know them."

    "It would. Who knows, it might be better for people to have another perspective. We could
    understand your people better."

    Mazarun's smile faded. "There are some things I doubt you'd want to understand. I've lived them, and I'm still not sure I do."

    A sympathetic hand came to rest on Mazarun's arm lightly. "I'm not suggesting we can or will. But we don't have to - not everything."

    Mazarun sighed quietly, not shaking off William's hand. "I'm afraid to go home," he said bluntly, startling even himself with the raw honesty of it. "I have to, and for too many reasons to explain. But... it's so different here. I'm seeing things I couldn't have imagined before."

    "I've seen Skullport. I've no illusions that Menzoberranzan is any better than that. It's no surprise you'd find things so strange up here." William smiled a little ruefully. "But I can hope that it's not so terrible?"

    "It's... not so terrible," Mazarun agreed reluctantly. "Menzoberranzan, though... comparing it to Skullport does not do it justice." He shook his head, seemed about to speak, and then stopped. At last, he asked abruptly, "Do you know how we are taught to look to ourselves first?"

    "I don't." William hesitated. "And you don't have to speak of it, if you'd prefer not to."

    The drow stared down at his hands. "The price is made far too high to do anything else." Suddenly, Mazarun found a
    need to speak of this, to have someone genuinely understand this. "I... I've been fortunate, in one way at least. My full-brother, he warned me. He told me what I had to hide and why, when he saw his flaw repeated in me." One hand tightened unconsciously into a fist. "When he was young, they saw it in him. Our half-siblings. The family took a boy from the streets, and brought him into the House, to be my brother's friend and constant companion. They did everything together. And then my brother was taken aside, with his friend, and given the knife, and told that anything he refused to do to that boy would be done to him twice over."

    Mazarun met William's eyes, gaze steady. "I've helped my brother dress for formal events. I know the scars he has... and the scars he doesn't have."

    "I..." The wizard shuddered and looked aside, a flush of shame burning his cheeks at the presumption that he could even try to know Mazarun's pain. "I apologise. I shouldn't have thought..."

    "He warned me, when he saw I was... like him. That if I must keep dangerous company, to be discreet about it. And even when I proved weaker than him, more susceptible... he's kept my secrets." Mazarun sighed. "This surface idea that someone can matter to you, yet not be used against you... it's strange. Powerful - and dangerous. A hope I don't dare hold to if I'm to go home, yet breaking my promise to return would leave it meaningless anyway."

    "You've mentioned a friend before," William recalled. "The one you wanted to go back to - that's why you wanted me to take you back to Waterdeep with me. That's the promise you made?"

    "Yes. We swore we'd watch each other's backs. That we'd be a shield for each other, with whatever strength we had." Mazarun's eyes were a little too shiny. "I can't do that up here. I can't even know if - if I've already failed. If he's already gone. And he can't know either, where I've gone. What's happened."

    "Mazarun..." He felt completely helpless in the face of this. "We'll get back there. You'll find him."

    "I hope so." Mazarun looked away, regaining his composure. Looking back to William, he managed a smile. "But here we are, for now. Why don't I see if I can tell you some tales already that you might like a little better?"

    Reluctantly, William nodded. "All right. Would you mind if I got some paper and ink, to make notes?"

    "Feel free." On impulse, Mazarun caught at the wizard's sleeve. "No matter how impossible it might be at home to say it, here I can. Even in this short time... you are a friend. And should know that." Releasing William's sleeve, he coughed slightly and gestured toward the door. "I'll be waiting, if you want those stories."

    The wizard paused, giving Mazarun a little smile. "I'm honoured you name me so, my friend. I won't betray that trust."

    "I know." Mazarun smiled, bright and clear as crystal.
    TAG: Any/none
  18. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 6
    Listen: Evelios D'Rtan has become unstuck in time.

    "It's been done."

    What do you mean, "it's been done"?

    "I mean what I said. Vonnegut wrote that. You're literally stealing the first line of Slaughterhouse-Five."

    What? No! Never! It's completely different - it says Evelios D'Rtan, for one thing.

    "So you wrote my name in place of Billy Pilgrim's. Really creative. What's next, you introduce a character named Kilgo Retrout?"

    Er.

    "You're a hack, you know that?"

    Look, shut up, I'm the writer here and you'll damn well do as I tell you, and if I say you've become unstuck in time, you've damn well become unstuck in time.

    "But I'm not unstuck in time. You're just writing this in non-chronological



    order."

    "What's that, sir?"

    "Get into formation. We'll be reviewing proper siege repulsion today."

    "We do that every day."

    "We want something different."

    "Supposin' the enemy comes at us with a pointéd stick."

    "No! We're dealing with siege repulsion! It's an oncoming siege, it's disgusting, you're repulsed by it. Nothing could be simpler. Save perhaps rudimentary twelve bar blues. Maybe a mackerel. Simple."

    "What about fighting thirty feet apart on an open plain? Ain't got any special rules for that."

    "No cover in sight."

    "Supposin' the mackerel comes at us with a pointéd stick."

    "No! No, no, no dammit, no. We're doing this. This is happening. We are training to repel a siege, and repel a siege is what we're going to



    train."

    "Choo choo?"

    "No, I mean, like, give the fighting forces some advice, like. Good ideas for combat."

    "We never get in any fights, though."

    "Twelve's got a point, there, we're strictly musical types. Playin' the lute, like. None of this strategery, that's Z's bag."

    "I agree with Thirty Four, strictly Z baggage."

    "Sixty Nine's got the right of it. I say we stick with Lionel models."

    "Lionel models?"

    "You know



    trains.

    "Yes, that's all well and good, [RAMZA], but I was asking about your childhood."

    My childhood?

    "Exactly. Tell me, this compulsive urge to be accepted by your peers, would you say that started oh, around the first grade?"

    I don't know if this is really the best place to be talking about this.

    "Everything you say here is strictly confidential. It's never going to get out."

    No, you don't understand, we're being watched. See that window?

    "Yes..."

    They're watching us through it. Always watching. Them and the



    perverts!"

    "What's that, sir?"

    "You're all abusing the techniques I've been teaching you! Twisting them to your own mercenary ends! Perverts! Perverting my vision!"

    "I don't think that's what that actually means."

    "Oh? And who made you the expert?"

    "The Internet."

    "That's a good source, I suppose. Wait, what's an Internet?"

    "Kind of fish, I think."

    "Huh. Anyway, today we'll be working on night fighting. It's a night fight. Fight for your life. Cause it's a night



    FIGHT!

    "Just because this is a dream sequence, it doesn't mean I'm compelled to fight for your amusement."

    But then Edgar Allan Poe smacked him with a flounder. Or maybe it was some kind of



    "MACKEREL!"

    "COMPANY - HALT!"

    The men fell in at attention.

    "Now, what the hell did you just say?"

    "Mackerel, sir."

    "Why in the Nine Hells would you say that?"

    "Because there's a mackerel, sir."

    "Where?"

    "Behind you, sir, he's got a



    pointéd stick!"

    "Yes, yes, always you and your thrice damned 'pointéd sticks.' One of these days somebody's actually going to stab you with a pointed stick, and then you'll be sorry."

    "Yes, sir, sorry sir, but that's why I keep asking for protection from-"

    "Is that a monkey?"

    "HE'S GOT A GUN!"



    "Get your hands off me you damned, dirty apes!"

    "That seems like a rude thing to call me, considering I'm a bird and I've got no hands."

    "Sorry Poe, I just... something very peculiar is happening to me, and I can't quite seem to figure it out."

    "Well, you know what they say, Evelios:



    "Get your hands off me you damned, dirty apes!"

    "That seems like a rude thing to call me, considering I'm a bird and I've got no hands."

    "Sorry Poe, I just... something very peculiar is happening to me, and I can't quite seem to figure it out."

    "Well, you know what they say, Evelios:



    "Get your hands off me you damned, dirty apes!"

    "That seems like a rude thing to call me, considering I'm a bird and I've got no hands."

    "Sorry Poe, I just... something very peculiar is happening to me, and I can't quite seem to figure it out."

    "Well, you know what they say, Evelios:



    "Shock the monkey."

    "Good song title."

    "Peter Gabriel already used that one, actually."

    "Who's Peter Gabriel?"

    "Oh, some guy from the real world we're not supposed to know about because we're alternate personalities stuck inside the head of a fantasy character in a roleplaying game on a Star Wars message board."

    "What's a message board?"

    "Some kind of mackerel."



    "Gentlemen, it's been a long, arduous training process, but it's been my distinct pleasure. I'm grateful you've all been willing to put up with my... eccentricities."

    "Three cheers for the Harping Scum!"

    Hup!

    Hup!

    HUZZAH!



    Flick, flick, flick.

    "Projector's out of film."

    "It has to be, that's the end of the movie."

    "Kind of a schmaltzy ending, innit?"

    "I suppose so, but that's what people like in these extended training sequences. Schmaltzy endings."

    "I think it needs more sexual intercourse."

    "We can't put in sexual intercourse, this is a PG to PG-13 board. Next you'll suggest we throw in some decapitated heads on spikes."

    "Well, actually-"

    "Who the hell invited a stereotypical representation of Go Nagai to this plotting session, anyway? I specified on the invitation only stereotypical Vonneguts, Evelios personalities, Peter Gabriel songs, and a tired joke from Austin Powers need apply."

    "What about the Irish?"

    "No Irish need apply."

    "Racism!"

    "No, no, it was a joking reference to - forget it."

    "Msicar!"

    "How the hell did you even just say that?"

    "It's all in the mind."



    "So, Poe, any thoughts on how to make productive use of this downtime?"

    "Well, I was thinking, somebody's got to train these troops, right? Might as well be you."

    "I suppose so. I have picked up a surprising and convenient amount of tactical know-how in my travels. I might as well impart it to future generations. I'm getting old, you know."

    "You're 23."

    "By Milil's magnificent minuets! It's worse than I'd thought!"

    "Wait... wait, what did you think?"

    "I thought I was 465."

    "... 465? How is that better?"

    "I age backwards, not unlike the common marmoset."

    "Marmosets don't age backwards."

    "They do when they've become unstuck in time."



    [RAMZA] stared, unimpressed, at the text on his computer screen. It was a long, rambling smattering of dialogue that ignored more conventions than he had any right to ignore. A travesty against the form. A sin against prose itself. Shaking his head, he went to close the window, deleting the mess forever.

    He never saw the pointéd stick coming.



    "Mr. Evelios, sir!"

    "Yes?"

    "It's Pail. They got him, sir."

    "They what?"

    "They got him with a pointéd stick."

    "Pail! Pail! Speak to me, Pail!"

    "You were right, sir. They did. They did get me with the pointéd stick. I was a fool."

    "No Pail, you weren't a fool. You were never a fool."

    "Really, sir?"

    "Nah, you were a complete git."

    "Thanks sir, that means a lot to me..."

    "Now get someone to pull that splinter out and stop acting like a baby. It's a gods damned prick on your finger. I told you there was no reason to worry about pointéd sticks."

    "Duly noted, sir."

    "What do I tell the others, Mr. Evelios, sir?"

    "Tell them the point of this story. Tell them why they have wandered through the proverbial desert. Tell them what it is this has all been written for."

    "And that is?"

    "I dunno. Make something up."

    TAG: None
    Last edited by Ramza, Apr 15, 2013
    Saintheart likes this.
  19. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Zanaek Grahorn and Mazarun Zothyrr

    9 Kythorn, Brindol
    Morning

    Something was wrong the morning Zanaek Grahorn woke up after a long night of sneaking into the encamped army of the incoming Red Hand and burning a tent full of scrolls. There was a taint in the air that tasted foul and evil, as if something had changed that morning for the worse but he could not put his finger on it. It was one of those things that was on the tip of one's tongue and no matter how hard the person tried, he could not think of what was bothering him.

    Quietly the cleric rose from bed, the sun just beginning its morning rise beyond the walls of the city and casting long shadows across the floor of his bedchamber as he made his way across to the water basin and went through his daily routine. Even as he dressed and prepared to pray to Torm for his blessings and strength, the thought that something was wrong still had yet to leave him. The disturbing feeling was strong enough to distract him from the rites that he could not perform the proper litanies necessary to ask Torm for his blessings.

    Something had happened last night that should not have and caused the taint he felt in the air this morning, he was certain of it, and until he found out what, he doubted the feeling would go away. Zanaek climbed to his feet and dusted his knees of imaginary dirt and dust before he walked back to his bed and finished dressing. He would have to make inquires from the others to find out what was troubling him if he was to quiet his mind to finish the morning prayers.

    Once dressed the cleric of Torm stepped out of his guest quarters and stood in the stone hallway of the keep. He wondered if Skadi was awake and felt the same thing that was bothering him or if she was having the same trouble as he with her morning prayers. I doubt it. A dead magic zone could form right next to her and she'd still finish her prayers. A quirk of a smile briefly possessed him at the thought before he turned his gaze down the hallway to where the others were hopefully sleeping.

    He passed Ariel's quarters, discounting her with a bit of bias that she had nothing to do with what was troubling him. Ragnar and Evelios rarely did anything without the other these days, and although Ragnar preferred action over committees and deception and Evelios was too wrapped up in his own world, for either of them to be the cause. William, he was still uncertain about having recently picked up the wizard here in the city and having the taint of rumor circulating around him, could have done something. One could never trust mages these days. They only cared about power, however, in the time he had known the arcane caster, the wizard had proven his loyalty to them over chances of power. The events in the lion statue had shown him that.

    The cleric paused in front of Corrath's guest chamber, his eyes narrowing slightly as his own personal feelings concerning Ariel momentarily clouded his mind concerning the half-elf. He had known and seen the tension between the two elven women ever since the forest elves of the Tiri Kitor had shown a prejudice toward Corrath and Ariel had chosen the middle ground to resolve the drama rather than side with their comrade. Corrath had taken offense to Ariel's choice and since then, he had seen them become distant with each other. Zanaek shook his head of the thoughts and feelings, refusing to allow them to judge the half-elf thief. Whatever her grievances and issues were, he knew Corrath for as long as he had known Ariel.

    However if something had happened last night without his knowing, Corrath was one of two individuals who would be the ideal choice to carry it out and he had a feeling he knew exactly what deed was carried out if it was done so at all. The second individual was someone he had every reason to mistrust and accuse the misdeed upon and it was the reason why his feet carried him to the door of Mazarun, the dark elf, the drow. Of what he knew about the shadowy elves of the Underdark, he knew that most could not be trusted and that they worshiped an evil goddess by the name of Lolth. Of all of his companions, Mazarun had been the most in favor of the deed he now suspected was what troubled him this morning.

    Zanaek rapped his knuckles against the hard-wood and iron bound door and wondered if perhaps he should go wake Skadi to confront the dark elf about it. If Mazarun had done the deed and behaved negatively about being confronted about it, the cleric knew he had little chance of surviving a bloody encounter with the former denizen of the Underdark. He only had his prayers from yesterday, which were mostly protection and healing prayers, to protect himself with.

    I should have brought my sword, he thought but quickly dismissed it. He was, or at least he hoped he was, Mazarun's friend and to come with accusations while armed was not a good way to keep that friendship. He wasn't even sure how to broach the subject to the dark elf either. How does one explain an intuition that has no basis other than that something was not right?

    He knocked on the door a second-time, harder this time, when there was no reply the first and the cleric began to wonder if the dark elf was even in the castle at all. And if he wasn't, where was he and what has he been up to that would keep him away?

    The knocking on the door roused him. Grumbling, Mazarun struggled out of bed, shifting limbs that still begged for more time to rest. The dark elf answered the door, hair tousled, still clad only in the trousers he slept in, rubbing sleep from his eyes with one hand.

    He blinked in surprise at seeing Zanaek there; the cleric wasn't armed, which ruled out most emergencies, and was for once not in the company of the winged elf. This was fortunate, to Mazarun; it was much too early in the morning to be dealing with anything involving Ariel.

    "Was there something you wanted?" Mazarun asked, some curiosity beginning to filter through the sleepiness.

    "Yes," Zanaek answered, his tone serious, then again when wasn't it serious? However something in his voice would warn the dark elf that he would not take a refusal lightly. "We need to talk. About last night."

    It was a ploy and he doubted Mazarun would give away anything if he was indeed guilty of something. Sometimes he wondered if the dark elf was capable of expressing himself when he didn't want to. He waited for the answer and an invitation inside, although he considered taking the conversation to perhaps the chapel and as he thought on it, perhaps it is what he should do. At least there he would have the Triad as his witnesses and protectors.

    No, he is a part of this company and should be trusted, he reasoned against his own paranoia toward the being. Mazarun had given no reason why he should not be trusted and he would be remiss to count the elf's origins against him. It went against his own teachings and wisdom if he were to do otherwise. Still, the nagging feeling that the dark elf had done something last night persisted and if it turned out to be true, what then?

    "People don't usually use those words around me while looking quite that serious," Mazarun commented, with a hint of humour. "In any case, if you're so determined to talk, I suppose you'd better come in."

    From inside, the kitten that had adopted Mazarun mewed inquisitively. "It's nothing, go back to sleep," Mazarun told the little cat, looking over to where she was curled up.

    The drow turned to go back inside, leaving Zanaek to follow if he wished. From this close, with his hair too tangled up to cover it, Mazarun's bare back showed a network of raised lines; thin scars, crossing and criss-crossing over and around each other, always in parallel pairs.

    Mazarun sat down upon the bed, smoothing the rumpled blankets out with one hand. "Well?"

    The cleric stepped inside, quirking a brow only once at the sound of a kitten mewing and finding it rather strange for a drow to have one. Then again this drow was not like any other he's heard of. He noted the scars on the elf's back but did not ask about them, too well taught to not ask about what is not his business unless Mazarun came to him for healing.

    "It's about last night," he started once he was inside and stood with his hands folded into the sleeves of his vestments, uncertain where to begin but decided that point was good as any. "This morning I awoke with an uneasy feeling that something terrible has happened and it has to do with our raid last night. You were the only one that came back bloodied."

    He hadn't said it outright, but the accusation was there, hanging thickly in the air. He would be disappointed if the dark elf decided to play games and lie to him. They both were well aware of how opposed he was to one particular idea that had been discussed by the group and last night had been the perfect opportunity to do the deed.

    A burning tent full of scrolls was the perfect distraction.

    "What happened?"

    "Well, you know how it goes," Mazarun replied, with a sly smile and sidelong look at Zanaek. "If you want to get what you need, sometimes you've got to get a little... dirty."

    The drow stretched. "You were burning the scrolls, and some of us found a few more things to sabotage while that was going on." He shrugged. "Not like we'd get another chance, after all. Best to inflict the maximum chaos in the shortest amount of time." Growing more serious, Mazarun added, "The Red Hand was always going to increase security after their scrolls were burned. So we had to hit them as hard as we could, while we could."

    The kitten padded over, leaping up to curl up in Mazarun's lap, and the drow absently scratched the little cat behind the ears in response. Still unusually serious, Mazarun said, "I don't know if you've noticed, but in terms of who can bleed the Red Hand down a bit before it gets here, there's really only us. And if we throw away chances to do that, we're throwing away the lives of the defenders here too."

    "But at the cost of our honor and souls?" Zanaek argued after hearing the drow. The elf hadn't admitted to anything yet and he doubted that he would unless directly confronted with it. "I understand the need to gain every advantage we can against the Red Hand, but if we resort to their level we are no better than them. Then what would we be fighting for?"

    He sighed heavily, his gaze softly falling on the kitten in the dark elf's lap. He could tell that the elf was hiding something, his behavior said as much. The cleric met his companion's gaze again as he flat out accused the elf of that which he suspected had been done.

    "Please tell me that you did not go against Skadi and my wishes concerning Kharn?"

    "Your wishes." Mazarun snorted. "Say rather, your dictates, and you will be more accurate." He smiled mockingly. "Not to fear though, your precious hands are unstained."

    The kitten leapt away, to sit on the pillow, as the drow stood. His anger surfaced swiftly. "You were only too happy to have me risk my life scouting their camp. Oh, when there's work you want done, I'm convenient. But only so long as you approve. Only so long as things are things are done your way." Mazarun's hands curled into fists. "I am not some bought-and-paid-for thing that you can simply use when you wish, and condemn when uneeded. Not your servant, nor your slave, nor your parzdiametkis, Zanaek Grahorn. You do not own me. You have not bought me. And I have as much right as you to choose what should be done."

    He almost snarled, "Go out into the street. Draw your sword. Cut down a few soldiers. Ten or so should make the point. They'd die anyway, of your wishes, and at least that way you'd be killing them face-to-face, not hiding behind some claim that you are merely protecting your soul." With a sharp gesture, Mazarun added, "Do you not understand? If you wish to fight in such a way that you may get yourself killed, but with your last breath smugly congratulate yourself on retaining your 'honour', you are killing others too, who never consented to your doing so. It is no longer about you, cleric. It's about survival, and keeping these people alive."

    The drow tossed his hair back. "How moral will you really feel if you are sacrificing a chance to protect innocent people, only for some concept of your own purity? How pure is it to take this 'high ground' of yours, if people you're supposed to be saving will die of it?"

    He took Mazarun's anger gracefully, letting the elf have his say and vent the frustrations of having to deal with someone who, from his perspective, held an arrogant moral and self-righteous ground. But when the dark elf had finished, the cleric's expression darkened.

    "Do you want to know why I do not make such sacrifices, or act on such immoral decisions?" he snarled coldly, his own temper rising as he spoke and taking an advancing step. "If I had agreed to assassinating Kharn, if I had done the deed myself I would be excommunicated by my own God. What good am I then to these people if I cannot heal them! What good am I then if I cannot protect them with the blessings of my deity! What good am I then if I am simply just another body wearing plate armor and welding a sword!"

    Zanaek had never felt such anger before about anything until now. The drow's blatant disregard toward the tenants of his church laid down by Torm himself was something he couldn't just stand there and let it go unchallenged. "You speak of protecting these people and saving them from the evil advancing on this land, but not once did you even consider the possibility that your actions could cost these people two powerful clerics! I would rather face Kharn on the battlefield honorably and lose a few people rather than face the entire Red Hand without said clerics and lose the entire city! That is why people like Sa'adi and I delegate tasks to others because we cannot do it ourselves. That is why we ask those under our command to behave honorably for it falls back upon us in the eyes of our gods."

    He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, willing himself to calm down before he did something he would regret. "You do have a say in what we all do as a group, but when our leader, Sa'adi, asked that something be or not be done, she and I expect everyone to abide by those wishes, commands, demands, whatever you want to call it, for good reasons! I trusted you, Mazarun."

    "Did you? When you came here accusing me, and me alone? When you didn't even ask me how it happened?" Mazarun almost smiled, though there was an edge of melancholy to it. "Did you think I did this alone? Did you think I planned this, and only this?"

    The drow shrugged. "I was telling the truth when I said we looked for other things to sabotage. I did not leave you to your task with the sole intent of finding and killing Kharn. But... there he was, and the chance seemed too good to pass up."

    Zanaek sighed heavily. "It does not matter how it was done or who helped," he replied remorsefully. "What matters is that it happened when it should not have. It's easier to blame just you, but if the others were involved and didn't stop you..."

    He didn't need to finish what he had left unsaid. Zanaek stepped away from Mazarun toward the door of the guest chamber, but paused to look back at him.

    "I will inform Sa'adi of what has happened," he added after a moment of thought. "But I won't implicate you for now. Now is not the time for dissension amongst us, however, do something like this again, opportunity or not, and I will leave your fate to Sa'adi next time. The Tyrians frown deeply on injustices committed by those under their command."

    He then left without another word nor to wait to hear what the drow might have to say in reply.

    The door slammed shut behind Zanaek, kicked closed by an angry drow.

    Injustices, was it? For doing what he could to help? And threatening him with being turned over to the priestess for whatever punishment these people cared to administer? Mazarun scowled. Being up here suggested to him that the only difference between punishment at home and punishment here was that people here would pretend not to enjoy it.

    But they're not all like that. William's earnest desire to understand, Corrath's vivid personality... even Zanaek, who'd listened before, who'd offered healing -

    He yanked the door open, stepping into the corridor and calling after the cleric, "Zanaek!" He paused, struggling for something to say. "For whatever it's worth... I am sorry." There was honest regret in his face and voice.

    Stepping back into his room, the drow closed the door once again, more gently this time.

    When he heard his name, he was half way down the hallway and turned to look back. He half expected Mazarun to curse him or retort something back in anger. What he had not expected was an apology from the drow and his own simmering anger flickered with uncertainty. He did not want to alienate Mazarun, he just wanted the dark elf to understand that every action had consequences, whether they be directed at him or at others. The apology and the regret he saw in his face and voice gave him hope for the drow.

    The cleric's shoulders dropped a degree, though, when the elf returned to his room quietly. He chastised himself for not being more tactful with Mazarun, as he continued again toward Skadi's chamber. A moment later he was standing at her door and rapped his knuckles against the hard wood while lost in thought over the conversation, more like an argument, he had with the dark elf.

    It would take time to repair the trust either of them had for each. He knew Mazarun had been trying to give the surface the benefit of doubt and here he turned around and showed the common colors of his own species. Quick to accuse, quick to condemn, and quick to mistrust. But the dark elf had also shown the common colors of his own race, so neither could not fault the other for behaving within their nature. Still it was no excuse to cling to when one should better themselves.

    He made mental a note to try and understand the drow and make amends later and gave a small sigh when Skadi answered her door. He noted her state of dress and wondered what time it was. It must still be way too early, he thought and then said aloud, "May I come in? There is something I must tell you."

    When she admitted him inside and the door closed, he began retelling the story, omitting Mazarun as the culprit who did the deed, although he suspected she would figure it out herself. He planned later that morning on communing with Torm to confirm Kharn's death and a part of him hoped that he was so that Mazarun's sacrifice was not in vain.

    TAG: @Saintheart, and anyone else
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  20. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Sa’adi Adim

    Morning
    Brindol Keep, Brindol
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)


    Sa’adi’s hands on her white linen shift felt dry. She managed to keep from clenching them throughout Zanaek’s story. She sat on her bed, back straight, palms resting flat on her knees, eyes focused on a space about ten inches ahead of her face. This was the aspect Sister Llanwen had called The Weighing; the position of body that allowed one the best discernment.

    At the end of the story, she closed her eyes. Breathed in and out. Opened her eyes again.
    “It was Mazarun who ended the Wyrmlord?” she asked; then immediately waved aside any response Zanaek had planned on making. “Do not answer. You said some of them came to this mad idea. Whether he wielded the blade or one of the others -- it does not matter. This has Corrath’s mind all over it. Particularly given how strongly she suggested destruction of the scrolls …” She stopped. Breathed out. “They knew full well what you, what I, would say about this. That is why they deceived us.”

    Her hands were still dry. That was not a part of The Weighing. She had come to Isak with dry hands. Back on the Harpy one could not afford a slip, in any way. Whether a rope between your fists, or sweat on the leather of the grip of your sword. So she had stopped sweating there. The only moisture she’d ever felt on her hands had been the blood of other men. She had sworn to make up for that blood, before Tyr. Before Isak. Sworn that no blood would from that day forward cross her hands unless justice demanded it.
    I am not the Black Hand. The dream of the desert, of the beggar with a blindfold shrouding light rather than darkness, came back to her. For some reason Tyr’s voice sounded much like Proctor Martrell. Justice has two arms. One is right action. The other is mercy. Neither arm can work without a heart to pour life into them.
    Had Tyr said that, or had Martrell?
    No. Neither. Isak had. Isak, who she had starved and beaten and bound in chains and cursed and wept with and knelt before, at the last.
    As Ulwai had wept, and who Sa’adi had failed to protect as she’d sworn she would.

    “We are under the jurisdiction of the Castellan of Brindol Keep,” she said, looking at the Tormite cleric. How much he had grown, in only four weeks or so; growth not just showing in the grey streaks of his hair, but in his eyes. “Tyr’s precepts demand submission to Jarmaath’s authority as lawgiver in this city. As Castellan he specifies the laws of war. I have inquired into them. They are not well-defined here, probably because this city has never fallen under attack. But I cannot see how he would require any charge be made against a member of the Company for this matter. We are at war. Kharn was,” and for some reason her tongue tried to form another word, “an enemy devoted to Brindol’s destruction. Not under Jarmaath’s protection at any rate.”

    The rasp of Skadi’s hands folding carried only to her ears. “More likely were we to bring Mazarun, or any of them, to Jarmaath’s court he would laud them all as heroes. I do not know Torm’s teachings, but there is no precept of Tyr that compels me to act here. And what use would it be to castigate them now? It is done. You have told them, so many times. I have tried to tell them.”

    She rose. Her shift crackled and rasped like sand as she smoothed it down. “Had we known they had done this, the gods would have been swift to reply in their disapproval.” A flickering thought occurred to her, and leapt to her tongue. “As it is they may well reply yet, in their own way. Tyr does not only rely on his servants to dispense justice. Mazarun, indeed all of them, may find Tyr’s own judgment waiting for them in the battle to come.” She shook her head. “Stupid. Who knows what the Red Hand will do? Whether this will crush their spirits, or harden them further? I cannot believe they would not have thought this through, that with all their--”

    She raised her hands silently and dropped them. “Their own consciences will have to convict them in this matter. Little more can we do now. But Zanaek –”

    There was a strange look in the older cleric’s eyes – a look that Zanaek hadn’t seen applied to him before. “Will you divine? From the Triad, from Torm, what they have wrought?”

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  21. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Zanaek Grahorn, Sa'adi Adim and the Triad

    Morning, Kythorn 9
    Brindol Keep, Brindol

    Zanaek Grahorn gave only a simple nod in reply that he would do as his fellow cleric had requested. He had already planned on communing with Torm to get some answers and confirm what Mazarun had said, but he had not considered that the Triad might dispense justice to their companions—or them—in the battle to come, assuming the gods were displeased. “I will conduct my morning prayers in the chapel and then perform the ritual there.”

    He left to allow Skadi to conduct her morning routine and hurried back to his own quarters to grab what he needed for his own prayers and the communion with Torm. As he redressed in his better set of vestments—the ones that haven't seen wear and tear from travel and battle—he thought about the last time he had communed with his deity and how he had been overwhelmed by the sheer power and presence of Torm. He recalled having described it once as a cascading waterfall, unable to perceive anything but simple concepts as the weight of the waterfall's power overwhelmed and deafened the person, forcing the person to focus solely on preventing himself from drowning beneath that power as he listened for answers.

    It had been an exhilarating experience, to speak to one's deity and have him answer in return. Had someone said to him a year ago that he would be granted such a gift, he would have considered committing them to an asylum for the sheer insanity of the thought. He had been a humble healer—asking for nothing in return—with a small gift in summoning and no thoughts of ever having the chance to speak with Torm. He would have been content to work as a hospitaler in one of his church's many sanitariums throughout Faerun, rather than gallivanting around the continent in search of adventure and treasure. Make no mistake, he was not unhappy with where his life had led him, in fact he felt the opposite and was pleased that he was making a bigger difference in the world than behind the stone walls of some hospital or monastery back home.

    But to be granted the gift to commune like the oracles of far off lands was something he knew many priests of any religion strove to achieve but never came close, either because they simply did not have the potential or their gods found them unworthy. He had always known that he had Torm's favor, ever since he became aware of the deity in his youth a few years after he had been found by his foster-father and his band of adventurers. He had dreams of the god throughout the years of growing up but never on the same scale or frequency he had these last few weeks or months, he wasn't sure how long it had been since Torm directed him toward the Elsir Vale and they had found the map leading them here. So much time had passed, it felt like years had transpired since the first dream came to him after he had joined up with Skadi and the others.

    Zanaek clasped the belt around his waist and tugged at the ends of his tabard, the symbol of Torm blazoned across his chest, an open right gauntlet, until he felt everything was perfect. He noticed his hands were shaking slightly from the nervousness he was feeling. One simply did not boldly go into a communion and expect answers. The deity or his servants dictated whether the ritual worked or not and it was always nerve wracking to wait, and even more so when the deity did answer. But one also did not go into a communion shaking like a leaf either. The cleric took a few deep breathes to regain his nerves, chastising himself for feeling this way before he even had the chance to give his prayers to Torm. He was confident that once he started the litany, the words would sooth his mind and calm his spirit enough to allow him to finish the prayers and begin his semi one-sided conversation with his god.

    He opened his blue eyes and let them fall on the worn holy book that had been his for years and the one he had found in the chapel the day before the whole city came to trust them and call them heroes. He had used the latter to preach with for the soldiers that had come to listen and seek the Triad's blessings and courage now that the chapel was once more reclaimed by clerics of those deities. The former he had used since it had been given to him by the Father that ended up raising him after rescuing him from a terrible ordeal. Zanaek smiled softly at the small lecture the old priest had given to him about the importance of the holy book and he had since then made sure to care for it despite time slowly wearing it away with use.

    He picked up the worn book. He had promised he would take care of it, but not because it was the holy book of Torm, but because he had given it to him. He had been a boy with no parents, raised in a monastery surrounded by clerics and monks and Torm himself. Luxury was something that the followers of Torm did not focus on and to have anything at all was simply a blessing given by the god for one's dedication to duty and repentance. So to be given his own holy book—even if it was given to all initiates into the church—by his Father was a gift of so few gifts that he had cherished. Zanaek's smile faded as he placed the book into the small kit with the rest of his sacred relics and tools he used for his prayers.

    Gathering up the last of what he needed, he strode out of the guest chamber and down the hall for the chapel and remembering the first time he had set foot in the holy place. He had been appalled at how the people of Brindol, even Jarmaath, could have allowed it to go to ruin. He would have at least kept it clean even if it was not in use for the sole reason of sanitary concerns. But now, as he stepped through the doors and into the sanctum of the Triad, the place was empty but spotless and looked as if it had never seen a day of disuse. He wasn't sure if it were the gods that made it appear that way or if it were Skadi's persistence and eye to detail that did.

    It certainly felt holy and if he focused he could swear he felt Torm amongst the three who were worshiped here. Aside from being with his arael'sha, the chapel was—not surprisingly—the only other place he felt comfortable and at ease. There was something about the place that gave a ray of hope and peace despite the lawful and strict portfolios of the three deities, and perhaps that was the real reason why the soldiers came to the chapel in the first place. To find that hope and gain strength from it. He could not blame them. For weeks they have been waiting in anticipation for the threat that was bearing down upon them to arrive and either grant them a swift death or be repelled back to the Wyrmsmoke mountains from which they came.

    Being reminded of the ever looming threat of the Red Hand and why he had come here to perform his prayers, set him into motion and he began to set up the necessary items he needed. Methodically he set in place the candles around the sacred statuary of his deity and with a tinderstick, began to light each of the candles until their gentle glow illuminated the chosen prayer alcove. He placed a tiny, decorated censer before Torm's statue and used the same tinderstick to light the incense he placed inside. He removed the holy symbol from around his neck and knelt down before the likeness of his god and began the ritual and prayers that would grant him the blessings and power he would use for the day. His recitation of the litany was flawless and as he spoke, holding the open holy book in one hand and slowly rotating the links of his holy symbol's cord through his fingers, the nervousness he had felt before slowly ebbed away into the calm serenity he was familiar with after he conducted his morning prayers.

    He could feel Torm's power and presence flowing into his mind as he selected each of the prayers he would use, a mixture of healing and blessings with a few summoning prayers added in just in case the extra man-power was needed, but most importantly he memorized the words that would grant him an audience with his deity. He was eager to begin but willed himself to be patient and complete the closing prayers before he could. It did not take him long to do so once he had chosen the last prayer for the day.

    “Through duty we repent,” he ended and closed his eyes at the same time the book closed. Zanaek Grahorn then slowly stood, replacing his holy symbol back around his neck and gathering the items back into his kit. He had what he needed to commune with Torm, all he needed now was to perform it before the altar of the Triad. When he stood and started to head for the altar, he noticed he was not alone anymore. He had not noticed when Skadi had entered and bowed his head to her as he walked over to the center of the nave, pausing a few yards from the altar.

    “I cannot guarantee that he or any of them will answer,” he told her as he set aside the items he would not need on one of the wooden pews. “I may not even get an answer to what we want to know either, or even a clear one for that matter.” Zanaek brought the censer and a vial of clear liquid that his fellow cleric would recognize as holy water, over to the altar and set them down before taking a breathe.

    “I've only done this once before,” he admitted and glanced back at the Calishite to see if she had doubts about him performing this.
    "That would bring the grand total between us to once," she replied. Was there a hint of a wry smile at the corners of her mouth? Hard to say. "Trust the Triad. Trust yourself. There is nothing more that can be asked of you," she continued, whatever wry smile was there fading. Familiar words: words given to all priests of the Triad, be they of Torm, Tyr, or Ilmater, in the final days of their training.

    They had not always seen eye to eye when it came to their respective faiths, especially when it came to healing. He had felt he knew more about healing than she since it was his chosen path, like she would know more about smiting enemies than he would since it was her chosen path. But they still argued over which faith's methods, techniques and knowledge were better or made more sense or any other number of reasons to debate and argue over the finer workings of religion.

    He had taken offense once, or if he really was honest with himself, he had allowed his inexperience with other clerics outside of Torm's church to get the better of him and cause him to bury frustrations and disagreements until he couldn't take it anymore. He had said things to her he regretted and had stepped down as leader to spite her and the others. Zanaek knew he had been fortunate that Torm had not punished him for his selfishness. Or perhaps he had as he considered something he had not thought of before. Subconsciously his hand rose to the gray streaks in his hair and he wondered if his attempt to turn the Ghostlord and his minions was the means to punish him for his arrogance and spitefulness back in the marsh. He was not a vain man and doubted that was what Torm did if indeed it was his god's doing, but the thought of losing a few years of his lifespan was enough to disturb him.

    Zanaek shook the thoughts away to consider another time. Right now he had more pressing matters to think about and discuss with Torm than his own sins. He would repent later for what he had done in the marsh and silently asked Torm to be patient with him concerning that. He met Skadi's steel gaze once more and asked, “Aside from finding out if we're in a deeper hole, is there anything else you may want me to ask them?”

    He saw her hesitate before she answered his question, and had one of those intuitive flashes that seemed to be getting more frequent with him lately. Tyr's priesthood, he remembered, had a complicated relationship with the reaching for knowledge that was divination. On one hand it was an excellent tool for ascertaining the truth -- so commonly a concern of a Tyrran sitting in judgment on a case. But Tyr's faith, he remembered, respected and required mortal judgment. Skadi would have been taught that a priest of Tyr could not really know justice in his heart unless he strived after it with fallible hands. Divination was a means, not a replacement of the priest's own duty. And then there were Tyrrans who pronounced against any use of divination magic on the rationale it was a tool too dangerous for mortal use -- mainly because the priest could so easily fall into the trap of seeking such knowledge for one's own purposes rather than those of one's god.

    Either way, he could understand that short silence before she, again understandably, replied "No. If there is more they would have us know, then you will be their channel for it, or they will make it known in due course."

    Zanaek nodded in understanding. She was right that they may let them know if there was more to be known about something. He has seen things in his dreams, many disturbing and many pleasant, that he had come to question anything he sees in his sleep. Most were just dreams trying to convey a solution to a problem that bothered him or desires and fears that plagued his subconscious, but the very few he has had that were premonitions or a message from Torm, he knew were not simple dreams created by his subconscious imagination. They were real and he had heeded them to the best of his ability. If the the gods did not inform him now they would later when he slept.

    The cleric turned to face the altar of the Triad, the three granite statues of the deities that represented justice, duty and mercy stood together, a contrast to each other. Tyr, tall and mighty with a sword in hand, the blade tip resting at his feet and a blindfold over his eyes. Torm stood beside Tyr their backs facing each other and their shoulders touching it's opposite so that they stood at an angle. He held a tall shield on his left arm, covering his front with it and his right hand stretched, palm outward as if to ward off whatever evil the three deities may be facing. Between them crouched at their feet but no less than the other two was Ilmater who wore nothing but a loincloth and sandals, cords or ropes wrapped around his forearms and shins, his body mutilated as if he had recently been bound and tortured, and protected by the two gods standing behind him.

    He had seen greater representations of the three gods, some even looking so life-like in their stone craftsmanship that he could swear that they had been the gods themselves polymorphed into stone and cursed with a permanency spell. But these statues although not as grand as the ones he's seen in his travels, were perfect for the small city that was Brindol and the surrounding land that was Elisr Vale.

    And they were perfect for what he had to perform this morning.

    Zanaek stepped up to the altar and proceeded to light the censer. He took the vial of holy water and with censer in hand, stepped back a foot to give him room. The cleric crouched down and began to wave the censer about into a pattern, the wisps of smoke rising up around him and into his face that he couldn't help but breathe in the herb he was burning. He then began to lightly pour the holy water onto the stone floor around him until he had formed a complete circle with the liquid and as he did all of this, he spoke in a whisper just shy of normal volume and recited the prayer that would grant him an audience with his deity or the others of the Triad.

    He sat down in the holy circle once he had completed the physical components of the ritual and set the censer in front of him and within the circle so that it continued to burn its incense and he could still breathe in the wisps of smoke. He was already lightheaded from the burning herb but it was a necessary part of the ritual, even if he did not like it too much. Zanaek remembered the last time he had done this and how he felt after coming out of the divination. He had been too lightheaded and unbalanced that had anyone seen him they would have mistaken him as another drunk cleric. From a certain point he was one, but drunk on adrenaline after having spoken to Torm and drunk on the affects of the herb he was required to burn.

    This time though, he came prepared with another prayer to remove the side effects of burning incense once he was done with the divination. He was not going to embarrass himself in front of his fellow cleric and friend.

    Zanaek pushed aside the thoughts of what would happen afterward and focused on completing the prayer and breathing in the incense. Once the last word had escaped his lips, he felt a sudden rush of power so holy and so great that he knew his mind and soul had elevated beyond the mortal realm. He felt overwhelmed and struggled to keep his focus as he swore he had risen to his feet and approached the three statues of the Triad. He took the chance to look back and noticed that he had not risen at all, that he was still sitting within the holy circle, eyes closed and a look of intense concentration writ across his face.

    Time seemed to stand still for his body and even for Skadi who stood patiently and respectfully at a distance as she watched him. The light motes cascading down through the rays of the rising morning sun even hovered to a pause. The wisp of smoke rising from his censer did not move, even as he did while examining his surreal surroundings. Time had indeed stood still for him in the mortal world.

    He had heard that a such thing could happen when one communed with the gods and although it had not happened to him last time, he suspected this time was different because of his choice of location. The disembodied cleric then returned his attention to the deities he wanted to speak with and approached their likeness. He genuflected low before them and spoke as humbly as he could, “Lawful Tyr, Dutiful Torm and Merciful Ilmater, I come before you to seek answers and your counsel in a matter most important to the current situation of those whom I and my companions are trying to protect.”

    This was the moment. The moment he would find out if the gods would answer him or send his consciousness back to his body without an answer or an acknowledgment at all. He waited patiently, kneeling before the three as a penitent man before his god.

    “Thank you for your answer,” said Zanaek. But I have not asked—

    He was drawn; drifted, weightless, to the three statues. He realized the statues did not stand in a row, as the eye perceived: they stood at three points of a triangle, and he was at that triangle’s centre. But they do stand in a row, the thought occurred, and he looked back at his seated form. I could see that from the holy circle…

    You stand in a holy circle now, my son.

    He was not sure where the last thought had come from.

    He looked at each of the statues, each of the likenesses. They all faced inward, toward the centre of their circle, toward him. As he turned from one to the next, their features were surprisingly similar: the same calm, meditative face to each, even though one was shrouded by a blindfold and another stricken with injury. And each face, each statue, did not return his gaze; rather, it looked to another in the triad. Tyr looked – blindly – to Torm; Torm, to Ilmater; Ilmater to Tyr.

    Justice looks to duty; duty contemplates suffering; suffering pleads for justice. Duty is to suffer; to suffer is to know justice; justice is to do one’s duty. Suffering makes one comprehend justice; duty brings comfort to justice; duty sees and gives meaning to suffering.

    The thoughts rolled through his mind even as he turned from one god to the next. Meaning rolled over him in waves. He would never be able to completely convey it to another person. This was part of the wonder of the rite.

    Ask, for what you ask has already been answered.

    The impossibility of that idea battered his mind.

    And then he understood, albeit again in a way he could not completely convey. A flood of light and darkness in his mind, stars birthing and dying in staccato in his mind. The Triad wheeled around him like moons: justice, duty, suffering formed and dissolved in succession until it could not be seen where one began and the others ended.

    Zanaek heard his own voice: Has Kharn been slain? Are matters for worse? Has Kharn been raised, as an undead? Is he powerful?

    As he spoke, the world was made; stars burst into existence; love rang out throughout existence. Here is childhood; here is “you may”. Here is the evil word unspoken; the arrow that goes astray into water and harms none; here is the deer that escapes the lion.

    Again Zanaek heard his own voice: Was this punishment? Was this to the benefit of Brindol? Did the Red Hand’s clerics intend Kharn's return as undead?

    The world died. Burst asunder. Oceans claimed the world of men. Here is the dark closet and the orphan’s grief. Here is the lifelong friendship undone by a careless word; the marriage vow broken by a moment’s careless desire.

    And out of that darkness rode the Death Knight, in Zanaek’s vision, an empty coffin inscribed on his chest, green light flaring from his eyes.
    The cleric had his answer.

    Zanaek woke from the vision with a start, his heart pounding in his chest at the revelations he had just learned from the deities. He had expected to only hear from Torm but to receive an answer from the entire Triad was unexpected, even though he had boldly sought their council. The cleric mulled over what he had been shown and what had been said to him, the affects of the incense still clouding his mind and wanting to send him back to that state that allowed him to hear the gods in the first place.

    Quickly he recited the prayer that would cleanse his body of the herb and slowly began to stand within the holy circle. He dusted his vestments clean of any dust that might have escaped Skadi's notice and closed his eyes as he adjusted at returning to reality so abruptly. The cleric took a deep, unsettling breath as he attempted to regain control of his nerves. What he had seen, death riding forth... death riding forth.

    “We are...” he breathed at last and turned to face his fellow cleric. “We are in trouble.”

    He then began explaining what he had seen and been told.
  22. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    The Company of the Crescent Flame; The Battle for Brindol

    The Storm
    After Nightfall,
    Brindol, Elsir Vale
    Thirtieth of Kythorn (Midsummer’s Eve)
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    Skadi felt the first boulder hit Brindol’s wall. The crenellation under her gloved hand trembled with the impact. She turned, scanning the parapet. No sign of where it had hit; the moon was full, but for anyone other than the Tiri Kitor manning the wall, it was peering into shadow. The strike’s echo washed over the still, warm air like a thunderclap. From that, she could judge it somewhere far south of her position. She was at roughly the westernmost point of the wall, about sixty feet from the West Gate—

    The air shrieked. The second boulder connected square with the southern tower supporting the West Gate. The noise was enormous. Dim, silver-lit clouds billowing up into the night air as three hundred years of accumulated dust shook free from the tremendous impact. The wall shook.
    Men around her were swearing oaths to six different gods, spears and blades dipping nervously—
    “Quiet!” she called—
    The third boulder missed the tower, tumbling into the wall close to its base and ten feet south of her. Another localised thunderclap that half-shattered her eardrums. Choking dust on her tongue and in her eyes, shards of clay flying; an earthquake that forced her to one knee.
    Around her, the men were cursing, getting to their feet, murmuring What was that, what the—
    “Heads down! Get up against the battlement, for your fathers’ sakes!” Skadi pulled herself to her feet, leaned up against the closest bulwark.

    She peered round it at the fields beyond. No movement, contrary to her expectation; the Red Hand remained where it was, a good thousand feet out – well past bow range – from the western walls. Ten thousand or more hobgoblins and other troops, sitting, waiting. Night had taken her ability to see the yellow-and-red banners slowly twisting on their poles like hanged men in the still air, but she had no doubt they were still there. Waiting.

    The stubble of Brindol’s west fields had flowered crimson and steel midafternoon, its crop rising to maturity as light drained from the sky. Evelios had timed his spell with the staff well, and the ground was muddy now, making it simpler for archers, but the storm’s own rumbling only served to make the force against them look even larger. Once the storm had cleared, an arguably more menacing sight replaced it: a black stain against the western sky gliding lazily to and fro across the army’s vanguard, roaring loud enough to be heard over in Brindol Keep. The red dragon, Abithriax.

    Jarmaath had anticipated an assault after nightfall. The last houses were demolished with the twilight, lamps flaring cautiously. Brindol speckled with pale, parsimonious light. The full complement of its army now unlimbered. Men, elves and dwarves filed to the wall in near-silence. They joined brothers, kinsmen, strangers who were already quiet from looking out to the west. Ten for each man on the wall: the thought that killed all conversation, no matter how well they were led from Brindol’s staging grounds. Cathedral Square, Skadi guessed, would be a hive of activity, though none of the Company would be there to see it. Brindol’s lord had asked them to fan out among the city’s defenders, at least for the moment, trying to buttress morale as Jarmaath’s engineers had frantically buttressed the city walls in the weeks preceding.

    No march on the wall came. The sun turned from the world, and Brindol’s garrison clenched for the assault. But nothing, save for Abithriax’s gliding and roars.

    Until now. The bombardment’s pace accelerated. Boulders, raining down around Skadi; some over the walls, some at the walls, some at the gates. And over the top of it, in screaming counterharmony, war drums and horns she suspected would be made of dragonbone. A cacophony of sound from the plain. She focused, pushing out the impacts, pushing out the screaming of men, elves, and dwarves, finding the Fulcrum, trying to count boulder numbers, impacts, and most importantly, sources.

    Three boulders, now: two far and away south, and another screaming missile that crashed onto the wall above the West Gate. Shrieks of pain from up there--
    Got one. Giants.” Corrath’s voice through the Rings of Communication. Skadi raised hers.
    “What do you mean, giants—”
    --Another explosion of rock. Shrapnel danced in the air--
    --Skadi? Skadi!”
    She coughed, gritting her teeth. “Here. What do you mean, giants?”
    Saarvith was right. The Red Hand hasn't fielded any catapults because they don’t need them. There’s a small knot of giants out there throwing boulders at the south wall. Hill giants, maybe, though--
    “Where are you?”
    South Gate, well, about a hundred feet clear of it anyway. Hold on—” A brief silence from the Ring, punctuated by the echo of another boulder impact somewhere south. “—big lugs can’t throw straight. Four of them, about five hundred feet out from the city gate. Wait – huh. Four of them and a bunch of troopers by the look of it.
    “How can you—” Skadi caught herself. Corrath was half-elven, and under a full moon. It was like daylight for her. And Skadi remembered the young rogue’s spyglass that she’d used in the past. “Never mind. There must be more of them out to the west—”
    The boulder shrieked right over her head, crunching down on the roof of a nearby hovel, detonating the building into firewood. Stretcher-bearers scrambled towards its ruins. Great Gods of the Triad.

    Yes, there are,” came Ariel’s voice over the Rings. No fear there, either; the avariel even sounded like she was trying dry wit. Doubtless she had her spyglass out, too. She would probably be somewhere above the city, or perhaps on the wall north of the West Gate. “Five hundred feet from the west wall. Another battery. Same numbers as the one Corrath has seen, I think. No others.
    Skadi shook her head. “It makes no sense. They do not seem to be aiming for the mangonels, or the catapults. They—”

    Lady of the Balance, hear me. The strangest sensation, a telepathic link – there had been Mal Windrider’s way of communicating, of course, but even then the … whatever he was … had always had a certain gentleness when he spoke into the Company’s minds. This voice was more abrupt; more like Proctor Martrell’s voice, she suddenly thought. Gather your company and go to the South Gate with all speed. The boulder strikes are not trying to kill the men on the battlements. They mean to breach the southern and western gates, to stretch us too thin to defend them and the wall at once.
    It made brutal and bright sense. “What about the ones at the western gate?” she asked aloud. Habit; and out of habit she glanced back east at the dark hill that was Brindol’s body, towards Cathedral Square where he would be.
    We will handle that. We must bring down both groups, quickly. The wall is strong. The gates, less so. They will not hold up long against this sort of barrage. You brought us the hussaryn. I can spare eighty for a sortie from the west gate. If they are not enough to deal with it…
    No sensation as such, but she knew with certainty that Jarmaath had opened his eyes and was moving onto other tasks.

    Skadi stood, half-crouching. “Hold to your cover,” she called to the men around her. “They aim for the gates, not you. And hold to faith.”
    Are you coming back, m’lady?
    “As soon as I may. If I am delayed, you may divide my ten hobgoblin heads among yourselves.”
    Grim laughter up the parapet, even as the shriek of another boulder drowned it out. Skadi headed for the nearest stairway, speaking into the Ring. “All of you – converge on the south gate. We are going outside.”

    TAG: All
    Last edited by Saintheart, Apr 25, 2013
  23. cassie5squared Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2010
    star 2
    IC: WIlliam Marshall and Maeghen

    The Company's wizard had been waiting, somewhat east of the south gate, with a number of the more youthful defenders. His heart wrenched a little at the looks on the boys' faces at each crash of boulder against wall-stone.

    These aren't warriors, he thought. They should have gone with their mothers.

    Too late now, came the sad reply, and he looked up to where his faithful familiar circled, watching the attackers from on high. Just reassure them, and be ready.

    He acknowledged her, and gave the young soldiers a calm smile, one that had so often soothed a tense situation in the past. "Hold your ground," he said firmly, with a note of command. "We will make it through this."

    The talk over the Rings was mostly commentary on the attempts to breach the wall, but he paid close attention nonetheless. If anything were to come haphazardly flying this way, he needed to be ready for it. Then, abruptly, the sound he'd been almost itching to hear; Skadi's voice, calling them to action. “All of you – converge on the south gate. We are going outside.”

    "On my way," he replied, and smiled again at the boys surrounding him. "I've been called away - we're going to see about dealing with those boulders. I shouldn't be long." He hurried down the nearest set of steps and along the inside of the wall to join his companions.

    TAG: Everybody
  24. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 6
    Evelios D'Rtan, Bard Extraordinaire, and Poe the Raven
    Poo-tee-weet?

    "Mr. Harping Scum, sir?"

    Evelios looked over his shoulder, straight into Poe. Then he realized the voice had actually come from the other side of him, anyway, so he looked over that shoulder, straight into nothing except empty air. Beyond that air stood a familiar figure.

    "Ah, Pail, good to see you again. No need for formal titles just now - 'Evelios,' 'Bard,' or 'Bubba Ho-Tep' will suffice. How's the splinter?"

    "That healed weeks ago, Mr. Harpin- Evelios."

    "Oh. Curious. I thought it was just the other day."

    "You say that about everything, Mr. Harpin - Bard."

    Evelios' left eyebrow cocked. "Do I? Curious, I don't seem to - Poe, were you aware of this?"

    "More or less," the familiar conceded.

    "More or less what?"

    "Two."

    "That's a pretty reasonable error estimate."

    "I try."

    "Anyway, Mr. Harp- Bubba Ho-Tep. I had a question."

    "Shoot."

    "Aren't you... well, scared, like?"

    "Scared like what?"

    "No, I mean, you seem awfully calm. Considering."

    "Considering wh-" A giant rock landed feet away from them with a sickening thud. The rabbit, presumably not the intended target, had never stood a chance. "Oh."

    "Yes. Oh."

    "Well Pail, it boils down to lifestyle considerations. I'm an old, old man, Pail."

    "You're 23," Poe interjected.

    "Very old, Pail. And when you get to be my age, doing the kind of work I do, you realize - well, you realize that there are certain things we just can't escape. Death. Taxes. Kenny G. But just because terrible soprano saxophone noodling is inevitable doesn't mean you have to lament the fact that you're going to hear it someday, Pail. And the same goes for death. Although I guess the case can be made that death isn't half as bad."

    <<I don't think they know what Kenny G is in this universe.>>

    <<Bugger me, you're right.>>

    <<Too late, he's on a roll.>>

    <<Roll what?>>

    <<Save vs. Bad Jokes.>>

    <<I failed.>>

    "Do you understand?"

    "No, sir, not at all."

    Evelios grinned. "There's a good lad. Now if you'll excuse me I'm apparently wanted for one last excursion into the brink." He began walking off. "Oh, and Pail?"

    "Yes Big Poppa?"

    "Watch out for apes with firearms."

    And with that, the bard danced off to rendezvous with his companions. Pail shook his head. "There goes the bravest man I ever knew."

    "He's still bloody crazy, though," observed a dwarf.

    "Very crazy," added an elf.

    "Exceptionally crazy," interjected a human.

    And so Pail; the dwarf, Smignor; the elf, Varn; and the other human, whatever his name was; became fast friends, and formed the legendary guild of The Company of the That Bard is Bloody Crazy. In versions of this history where they survive, their exploits would go on to be legendary, and it was they who, together with the Last Baron of Thunder-Ten-Tronckh, would defeat Ulfrax, the World Belcher, Most Feared of the Purple Worms. This would involve the use of a spatula (employed in a manner most unorthodox), a magic statue, and a rancid turnip.

    But that is another tale.



    Evelios, meanwhile, was dancing away. "I'll be at the South Gate shortly," he informed the others via his ring.

    "Why exactly are we dancing over?"

    "Market synergy."

    "Market synergy?"

    "Yeah, they want me to be dancing in the dark to help promote the new soundtrack."

    "What soundtrack?"

    "You know, the soundtrack. The one that you click in the link below our names, and then it takes you to a little song that plays."

    "I don't know what you're talking about."

    "It's all in the mind."

    TAG: All, sort of
    Last edited by Ramza, Apr 27, 2013
  25. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    The Company of the Crescent Flame

    Beyond the South Wall
    After Nightfall, Brindol, Elsir Vale
    Thirtieth of Kythorn (Midsummer’s Eve)
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    The Company gathered at the South Gate, beneath the thunder of the boulder-storm. Corrath was unsurprised to see her companions had been casting spells as they came. She was struck, again, at how isolated Brindol was -- and how fortunate a life she’d had as an adventurer. Even with all the reputation the Company had acquired here, among the men on the gates there were double-takes, muffled curses, and even the odd gesture to ward off the evil eye in the Company’s direction. Understandably: the humans among them had black films drifting across their eyes; Skadi had two extra arms; Mazarun’s ioun stones were making slow circumnavigations of his head, not to mention he’d donned that disturbing facepaint of his again; and William was hovering a couple of inches off the ground in thin air. What the men couldn’t see, and Corrath could only dimly sense, was the vortex of magic around them: magic in layer after layer, promising death. Magic that wrapped around her as well.

    A man rake-thin under boiled leather, with iron-grey hair protruding from beneath his pot helmet, walked towards them. Bright eyes peered at them in apprehension for a second, then in recognition as he walked over to William. “Saer Marshall,” he said. “Fine little academic dispute we’ve got ourselves into here. Not going out there in search of any more monuments, I hope?”

    Pascquanel. That had been the name of the scholar Zanaek had said they went to in order to find the Ghostlord’s location. Here, it seemed, he stood.
    He didn’t stand on ceremony, anyway. Particularly as another shriek of air sounded and the thick wooden doors of the South Gate shuddered, the immense lockbars across them groaning with the impact. “Runners from m’lord Jarmaath telling me you need to get outside. I can’t open those doors – too dangerous. But I’ve got men waiting down east, with ropes for climbing down—”
    “Won’t be necessary,” said Corrath, looking up at the wall. “How much more you think the gate can take?”
    Another detonation of noise. Pascquanel winced, then stood, pointing at a long, pale line in the dark of the wood at the top of the right hand door: “Not long. That shear happened less than a minute ago. There’s a carpenter down here says if they get more’n about ten, fifteen more heavy hits either the hinge or the jamb’ll give. Only reason we’re not sitting in splinters right now is because whoever’s aiming those rocks can barely hit the broad side of a barn.”
    “Leave that to us,” said Skadi. She whispered spells. A wordless glance among the party, and then—
    And then, they flew up to the wall’s crest as one, Ragnar grabbing Zanaek around the chest and hauling him over his shoulder as they went, Mazarun nonchalantly folding his arms and simply rising into the air, Ariel setting dust clouds off as her great wings beat at the still night air, Skadi taking Evelios. And Corrath simply walking up into the night air as if she was ascending a stairwell. Moving faster than she had for a while; Evelios’s music was already pumping into her blood, making her move even faster.

    On to the top of the wall; over the other side, descending softly as boulders screamed past them, impacting the wall. The full moon gleamed, exposing motion far off in the night, though the ground between here and there was relatively clear. The giants had arrayed themselves on a low hill, and whilst from this distance it was like watching children pick up balls and throw them in sport, the tiny balls somehow twisted in size as they arced through the night air. Corrath pointed in that direction, peering through her spyglass—
    As Evelios began to sing, and the music crashed across a thousand feet of distance as easily as if he were projecting his voice in a quiet inn somewhere. Music that fired the heart, though even Corrath could sense the bard wasn’t pushing all out yet.
    The enemy couldn’t fail to notice the noise, of course, but it still had no idea what it was in for.
    They began.

    TAG: All

    OOC: No map because of the distances. You’re 480 feet from the nearest giant, and the encounter begins since everyone’s aware of everyone else by now. So, initiative rolls:

    Monsters: 21
    Mazarun: 1d20+6 - 19
    Corrath: 1d20+8 - 18
    Ariel: 1d20+6 - 17
    Evelios: 1d20+2 - 17
    Ragnar: 1d20+2 – 17
    William: 1d20+5 - 11
    Zanaek: 1d20+2 - 10
    Skadi: 1d20+1 - 5

    Act on the assumption that the monsters have already done what they're going to do this round. Unless Corrath or Ariel stop and watch them through their spyglasses for a full round, it's not apparent what they're doing -- no boulders, at least, are coming in at you.

    Corrath Marktos
    HP: 68/68
    AC: 25
    Attack: +23/+19/+23/+18/+23 Carduus/Bloodthirst (If two-weapon fighting, in Assassin Stance), +25/+20/+25 if only attacking with rapier)
    Damage: Rapier 1d6+10 (15-20/x2 +7d6+10), Kukri 1d4+9 (18-20/x2 +7d6+10) (in Assassin Stance)
    Saves: Fort – 18, Ref – 18, Will – 19 (+6 vs charm, fer)
    THE PATH OF TYR: Subject can walk on air (ascending at half movement speed) (10 hours)
    MILIL’S SPEED METAL: +1 to attack rolls, dodge bonus to AC, Reflex saves, +1 attack on full attack action, +30 feet movement (9 rounds)
    GREATER MAGIC WEAPON: Weapon receives enhancement bonus of +3 (10 hours)
    TYR’S CONVICTION: +3 morale bonus to all saves (100 minutes)
    INSPIRE COURAGE: +6 morale bonus to attack, damage, saves vs. charm and fear effects (at least 10 rounds or so)

    Ariel Elandinai
    HP: 108/108
    AC: 25
    Attack: +27/+22/+27 Sulsalka (Can use Power Attack to take 10 off this and add to damage)
    Damage: Courtblade 1d10+13 (19-20/x2 +1d8 [sonic]) +1d6 electricity, DC 14 Fort or target deafened. 3/day can force DC 16 Reflex or target is stunned. If Power Attacking: 1d10+32 and bonuses apply. Dive Attack doubles damage. Diving Charge adds +2d6 damage.
    Saves: Fort – 25, Reflex – 24, Will – 21 (+6 vs charm, fear)
    Spells: (At will/7/3) DC (13+Level) Caster Level: 6
    0: Acid splash, disrupt undead, ray of frost (usable at will).
    1: True Strike, Resist Energy, Ray of Enfeeblement, Shocking Grasp, Chill Touch
    2: Ghoul Touch, Dimension Hop
    MILIL’S SPEED METAL: +1 to attack rolls, dodge bonus to AC, Reflex saves, +1 attack on full attack action, +30 feet movement (9 rounds)
    GREATER MAGIC WEAPON: Weapon receives enhancement bonus of +3 (10 hours)
    TYR’S CONVICTION: +3 morale bonus to all saves (100 minutes)
    INSPIRE COURAGE: +6 morale bonus to attack, damage, saves vs. charm and fear effects (at least 10 rounds or so)

    Sa’adi Adim
    HP: 115/115
    AC: 26
    Attack: +21/+16/+21 Winterfall (Also note claw attacks)
    Damage: 1d8+19 (19-20/x2) +1d6 cold damage (Also note claw attacks)
    Saves: Fort – 24, Ref – 19, Will – 27 (+6 vs charm, fear)
    Spells: (At will/7/7/6/6/4) DC (18+Level) Domains: Retribution, War Caster Level: 10 (Caster Level 11 for [force] spells.)
    0: Create Water, Detect Magic, Light, Mending Read Magic, Resistance
    1: Entropic Shield, Lesser Vigor, Protection From Evil, Resurgence, Shield of Faith*
    2: Bull's Strength (2), Close Wounds (2), Divine Protection, Shield Other, Spiritual Weapon*
    3: Blindsight, Dispel Magic, Mass Resist Energy
    4: Air Walk, Death Ward, Divine Power*, Freedom of Movement, Mass Shield of Faith
    5: Flame Strike*, Righteous Might, Surge of Fortune (CC), True Seeing
    THE PATH OF TYR: Subject can walk on air (ascending at half movement speed) (10 hours)
    THE EYE OF TYR: Subject can see normally in natural or magical darkness (100 minutes)
    MILIL’S SPEED METAL: +1 to attack rolls, dodge bonus to AC, Reflex saves, +1 attack on full attack action, +30 feet movement (9 rounds)
    GREATER MAGIC WEAPON: Weapon receives enhancement bonus of +3 (10 hours)
    TYR’S CONVICTION: +3 morale bonus to all saves (100 minutes)
    INSPIRE COURAGE: +6 morale bonus to attack, damage, saves vs. charm and fear effects (at least 10 rounds or so)
    THE MANY HANDS OF TYR: Extra set of arms. Subject gains 4 claw attack, using BAB + STR, Damage 1d4+STR, can rend for 2d4+1.5xSTR (100 minutes)

    Zanaek Grahorn
    HP: 84/84
    AC: 27
    Attack: +18/+12/+18 (longsword)
    Damage: 1d8+10 (19-20/x2)
    Saves: Fort – 23, Ref – 21, Will – 33 (+6 vs charm, fear)
    Spells: (At will/7/7/6/6/4) DC 18+Level, CL 10 (CL 13 for [Healing spells], CL 12 for [Divination] spells, CL 11 for [Good] spells.)
    0: Create Water, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Resistance, Light
    1: Protection from Evil (D), Bless, Obscuring Mist, Remove Fear, Sanctuary
    2: Aid (D), Owl's Wisdom, Spiritual Weapon, Quick March, Mark of Judgment (PHB2), Bull's Strength
    3: Magic Circle Against Evil (D), Curse of Arrow Attraction (PHB2), Downdraft, Antidragon Aura, Aid [Mass], Lesser Vigor [Mass]
    4: Holy Smite (D), Blessing of Righteous (PHB2), Healing Spirit (PHB2), Summon Monster IV, Holy Transformation [Lesser], Summon Hound Archon
    5: Cure Light Wounds [Mass] (D), Wall of Stone, Summon Monster V, Righteous Wrath of the Faithful
    THE EYE OF TORM: Subject can see normally in natural or magical darkness (100 minutes)
    MILIL’S SPEED METAL: +1 to attack rolls, dodge bonus to AC, Reflex saves, +1 attack on full attack action, +30 feet movement (9 rounds)
    GREATER MAGIC WEAPON: Weapon receives enhancement bonus of +3 (10 hours)
    TORM’S LORE: Can remove a dazed, dazzled, fatigued, exhausted, nauseated, or sickened effect in tandem with [healing] spell. CL is 13 for [healing]. (100 minutes) Also note Imbued Healing feat.
    TYR’S CONVICTION: +3 morale bonus to all saves (100 minutes)
    TORM’S CIRCLE AGAINST EVIL: +2 deflection bonus to AC, +2 resistance bonus to all saves. Works on anyone within 10 foot radius of Zanaek. (100 minutes)
    INSPIRE COURAGE: +6 morale bonus to attack, damage, saves vs. charm and fear effects (at least 10 rounds or so)

    Evelios D’Rtan
    HP: 80/80
    AC: 22
    Attack: +19/+14/+19 (Ligeia) (Snowflake Wardance raises all attacks by +6 if on)
    Damage: 1d8+11 +5 [sonic], can force DC 20 Ref save, failure target is stunned
    Bardic Music: 10/10
    Saves: Fort – 18, Ref – 23, Will – 28 (+1 vs. (Sp) effects, Nymph’s Kiss) (+6 morale vs charm, fear)
    Spells: (Bard 10, Base Save DC 18) At Will/4/4/3/2
    0 - Prestidigitation, Summon Instrument, Detect Magic, Songbird, Light, Message
    1 - Improvisation, Inspirational Boost, Charm Person, Hideous Laughter
    2 - Tongues, Glitterdust, Detect Thoughts, Resounding Voice
    3 - Haste, Glibness, Dispel Magic, Confusion
    4 - Fugue, Sirine's Grace
    THE EYE OF TORM: Subject can see normally in natural or magical darkness (100 minutes)
    MILIL’S SPEED METAL: +1 to attack rolls, dodge bonus to AC, Reflex saves, +1 attack on full attack action, +30 feet movement (9 rounds)
    CANT OF LUCIANUS PAVAROTTUS: Subject’s voice can be heard clearly up to 1000 feet away. (10 minutes)
    INCENDERUNT CITHARA: +1 to Inspire Courage bonuses while IC is in effect
    GREATER MAGIC WEAPON: Weapon receives enhancement bonus of +3 (10 hours)
    TYR’S CONVICTION: +3 morale bonus to all saves (100 minutes)
    INSPIRE COURAGE: +6 morale bonus to attack, damage, saves vs. charm and fear effects (at least 10 rounds or so)

    Ragnar Ingvarsson
    HP: 151/151 (Raging: 172/172)
    AC: 20 (Raging: 16)
    Attacks: +26/+21/+26 (Adamantine Maul) Raging: +29/+24/+29
    Damage: 1d10+15 (20/x3) +1d6 [electricity] Raging: 1d10+18 (20/x3) +1d6 [electricity]
    When Power Attacking: -10 to attack rolls, +22 to damage. If charging, -10 to AC instead.
    Rage: 5/5
    Saves: Fort – 28, Ref – 20, Will – 18 (Raging: 31, 19, 20) (+6 vs charm, fear)
    THE PATH OF TYR: Subject can walk on air (ascending at double movement speed) (10 hours)
    THE EYE OF TYR: Subject can see normally in natural or magical darkness (100 minutes)
    MILIL’S SPEED METAL: +1 to attack rolls, dodge bonus to AC, Reflex saves, +1 attack on full attack action, +30 feet movement (9 rounds)
    TYR’S CONVICTION: +3 morale bonus to all saves (100 minutes)
    INSPIRE COURAGE: +6 morale bonus to attack, damage, saves vs. charm and fear effects (at least 10 rounds or so)
    GREATER MAGIC WEAPON: Weapon receives enhancement bonus of +3 (10 hours)

    Mazarun Zothyrr
    HP: 121/121
    AC: 22
    Attacks: +22/+17/+22/+14/+22 (R/R/XB/XB/R)
    Damage: 1d6+14 (18-20/x2) (Rapier), 1d4+11 (Hand Crossbow) +4 to damage if flatfooted enemy within 30 feet
    Saves: Fort 26, Ref 22, Will 22 (25 if enchantment), +2 if spell/spell-like ability, +6 vs charm, fear
    Spells: (4/3) (CL 6)
    0: Detect Poison, Prestidigitation, Ghost Sound, Mending
    1: Grease, Shield, Ray of Clumsiness
    Maneuvers/Stances: Wall of Blades, Leading the Charge, White Raven Tactics, Iron Heart Surge
    MILIL’S SPEED METAL: +1 to attack rolls, dodge bonus to AC, Reflex saves, +1 attack on full attack action, +30 feet movement (9 rounds)
    GREATER MAGIC WEAPON: Weapon receives enhancement bonus of +3 (10 hours)
    TYR’S CONVICTION: +3 morale bonus to all saves (100 minutes)
    INSPIRE COURAGE: +6 morale bonus to attack, damage, saves vs. charm and fear effects (at least 10 rounds or so)

    William Marshall
    HP: 69/69
    AC: 24
    Attacks: +11/+11 melee
    Damage: Who cares?
    Saves: Fort 22, Ref 25, Will 29 (+6 vs charm, fear)
    Spells: (4 at-will/7/6/5/5/4)
    0th: Detect Magic, Light, Prestidigitation, Resistance
    1st: Endure Elements, Enlarge Person, Colour Spray, Protection from Evil, Ray of Clumsiness, Ray of Enfeeblement, Shield
    2nd: Glitterdust, Invisibility, Ray of Stupidity, Scorching Ray, Shatter, Web
    3rd: Dispel Magic, Haste, Slow
    4th: Assay Spell Resistance, Confusion, Greater Invisibility, Enervation, Polymorph
    5th: Feeblemind, Hold Monster, Mass Fire Shield, Unfettered Heroism
    THE EYE OF TORM: Subject can see normally in natural or magical darkness (100 minutes)
    MILIL’S SPEED METAL: +1 to attack rolls, dodge bonus to AC, Reflex saves, +1 attack on full attack action, +30 feet movement (9 rounds)
    ELMINSTER’S EAGLE: Fly at 40 feet per round, average maneuverability (70 feet per round while Haste is on) (10 hours)
    MARSHALL’S MAGE ARMOUR: +6 armor bonus to AC (10 hours)
    THE ROBE OF TYR: +2 enhancement bonus to clothes for AC (10 hours)
    TYR’S CONVICTION: +3 morale bonus to all saves (100 minutes)
    INSPIRE COURAGE: +6 morale bonus to attack, damage, saves vs. charm and fear effects (at least 10 rounds or so)

    AP Count:
    Zanaek: 8
    Skadi: 6
    William: 7
    Evelios: 8
    Ragnar: 8
    Ariel: 8
    Corrath: 8
    Mazarun: 8

    Current movement speeds, under Haste:

    Corrath: 60 feet per round (Air Walk + Haste)
    Ariel: 60 feet per round (on the ground), Flying 80 feet per round (Wings + Haste)
    Skadi: 50 feet per round (Air Walk + Haste)
    Zanaek: 60 feet per round (on the ground)
    Evelios: 60 feet per round (on the ground)
    Ragnar: 80 feet per round (Air Walk + Haste)
    Mazarun: 60 feet per round (on the ground)
    William: 60 feet per round (on the ground), Flying 70 feet per round (Overland Flight + Haste)

    Opposition is 480 feet away.
Moderators: Penguinator, Ramza